[center [size30 [google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Bungee+Hairline]
[Bungee+Hairline ❝ Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church . . . ❞]]
[font "century gothic" [b [size17 [u X]]] is at the end of her rope: her thesis has been denied, her long-distance relationship is shaky, and she gets home to find out that her apartment is infested and she’ll need to find somewhere to live for the next month. Instead of spending money on a hotel, her best friend insists she join her on a trip to [u [b [size17 Tåkern]]]; a beautiful countryside in Sweden. She accepts, thinking maybe with less distractions she can figure everything out.
The town is a bit quirky, but [b [u [size17 X]]] thinks nothing of it until she comes across [b [size17 [u Y]]] and his three wives. As [b [size17 [u X]]] becomes more involved in their family, she cant help but be drawn into their ways. But as she begins to gain [b [size17 [u Y]]]’s undivided interest, things soon take a twisted turn.
[Bungee+Hairline [SIZE20 [center [#c48364 ≜] WHAT I ASK OF [b YOU] [#c48364 ≜]]]]
[font "century gothic" [I [b ≜ [#c48364 Real pictures]]], make sure they match the theme of the roleplay.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 400 words minimum]]], and [b PLEASE PUSH THE STORY FORWARD]. Your post shouldn't be 2/3 responding to dialogue. I want to know who your character is, be creative.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 Must be 21+]]], this is honestly more so for my comfort, it has nothing to do with maturity. There will be gore, violence, intimacy, cursing, etc. I am willing to accept 18+ if you're absolutely interested.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 [u Active in plot discussion]]]], Just because it's my idea, doesn't mean everything is on my shoulders. I want someone who is excited and offers ideas that will make the rp exciting.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 Post no later than 7 days]]], I understand this is a crazy time, people have work and families. I myself work 40 hour wks, but I also have no life so I'm able to juggle the kajillion rps I have no problem. All I ask is that you don't join if you've already got a lot on your plate. I have a good amount of stagnant and slow moving rps and I hate to see an idea die. But if anything, always let me know - I have bad memory so sometimes I won't respond, but rest assured I've seen it.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 Finally]]], I will be playing multiple characters, that doesn't mean you have to. Please do not do so if you cannot handle the load.
[I [b ≜ [#c48364 Hopefully]]]: I have still held your interest, if so send me a message!]
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[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] Lilly and Olivia were both very happy upon the return to Matthew’s home. They giggled and chatted about everything making Matthew very happy. He almost couldn’t bear to rush them off to bed, but the hour had grown late. Each woman surprised him with a tight embrace, snuggling into his chest for several minutes before they separated and went to each of their bedrooms.
As he watched them close their bedroom doors, he could not help but be thankful in that moment. His knees hit the floor of his front room, his head bowing forward as he began to pray. All his hopes and dreams as a man of the Faith had brought him to this, and he knew he would have to fight to keep it. Olivia’s hand he may be able to claim wholly without fight. Everyone had already thought of her as his. But Lilly continued to be a surprise to the community and her hand… He was not alone after it, he had seen very clearly at the celebration.
Josiah was his friend, but he was also a leader of the Faith. Matthew couldn’t expect any special privileges for being his right hand man. It was clear to him that when the time came, he would have to face a few familiar faces in the Cage. All he could do until then was pray and prepare for the fighting to come in a few days. If he married Oliva and didn’t marry Lilly the same day, she couldn’t be able to stay in his home anymore. It would have been considered impolite to the new bride to have an unattached woman sleep in his home.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]]Amber trembled. She didn’t know how Josiah would act, but now she was here unable to hold back the truth any longer. She had faith that Josiah would be kind to her, if not for her but for their baby. After all she was in the wrong herself. She had known what Diana had done and said nothing from the very beginning. They had all kept it quiet and she had even been worse as she had let a friend, a sister almost face peril without warning her.
Just thinking of what could have happened to Lilly brought fresh tears to Amber’s eyes, spilling down her face. “Oh Josiah, I-I..” She reached for his hand on her cheek, her eyes wet with tears as she looked into his face with shame and fear. “I’ve let something terrible happen. I let it carry on all the while since the women got their seeds.” Her shoulders hunched and she felt pain from the stress pinch at her as one of her hands dropped to her stomach, rubbing her baby bump.
“Sister Lilly…Queen Marry…She was really a miracle. Her garden…her seeds…” Amber found that telling the truth was a hard thing to do, to admit that Diana had changed Lilly’s seeds to ones women couldn’t grow. That Diana had given Lilly land that was barren and unusable. “Diana tried to-to ruin Sister Lilly’s fertility garden. She gave her your seeds instead of the ones…prepared.” Amber was afraid now. She was afraid to look at Josiah, her eyes darting away from his face. “She gave Lilly the land you said no one could work, she….was hoping Lilly would be barren.”
Amber shuttered from how the hand on her face changed, afraid maybe she was wrong still and she would also be punished for this despite the baby. It was Josiah’s right after all, she had kept this from him the entire time. She hadn’t don’t the right thing and stop this. “God is really on Lilly’s side,” Amber cried, her arms wrapping around her.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/C7rZbfW.jpg]]Faith pulled away from the closed door that Josiah had taken Amber. Her hand came to her mouth and tears spilled down her cheeks in hot streaks. Amber had told. That brainless woman had actually given Diana up, what had she been thinking? Diana was already so stressed and broken over Amber’s pregnancy, Faith knew this wasn’t going to end well. She was already afraid that Diana wanted to kill the innocent life inside Amber’s womb due to her jealousy, and for once Faith couldn’t follow her in that. She couldn’t kill Josiah’s baby, she loved him too in her own way.
Faith heard noises behind the door and took off for Diana, hoping to warn her in time, to get her to think of a way to save herself in this moment. Diana was stubborn and selfish, but Faith loved her. “Diana!” Faith whisper yelled when she found the woman in the kitchen, her face an obvious show of fear.
For the most part, Faith could see that things were going well enough. At least Diana hadn’t had a full out panic attack considering all that had happened. Though she thought about the tears the woman shed during their singing. Faith knew she wasn’t sad for anyone but herself and it was the selfishness that would be the end to her. She happily sat at the table beside Diana though, at the end of the day she was her sister and it would eb wrong for both her and Lily to isolate Diana,; that would be heavily frowned upon. She tried to focus on the food. After them being starved by Josiah, she treated every meal as though it would be her last. Of course, still modest. She licked the savory juice of meat from her fingers and looked toward Diana.
“Diana, you are his first wife. You must conduct yourself that way. Maybe then the Lord will see you fit to be blessed.” It was unlike Faith to say something so bold and maybe that was what had angered Diana. She turned when the woman brushed her hand against her arm. Things had been tense between the both of them and Faith had been cold, but the touch did bring back fond memories. She had finished her food then and came to a stand to dispose of it, thinking she should go congratulate Lilly and the other women with beautiful gardens instead of falling into Diana’s trap. Diana cornered her though, and had the crowd not been so large, it wouldn’t have been so clear how they were distinctively outside of the happy group.
“I do love you.” Faith said, sadness in her hushed voice as her eyes enlarged when looking to Diana. Didn’t she see how it killed her for her to not make their lives easier? “But I cannot go against Josiah. You know that as well as me.” She shivered at the memory of the belt, the lashes against her back. The pain seemed to spill from the memory though as she looked toward Diana’s tight grip, her nails digging into Faith’s skin. “Diana,” she whispered, trying not to show panic.
[I “You have to help me, Faith, you have to help me.”]
The desperation in her voice terrified Faith. What did she expect them to do? Kill the baby?
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] “I’ll join you shortly,” Amber said with a smile. She felt it was alright for Lilly to go along with her, besides it was best that she not be restricted specifically to being her only friend. The Queen Mary was to bless the whole congregation. He looked over her shoulder then to get Faith and Diana to sit at the table. Though, her brow furrowed in worry as she saw the two having what seemed to eb a heated expression. That worried Amber quite a bit and she thought more about what Lilly had said. It was her duty to no longer lie to Josiah. That hadn’t ended best the first time. She wanted to stop this now before things became too bad. Maybe Josiah would take it easy on Diana as well if she told the truth.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]] Josiah smiled toward Matthew. He surely had brought them great fortune and he was right; Lilly’s presence had been a blessing.
“You and Olivia will make beautiful children; our families will surely seem more bountiful then.” Josiah thought of Matthew as more than a brother simply by religion, but almost by blood a bond he couldn’t even share with his own stepbrother Adam. He wondered just how far his reach was when it came onto his hold for Lilly. A part of him also feared that maybe his brother somehow, some way, would find his way back into Josiah’s life. Would he have forgiveness in his heart though, as their decisions had not been those made of the child but of their parents.. He was raised to obey his father and his mother and Beatrice had been the only mother he had ever known.”
“Brother Matthew.” Amber said then as she interrupted the conversation. She offered a smile. “Congratulations,” she finished in response to both Lilly and Olivia whose garden showed a prosperous family in his near future. “Might I speak with Josiah alone?” Matthew nodded in understanding, excusing himself to find Lilly and Olivia.
“Is something wrong?” Josiah asked then, his hand instinctively reaching for her stomach as his eyes looked into Amber’s. She shook her head, though he could see she was still a bit pensive in thought.”
“It’s about Diana,” she finally said. Josiah’s brows furrowed then. He knew they still had the rest of the ceremony and dint want to spend it in a bad mood.
“We’ll talk when I am home,” he said to her then, to which she nodded. The rest of the ceremony ended quite nicely, though Josiah kept a close eye on Diana and come them arriving home, he quickly asked Amber to meet him in the room where he closed the door.
“Tell me, my dear.” He said as he pressed his hand against her cheek. Her eyes were filling with tears and she was shaking, but Amber knew she could lie no more.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]] Lilly blushed as Amber told her she was special. No one had ever said she was special before, she didn’t feel like she deserved the complement. She hadn’t felt special at all, just positive, happy her garden had sprung up to life in such a lovely way to make others proud of her. She didn’t want to let anyone down, especially Matthew as he had been so very kind to her. She wanted to prove worthy of his kindness, to show her worth.
“You are so sweet, Amber, I feel like you are my true sister.” Lilly pulled her friend into another affectionate hug. “I didn’t even know we had a Queen Mary title, I just wanted a beautiful garden that showed I was worthy to be someone’s bride.” Because that was what the gardens were for, to show fertility and blessing from the Lord.
