Ardelia was chopping vegetables for dinner, humming to herself, when she heard the door creak. Her husband entered the room. He was gone for almost a week - went to the city for wages. She'd missed Matt so much these days!
She's twenty-two, they've been together for three years, and she still feels like a lovesick fool who was sneaking away from home on a date.
She smiled and turned to him.
"You're here! I miss..." Arda started to throw her arms around his neck but stopped herself in mid-sentence as he leaned his shoulder against the doorjamb and stared at her grimly.
"Is something wrong?" she felt like being doused with cold water.
His voice was unexpectedly cold and calm:
"We're breaking up."
"What?" she couldn't help but chuckle at the folly. "But why? Is this a joke?"
She took a step forward but stopped, seeing from her husband's face that he wasn't joking.
"What did I do wrong?"
Tears instantly spurted from her eyes, and her voice faltered. She seemed to be standing one step away from the abyss.
Just don't cry. Matt can't leave her! They will talk it out now and fix everything together, no matter what happens, because they love each other.
"I've been living with another woman for three months. She got pregnant."
It was like a punch in the gut. That's it. A step is taken, and now she flies straight into the abyss. Three years. They couldn't have a baby for three long years. She had tried all sorts of things during that time: doctors, healers, even magicians. And now Matt says that it only took him three months with the other woman?!
"Should I go back to my parents' house?"
She was surprised at how distant her voice sounded, even though her insides were twisting with unbearable pain. But there was nowhere else for her to go back to. Her mother died a long time ago, and her father did not live long without her. The childhood home now belongs to Ardelia's father's brother, and she is not expected there.
"No. This is not necessary."
Arda exhaled noisily. Of course, Matt is a noble man, he won’t leave her with anything - he will sign the documents, give her this house-
He probably loves her, but just like everyone else, he wants to procreate.
It was her fault that she couldn't give it to him.
Her eyes stung even more.
"I'm selling you."
The tears dried instantly. What does he mean - sell? Where to?
"I'll need money for the baby, and a second wedding won't be cheap. It's off-season, so food will be expensive. That's why I'm selling you."
Without realizing what she was about to do, Ardelia reached for the knife she had used to cut vegetables. She held it out in front of her in a defensive gesture - don't he even dare to try to approach!
She will not allow being taken to the slave market!
The traitor made himself a safety net. As soon as he knocked on the door, two burly thugs entered the room. When Arda saw them, she pointed the tip of the knife at her heart, and it touched her chest. It was necessary to act quickly: one sudden push and all of it will be over. The thugs approached slowly. Three steps, two-
The nearest one swung and slapped the girl's face with a backhand. The knife fell out and hit the floor with a flump.
She remembered the rest vaguely. She screamed, struggled, cursed her traitor husband. The girl fell silent only when she was shoved into a cage, mounted on a self-moving carriage, and the bars were closed.
That's it. It's all over. The last thing she'd heard from her husband, that he'd told the slaver the reason for the sale: «She's barren».