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To be a lover is to be a fighter. Sally smiled from how soft and tender the continuous stroking on her hair felt. She found comfort on the warm hard chest surface she laid, it was a dream that felt surreal, the thumping heartbeat she heard was music to her ears, a rhythm she found herself liking. She was enjoying this as she felt she was asleep and she dreamt as she would sometimes about being with a man she loved this way, she touched in return, her hands on his chest played with the soft light cotton fabric she found on it, he smiled and teased her, his hands slowly trailed from her shoulders down her palms on his chest which he caressed and held. This is not a dream at all it feels too real sally told herself, she woke up from her slumber and when he felt that she did so, he wrapped her in a close hug on his chest careful not to hurt her as he was aware of his build but tight enough that she could not break free, Sally tried to pull away from this stranger who she laid on, but he was adamant and didn't let her go, he liked her there and enjoyed the scenery associated with it, he saw her dismissal coming and wanted to live it as well. "let me go," she said trying to pull away from him "Why? you like it here don't you?" he questioned chuckling and smiling. "let me go at once, you pervert" she commanded wounding her hand into a fist and hitting his chest. He did as she said with uncontrollable laughter, he was non-challant and naughty. "you know, you came on to me, laid on me and touched me, I wonder who the pervert is," he told sally. Sally is made to marry Malcolm who she met two years ago and despised after their acquaintance, to her he was forgotten but in his mind and heart the memory of her burned fresh. he was in love and unaware that this was what he felt, he just needed her close to him so that he could function properly. Malcolm arranges their marriage and forcefully makes her a part of his world. They both get to know, Malcolm gets to understand his feelings, Sally finds out the story behind his multiple personalities and he gets to know that she is flawed in her own way, Sally get to understand and in turn starts to love him, but his world is one with a lot of hurdles and she has to become a strong partner for him, They become strong for each other as what lies ahead requires them to be.

PROLOGUE

Sally and Lorraine had just arrived in travellers town and it was sad that they had to leave very soon. Lorraine was really glad she finally got Sally to see her home town, how busy and vibrant it was and could get compared to their town Nattesville. It was a day trip from their town to this place and the master and his family would be arriving from their trip the day after tomorrow so they ought to be home by today, get prepared by tomorrow for their arrival and most importantly make sure it looked like Sally never left the house. She wasn't allowed to without permission, or supervision and never for personal reasons. Lorraine always felt sad and wondered why the master of the house who was Sally's uncle didn't think the ill-treatment from him and his family towards sally was enough, she always knew the story about Sally's mother Gwendolen's love affair with the poor merchant Walter, how it made her an enemy to the family, how her family wasn't in support of them starting a life together because his social status would affect the family's name and how their fears came to reality because of the product to the disaster they called love-Sally. Gwen was not to see the light and anyone but her daughter before she passed, after she had given birth and sally was just two they had both been condemned to the basement they had behind the Thompsons mansion, though it had some furnishing it was rumoured to have been a small, scary damp room built like a prison, they both were a thing of shame to the family, they were not meant to be seen, remembered or spoken of and they were to be treated as such, her father did not care whatever became of Gwen and anything affiliated to the abomination. She was just to be a prisoner in his house to pay for what he saw as a crime, she lived the remaining five years of her life being ostracized and in those years she had befell a lot of sad tragedy, she was rumoured to have lost her mind from the news of the passing of her beloved which was suspected to have been taken care of by her family because of how he tried as hard as he could to see her, such would have broken any lover, she was also said to slowly go through malnutrition as she cared mostly for her daughter, whatever scrap and crumbs she was given she gave to her daughter and at some point she gave up to the torture, starvation and hate they put her through sadly leaving her daughter sally behind, worse of all was they didn't get to notice she had died down there, no one was home these days they had made a trip for Gwen's father's burial, the maids were off work, they were truly forgotten and it seemed they wouldn't mind if that tragedy was to come upon the both of them, it was rumoured that sally was there alone for three days in the dark, left starved and screaming for help but no one came and being there days and nights with her moms body alone had traumatized her, this Lorraine had experienced as it was around the time she started to work for the Thompson household, the maid who went to give food to them had smelt the body, that was the day sally was brought out, she was thought to be dead as she slept like she was. Gwen's body was buried immediately and soon after sally recovered she was handed to her uncle, Gwen's older brother, who was now master of the Thompson household.

"There you go," sally said bringing Lorraine out of her thought, sally handed the other half of the croissant she bought to Lorraine, she took it and took a bite. "We should be on our way soon" sally added

"I'd like to get something for the both of us before we leave," Lorraine said to sally.

"We won't be long right?" sally asked "we can't miss the carriage, Mrs Benjamin did say she'd like to leave early in the afternoon..."