Pondering Amber’s sudden question, Lilly took a cookie from a plate off the food spread and popped it between her lips, taking a tentative nibble before pushing it all the way into her mouth and licking the frosting from her finger tips. “I think that if you question whether or not you should speak up in that situation, it is the Lord’s way of telling you hiding it isn’t the answer.” Lilly put a hand on her shoulder. “We would never want harm to come to someone we cared for, but if they have done something that could harm others or themselves we must offer a firm hand on putting them back onto the Lord’s path for their own good.”
Before Lilly could ask Amber who had her so worried, Sister Valerie from their seamstress group intersected them. Her question on Amber’s fitting caused both young when to laugh and Lilly pat Amber’s growing belly gently. “As long as life continues happily, you should have a chubby baby in your arms in no time, Amber,” Lilly giggled looking back up to Sister Valerie. “I don’t know about the others, but I wouldn’t mind coming to chat for a bit.”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] Amber nodded, wanting to stick close to Lilly still. An invite from Sister Valerie was a little out of the ordinary, but Amber wasn’t one to be suspicious unless it was Diana. The woman had proven time and again to be filled with a hate the Lord shunned. She thought about what Lilly had said. She had been hiding it, but now she questioned that line of behavior. It must really be the Lord telling her to do the right thing. She would have to break away from Lilly and seek out her husband. She couldn’t and shouldn’t hide things from him, even if Diana would end up taking the brunt of his holy wrath for her actions.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] Matthew sighed. He knew Josiah had to be right. The Lord would test him when the time came to see if he was a good man, if he had the strength and power to fight and protect what the Lord could bless into his home. It was wrong to let his fear wrap around his heart over this, it brought only a darkness to his Faith. He would push forward with this, he would fight for both the women and solidify their marriage rights.
“I understand. I have Faith in the Lord he will stand on my side. After all, Olivia is the one to bring her here as a surprise, I cannot discount that very first blessing in her arrival.” He smiled at Josiah, clapping his leader and friend on the shoulder. “And look at your own blessing,” He nodded his head towards Lilly and Amber walking over with plates of snacks with Sister Valerie. “They are thick as thieves together from the first time they met. Now one is Queen Marry and the other will bring you what you have wanted most in the world.”
Matthew couldn’t help but smile as he watched them. “I hope I can also see that swell in my own wife after marriage. It would be wonderful to see our children run around together."
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/awUqaS2.jpg]] Diana couldn’t help but keep a firm eye on Amber as she spent time with Sister Lilly. Both the women seemed to destroy any kindness Diana may have had when she would see them together. It angered her that Amber could bare Josiah a child when she could not. At least Faith had remained empty of his child all this time, why couldn’t Amber follow in line? She had been the third wife, third! It was all the men took unless one of their wives passed away or they rejected them completely.
Yet Amber was swelling more every day with Josiah’s brood. It was as though the Lord was mocking Diana. Then, when she could never grow a thing on that dead patch of earth, Lilly had changed it into a lush little garden of yellow golden flowers. She’d been dubbed Queen Mary and now was the golden sister in the eyes of the men around. Diana could not handle such a blow to her own ego as the First Wife to their Messiah, looks of adoration should have been hers alone. Queen Marry should have been her title. Amber’s child should be growing in her womb.
Everything was being stolen away and she was unable to rip it back with her own two hands for now. She needed to fix this, to change this and arguing with Faith was not helping her. Eyes turning steely, she glared the other woman down now, having enough of her advice to change. Couldn’t Faith see that it was everyone else who needed to stop changing and return to their place?! “You will help me, Faith! If you love me, you will help me find a way to put things where they belong.”
Diana stepped closer to her sister, cautious if who could see just what she was doing in a public setting, making sure to only move her hand that was out of sight from Josiah and the others to stroke Faith’s arm in an affectionate caress before tightening around her wrist almost painfully grip. “You have to help me, Faith, you have to help me.”
They had to be careful about how they approached Lilly. Scott knew they couldn’t overwhelm her, but he also knew that she had some connection to their true leader Adam, which meant it couldn’t be hard for them to pull her in. The opportunity to get beside her though would be difficult as he could already sense Matthew’s protection of the females and the way he now seemed to hover around Lilly. Though eventually he would have to choose a first wife and it seemed he had been closest to Olivia, who showed very promising features within the community. Still, as Queen Mary Lilly was the more obvious choice had it been his to make. Scott also knew how close Matthew was to Josiah; who was to say the man wouldn’t allow Matthew the right to marrying them both? He had to assure that within the Cage he would have the upper hand.
“How will we get close to her?” Valerie asked as they followed Amber and Lilly toward the food. Jane trailed behind the two, looking around nervously.
“Her and Sister Amber are practically stuck at the hip.” Scott thought then, “Maybe you can talk to her when you alter Sister Amber’s dress.” He suggested, maybe she could get some more insight on the woman and that would include seeing where her feelings lied when it came toward a husband. Did she have any feelings for Brother Matthew that they should worry about?
“You’re right. That will be perfect. I’ll go over and talk to them.”
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] Amber wanted to keep Lilly close, some part of her fearing what Diana could do to her since her plan hadn’t gone as she wanted. Some part of her debated on telling Josiah. It was her duty to tell the truth to him as his wife and she knew what happened then you lied to Josiah. She shuddered just thinking about what had been done to Faith, had she not jumped in the way as defense how many more blows would Josiah have delivered? She never wanted him to be that angry and yet she knew that if she told him about what Diana had done it could very well turn Josiah into a man she had hoped to never see again.
Amber looked to Lilly, she had been scared earlier, spooked by something or someone. A man whose name was never allowed to be uttered as decreed by Josiah. She placed her hand over her stomach protectively; Lilly had mentioned [I he] when she pressed her hand against her stomach. Everyone knew that the Queen Mary was a benevolent angel, sent from god himself. She knew all and blessed all who came in her path. Would she give Josiah the son he had always wanted?
Amber looked to Lilly then. “You are lucky. Brother Matthew will be happy to have you as a wife. The Queen Mary is very special, you will be honored at the festival. I don’t think even Josiah could foresee you joining us and blessing our community.” Amber said as she began to plate her food. Amber was honestly a bit saddened. She knew it was impossible for Lilly to become Josiah’s wife; he would never do something like that to Brother Matthew.
Amber was pensive in thought then, before finally turning to Lilly. “Lilly if you knew something . . . that could hurt someone would you still speak of it?”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/KLPYCW2.jpg]] When Valerie met Brother Scott, she had taken a liking to him. But he was fooled, under the guise of Josiah and his teachings. He hadn’t truly knew the word until she had taught him. In some ways she had hoped that she could love him, but her heart had belonged to another, a believer that had brought her into Adam’s testaments of the Faith. The first time she had met Officer Brady was the night of Josiah and Diana’s wedding. She didn’t find reason for the woman to be celebrated, Valerie could smell the evil on her. She heard the whisperings of women, she knew what had happened in their home the night of Brother Carlisle’s wedding. Josiah wasn’t a true prophet which was why he had been dealt the hand of wives he had. She wished no bad on anyone, but wouldn’t have been surprised to find that the child inside Amber wouldn’t draw its first breath.
It seemed she had interrupted a conversation between the women as she approached them. “Sister Amber – sister Lilly – Queen Mary,” she corrected herself. “I just wanted to check if you were still coming to your fitting tomorrow?” Amber nodded toward her.
“A lot of my things are getting too tight.” She admitted with a small smile. Valerie looked over her shoulder then, she could see Josiah talking to Matthew.
“Perfect, maybe you and the other wives can join my husband and I at our table?”
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]] Josiah was glad that for the most part the wives were getting along. He could see Faith and Diana at the table talking. Though what made him curious about their intense conversation was the look on Amber’s face every time she saw him. It worried him that she had distanced herself some from the other wives, though he was happy that she had finally made a friend. She had been so shy and much like Sister Jane, constantly clung to him and stood by his side. He wanted her to immerse herself in the community more, especially once she had his child. He had prayed over the thoughts and had finally decided that he would consider her as his first wife. This would difficult topic to bring up he knew and some part of him was fearful, scared that there would be a repeat of his past.
His heart clung at the memory of Elsa lifeless on the floor, the blood staining his pants. He’d washed his hands thousands of time that night until they nearly peeled and yet the memory of the red against his palm could not be erased. He couldn’t leave his room for days and even the community felt the weight of her loss. It wasn’t something to be spoken of.
Josiah had turned his attention back to Matthew. He could tell something was troubling the male.
“She mentioned a man named Adam,” Matthew said softly. Josiah’s jaw had clenched then. He wasn’t surprised to hear that name pop up, but after so long it did trouble his spirit. “What do you think it means?”
“It means we must watch over Sister Lilly. That is not all that you came to speak about is it?”
“The others . . . they will want to have Lilly for their own and I don’t –“ He could tell the young man was nervous.
“Matthew, you know it is not my decision. I have faith though that Lilly is meant to be yours. Don’t you?”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]]The celebration was so beautiful and Lilly couldn’t believe the women had time to set up such a wonderful array of food in such a hard time. She had complimented Olivia over and over on her organization with the Kitchen group. The two women couldn’t seem to be separated with their smiles lighting up every chance they could when talking with the others.
Lilly have bee-lined for Amber the moment she could, pulling the young woman with a swelling belly into her arms and kissing her cheeks. They both suddenly seemed to break into tears in one another’s arms, but still they smiled as they did. Olivia smiled their way, but she noticed that others were also looking at the two women and whispering to one another with awe expressions. Especially when Lilly put her palm against Amber’s belly and giggled at the movement beneath her fingers.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] Amber was so happy, she felt warm and glowing, sure it was from her kind friend – no her sister – who was treating her with so much love and affection right now. She was pleased Diana didn’t get her way, and she wondered briefly is Josiah knew what Diana did. They all had known, his wives, realizing it when they had seen the seed bag Diana gave Lilly and the land section they had seen her working in.
Amber had been terrified nothing would grow. Afraid they would cast away her friend because she wasn’t fertile, another barren womb cursed by the Lord. All women knew their place in the Faith. Obedience, love, support, submission, and above all bearing the Lord’s children. It wouldn’t have mattered how lovely Lilly was if she couldn’t bear children. No man would take her into his protection.
