Well, here we are, the first chapter/post of my first SimsLit story. I can’t say it’s been long in the works, nor will it be particularly polished (at least for now), but the story itself is over a year old and it’s my first original work to be shared with more than just the WattPad community. Not that anybody read my stuff over there, so it’s kind of moot.
Anyway, I’m always excited to hear feedback, so let me know what you think of Belle’s introductory chapter!?
Possible Trigger Warnings: Mentions/implications that Belle is physically and emotionally abused by her husband.
It hadn’t began like this.
He’d been nice enough to start with. A little loud, a little obnoxious; not the kind of guy Isabelle would have chosen for herself, sure, but not this.
It started two years in.
He never left marks.
Nothing that couldn’t be put down to the foolishness of clumsy women, or wouldn’t quickly fade.
All he left was a stinging sense of disappointment and guilt, and left her on edge whenever his mood began to slip.
She remembered the moment when she’d realised she was pregnant. Most women said it was the happiest moment of their lives, but Belle felt like an ice cold hand had coiled it way around her heart and gripped it tightly.
Belle had always wanted a large family, with lots of children of her own to love and care for. But in her fantasy, she had loved the man who fathered her children, and he had loved her too.
How could she bring a child into a house with this man in it?
What choice did she have?
But, to her disbelief, telling him about the baby had made things better. He’d become more attentive, more caring, more willing to accept her desire to sit beside the fire and read. Less likely to snap for little things, and he didn’t raise a hand to her.
The hand around her heart had loosened.
But here she was. Less than six months after their daughter’s birth, and she’d already been knocked onto the floor. She wasn’t even sure what she had done, or not done. She was aware of only two things.
The man standing above her, and her sleeping baby in the next room.
Fear unfurled in her chest like a flower, and spread cold dread through her veins.
What if he started on her baby?
She made her choice.
She went to bed early that night, and he didn’t protest. When he came in later, she pretended to be asleep and prayed to any god who would listen that he would believe her.
She left him in bed while he was sleeping – he slept heavily enough – covered herself in a dressing gown and made her way down to the servants rooms.
Nobody was around, which she normally would’ve questioned, but now she gave thanks for small miracles and stole into one of the bedrooms.
She changed quickly, ‘borrowing’ a set of clothes from the draws of one maid’s dresser. She hoped the woman wouldn’t mind, although she would probably notice the missing clothes and figure out where they had gone.
Belle didn’t have time to worry, because any moment she spent dawdling was another moment someone could discover her.
As she combed her hair out with her fingers, she realised that the best solution would have been to plan in advance. Steal a set of clothes when nobody was looking, then stuff them under her dress and maybe take a walk through the city under the pretence of wanting to give her baby some fresh air.
No, a servant would accompany her and she wouldn’t be able to ditch them for long enough to change. And more people would be likely to notice her face in daylight. Either way, she’d already made her choice and this was it. No changing her mind. No taking it back.
She peered at her reflection in the mirror. Should she cover her hair, or would that make her stand out too much?
Then she rolled her eyes. A woman, walking alone with a baby at night? She was going to stand out whether her hair was covered or not. There wasn’t time for standing around, dithering. She had to get her baby and go.
Belle murmured in low tones as she lifted the sleeping baby from her cot, trying to keep her from waking.
“Shhh,” She murmured, as the baby’s eyes began to flutter open and her tiny lips parted. “It’s okay.”
At the sound of her mother’s voice, the baby quieted, and relief spread through Belle’s chest, loosening a knot she didn’t even realise was there.
“There’s my girl,” Belle breathed, hugging the baby close. “We’ll be safe soon, I promise. I won’t let him touch you.”
She slipped out of a servants door, amazed nobody had seen them. Surely her luck couldn’t hold.
A dark thought settled in the back of her mind; what if he was letting her leave? Testing her, to see what she would do. Maybe he wanted an excuse. Maybe he wanted to humiliate her, grind her into the dirt to tell her how little she was worth.
She started walking faster.
She just had to make it to the house stables. The yard hand would be asleep, she could take her horse and flee. Simple.
Stables. Horse. Flee. Simple.
She chanted every word in her head to the beat of every footstep.
Then she heard voices. Loud and and merry. Male and laughing.
She became very aware of the baby in her arms.
She started to run.
She made it.
There was nobody waiting for her, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe it wasn’t a trap. Maybe he truly didn’t know.
She snagged a spare cloth and wound it around her front, making an impromptu baby sling. The baby stirred but did not wake, having fallen asleep as Belle had walked.
Of the four horses currently housed in the stables, only one looked up when she entered.
His name was Strider, and had been a wedding gift from her family. She rubbed his velvety soft nose, and sighed again.
They’d meant the gift in good faith, she was sure, but it had felt like a joke. She could ride and ride well, but to her husband she had never been more than a status symbol or a trophy. They were not equals, they would not ride out together. She would not be able to ride out at all, as she would not be permitted to do such a thing without her husbands permission, which he would undoubtedly not give.
Using her momentary distraction, Strider lifted his head and began to lip at the baby, curious. Belle pushed his nose away with a small chuckle.
“No,” She chided, “You can’t eat her.”
Strider gazed at her out of his dark eyes.
Belle shook her head, smiling. “Come on, let’s get you out.”
She took longer than she would’ve liked to put Strider’s bridle on, owing to her shaking fingers fumbling with the clasps. But she managed it, and then she was on board, taking every care not to crush her baby in the process.
“Take us away from here,” She whispered to the waiting horse, whose ears flicked back to show he was listening.
“Take us somewhere safe.”
She gathered the reins and drove her heels into Strider’s sides, spurring him onwards.
The shot of the stables at full speed, and disappeared into the night.
She resisted the urge to whoop with joy, even once they’d reached the forest – but only just.
She couldn’t believe she made it. She’d gambled, and it had paid off. She was free!
Free, at a price she didn’t yet know.