"I promise we would not be, let's go it just around the corner, the earlier we go the better," Lorraine said taking sally's hand and heading towards where she wanted to get the charm bracelets she had in mind it was to be a surprise so she said nothing about it. It was a distance but not so long, they had gotten to the shop and it was quite colourful and enchanting with the inscriptions on the walls and then it hit her.

"A fortune teller?" she asked staring at Lorraine in question, Lorraine smiled and nodded at her indicating she was right, they walked into the room inside behind the curtains and she looked at the beautiful lights that filled the room.

"Welcome miss sally Thompson, ah... Lorraine, it has been a while."

"Yes Juliana, it has." sally was surprised at the fact that the woman knew her name, was she really gifted sally thought. "please sit," the old fortune teller lady said gesturing towards the pillows on the floor, they did and sally looked at Lorraine wondering why they were here and mostly how the lady knew her name.

"how does she know my...."

"shhhhh, your hand Miss Thompson let me do the talking, you're a beautiful woman Sally and I can't wait to know what your palm tells" Juliana cut her statement smiling at her. Sally blushed at the compliment she only heard that from Lorraine and thought she said it just to make her smile as the only people she really got to relate to said otherwise. Though she was surprised she was open to the idea, for the fun of it she thought to herself. She looked at Lorraine smiling back at her in excitement, she put her hand out and old Juliana took it , her hands shaky, she drew patterns on Sally's palm then started reciting incantations it gave sally Goosebumps and suddenly Juliana stopped for a bit, it made sally tensed and Lorraine curious.

"A man,- confusion and chaos I see but nothing as great as the love it comes with be patient it would-

A loud noise from the door being stomped open gave all three of them a jump scare, they got up from the floor.

"Juliana!!!" A man from outside screamed her name, the old lady evidently scared and well aware of what was happening quickly started to put coins together in a bag,

"Juliana!!!" the man shouted again and made a ruckus by throwing things in the shop around making Lorraine frightened herself like she had lived the experience, old Juliana quickly rushed outside with the coins in her hands, Lorraine was sat, her back to a wall and head on her knees. Sally wondered what and who was outside that made them tremble.

"it is not complete woman, what is this!!" the man screamed at her.

"I am sorry, I am short of ten cents, I thought you would be here by evening to collect," Juliana stuttered as she replied. A scream from Juliana being hit made sally rush outside on impulse, Lorraine had not expected her to go out and could not stop her as it all happened so fast, she wouldn't have come if she knew this would happen Lorraine thought to herself.

"stop!" sally screamed halting the man from hitting her again and getting everyone's attention, she rushed to help Juliana ma from the floor.

"how dare you do that to her," she said confronting him.

"please miss Thompson don't get yourself involved in this," Juliana ma said, "please don't, go back inside...."

"it is alright ma'am, don't worry about me," she said glaring at the man before her.

"Juliana, what do we do about my money? I told you we-"

"You... How could you let this happen" she cut the voice who spoke from the shadows opposite them, she felt to confront him as it was apparent from the way old Juliana quivered from him speaking and how she held and pressed into Sally's hand in an attempt to stop her from talking that he was the man in charge in all three of the men that were present, Sally carefully put miss Juliana hands down after reassuring her that it would be fine, she walked towards the shadowed area of the room where this voice came from to further challenge this treatment she found very insolent. "how could you let this happen, she's old and she was unaware of your arrival." she said to him. Sally gasped in shock as the man in the shadows now stood close before her, he was big and erect it made her shiver, blue eyes piercing into hers golden, beautiful and obviously in confusion in response to how fast everything happened without a warning, he looked deeply into her eyes like he searched for something she looked back, she fought to look away but it was hard to like she was under a spell, noticing his hands raised like it would descend on her and miss Juliana calling her name brought her out of the moment. She looked down and then to his hands holding his subordinates from before who was evidently in pain from how he held him, the man had meant to hit her and he stopped him.

"sir please," he cried getting his master's attention making him free his hands, still staring at sally.

"miss sally?" He asked making her glance at him and look away as she couldn't hold his gaze, but feeling his eyes strongly locked at her "well whatever you have said seize to concern me"-"it should, you can't treat people like piggy banks, slapping the last coin out of them. They are people and you're being unreasonable. "she cut his statement and looked at him, he looked angry at the fact that she cut his statement and when he started to speak his voice grew deeper mirroring what he felt.

