Molly

Molly by Melissa Wright Read Free Book Online

Book: Molly by Melissa Wright Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melissa Wright
 
    Small lines of text curled deliciously around the page, leading through a decadent city, a torturous romance, a wicked betrayal. Molly’s hand traced the intricate pattern of runes that interlaced and surrounded the illustration of the temptress, Floret Shade, and she became distracted from her reading, smiling as she studied the long golden hair that seemed to float on the wind and mingle with the folds of her gown. Such a rich gown, beaded in an impossibly complex design that one would likely never even notice, considering how the bodice, cinched unfeasibly tight, presented her bosom. And, as if the display were not enough, the pale skin was dappled with droplets of jewels that glistened in the twilight, ensuring her prey would be ensnared. But, despite that abundance, the rest of her was thin, excruciatingly beautiful, and petite. Bare feet drifted over the ground, unbearably tiny and ethereal. But not fragile, not weak. Molly sighed as she rolled over, hopelessly yearning for that sort of strength and beauty.
    She felt the cool grass beneath her skin and became aware once more of the passage of time. It was nearing dark and if she didn’t return quickly, her father would skin her. She tucked the book into her satchel and hiked up her skirt to run through the tall grass.
    “Molly Mayanne!”
    His sharp tone cut through her daydreams of fairies and she froze, forgetting for a good half minute to drop her skirt back down. He stared at her furiously.
    “Father.” She struggled for a moment, deciding whether to come up with some sort of explanation. But she couldn’t know if he was angry about the late hour or something else she’d done (or forgotten to do). She settled on a brief, “Hi,” and a smile.
    It was the wrong choice.
    He grabbed her arm to haul her back toward the village, chastising her the entire way about wasting time on foolish tales of fairies and magic when there was work to be done. She hoped he didn’t see her roll her eyes, but after a few more steps, her temper got the best of her. She jerked her arm free and glared at him. “I am certain you don’t intend to let the neighbors see you treat me this way,” she spat as she straightened her arms flat against her sides and stomped the remainder of the way back.
    He followed her at a brisk pace and shut the door firmly behind them before starting up again. “Molly, a young woman cannot be traipsing around the forest as you do.” She stared blankly at him, wondering how much longer the scolding would carry on. “You have to see, a lady must protect her virtue.” She snickered; her virtue had been lost long ago, when she was but six and ten, to handsome John Black under the shade of the heart tree. The apparent lightheartedness on the subject of her virtue infuriated her father.
    “Molly, it is time to choose a husband.”
    She bit down hard against the words that would come and he saw her defiance.
    “ Past time.”
    The insult stung and she stewed for a long while after he left her alone in the cabin. And then, eventually, she began to prepare their dinner and her mind wandered from the resentment she felt to consider the various options available to her. Joseph Black, John’s older brother, was a farmer and she could imagine herself only too quickly in a muck smeared apron, carrying slop to the pigs or on her hands and knees tending the crops. Or James Black, their cousin, who’d earned his living hunting and trapping. Would he expect her to skin and tan hides? She’d missed her chance with John, he’d long since married another as he seemed unable to forgive her for kissing one of the Baker boys. She couldn’t even consider the preacher, who’d made his interest in her quite plain, without giggling. No, she couldn’t see herself with any of them. And that was how she'd ended up without a husband so late in her years. She wanted more.
     
    When her father returned late, he seemed in unusually high spirits (especially considering

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