After hearing this, Nana handed over the soul-stone, only it was a little different now. There was a tiny hole drilled into it and a silver chain looped through that hole to make a necklace. Once I took it numbly, the Frosts explained to me that I was now married to Jack.
I glared suspiciously at the blonde boy, struggling to believe that he was the same person I'd known. The look in his eyes did remind me of how Jack had looked right before I'd pulled out his soul-stone, at least.
I was told that I was expected to treat him the same as I'd treated Jack originally. We'd continue to live our lives normally.
After that, years of memories flew by.
At first, I was very cold and careful around this new Jack. But after two months, he began to change. His speech started to reflect the Jack I was used to, which helped me adjust to him better.
He treated me like a treasure and I'd often catch him simply staring at me in a daze. Jack had no qualms about telling me how he felt about me, though he had lowered some of the intensity of that emotion when he expressed it to me.
After six months, I got used to hearing the words 'my love' and 'jhenmu'. I'd even grown used to Jack's newfound powers and having to wear thicker clothes around him.
With the passing of a year (by the time I was twelve) while I did not return the depth of his feelings, I had come to view him as a good friend, much like the Jack I’d grown up with all my life.
One time Jack caught me secretly watching a movie that was meant for older teenagers, involving lots of kissing and a little sex. After he freaked out and rushed to turn the TV off, I demanded to know why we were different from the couples I'd seen in the movie.
Jack's expression had turned stiff and awkward before he cleared his throat to explain. "Well, most couples get married later in life. But we did it sooner because I was very sick and going to die, remember?"
I nodded slowly, trying to absorb his words to understand the differences between us and them.
"When we're older, we'll act like those couples. You see, um, only adults can behave and touch each other in those ways."
His expression suddenly darkened. "Actually, how do you even know about this? You're much too young to be exposed to this sort of thing. What is Nathan thinking?"
I bit my lip, looking to the side. "I snuck this out of Jacob's room. He made me mad, so I wanted to play a prank on him." I'd found the tape in Jacob's room and been curious about the cover, so I'd stolen it away to watch later.
Jack let out a heavy sigh. "Yes, well, the sexual segments of puberty do normally start for boys around fifteen or so." He shook his head before reaching out to hold my hands in his own tightly.
"Alright, Nisha, listen to me closely. Try to ignore everything you just saw on this tape—."
"But you kissed me like that boy kissed his girlfriend when the curse broke. Why don't you anymore? Your parents kiss each other sometimes. At least on the cheek," I insisted, pointing to my cheek.
His bright blue eyes shifted, closer to a navy color, as he stared down at me. His expression looked blown away, mouth opening and closing uselessly for a few moments.
"A…d, do you want me to kiss you like that?" His voice, which had been going through a weird cracking a lot recently, dipped into a low, husky tone.
Before I could respond, he shook his head quickly. "No, I can't! We're too young, Nisha," he breathed out harshly. "Wait until we're older, okay? I promise," his lips jerked into an amused smile, blue eyes still that navy color. "Once we're old enough, I'll kiss you so much you'll get sick of it."
I frowned, shaking my head. "But how old is that?"
He tipped his head back, another awkward expression flitting across his face, while his eyes returned to a normal sapphire blue. "Uuuuh...at least eighteen, okay? We both have to be that old before I'll kiss you again. Understand? So, please, don't watch this sort of thing. If your dad finds out about this I'll get a lecture from hell."
I pursed my lips in annoyance. "But that's so far." I removed one of my hands from his and pressed it against my lips. "Your tongue felt funny to mine. I want to know if it'll feel funny again," I pressed determinedly.
All the blood drained from Jack's face at my words. "Why are children so blunt? Please, Nisha, you have to forget about that mistake! I already apologized for it. I didn't realize we were so young at the time. If I'd known, I never would have tainted you so soon."
"T, tainted?" I repeated, confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"
He let out a groan. "It's a bad thing, okay? Only grown-ups are supposed to do it, not children."
I proceeded to pester Jack for the next twenty minutes, but he never gave in.
Seeing that memory as an adult, I couldn't help feeling absolutely mortified at my own boldness as a preteen.
Time continued to pass and I reached fourteen years of age.
My last memory involved Jack, Dad, and Duke Frost in a screaming match. Nana was holding me close while I shook in her embrace with fear.
I was trying to block out most of what they were saying because I was so confused and scared, but bits and pieces leaked through.
"I just want her to have a chance with someone else! She's literally been raised, per your orders, as a brainwashed child bride! Despite the debt Mother and I owe you, I can't sit by and remain silent any longer!"
"I told your mother I required a price and the girl is that price! She's been treated as well as my own daughter her entire life. What more can a human hope for?"
"She is my wife, damn it! You can't deny me the other half of my soul, Nathan! Can you even imagine the pain I would go through without her? She is my sole reason for living!"
"I understand, Master Jack, and I truly am sorry. But she's my daughter! Please, I beg you, at least a little bit of time. Let her live a normal life among her own kind. If she hasn't found someone to share her life with by twenty-five, no, even just twenty—! Please, just a few years!"
The sound of Dad sobbing, his knees hitting the floor, filled the sudden silence in the room.
When I turned my head to look at him, one of the shadow servants was on the floor beside him. Silently, they were kneeling next to him, while Dad wrapped an arm around them and lowered his forehead to the floor of the Duke's private office.
My memories came to a stop several hours later, after Nana had given me some tea with herbs in it to calm me down enough to sleep. When next I woke, it had been to find a new life made up for me and memories which turned out to all be lies.
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