“Amber, do you feel that too? Of course you do, how silly, he’s inside you kicking away!” Lilly giggled, moving her palm and splaying her fingers out, wiggling them in greeting to the babe. It made her feel like she was empty, seeing Amber filling with child. An ache sat in her chest and a strange face appeared in her mind. It was hard to chase, but then it was there, a man she knew.
The image gave her a warm and lonely feeling, her hand falling from Amber as her face took on a sad expression filled with longing – but longing for what? She should be happy in this moment, elated at the joy all around. Yet her heart seemed to clench and a name rolled in her mind and past her lips. “Adam…”
Amber looked at Lilly in confusion, there was no brother named Adam in the community. Wasn’t she in love with Brother Matthew? Worried, she took Lilly’s hand and searched for Matthew, tugging the girl to him swiftly.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] Matthew was almost to Josiah’s side when Amber came before him, his eyes taking in Lilly’s saddened expression. Reaching, he pulled her into his arms and rubbed her back, unsure of what was wrong, his eyes moving to Amber, raising an eyebrow but the girl shrugged.
“I don’t know. She was fine, but then she called out a man’s name and became this way.” Amber spoke quietly, knowing Matthew wanted an answer.
“What name?” It couldn’t be Randy right? She couldn’t miss that monster. Matthew held her tighter, almost too tight as Olivia came over and stroked her hair.
“Adam. She whispered ‘Adam’.” Amber shrugged. “But we don’t have a Brother Adam.” Of course she didn’t know that Adam was a banned name in the community. The men knew, and accepted it. He was the first man, they couldn’t use his name for their children. Wives were always led to different names for sons.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/kQvNOmO.jpg]] Matthew frowned, but Olivia seemed to sigh. He turned to her, wondering what she knew. Could they remember life outside the community still?
“Do you know who Adam is, Sister Olivia?” Amber asked, her eyes brightening up at knowing anything that may make Lilly sad.
Olivia frowned. “I think he was a boy she knew…from school? I’m sorry it feels so long ago I can’t remember very well. He left though, I think.”
Matthew nodded, understanding. Not remembering well was just fine. If anything he didn’t want either women remembering at all. This was their life now, the past was no longer important.
Lilly seemed to come out of it when she realized she was in Matthew’s arms. She rubbed her cheek against his shoulder and giggled trying to pull away from him, but he pulled her close again before finally letting go.
“Congratulations on becoming Queen Mary, your garden was very beautiful.” Matthew smiled down at her, but his eyes looked behind her and noticed several of the men watching him, even Josiah seemed to be looking their way. He raised an eyebrow at them all. These were his girls. If they wanted them, they had to take them.
Lilly shook her head. She didn’t really understand what that meant, but she was happy all the same, turning to give Olivia a quick hug before she laced her fingers with Amber's and pulled her away towards food where a young man and Sister Valerie seemed to intersect them.
Some part of Diana wondered if this was God’s way of punishing her. She had always been faithful to him and the word, to Josiah and yet she had been punished with these flowers, taunted by fertile women. She tried to not be bitter, to rid her mind of such dark thoughts and yet it was hard to ignore the glee – that spark in Josiah’s eyes as he bent down at the garden. She watched as he closed his eyes and lifted his hands to the sky, the sound of the women singing so loud in her ears. She hadn’t even realized she was singing along, though her lips moved when she met Faith’s gaze. Had she been wrong? Had this been a lesson pushing her toward repenting her sins once more? Her eyes looked over to her plot of land, a small little bulb that still had yet to blossom. She felt embarrassed and yet closed her eyes and held hands tightly, allowing the tears to fall from her eyes. For once, she appeared weak.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] This had changed everything. Knowing that Lily was their Queen Mary would mean she would be highly sought after. Her womb was blessed and with that meant she had a higher ranking than the other women. He had every intention of marrying her once he married Olivia, but now he could tell this wouldn’t be easy. Josiah favored him of course, but that didn’t mean he could help him in any ways should it come down to the Cage of Truth and he knew very well that was coming.
Still, he had faith in knowing that God was on his side and whoever he selected would be a good fit for Lily either way, but he wasn’t sure what that would mean for Olivia as the women were of course very close to one another. He wondered then as well, what if Josiah decided to take Lily for himself? They didn’t know whether Amber was having a little girl or a boy as of yet and if she didn’t have a boy Josiah had every right to seek one who could bear such a child. Lily was blessed and that would means he could fulfill whatever need her husband desired.
Matthew knew he should counsel with Josiah soon.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] There was so much to celebrate as there were many women’s whose garden promised children in their future. Though, Amber was more so happy for Lilly as being an outsider was hard enough, knowing she wouldn’t be casted aside for being barren gave her relief that their friendship wouldn’t come off improper. She knew this meant that many men would offer to marry her and with some luck that could mean a chance to carry a child with her. Of how lucky she would be! There was no fear in her that Josiah would take Lilly as his new wife. He’d already three and it was unusual to take on more. Amber was sure that he would allow her to marry Matthew as he had proved to be so loyal to the Faith and to him. Though, there was the curiousness that swept through the women – who would Matthew choose to marry first?
With much to celebrate, they all were to head toward the dining area for food and refreshments. When it came time for the festival, Amber was sure there would be a lot to celebrate!
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]] Josiah had come to his feet then as they were heading toward the dining center, conversation buzzing through the air. The sky seemed much more blue and the grass much more green. Beautiful colors enveloped them like a warm blanket – their faith impeccable to warrant such blessings.
His eyes had caught sight of Lilly’s for just a moment, watching as the sun’s rays bounced off her hair, a glow set about her. Yes. She was marvelous and eh could very well see that she had enamored a few. He himself had become much more interested in her.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/eprf9An.png]] Scott lingered in the distance, his eyes landing on Lilly before looking over to Valerie. They both knew what this meant and it was their duty to stop this. They knew the members of Josiah’s congregation didn’t deserve a woman like Lilly. He was no fool to Valerie’s outside relations. Their marriage simply being by chance and upon discovering her relation to another leader, Adam, he had eventually fallen for his teachings. Through his teachings he had found an obedient wife who loved him and bared him a [I true] child of his own blood with Sister Jane.
“We cannot let Brother Matthew take her,” Valerie whispered to Scott as she took his hand, drawing in close. Jane as always stayed quiet, she was completely obedient to Scott and knew her place. Though she didn’t know the true intentions behind those words, she was still Scott’s second wife and knew not to snoop.
“Don’t worry. She will be ours.”
[h3 The Past of Adam]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/IDIzjfM.jpg]] When he was small, just a tiny little tyke really, he had seen his dad bring down the lord’s punishment. It had been a swift lesson for his young mind – never stray or turn away from the grace of the lord and all that He commanded. The Word of God was law, and his voice was held in the form of Nathaniel.
He never looked away, never hid behind his mother’s skirt or flinched after that lesson. He knew to always push forward and follow his father’s lead. Perhaps that had been Adam’s fall from grace in his mother’s eyes. A desolate child tugging the coattails of a man playing God in Beatrice’s eyes as time went on and he changed from the man and leader she knew to being like a stranger.
However Adam could never be swayed from his father. [i He had Faith.] He had felt the biting teeth of the Lord’s will and the fires of hell that threatened to consume him if he didn’t submit to God, the proof of the Lord’s divinity had been seared forever in his flesh between his shoulder blades. A holy brand.
Beatrice never knew, and would never come to know that her willful and tyrant-like child had long ago shed his childish innocence due to her husband. Deep in the recesses of the trailer park Adam had found the Lord was his only path and only salvation from the hideous crimes that had befallen him. Instead of screams, prayers would fall from his lips as his father drunkenly beat him, tied to a post. A test of the Faith, that’s all it was. A trial of true belief when facing the flames of hell against his skin.
When she ran, leaving him behind for her new life with a husband and child, was the first time in years Adam had been tied to the post and screamed. A teenage boy, but he would bare scars no man could stomach seeing as his father took the branding cross burning orange-red to his back over and over again. Soon nothing along his back remained the youthful smooth skin it had been.
When his father finally drank himself nearly to death, Adam felt the calling to take over the people. He had crept to his father’s side as he lay passed out next to a new wife who stared at Adam with frightened eyes – not of Adam, no, but of what had come before. He smiled to her, shushing her quiet sobs as he lifted her nightdress, handing it to her.
He had looked away while she changed. She deserved that much, a bit of dignity after the screaming he had heard from this room earlier. The lord had come to him with a vision, one of a great community in a happier place away from the prying of sinners. But in that place the Lord had deemed no room for Nathaniel. The voice of God had transferred to Adam in that vision, he saw himself stand at the head of the community.
Adam stroked his father’s face that night. He tidied up his sleeping wear, tucked him in. After he knelt at his bedside and said nightly prayers. Yet as the prayers fell, they turned into those of funeral prayers too, of returning a chosen son back to the lord. Rising up, he saw his father’s flicker open bloodshot and glossy. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away,” Adam recited as he climbed onto his father’s chest, locking his legs around tucked in arms as his father drunkenly began to struggle.
Adam pulled a nightshirt from his back pocket. It was the last thing he had managed to save that his mother had left behind. Tears rolled down his face as he stared down at his father’s frightened expression. “I’ll return you know, as He commands. I love you, father. I will keep them safe.”
Tearing the nightshirt, Adam began to loop the fabric around his father’s neck until it was tight. He then pulled the cloth as if he was going to attempt to tie a pair of a boots. Nathaniel began to struggle harder, but he was no match for his nineteen year old son, healthy and full of righteous vigor. It didn’t take long, Adam was thankful for it. His father’s body grew cold as he stayed there, not leaving till the first rays of dawn had crept in.
His stepmother, the woman who replaced his own was the one to find Nathaniel dead later that morning. She screamed and wailed over it, but Adam took her in hand quick enough. Establishing reign over his father’s three wives, Adam then moved on to the little commune, stepping up as the true Messiah of the Lord.
[h3 Lilly’s Creation]
Her mother had been a sad woman, but she had never known until she was older that she had also been a weak one as well. She couldn’t say her first years were spent in a loving home. Often times she spent them sitting at a bench near the back in a diner her mother worked at.
