"If that's what really happened, I would have never asked you to marry me!" Bryant's grip on the doorknob tightened. The angular cuts of his deep green, scaled suit hardly moved as his shoulders tensed. His voice sounded heavy and gravelly like rocks in a tumbler.
"Well it's a little too late for that don't you think?" Jayna couldn't keep the annoyance out of her voice. It's his fault they were in this mess. She would have figured things out on her own sooner or later, but here comes Bryant with the same bullshit scheming that got him in trouble. She told him this deal didn't come with any backing out. Marriage and mating was a lifetime thing for her people. Is it her fault he's an idiot?
"I'll go out there right now and call off this whole thing."
Absolutely not. "You won't."
He wasn't scared of her. He'd dealt with way scarier in his time across the stars. This half-mermaid princess was cake compared to those. "Try me."
It took one second for Jayna to get in his face. It took another for him to realize she had originally been on the other side of the room.
"You won't. This was your idea in the first place! You begged me. You think if you call off this wedding those brutes are going to send you condolences? No. You'll wake up strung upside down by your ugly, human, big toes as they- "
"I got it, thanks. Damn it." He had every right to be upset. It's her fault they're in this mess. He could've sworn she told him this whole thing would blow over as soon as they got married. He'd keep up the pretense for a few months then as soon as Bren's goons looked the other way, he'd head to the farthest planet he could find, preferably without any mer-politics. He'd be untouchable even after only holding the royal family's name for a short time. But it's looking like that short time might be longer than he planned. And if not, he'd have Bren's merry band of bounty hunters and the royal guard out for his head.
"Tch. If anyone's getting the shit end of the deal it's me." Married to this con for the rest of her life. And they'd need to eventually have children. How was she supposed to keep up pretending to love him when she didn't trust him as far as she could throw him? Would he leave her stranded when he got word of another treasure? Would he get caught cheating on her with someone he picked up at the bar? And worst of all: he's completely human. One of those earthlings. How an entire race could trash their planet beyond repair is beyond me. They bring nothing but trouble.
"Right because needing to get hitched or else the kingdom gets handed to your little brat of a sister is way worse than my life being on the line." Maybe proposing to the princess is his worst idea yet. She's a hot-head that's lived her whole life in the palace and away from the public eye. Or at least that's what Bryant thought until he physically ran into her in the Puffer District trying to shake off Bren's head-hunter. It was quick thinking, but no one would put a hand on him if he was with her. He explained his dilemma and she in turn explained a bit of hers. Marriage was the first thing he could think of, besides it was the quickest fix. It's not like she was offering up any ideas of her own.
"You don't know anything. If I don't get the crown, me and all of my descendants will be forced into servitude for as long as the bloodline continues." Okay, so she wasn't completely striking out on this deal. She turned 30 in a few days and her father made it clear his plans for the crown would change if she hadn't found a suitable man to reign with her. The problem was the only men she was interested in were women.
"So you live in a cushy palace and bring your sister shrimp cocktails whenever she wants. What a tragedy."
Slap. Bryant would've hit her back if he didn't have a no women, no kids policy. Even being part fish, he was sure she still fell under the woman category. Still he couldn't help but run through a few ways to kill her without anyone knowing it was him.
"It is different when the eldest is unable to take the crown. As a disgrace to the family I will be more pet than human. Living in a cage, given meals when remembered, in collars and leashes. I refuse to subject my descendants into carrying that burden all because you're a coward."
She hadn't mentioned that part before. He's a conman not an asshole. "Why don't you just run away?"
"Why don't you?"
"They'd find me." It was true. He'd stolen a spear from Bren known on this side of the galaxy for being the fiercest mer-warrior to exist. He would've made enough to get him out of debt off that spear. What he didn't know was that it belonged to Bren's great-grandfather and was passed down through the line. He should've just returned it. And he would've if he hadn't broken it during his escape. There's no way they'd let him live.
Bryant and Jayna let the realization settle over them. It was almost like seeing a coffin being nailed shut from the inside.
"Let's just get this over with." Jayna transported back to the vanity applying a shimmering powder on the tip of her nose and along her eyebrows.
"This is not how I imagined my wedding day." Bryant opened the door of her chamber looking both ways to make sure no guards were coming.
"Let's not pretend someone would willing marry you if their freedom didn't depend on it."
The soft click of the door shutting seemed unnecessarily loud, but the silence that followed was definitely louder.