"My money and earnings are most important my dear, more than anything else." he told, this sparked a wave of anger in her as he sounded just like her family at home greedy and proud. The big man was in front of sally again his intention was to be crystal clear about his presence here, and he continued "and that I intend to get," he leaned toward her "how I get it or however it happens doesn't matter to me." Sally took a step back this time glaring at him, she burned in fury he stared too but this time with a lot of question, who was this beautiful brunette before him he thought, he hasn't seen her around as everyone was well aware not to challenge him, she sparked something in him, her courage was intriguing and exciting, he felt something, a need he wasn't aware what, just aware that she burned something in him. Sally on the other hand was disgusted by what she had just heard, money being more important than a human spoke a lot about what type of person he was. She spat to her left letting him know how she felt about what he had just said-disgust, it was an inhumane thing to say.

"you know money is not so paramount it doesn't and cannot get you or help you with and through everything" Sally said reaching into the pocket of her gown and brought out seven cents, which wasn't complete so she went inside to Lorraine and she saw how scared and worried she was, she smiled at her letting her know that it would all be ok and she shouldn't worry.

"do you have three cents please," sally asked, she immediately brought out three coins from her purse.

"Thanks....." sally said to her.

She went back outside "it's a very disgusting and dangerous way to think," she told the man in charge handing the ten cents to his subordinate that was violent to old Juliana. "that's ten cents, you're settled. You can leave now right" she said pointing at the three of them and the door indicating they used it, "go on then." she added.

"Juliana, you sure are in luck today, you should thank your stars." said the violent subordinate sally glared at him.

"I said get out!!!" Sally yelled at him.

"John!!" his master called and nodded towards the door that he left the premises.

"Juliana, I apologise for what happened, I don't want that to be the case again as I do expect that you don't delay payments for that long again, it is like you make a mockery of my patience," he said eyes set on Juliana who made sure not to meet his gaze, sally stood behind her, hands on her shoulders to show reassurance and support.

"you're mistaking love, money gets you everything and anything, it is that much of a powerful tool, and that I will show you, someday very soon." He added looking deep into sally's eyes as she equally glared at him, she opposed him and wasn't afraid of whatever threat he posed, this had never happened before he thought to himself, he grew lost in his thoughts as he was lost in her eyes. His men on the other hand were left in question as to why he wasn't doing anything and why he would let her live what she had done, but they knew better than to question him mostly there and then while they were in front of her and Juliana ma. It would mean disrespect to him and so it wasn't a smart thing to do.

"sir we'd be on our way then?" the third man who did not say anything all through finally spoke questioning and bringing his boss out of his thought, he was different, calmer and with no hint to his character, but one obvious thing was his need to leave and proceed to whatever was next to do.

"yes, right. Have a great day then Juliana" the man in charge said making his way to the door behind his subordinates. "it was a pleasure making your acquaintance sally" he said stopping to steal one last gaze before exiting the shop. Lorraine who was peeking through the curtain walked out of the inner room,

"Sally that was brave and scary too" she said hugging sally, " I can't say don't do that again but please be careful" she added. Sally exhaled deeply in relief as she was scared herself, she was glad nothing happened and that it was all over.

"Juliana ma sorry about what happened," sally said to her.

"no, I should be thankful, who knows how bad it would have escalated if I could not pay up immediately. Thanks a lot, child, I wish the both of you only the best of things" Juliana ma said taking Sally's hand "I have nothing left on me if not I'd have - "please ma'am it's alright, as long as you're alright. Please try to save up to avoid things like this please" Sally said

"thank you very much miss Thompson I'd try my best to get ready for any future payments."

"sally we should be on our way, we might run late if we don't leave soon," Lorraine told her

"yes that's right, let us hurry on then.

"Lorraine" Juliana ma called out holding Sally's hands, "please wait at least let me gift you she said heading back inside to get a little box, she opened it and it was beautiful inside with inscriptions like the one on the walls in it. "charm bracelets," Lorraine said

"they are beautiful" sally told looking at Juliana ma.

"pick any one you like and I will tell you its charm". Lorraine went for the same one she took before, knowing that it was for good luck, sally took one blue one with a square that detaches and has a heart within it.

"simple but beautiful choice, its a very powerful one, that one would keep you and your love protected and would ensure your love remain strong an everlasting, so when you find that one you truly love give them the other half.

"thanks Juliana ma," they both said,

"we have to go now." Lorraine added

"bye" they both said leaving the shop,

Juliana waved back and thanked them again. They started their journey to the outskirt of town where miss Benjamin would be waiting and along the way sally asked and inquired about what had happened in the shop, who those people were and why Lorraine was affected herself by them, Lorraine explained that they were collectors for a loan shark organization that coarse people into taking money they might never be able to pay back, and that the collectors are even sometimes people who are in debt themselves, that no one really knows who is behind the company. She further explained that its the only reason she didn't like the place, the reason they sold their house and had to move and it is another reason why her family owes the Thompsons household money because they could not pay back all of it, that's why she works for them now.

"girls where did you head to? We have been waiting for you." Mrs. Benjamin queried as they arrived, they did not think she'd be ready just yet.