She would get up in the morning, get ready and go to school then sit in the diner till her mother got off work. Good things had come from it, she got all the pancakes she could eat. She even met her best friend in Dina’s Diner. The scraggly wild looking girl had stumbled in with her rather wreck of a barely sober mother one day and glued herself to Lilly’s side since.
Life with her mother had been by no means easy or even stable, but it had been safe enough. There had been real love between mother and daughter for a while. However nothing ever lasts, the world was always changing and so had her mother slowly. And it all started with her father.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/RkW3Q0l.jpg]] Megan Lemmis had been a beautiful woman once, and a kind one. She had been raised in a good Christian home, understood the scarce vows between man and wife. All her life she had kept herself chaste until marriage, dates ending in soft brief kisses.
She had also been happy with the status she lived in. Her parents were together, they owned their own home in a middle class district – white picket fence and all. She went to good schools – not the best, they were public schools in New York City, but they had been well enough.
She graduated with dreams of college and a happy marriage at some point, defiantly a child or two if she was so blessed. She had started working at Dina’s Diner then. Earning money to pay for schooling, not wanting her parents to shoulder the burden.
When she finally started University, her life took a turning point. Professor Elias Nilsson had been…magnificent. He was her English Lit Professor, and when he spoke it was like being drawn in to a vortex one couldn’t escape. His take on poetry spoke to her soul, and his smile to her heart.
She had known it was the wrong path, knew it stood against everything she had been taught. Giving herself to a man she wasn’t married to, in fact to a man that was already married. But she was in love and love made one do crazy things.
When she fell pregnant, she had been hopeful. Hopeful that he would finally follow through with all the things he whispered in her ear after a passionate night. She agonized over telling him, wondering if he would he excited about this next step in their lives.
Soon, she found though that the Elias she had grown to love over the past two years wasn’t the man staring at the ultrasound photos with such a hard expression before telling her to get rid of it. He had even written her a check right there to pay the hospital fees. It broke something inside her then, to be told to destroy something they had made together out of love – well what she had perceived as love.
Her world had shattered, and when her parents found out they had cast her out, forcing her to drop out of University, find an apartment, and take up full time at Dina’s. But she tried, god did she try before the end. She raised her baby well, loving her and giving her what she could.
Then one night at the diner, a woman came with a proposition. Take a check, and never see her daughter again. By then though, Megan had fallen to the lowest level. She had acquired a drug addiction to heroin that had been slowly getting worse and harder to hide.
She knew she had to do her daughter right, knew she was going to spiral out. She contemplated the offer for over a week, her heart going back and forth. In the end, it was knowing that Lilly would be in the hands of her biological father, a wealthy man by this point who owned a large publishing firm that finalized her decision. She would give her daughter the best, and never pull her down into the dark again. If only Megan would have known whom she was handing the care of her daughter into. Lilly’s father’s wife was not a kind person.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/2n3G1lo.jpg]] However Elias did not feel the same. Life had changed for him, through trials and tribulations he had come to realize that what he had didn’t make him happy. Oh it helped, it gave him a sense of power he had dreamed about since childhood, being the kid on the block to be picked on for enjoying being intelligent. However he found since Megan had walked out that night and never come back it felt as if he was not complete.
His first marriage failed – though he shouldn’t be surprised, after all they were both having affairs. After the divorce, his wife left, taking his stepdaughter with her. He didn’t fight it, after all he had no legal claim over that child. But the whole in his heart had opened just a bit more.
Then he had come across Tina. Wild and carefree, everything Megan had not been. She was so alien to what he dreamed about every night, he wanted to drown in that difference. To be swallowed up by it and forget. His empire was set, he had made his fortune. And had no heir, only a whole in his heart and the image of a fetus he had paid to murder haunting his memories.
He had kept them, the ultrasound pictures of the child he and Megan had started together. Often late at night he would drink himself into a stupor staring at them, wondering what could have been back then if he hadn’t put his ambitions first. Tina would find him like this and he would lash out at her.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/bWyVuWO.jpg]] Tina Nilsson couldn’t have children. It hadn’t been a blow to her when she discovered her womb would always remain barren. She had always found children to be too problematic. They needed constant upkeep, care, and attention. She could get a dog.
Tina had once tried to rid herself of the problem by destroying the old fuzzy photos Elias treated like gold. It had been the first time he had ever hit her, the blow coming from nowhere behind her inside his study. It hadn’t ended there either, as he had quite a bit to drink that night.
No, Elias had berated her for being barren, threw things, and tore at her clothes. He showed her not kindness that night, even as she screamed and begged and said she was sorry. In the morning, she had limped back to their room, crawling into their bed to weep the day away while he had put his study to rights again, locking her out and settling on his loveseat.
That night had changed Tina. A hate grew in her heart and the need to get revenge on Elias bloomed in her chest. But he was powerful and she didn’t have a way to tear his power down. So she decided, using the information from the ultrasounds he loved so much, to track down the woman who haunted his dreams. If she couldn’t do anything to him she could do something to that woman.
Imagine Tina’s surprise when she found Megan, using money and her underground connections from her birth family. Just a little nobody waitress in a shabby diner. This was her enemy, the woman her husband couldn’t let go. She was disgusted. But then, she had seen a young girl from her car skip into the diner, running up to the woman. Ginger locks, something Tina was very familiar with, falling down her back in a braid.
Tina had found her route of revenge. She worked hard to keep Lilly a secret until she had everything within her control. The day she had handed the woman a check and taken her daughter, was the day Tina could never turn back from. She had set everything into motion. The woman would never come back, and her daughter was now Tina’s personal whipping boy.
[h3 Under Her Thumb]
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]] Lilly had tried to be a good stepdaughter. Her father often times barely around, unable to face her after the new of her mother’s passing. They hadn’t told Lilly, her father didn’t want her to know her mother had died of a drug overdose shortly after she had come to live with him. But he couldn’t stand to look at the child he had created with the one woman he realized he had loved years after it was too late.
It pained him to be around her, to know he had wanted to get rid of her and to know that he had caused her mother so much pain. He left his daughter in his wife’s care, unknowing that Tina was a cruel controlling mistress when it came to his child. He never saw that side after all, running a publication frim was taxing on his time.
Oh she was loving public, always bursting at the seams with a concerned look or a helping hand for her stepchild. She gave the impression she treated Lilly as her own. But in reality all those kind words were just cover for the biting remarks, insults, and threats she whispered underneath that kept Lilly in line.
When they were alone together it was the worse. Tina would always find something for Lilly to do. She would chase all the maids away in the estate when Elias had to leave on work trips, leaving all the clean up to Lilly. If she found a spot, a smidge, or simply flicked an ashes from her cigarette when she could find no wrong, she would drag Lilly around by the hair she had inherited from her father, screaming at her, forcing her to submit to brutal treatment.
Something even Olivia is unaware of, is that Lilly bares a patch of scarring under her left breast. She never thinks of it anymore, but still the knife marks are forever there. A testament to a very bad night when she was sixteen years old, when Tina had finally broke whatever barrier that kept her from extreme violence. Lilly would never know it had been a fight between her father and his wife. A fight over Lilly’s future, over the future of Nilsson’s publishing firm.
All she knew was that she had awoke in the middle of the night feeling a heavy weight settle over her hips. When she had opened her eyes, her stepmother who had trained her well over the years to be compliant was smiling down at her manically. She hadn’t seen the letter opener.
Thankfully Tina had come back to herself that night, or else Lilly would have bled out in her bed. It was after that, Tina also sought outside help. Help for her own mental stability that had been slowly detreating and help in controlling Lilly, who had begun to do anything to stay away from her, quietly fearing for her life.
[h3 Finding Eachother, Losing Eachother]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/IDIzjfM.jpg]] Adam had first met Lilly while she was on the outs with Randy. They had fought over the intimacy of their relationship, or lack of it. But it was an unfair fight, pointless in that he had been moving his things clear across the country to work for his dad’s company. He had demanded she move with him, but she wouldn’t leave the University she had worked hard to get into.
She had been crying to herself in the back of the library, a copy of the Old Testament in her hands for her theories course. It had been like discovering an angel in human form to Adam. A weeping angel that called out to him, the Shepard rising up and pushing him to her.
[i [center “Why are you crying,” a young man had asked, his hand spooking her to jump a little as it landed on her shoulder gently.
Lilly squeaked, her eyes looking up through tear-soaked lashes. She didn’t know what to say to the man looking down at her, his gaze so intense she thought it touched her to the bone. He made her nervous, her small shoulders trembling under his hand.
She tried to laugh it off, though it came out a bit shaky, one of her arms lifting up to wipe her tears away on her sweater. Still her heart was heavy and she couldn’t stop fresh tears from trailing down her cheeks and chin.
Adam couldn’t help himself, pulling the crying young woman into his arms. She had stiffened at his hold, but he felt her tears bleed through his button up shirt, his hand going to her back to sooth her, stroking along her spine in circling motions. Soon he found it surprising that the woman slumped alongside him, her sorrow stealing her energy. He didn’t mind it. As he looked up, he found them sitting under an old wooden cross, his eyes closing, and arms tightening around the slumbering woman in his embrace. It was a good sign. After all, he was in search of members of the Flock. Could signs be anymore pure?]]
After that, Adam sought Lilly out at every turn. He would use her courses as an excuse to talk to her. He guised religious debate to slowly teach her the ways of the Faith. And slowly Lilly grew a deep affection for Adam, confiding in him about her fears and woes. He, in turn, would use the Faith to heal her, to soothe it all away.
But being a Shepard of the Faith required many things of Adam. Though he never wanted to leave Lilly’s side – no not even for a moment – he had to. He had to watch over the Flock and make sure no wolves entered the pasture. But when one did, Adam began to worry.
It had been when Olivia had started writing back and forth with a stranger from Sweden. She had been introduced to him by an exchange student in one of her lectures, and encouraged to give pin-pal writing a try. She found she really enjoyed it and had gushed to Lilly and Adam over lunch all about it, telling them about Matthew and the darling community he lived in.
Adam had closed up during the luncheon, his mind blaring alarm bells and his hands clenching tight. A wolf had finally come into his pastures. Using Olivia to gather information, Adam soon discovered Josiah’s recruiter at the university. And he handled it.
But not before making sure Lilly would be there when he returned to her, for her. No, without her knowledge, he had taken her to the park and spent the day laughing, dancing, and feeding her scripture and holy nectar. She never knew that in reality all the dancing and scripture were for a marriage ceremony. At the end, Adam had taken the girl in his arms, using his voice to plant the seeds of obedience in her.
