Chapter 1

1498 Words
"Isabella Cross, you will replace your sister Eden and marry Hunter." There was a dead silence in the crowd, a silence that travelled all the way to my heart. The quietness did nothing to calm the blood drumming in my ears at the unexpected news. Those were the last words I ever expected to hear. They were words that I didn't know would completely change my life forever. I wasn't the only shocked one in the crowd. My sister Lucy's mouth was wide open as she held onto her husband Austin for support. My other sister Eden had a guilty and horrified look on her face. I could tell that she was already blaming herself for the sudden turn of events. Her mate James had his arms wrapped around her as he sent a deadly glare Hunter's way. When I had helped Eden escape from her own wedding to be with James, the last thing I was expecting was to have to take her place. I knew the council would try something crazy but this. . . This, I wasn't expecting. I understood that they needed to fulfill their end of the deal and get Hunter married to someone linked to the council, I just didn't think that they would be so quick to choose me. I had no idea how to feel about the matter. I realized that no one was saying anything. I had to speak up before Eden said something that could ruin her relationship with her mate. She wouldn't live with herself if she thought that she was destroying my life by being with James. I couldn't let her take that blame. "You can't do that!" Hunter roared suddenly before I could respond. His voice shook the entire room so much that even some of the servants took a step back. He was angry; I could tell by the way his chest moved and the veins that threatened to pop on his arms. But for some reason I also sensed a hint of panic in his voice.  As far as I knew, Hunter never showed any type of emotion. I must be imagining things. His immediate rejection for some reason made my stomach churn uncomfortably. I tried to hide my obvious distress at his words. I hated the look on his face at just the proposal of getting married to me. Was it really that bad to consider being tied to me? I shouldn't care. He was a beast, someone that so many people feared. Then why did his words affect me so much? Why did I want him to happily accept me as his bride? I couldn't understand his actions. What was so wrong with me? I was taught the same skills as my sister. I didn't lack in any of the training the council had given to me. So then why did Hunter oppose this arrangement when he was so willing to get married to my sister? Maybe I already knew the answer but was not willing to accept it. The clues were there, he had the opportunity to marry me but each time he still chose Eden. I didn't know why, but it wasn't me that he wanted. "You saw everything. . . Austin's family has the support of the Blackners. Fighting with all of them combined is a suicide mission. I do what's best for the council and I always have, Eden will stay mated to James. I will not get involved in that and I must apologize for not keeping my promise to you but you must know of my current situation." The prosecutor apologized with no sympathy in his voice whatsoever. If he was trying to gain Hunter's sympathy, he wasn't doing a very good job at it. "Isabella has all of the qualities that her sister possesses; there is nothing wrong with her. She will prove just as beneficial to you as Eden would have." The prosecutor made the same exact points that I was currently thinking. I didn't think this day could get any more embarrassing for me than it already was. Hunter's jaw clenched and his hands tightened into fists at his sides. "I will not marry Isabella. You have destroyed the relationship that we share by betraying my trust on multiple occasions. First you promised me a bride and then you take her away and offer someone else in her place. Is this how you do business? Do I have to inform everyone in my circle about my experience here?" "We will like to make up for that." The prosecutor assured Hunter as he tried to calm him down. I was surprised to see this nervous side to him. It was obvious how important keeping Hunter satisfied was to him. "If you do not wish to have Isabella, then there are many other women to choose from." I felt an immediate pull at my heart. Other women to choose from? This time I couldn't hide my discomfort at his words. I didn't like the idea of Hunter with another woman. What made my gut twist even more was the fact that Hunter actually seemed open to the idea. He wasn't immediately saying no like what he'd done when the prosecutor had offered me instead of Eden. That was another stab at my pride and I tried to dampen down the horrible feeling of being unwanted. "Victor!" He roared. "Bring in the rest of women; let them stand in a line before Hunter. He will choose whom he will carry home." I couldn't believe this was actually happening to me. Hunter was so against marrying me that he was willing to choose any other woman that wasn't me? I watched on in horror as he studied each of them one by one. I couldn't believe this, he was actually about to choose someone over me.  The women all flushed as he moved his gaze over them and I felt like was about to throw up at the sight. They were each dressed in elegant but sexy dresses, showing of their figures nicely. "Looks like you'll be saved after all, sister." Marcus said with a grin. My brother didn't realize how wrong he was. I wouldn't consider it being saved. A part of me, a part that I wanted to get rid of, desperately wanted this marriage to happen. Ermanno squeezed my shoulders. "This is the best thing that could happen for our family. First Eden gets to be with James and now you're being freed from a loveless marriage without us having to butt in." I closed my eyes, I should be happy. Yet, I felt sick to my stomach. Anyone else would think that I was praying and thanking the lord that I didn't have to marry Hunter, when in fact I was doing quite the opposite. I felt my hands begin to tremble as he raised his hand to choose one of the women. "You've chosen Amanda." The prosecutor announced as he motioned for Victor to bring the woman closer. Hunter's gaze went from her and then straight to me. In that moment I felt so much emotions move through my body. I was angry, sad and most of all hurt. Hunter's jaw clenched and he didn't look away from me even when the prosecutor continued to discuss the new wedding arrangements. "I guess this isn't bad at all. This will work better for us, as there is already a man that we've promised Isabella to. Now she can marry him as well." The prosecutor continued when no one said anything to his previous statement. It took a moment for his words to settle in but when they finally did, I felt a chill run straight down my spine. No! I didn't want to marry . . . At least not someone else.  I gasped as a loud menacing growl shook the walls. My eyes immediately travelled towards the source of the sound. Hunter's emotionless eyes grew dark and he turned his penetrating gaze on the prosecutor. Suddenly, the tension in the air had increased a thousand times more than before. "I didn't choose anyone!" Hunter roared. The women winced at his tone, if they weren't scared before, this had definitely done the trick. The prosecutor looked shocked by his outburst. I felt all of the blood rush to my cheeks. Hunter's gaze was directly on me now and I couldn't look away even if I wanted to. He always had the ability to hold me in place with his stare. However, I was not prepared for the words that rushed out of his mouth in the smoothest way possible. "I will marry Isabella." There were gasps throughout the entire room. Everyone looked completely shocked by this sudden change. Just a minute ago he said that he would not marry me, so what exactly changed now? "You just said—" the prosecutor started to say. "I know what I just said." Hunter growled. "We have everything we need right here. I will marry Isabella and her alone. Let's get the wedding over with today."
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