"we are sorry ma'am, we had to get something." Lorraine apologised

"we bought your favourite garlic bread for you." sally added handing her the paper bag it was in. "we are sorry for the delay, we just had gone because we knew we wouldn't be privileged to be here again. So please forgive us."

"of course I forgive you, and I understand, let's be on our way then. Thanks a lot for getting the bread for me, I actually forgot" Mrs Benjamin said getting on the carriage, and they followed. Mrs. Benjamin was a nice merchant from back home that sally and Lorraine patronized a lot, they became friends and she tried to help the girls in whatever ways she could, she loved them like her daughter as she had just sons and treated with love, care and concern, she knew how the Thompsons were and despised them but can't do so much to revoke them as she wasn't as buoyant as they were.

"did you enjoy your trip?" Mrs Benjamin asked sally

"it was most delightful ma'am thanks a lot again." sally was glad she took the trip after all the convincing it took, she was genuinely happy and grateful to both Mrs Benjamin and Lorraine as it was the first she went outside town and not to the market or tailor, all in all, the trip was fun and if she could shed do it again. It was dark when they arrived in Nattesville, Mrs Benjamin dropped them close to the Thompson mansion

"thanks Mrs Benjamin" sally said getting off the carriage after Lorraine

"yes ma'am we wish we could show how grateful we are" Lorraine added.

"that's alright, just take care of yourself and make sure you remain good girls" Mrs Benjamin replied and her carriage rode away. Lorraine had already gone in, sally did not notice her leave as she was carried away waving goodbye. She started towards the door and was surprised Lorraine still stood by it.

"What is wrong Lorraine," she asked closing the door behind her and then becoming aware of why Lorraine stood in disarray, her aunt waited on the staircase at the left side of the door.

"please aunt, it was all me I promise." sally did not hesitate to start to talk to take whatever blame there was to shoulder, knowing fully well how frightened she was of the punishment that was to come.

"Madame I swear that it was not her doing even the thought of it, she's only lying," Lorraine told her trying to take back the blame, it was hers to receive as all of the trip was her idea. Lorraine worried about how bad and terrifying things got for sally whenever her aunt or the master got angry with her. "please ma-"

"shut up!!" Madame Caroline shouted bringing the place to absolute decorum, she walked down to Lorraine making her look to the floor and shiver, one would think her beauty could hide how scary she was but it could not it was something she was proud of as it complimented how bad she was and treated people.

"I would do what I see fit to the both of you." sally knew her fate, to be locked away in the dark of the basement, starved till whenever her aunt felt she had gotten a good taste of her most feared memories and that it reminded her that she's a nobody and deserved to be treated no less than that.

"Loraine, I am pretty sure you have some unfinished work and await orders for much more. Since you choose to take advantage of your breaks, I would make sure the both of you enjoy no rest" sally felt some relief as she thought they'd both do a lot of hard work as punishment. "as for you disgraceful child" she said turning to sally bringing her out of her relief "I see you think highly of yourself to leave this house, how dare you" she said slapping her across the face.

"aunt please I am sorry, forgive me"

"you are well aware where your punishment lies," she said pulling sally by her hair towards the basement at the back of the house.

"please aunt anything else" sally cried to her

"shut up stupid girl," she said tugging her towards the basement where she had the worse of nightmares.

"get in" Madame Caroline ordered. Sally did as she had no choice, she cried knowing how long, hard and scary it could get. Sally wished it could just change, she prayed that something or someone would take her away from the house and its torture. She sat on the damp, dirty bed, the room smelled rotten and wet. The dark played with her mind, making the memories of her mischiefs alive again haunting her. Sally thought to do what she did best to cope and pass time through the anxiety. She laid the scarf she had with her, closed her eyes and fell into a sleep like death, she was not lucky all the time to pass out like she did this time but she was blessed that she could sometimes and most times when she was more confused or anxious than normal, with this disorder she was unaware of everything like she disappeared into blankness and there she tried to pass the time hoping she does not wake till it all comes to an end.

Chapter 1

"Happy now?" Sally questioned as she signed the marriage documents, tears rolled continuously down her eyes, they flared in anger and anguish and burned in sadness, pain and distress. What would become of her life now? what was her life with this unknown stranger going to be? Sally couldn't stop the tears from flowing as she felt truly broken, it wasn't just from the thought of her now being married to someone who she doesn't love and know anything about but the fact that she was being sold off by her family, she didn't think they badly wanted to get rid of her, she'd have done anything else to help with whatever debt they had to pay but they didn't even seek any opinion from her, neither did they feel she had any right to choose. She had never felt so hurt in her life, it was betrayal at its peak.

"Sally you have to understand that you are doing us all a great service, we love you and wished there was more time to have you prepare

Heroes

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