Unless someone could counter all he had worked up to, Lilly would remain pure and slowly drift from the world outside the Faith. By the time he could come back for her, she would have let go of any friends and family that held her away from him. All it would have taken was some coaxing and he would take his wife home.
[h3 The Currant Reality]
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]]
Olivia smiled at Lilly as everyone seemed to be pleased with her garden. Both girls swayed together as people sang. Lilly couldn’t help but giggle, peeking over at Matthew – and at the same time looking in Josiah’s direction. She was so happy that they liked her garden and her cheeks blushed red at the implications it had.
“What have you done? Beatrice what have you done?!” Jed shook the women fiercely and couldn’t help but strike her. She was almost in a trance, blood coating the gorgeous green dress he had bought for her to wear for the ceremony they had earlier in which Elsa had been made his newl appointed first wife. He’d been out with the men celebrating his good fortune, only to walk in on Beatrice standing over Elsa’s slain body, her womb spilling blood still. His striking her seemed to pull her out and with tears she looked to him, a horrible scream erupting from her as though she had been holding it in for months. Jedidiah watched as the knife fell from her hands, Beatrice clinging to him tightly. He looked down in horror as the blood seeped into the white linen shirt. He couldn’t believe she had done this. He felt sick and yet he knew he couldn’t falter in front of her. There was nothing to be done. They had to get rid of the body. Already there had been word of the cops in search for the young girl and soon enough, someone would point out that she was last seen with him.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/BIyggUF.jpg]] “Please, just tell him you would not think it right you take role as first wife. You are still young, being first wife is a tough position.” Beatrice said to Elsa. They were in the kitchen then, preparing dinner for Josiah. She paused in her chopping the onions to look to Elsa. Her belly swollen with Jeddah’s child. It made her sick to look at it and she tried to avoid her gaze as much as possible. During the ceremony though she found it hard as everyone oohed and ahhed over the bump. She could have children, Jedidiah just hadn’t chosen her to. It was embarrassing and now he had embarrassed her further. It wasn’t fair. She had bult this community with him. She had took care of him for so long and now to be pushed out by some brat who barely got done sucking on her mother teat, it was infuriating.
“I cannot do that and you know it. Jed has made his decision, it’s best you accept it Beatrice.” Elsa said, popping a cherry into her mouth. Beatrice watched as her tongue lapped up the small drip of juice form her full lips. “Besides, if Jedidiah asked me, then he must believe I am capable of the role.”
“You weren’t even supposed to be here.” She whispered under her breath. She had thought Jedidiah would give Elsa to Damien, one of the other brothers. Though Damien had taken another wife instead and Jed had taken a liking to Elsa being around. She was young and full of energy, great with the kids as their teacher and able to help in the housework. Most importantly she was a true believer.
“Well I am, and it’s best you get used to my presence now after so long. Jed has made his decision and as his wife, you should respect it. Jedidiah will not be happy when I mention this to him.” Beatrice snapped her head up, her eyes stinging from the onions and tears dropping.
“What?” She asked her in shock. She walked over to Elsa who was heading out of the kitchen. Elsa looked over. “I’m tired of you treating me wrongly. I am telling Jed – ”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/UGKKv3y.jpg]] Being stabbed is [i interesting]. Nothing at all like the movies, no screaming or crying and depending on the wound, very little time to react at all. It wasn’t the stabbing that made her look down, but the feeling of water trickling down her legs. Then came the blood, thick and warm, but to Elsa it felt incredibly hot, like what she imagined lava felt like spilling out the top of a volcano.
She’d opened her mouth to say something, not sure what would come out. All that came was a gasp and a shaky breath. She looked dup at Beatrice, who almost looked shocked herself as she pulled the knife out. The adrenaline had worn off then and the pain was starting to settle just as the blade went in once more. Elsa watched as her eyes glosses over, stabbed once more. The blood had taken over now, spilling from her mouth like an overrun bath and before long she lost feeling in her legs, crumbling to the ground, Beatrice now over her with such a demonic fervor to her actions. She could see her lips moving, but the sound was muffled like she kept ducking her head underwater.
“Josiah,” she had weakly cried out. But she was gone, lost to the darkness that had consumed her. Death.
[right [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]] A child. For many in the [I real] world, it was planned and it when it wasn’t planned, the child could be seen as nuisance, another stressor in ones life causing them to rearrange their daily living. Children were sacred to the Faith, the next batch of soldiers to bring light into such a dark world and carry on the message of God once their parents had passed on.
A child. He’d asked God to bless him with one since that faithful night he’d walked in to see his own child dying inside the womb of Elsa’s now lifeless body. He’d broken pass his father’s hands, falling to his knees as he cradled Elsa in his arms. Stolen. Her and their child which grew inside her gone. He had been foolish to not ask his father for her and yet he knew how bad it would seem for him to take his own father’s wife. But had he not been thinking in the first place? Sleeping with her in the middle of the night when Beatrice would demand his father’s attention.
Like the son that was once promised by Diana. Like the one after that and finally . . . the fact that no child would carry his name no matter how much he lay with her. Amber had been a blessing to him, often reminding him of Elsa and now it was as though God had forgiven him and given him a second chance to prove he was worthy.
[I Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.]
“Josiah!” Carlisle had announced then,, bringing the man back to reality. The men had gathered at Lilly’s garden then, a plot he knew all too well. Sometimes he could still smell the scent of Elsa’s decaying body. After the cops came they had started planting flowers in the area to mask any detection, though the plot where her body lay never grew anything. Not that it mattered. His father and Beatrice had been convicted and sentenced, Elsa’s case becoming cold and easily forgotten.
He looked down at Amber, wrapping his arm around her to soothe her. It was a sad thing, to know that there was the chance she would not have any children. At least this year. Though Carlisle couldn’t contain the smile that spread across his face, his eyes alight. “You must see this!” He exclaimed. With his hand in Amber’s he started to walk up the small hill toward the crowd, which parted at his presence
“No,” he said softly, in utter disbelief as he watched the flowers sway in the soft breeze as though waving at him.
“Lilly!” Amber exclaimed in glee, her hand pressed against her womb then and a fit of giggles falling from her lips. It was then the women had begun to sing, the joy of seeing the garden so overwhelming that tears had fallen from their faces. Josiah looked over to Matthew then. He had delivered her to them, their beautiful Queen Mary.
Faith had looked to the side then for Diana, her voice rich and smooth as she joined in the singing. She couldn’t help but notice the anguish displayed on her face and yet, Faith only sang louder.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/kQvNOmO.jpg]] Lilly and Olivia were thrilled when dawn lit their windows to start such a special day. They had joined together to dress, determined to make Matthew proud to see the bountiful growth their gardens held, a sheer sign God had blessed them with fruitful wombs. They wanted to look their best, however they both knew vanity was a sin of the Faith.
Kneeling together, the two prayed hand in hand in Lilly’s room for a wonderful day and blessings from the Lord. They hadn’t known Matthew had stepped into the doorway briefly before turning and giving them their privacy as they had yet to finish. He was so proud of them, knowing that his life had become right the moment they entered his house.
Lilly pulled out a pure white cotton dress. It hugged under her breasts, the delicate pattern of yellow flowers, no bigger than a pinky nail, were sewn all along the crinkled seam that cinched at her waist, showing delicate curve. The skirt of the dress hung close around her hips and flared out, ending just over the tops of her feet making it appear as those her toes peeked out the bottom.
Olivia had chosen a similar dress, however the bottom had lavender flowers sewn into it that crawled up to her hips. They were specially made by the two girls – well by Lilly as Olivia simply could not sew a single stitch. All the women in the seamstress house had worked hard on gowns for the women, taking each of their garden’s flowers into consideration for the decorative affect.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]] Lilly was so nervous, afraid her work was not enough. Though in her garden bloomed brilliant yellow flowers in perfect rows, she couldn’t help but feel as though something surprising was going to happen when they were seen. She was terrified they wouldn’t be well welcomed or that something would be taken badly.
Olivia held her hand and told her to pray once more as she stood in front of her own garden, the two closing their eyes as crowds of men and women gathered to see all the hard work the women had done. Lilly prayed in front of her garden, dropping to her knees, head bowed. She begged the lord to bless all the women and turn none away from his love.
As she began to stand and turn around, she noticed many of the men stood by her garden with strange expressions. It made her even more shy and she found herself delicately twining her hair into a knot while her other hand fingered the weaved fence she had made. She was unsure of herself.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] Amber was in accompany with the women, knowing what Diana had done. So did Faith, there was no way to hide it. They both knew Diana had sabotaged Lilly, and it had been stressful to both their hearts. Everyone knew that land was barren. Nothing had grown there for several years.
The stress made Amber move to Josiah’s side, her hand reaching out to take his as she trembled seeing the crowd gather quietly around Lilly’s garden. Tears trickled down her face as her emotions couldn’t be controlled due to her condition. “Poor Sister Lilly,” She whispered quietly to herself, not knowing if Josiah had heard her. She could only imagine the lack of harvest for her friend. Would Josiah turn her out then? Would Matthew remove his protection? Amber trembled thinking Lilly may end up in the Barn, accused of lack of Faith.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/awUqaS2.jpg]] Diana was thrilled to see the quiet crowd, her lips almost twitching into a smile, though she knew she had to keep her appearance where it should be. Josiah was kinder now with Amber, but they all knew not to fall out of line. When Amber went to Josiah’s side, Diana narrowed her eyes but knew the girl would say nothing. To say something would to admit she knew, and doing that would be admitting to sin.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/C7rZbfW.jpg]] Faith was trapped between it all. Her love for Diana overshadowed all kindness she should have for others, but at the same time she knew what Diana had done this time was wrong. She had cursed such a kind young woman, one who had done nothing but her best as a Sister of the Faith. How would this end, it was up to Josiah to come to a verdict. A small part of her wondered if Diana realized she had also put herself in a trap, casting off her barren land to another.
Josiah had never known his mother. As far as he could remember, his mother had run out on them. The truth, though, was far more sinister than he could imagine. A truth he would never get to know as long as his father lived and not even on his deathbed. Jedidiah had met Josiah’s mother in the same trailer park he had been born in. She was twenty three and he twenty-seven when they first started dating and it only took two months before their first child had been conceived. Though that child would never give its first breath, as Jed soon learned that his wife had issues that not prayer nor pills could solve. She cried every day at the loss of their child, not eating or sleeping and would lash out at him. Constantly he had stopped her from near death, once finding that she had left every appliance on in the hopes it would overrun their cheap trailer and combust into flames.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/FYMbv3K.jpg]] When Josiah was born, Jed had his wife committed to a mental facility. Raising a child as a man on his own was not easy. He had no relation to his family, barely any money, and when he couldn’t afford gas, he feared he would soon lose his home. All he had was his faith, which had been passed on by his parents who were long gone. He came across another trailer park, though it was much nicer than the others had been. Most of the homes were connected, there was a community garden, and children ran around through the grass instead of drunks passed out among weeds.
“Thank you God,” he had whispered as he held Josiah’s hand. He was only five at the time. The first person who had reached out to him was Beatrice, the first wife of Nathaniel, the current leader of the commune. Nathaniel was wary of him at first, unsure whether or not to let an outsider in, but Beatrice had pleaded with him that maybe it was God’s will. How terrible would it be to turn away a man of faith, seeking to find his [I home].
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/BIyggUF.jpg]] Jed spent weeks learning the word of the Faith. Josiah, so young like a sponge being fed all sorts of information. There was no other way of living. This was his life now. Still, a part of him was sad to find that he knew he was into like the others. He was still in some ways, an outsider, not born into the Faith. Her son had often picked on him, making it clear that his insecurities were true. Josiah had tried his hardest to stay away from Adam as much as possible. As the only son to Nathan, it was clear who would be next in line as their leader. It seemed the young boy had derived his personality form his father, who was a very cruel man. He was traditional, believing in the carnal and insidious tortures of those he considered heathens, those who were false prophets and not truly of the Faith.
He was also a drunk and would often take his anger out on Beatrice for the littlest of things. His biggest mistake had been casting her out of their home after she had over spoke during a meeting. She sat on the steps of the trailer in the rain, her hands tucked under her butt in some attempt to keep them from freezing off, though she had been drenched. It was wrong of Jed to approach her and to speak to her without her husband’s approval. Even more so, it had been wrong for him to extend a hand to her.
“Come inside,” he said, nodding toward his own trailer. Beatrice was originally from Sweden, like Jed, her parents had moved to America to live the American dream. Though, they soon found it hard to earn money in the South due to the language barrier. They scraped by though on what they could, but that meant cutting out on what they couldn’t and that was education. Ut they had their knowledge of the Faith and that was all they needed to carry them through their passage on earth.
Beatrice looked over her shoulder, the lights were out and Nathan wasn’t coming for her any time soon. He had taken a new wife, she had heard their love making through the open window as a sign to taunt her even further. She had grown to hate him and maybe that was why she spoke out so much. She hated how he looked at her, how he beat her, even Adam had taken on to doing the same and in some way he had turned her to hate her own child. Turning back again, she had taken Jedidiah’s hand and walked along with him toward his home. Josiah had been confused of course, knowing the rules of their ways. His father had tucked him in through and told him to not worry and to stay in his room.
Beatrice had fallen into Jed’s spell. He loved her, treated her delicately and cared for her. When he touched her she didn’t squirm, welcoming his hands and lips wherever they roamed. She had cried his name out, tears falling from her eyes as she had never felt a love like this before.
“You deserve to be a leader. God speaks through you Jedidiah, I know it,” she told him. Her fingers drawing circles on his chest. Jed looked up at her, a pensive look on his face. She had spoken thoughts that had constantly ran through his mind, words that had been spoken in secrecy amongst the others. “I know where he keeps the money.”
With ten other members they were all soon on a flight to Sweden, to the Holy Land his father had said that once belonged to his grandfather. The new home for the Faith. With much work it had become their new home and as Beatrice had foresaw, he was a great leader. But like most men, the temptation of young women clinging to his every word was hard to ignore and soon enough he met Elsa.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/UGKKv3y.jpg]]
Elsa had run away from home, a good home. She had two parents who loved her and wanted nothing but the best for her, but she was a woman of the world. She wanted to find that there was more to life than money and houses and work. She wanted to [I feel] and she [I felt] a lot of things with Jedidiah. Even though he was older than her by nearly ten years. Still she had loved him like no other person before and when he introduced her to the Faith, she knew she had found her place. When they became married she thought her life had finally found meaning. Though she didn’t know how much danger she had been in.
Beatrice could handle the first few weeks, the unsated hunger a man would have for his new wife, especially one so young and beautiful. But when Elsa became pregnant something had changed inside of her. It happened too quickly and it did also make her wonder, why Jed had never tried to have children with her. He would spill upon her like a tipped over water basin, demanding she clean herself. He already had his son; why else would he need another child? Though he was enamored with Elsa, and still treated her kindly even after learning she would bear him a little baby girl. She didn’t feel herself being pushed out, even worse she felt herself being pushed down and when Jedidiah announced at their table, Elsa would become his new first wife, she couldn’t contain the loud scream of shock.
She knew it was wrong, but had left the table so quick, locking herself in her room and refusing to come out. When she did it was the absolute worse, Jedidiah beating her mercilessly until Josiah had come to her rescue, only to be stricken himself. A leader was not to show any sign of weakness.
When the cops had raided the commune to arrest Jedidiah and Beatrice, it had been under the suspicion that Elsa was there, btu after searching every house, they found no trace of her, save for a drop of blood. It was a different time then, when very little evidence was needed and no one approved of the [strange people] in the countryside. Not to mention, his father had committed countless of felonies regarding fraud and laundering. Prison had been inevitable and at twenty, Josiah found himself facing the daunting task of becoming a leader of his people, soothing their worries and assuring that this was God’s will.
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]] Faith could barely stand, taking her time on her chores and Josiah hated to see it. He didn’t want anyone thinking they could get away with little work. He’d asked for Amber to call her into his room after Matthew and the others had left. He laid her on his bed, sleeping beside her and stroking her hair. She nuzzled into him for comfort, though memory of how his eyes flared with every whip still flashed through her mind. She could give him a child if he wanted, but some part of her felt like she was nowhere near as important as the others. Still, moments like this she craved, as though being cradled in the arms of God himself. While he knew it was not right to break one wife off punishment while the others were, he still made sure to pay extra attention to her and to take care of her until she was in good health.
Weeks had gone by without incident. The women seemed to be getting along, but they were nothing like Matthew’s girls he could see.
“Officer Brady is on the phone for you,” Faith had said as she reached the entryway of his office. He placed his pen down and closed his book, before getting up to head to the living room. They owed a lot to Officer Brady who had done good in keeping their community protected from the outsiders as well as making sure their activities were brushed aside, especially those considered illegal. He was glad for the new information, hopeful the ceremony would go on without a hitch.
“Of course, we will take necessary precautions.” He motioned for the women to go outside, noticing Amber’s sluggishness.
“Randy?’ he repeated, his brows drawing in. Of course he was familiar with the name due to Matthew. He knew this was a warning sign, that he was close to knowing of Lilly’s whereabouts. He could not have such a demon like him touch foot on their land. “of course you did, I trust that you will always keep good on your promise.” Josiah made note to send his monthly fee to the officer. He blessed him before hanging up the phone and heading back to his office.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]]
There was something different about the night she spent with Josiah before she confirmed her pregnancy. She had grown somewhat heavier, her skin just a bit pudgier and het breast fuller. Though Josiah had taken to them quite fondly, suckling at her every chance he could. She clung to him, his sweaty body pressed against her as he tried to catch his breath. As she laid in his arms, she thought of how lucky she was. It was then she stared out the window, her eyes catching sight of the garden. She dreamed that night of a bountiful bit of flowers, taller than the rest, with sweet nectar dripping from its center.
The next morning she could barely keep anything down and as the days wore on, her garden grew and she grew weaker. It wasn’t until Faith had mentioned to her to see the physician and with one test, it had been proven. Her hands always found themselves pressed against her stomach as she thought about the reality that she was carrying Josiah’s child. What a lucky woman she was! Her chores had lessened then and she spent her nights laid with Josiah, him praying over her belly until he fell asleep, his ear to her stomach. Finally, God had blessed him. And Amber believed that god would bless Lilly too.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/awUqaS2.jpg]]
“You know what you’ve done is not right,” Amber had said as they were preparing the sandwiches with the other women. It was the day of the garden viewing and there was hope that there would be something worth celebrating. Amber of course had no doubts.
“You’d be smart to shut your mouth,” Diana whispered back.
“Please,” Faith interjected to which the two of them looked to her. “Today is a special day. Let us not repeat our mistakes.” The memory haunted Diana. She had tried her hardest to make it up to Faith, but some part of her felt as though she had lost a part of her that night. She could still feel the raised skin over her back when they were together, only then to try and distract herself by running her hands through Faith’s hair instead. Sometimes she was glad for the darkness, so that Faith didn’t see the tears that streamed from her eyes It wasn’t fair.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]]
Matthew was excited. Today was the day of the garden unveiling and he had great hope that both Lilly and Olivia would make him proud. How promising a future if their gardens were full of flowers. It would only mean for a prosperous first year of marriage, especially with Josiah expecting his first child. He could only expect blessings.
The young man stood beside Josiah as they walked toward the garden, the women trailing behind, giddy with excitement.
“Josiah, I was thinking of proposing. I prayed on it and I think it is finally time.” He had tried not to show his impatience, but his feelings for Olivia had grown stronger and he really felt that she was an anchor for Lilly which she needed as she was still trying to find her place amongst the women. He didn’t want her to depend solely on Amber, as soon with child, she would not be around the others as much.
“Olivia?” Josiah questioned then. He had started to grow interested in Lilly after Officer Brady’s call. He had eventually sent more information on the women and her abusive ex-partner. Though his closest information came from Matthew. Lilly was not like the others and she seemed to intuitively know more about their ways than most outsiders. He was more so curious than suspicious.
“Yes, and I pray I am not being disrespectful, but I know it is the right time. I had a dream last night about her, she wore the most beautiful crown. [I House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.].” Josiah had stopped then to look to Matthew. He seemed a bit nervous, yet he stood before Josiah tall and with his head held high.
“You have my blessing,” he said then to which Matthew could only grin. The women had walked before them to head toward their gardens to see what their future held. Though soon enough there was a crowd surrounding Lilly.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/AWLUjJt.jpg]] He found her. It had taken time – not as long as it could have, but longer than he liked. However Randy found where Lilly had run off to with Olivia. It helped that Tina had resources from back in the day, the kind of connections that worked well with their state of affairs. Now he only had to come up with a plan to get there.
Leaning back in his office seat, he looked at various pictures of Sweden. He knew where Lilly was, but he also came to find out the area was secluded and required an invitation to get into. It was all private property and when he called the number for the local police department he had been intercepted by a man who assured him Lilly was probably there for the upcoming festival and would no doubt be back home before he knew it.
The officer had also said that Lilly was an adult who could make her own choices, that Randy couldn’t legally make her come back to the States and the police force located there couldn’t pressure her to go if she didn’t break any laws. Meaning no amount of bribery could get Lilly under his thumb unless he was there in person to make her leave on her own – controlled – will.
Randy just had to find a way to get invited, that was the tricky part. He couldn’t get any clue as to how Olivia had scored an invite and was half-tempted to weasel his way into her house and snoop. Only problem was, Olivia lived with her drunken mother and he really didn’t have the patience for women to deal with it delicately. He would have to think of a way.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/A20Wzt6.jpg]] Officer Brady Lindberg was many things, but above all he was a true follower of the Faith. He had but one Shepard who led him and the man he was currently on the phone with was NOT the chosen one. In fact, as far as this particular man was concerned, Brady took an annual bribe and kept the private land his community lived on out of trouble with the law.
In reality, Brady funneled the money to its rightful owner and was a guardian of the Holy Land. He watched over it, kept tabs on all the heretics in it, and reported any serious changes to Adam, the true Messiah of the Faith. He also noted all members who could be swayed over and all who would have to try again after being returned to the Lord. He was Adam’s second in command and he took it very seriously.
“I checked into things like you asked, Josiah. We got signs posted to for strangers to stay off your land unless invited. The other officers all know you are holding a big festival soon for your extended family and I haven’t said anything else to it, but you have to keep it light – no out of control fires this year, you hear me?”
Brady waited for Josiah’s response and grunted, his eyes hard as he stared at a photo of a woman holding a small child. [i ‘All sacrifices are for the greater good of the Lord,’] he thought as he looked away. “One other thing, an American called me yesterday asking about his fiancé. Said she took off with a friend and came up this way. It might be that man you told me to watch for,” Brady moved some paperwork and picked up his notepad. “Name’s Randy Jefferson. He’s looking for a young ginger girl named Lilly Nilsson, age twenty-three. Said she came here with a friend, a dirty blonde named Olivia Anderson. He tried to bribe me to send her back to the States. I took care of it though.”
Brady rubbed his eyes as he listened more to Josiah. He didn’t like the man, he was a false Messiah, a heretic who corrupted everything. From what Valerie told him, it was easy to see the Lord gave him no blessings, even punishing his first wife to be barren.
A barren first wife was a sign of an empty believer, a false prophet according to Adam. If any man was caught with a barren wife, it meant his faith had diminished and he wasn’t true. He was given back to the lord and the wife was driven out in her madness before drowned so that she couldn’t try to corrupt the man again when he came back to the Faith.
Brady hung up the phone and bowed his head in prayer before picking it back up. He would contact Adam and tell him everything that had happened so far. With the Festival coming soon, a Holy Holiday, the flock needed to return to the Holy Land and forever leave the toxicity of the States.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/awUqaS2.jpg]] Olivia and Lilly had fulling integrated into the life in the commune. No one dared to mention their foreign ties as to not bring up any thoughts to their life before. Everyone was aware they would become the wives of Brother Matthew. Many saw Lilly as a blessing from God when she came with Olivia and it was easy to see how well the two women worked in sync with one another. Where one woman was weak, the other was strong which made for a healthy family dynamic. Something Diana was worried Josiah was beginning to think about.
The women happily performed tasks with the others, mingling and finding their fit. Lilly discovered she had a talent in crafts such as sewing, artwork, and the like while Olivia was better at managing, organizing, and caring in the kitchen. In the mornings they all washed in the lake with Diana, Faith, and Amber to cleanse themselves before anything else, wearing ceremonial cotton gowns. It was more a baptism than a bath.
Right after their first week, however, it was time for the women to all plant new life as a symbol of their fertility. It was thought that what they planted would spring forth and show that God had blessed their wombs to carry the fruit of their husbands. It was Diana, as Josiah’s wife, who handed out the various seeds of plants and showed each woman the area where they could lay the foundation of their gardens.
It was also around this time that many noticed Amber looking paler than normal. Many times she would become sick and find she couldn’t eat certain things. Lilly was the first person to ask if Amber was alright, alerting Josiah and the others that Amber was pregnant. This allowed her to more freedom from chores and secluded her from the sowing of gardens for she had been proven fruitful.
While everyone chatted about it and all seemed happy for Josiah and Amber, Diana was in her own personal hell. She could barely look at Amber without fighting back the bile in her own throat. To see Josiah treating Amber like glass also broke something in Diana that made her lash out in secret at Faith and use every opportunity she could – which wasn’t many – to pour more chores on Lilly because she gave Amber strength.
It was due to this that Diana formulated a plan. She had noticed, ever watchful, of Josiah’s lingering glances in Lilly’s direction. Of his gentle smile when Amber and Lilly chatted together like pecking hens. Everyone said Lilly and Olivia would marry Matthew and Diana had heard the talks between Josiah and Matthew behind closed doors, Josiah pushing Matthew to wait, that it wasn’t time just yet until they handled something.
She never could hear much. It was always just whispers here and there. But in her heart, she felt as though Josiah was once again going to slight her, to betray her trust. The more he pampered Amber, the more she grew irritable and unable to bare it.
When it came time to hand out the seeds for planting gardens, she gave each woman a bag of flower seeds embroiled with a picture of the flower they were. One bag of seeds was kept aside from the rest. It was the scarce flower which the nectar came from. Only the men knew how to make it grow.
When Lilly stepped up for her bag, Diana hid her smirk as she dropped the bag she had reached first. “Silly me, Sister Lilly, it seems I need to get more bags.” Diana gave her a fake smile and made her move. Swiftly throwing more seed bags on top of what she had before snatching the scarced flower seeds.
Handing the seeds over to Lilly, Diana had then continued to pass them out before showing everyone woman the part of land they could cleanse and create their fertility ritual on. Because Diana was barren and all knew, she often claimed a piece of land that nothing grew, Josiah having told her it was as if the land was her womb and her womb was the land. He didn’t want anyone else to work it in fear her barren punishment would pass over.
It was this piece of land she cast off to Lilly, ignoring the teachings Josiah had given her on the subject. Instead she simply took the time out of the day where women worked sowing and tilling their gardens to relax lazily. She used to pray, but prayer seemed to much now that Amber had fallen pregnant.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]] Lilly was overjoyed when she discovered Amber was pregnant. Each day when Matthew took Olivia and her to Josiah’s house, she would rush to Amber’s side and dote on her. Olivia had been afraid it wasn’t alright for Lilly to act like that, however Matthew assured Olivia that Josiah encouraged the doting between the two, that it was a positive thing.
Olivia was sent to the kitchens for chores, honing her cooking craft and organizing skills while Lilly had been sent with Amber to textiles. There they weaved, sewed, and enjoyed time chatting with other wives who also held seamstress positons. Though memories of people and life outside the commune were brainwashed to be forgotten, skills and knowledge learned over the years was still available to people when they were triggered to pull it from the back of their minds.
It was thanks in part to this knowledge that Lilly was able to slowly clean out the barren land that had been provided for her. Digging out all the rocks and waste that wasn’t suitable for the earth. She didn’t complain about the hard work, didn’t whine or ask for help from others. Years of conditioning to be a labor mule from her stepmother had come to her aid in this new life of hers, making her seem like a perfect wife candidate with her shy but loving nature.
As she turned the soil, cleaning away what didn’t have moisture or life, she discovered a wrapped bundle of what looked like firewood to her. Thanks to the daily sip of nectar, her mind was always riding that smidge of a high so she didn’t recognize that instead she had found a mummified corpse.
Remembering flowerbeds that covered the landscape of her father’s estate, she knew that mulch was a healthy thing for a garden and decided to hack the [i ‘firewood’] up. However when she tried it didn’t break like she had wanted. Instead she turned to making a mixture ash and fertilize with it by burning the [i ‘firewood’] first and using what was left. She even weaved a garden mat with the help of a new friend named Sister Valerie to use as a good foundation to hold moisture.
Many of the women noticed as the days past how different Lilly’s actions were and finally one woman had come to see how Lilly’s garden looked and was shocked to find flower sprouts vibrantly green just barely popping through the soil. Five rows with ten plants each delicately placed. There was even a cute cloth fence weave wrapping around sticks pinned corner to corner around the garden to make an embroiled picture of women and children playing in a field of yellow flowers.
She was in awe of the sight and happily went back to her own garden wondering what she could do to decorate it. It would be a first for the community where women constructed little temple-like decorations around their fertility gardens. Each woman trying to put her own personal touches so that the Lord would see her dedication and bless her with child.
Olivia had also gotten a bag of seeds, for lavender flowers, and had decorated her own garden. She had attempted to help Lilly with her cloth fence project at one time, but she was terrible at it, Sister Valerie taking over to fix all the mistakes she had made. She had felt bad because Lilly had been working hard staying up past Matthew’s curfew to make it so she didn’t say anything the one time Matthew questioned about Lilly needing a new candle in her room. After all the gardens were kept out of sight of the men until it was time for inspection. They weren’t even spoken of within ear shot in case a man become too prideful of his luck from the lord.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/KLPYCW2.jpg]] All the while the women worked, another woman kept watch, her ears open and her heart closed from the lies and deceit that threatened to tarnish her faith. She knew her duty and gave herself over as sacrifice to her husband when he demanded it, but she never bore him fruit. No, the child in her womb was that of her true husband, one she snuck out to see by causing problems and being sent to the Barn. With the lantern shinning bright, it was the only way for Brady to sneak in and be with her while taking her messages to the Messiah. She could endure for the greater good.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] In-between the women’s work, Matthew made sure to spend time with Olivia and Lilly as much as he could. He had to make sure he had a good influence on them so that they didn’t stray from the Faith and so the other men stayed away. There was one night where a lantern hung bright in the Barn. Olivia had asked about it, wanting to go see. He squashed that thought quickly enough, unable to let her know. Good wives didn’t need to know about the Barn, and Olivia and Lilly showed wonderful wife qualities.
The two women gave him a lot of hope. They clung to him during gatherings, followed his lead, and didn’t become disruptive. He knew he had the lord’s blessing when it came to them. Not to mention Josiah! Right after they came into the fold, his best friend who was a true brother to him had been blessed by the lord with his first child. It was an amazing feeling.
Matthew was also thankful for Josiah’s willingness to help him with Lilly’s ex-boyfriend. They were working together relentlessly with Brody to ensure the safety of the commune from such a monster. Every day that went by, Matthew felt the urge to marry rise to the surface, but Josiah kept telling him it wasn’t the time. He only hoped that after the upcoming garden viewing the lord would give the sign.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/IDIzjfM.jpg]] Adam read a letter mailed by Brady and written by Valerie. In it was details of new members of the commune. Nothing was interesting until he had gotten to the last two pages that described a young woman who seemed to be blessed by the lord. Valerie had even gushed – something she never did before in her reports – about the woman and all she was doing in her time there. As usual there was no name, they made sure to describe each person so that a name was not necessary to judge if a member was a true member or a heretic. Yet Adam found a picture slip out, something Valerie felt the lord told her to send his way.
When he looked at it, his breath caught in his chest and he felt his blood run cold. A smiling ginger was working hard in her fertility garden, having just stood up to stretch her hands towards the sunny sky. His fingers clenched, crinkling the photo as he let out a wail. Josiah had done it, he had broken Adam’s final sense of patience. Just as his father before him, he had not only stole the right to leadership of their Faith, but he had stolen the First Wife and Mother of the Faith. He had stolen Adam’s Lilith.
That night, in the spar pit, where the Brothers release their demons and allow their primal nature to ride that violent high, Adam challenged every member trying to rid himself of the darkness in his soul. Could Josiah really push him any further?
Josiah gave a look toward the women, as though telling them to behave. He was still usure of what happened between them in his absence, but he didn’t want any repeated behavior and especially so not in their home. He walked with Matthew to the other room in which the male was showing him the cellphone he had taken from Lilly. He took hold of the device, scrolling through the many messages and catching sights of names that were of course not familiar to him. The messages that had been received were quite disturbing. Especially the idea of the man following Lilly and trying to track her down. Their land was holy and safe. He would have to make sure their borders were secure. He knew this meant having to meet with Office Brady, which sometimes could be unpleasant.
“Yes, it is important that Lilly does not see these messages. You have done good to bring this to me.” Josiah knew that he could perhaps get some more information from the officer pertaining to these people. If Lilly caught sight of these messages it could threaten their programing of her. She needed to be completely pulled and isolated from that part of her life. Though, it didn’t seem she was having a problem fitting in considering how close she had gotten to Amber. :how is their training going by the way? Any problems?”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] With Lilly at her side, it did make things better. She could feel the tension in the air disappearing away. She knew it was wrong to be jealous of the relationship that her and Olivia had, but she did really wish that her and her sisters could come together. Well, her and Diana at least.
“Will you ladies be joining us for the daily wash?” She asked. Diana clucked her tongue, letting Amber know she was leaning toward saying the wrong thing. They were meant to make the women feel as though they were already beginning to be ingrained into their daily tasks. “I mean.” She ducked her head then, figuring it best not to continue to speak. It seemed clear that Josiah wasn’t going to take Lilly in to their home which made her happy. She felt that Matthew was a perfect fit for Lilly. Though, she was curious if she would be taken as his first wife. Olivia seemed to be a much more promising candidate.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/C7rZbfW.jpg]]
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Faith said. She stood in arched entryway. Her hand was pressed against the entryway to help with keeping her up. “Breakfast is ready.” She gave a small smile before walking away.
“Is Sister Faith alright?” Matthew asked under his breath.
“She will be fine. Not all lessons can be taught easily,” Josiah said. “Come on, let us indulge in this delicious meal.”
Faith had motioned for Amber to stand so as they were all standing when Josiah entered. Once he was seated, the women were seated then. It was odd, staring down at their empty plates after they had served the others. Amber was clutching her stomach for a different reason and Faith felt weaker than normal. Amber had ducked her head, almost embarrassed for Lilly to see that they were going through punishment.
Josiah said a prayer over the food before they all were allowed to eat.
Seeing the women were not eating made Matthew curious as to if this had to do with the ceremony last night. He wondered if it was no his place to ask Josiah about it, as there was no reason he should but into the man’s business at home. He could only hope that he would never have to do something like this to Olivia or Lilly. He looked toward Olivia then, a smile on his face. While the messages from the phone had worried him, he felt glad to know both women were safe and here. They were home. He’d talk to Josiah in private about his intentions to marry. In the meantime, he had begun to enjoy his food.
Faith could barely keep her head up, but she could not leave the table unless Josiah said so and that would be rude to do so with outside guests in their home. Especially Matthew, who other than the other men, Josiah treated with much more respect. Once breakfast had been finished, she knew that it was time to clean up. She was the first to stand, feeling that if she could at least keep moving it would distract her from the feeling of pain from her wounds and hunger.
Diana saw Faith waver and quickly came to a stand, the sound of her chair a bit harsh.
Matthew nudged the girls inside, giving them encouraging looks. Olivia took the lead, she was naturally more outgoing compared to Lilly. As she stepped into the hall, there was a sharp notable pause between her and Diana as the other woman sat a vase of flowers down. They seemed to stare at one another until Amber spotted Lilly and rushed to the girl.
The more dominate women seemed to look away from one another then, staring at the two shyer, more docile ones as they threw their arms around one another.
“Lilly,” Olivia called just as Diana called out “Amber!”
The two women broke apart and gave everyone a shy look. Amber stroked Lilly’s cheek. “Grand rising Sister Lilly. The Lord held out his hand and said rise for…”
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]] “For I have given you the dawn and the day, and so you must till and sow the land,” Lilly finished the scripture, her subconscious pulling it out of that strange box in the back of her mind. A glimpse of a man also popped up in her head, but faded before she could tug anything from it.
Amber’s face light up and she laughed. “Welcome home my sister. The lord really does call you here.”
Everyone else shared strange looks but Amber rattled on about how thankful she was for what Lilly had said the night before, how she understood and would weather the storm for a bountiful harvest on the morrow. It was as if the pain of the night before was gone from Amber’s mind while she was close to her new friend, the girls unknowingly had laced their hands together as they walked to where food would be served.
[left [pic https://i.imgur.com/C7rZbfW.jpg]] Faith winced as she brought out a platter of food to the table. Thankfully everyone was greeting the guests. Her back hurt burned from the night before, but she couldn’t give Diana up to Josiah. She couldn’t go through another night of cleaning up what was left of her when it was over and she couldn’t bare it if she was sent to the Barn. Josiah was right, he was a much kinder husband and man than some of the Brothers in the commune when it came to punishment.
Olivia swiftly walked past Diana, following Lilly as she was led away by Amber. Neither women greeted one another, though in passing they did slightly turn heads to look at one another. Diana’s look was almost pleading while Olivia’s was a warning. Olivia had remembered the hostile look Diana had given Lilly when she woke and saw the pictures around Matthew’s house. She wouldn’t let Diana near Lilly again if the other woman continued to be that way.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]] Matthew waited for the women to disperse before pulling Lilly’s phone out of his pocket and handing it to Josiah. “Grand rising, Brother Josiah. We should really talk.” Matthew turned to look in the direction Lilly had gone, a worried expression on his face. “That man hasn’t given up. He is looking for Lilly. He left…terrible things on her phone since she has been here. I listened and saw the cruelty of her life through the messages on this phone. Not just from him, Josiah…Lilly’s matriarch is also very cruel. I prayed all night after listening and I could only feel to give you the phone and have you see for yourself how her life has been. I hope the lord gives you guidance on how to help her.”
Amber happily sat Lilly down beside her at the table though Diana was not pleased. She wanted to tell Amber that Lilly would sit to the left of Matthew but again before she could say, Olivia had looked her way. None of Josiah’s wives wanted to risk angering him the day after punishment, their disposition much more submissive than in Olivia’s scrambled drug hazed memories.
“Lils you should really sit near Matthew okay, you don’t want him to be lonely?” Olivia nudged Lilly where she should sit, though the ginger woman pouted a bit that she had to move from Amber.
“No fair, Livs, using Matthew like that so you could sit next to Amber.” Lilly gave Olivia puppy eyes until Olivia laughed and traded places with her a second time. Lilly grinned at Olivia before falling back into her shy nature as she and Amber started fidgeting together waiting for the men.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]] Amber watched the relationship between Olivia and Lilly with longing. They would be wonderful sister wives together, understanding one another. Brother Matthew was truly blessed to reap such reward from God. Amber’s eyes flickered to Diana and Faith and she wished desperately that they could be that close.
Amber could feel the snot dripping from her nose, eventually the tears no longer coming no matter how bad she felt the need to cry. She was careful as she gently peeled herself away from Faith, looking down at the red raised wounds on her once unblemished brown skin. She didn’t know where to touch her to help her up, afraid of hurting Faith. It almost made it easy for her to ignore the blood dripping from her own knees, little grains of rice clamoring to the hardwood floors, where if they weren’t quick to clean them up, she knew they would forever become stuck between the boards and serve as a horrible reminder of how this night had turned out.
“Josiah didn’t say we can move,” Diana said. Amber knew it was wrong to defy him, but she couldn’t leave Faith in this condition.
“He didn’t say not to either,” she snapped back in a harsh whisper. She watched as Diana turned to look at her, eyes cold until they looked down at Faith. She chewed on the inside of her lip, looking away instantly. This was not how things were supposed to go. She was supposed to bear Josiah’s children, and if he brought in a second wife that was all. He was not to become greedy and bring Amber in. She was a mousy and pathetic pet that had followed them home and now refused to leave. She could handle Faith, she could accept that, but something about Maber got under her skin badly. She watched as she struggled to get Faith to a seated position and eventually the pain of the rice became much less unbearable then Amber’s frail little arms trying to lift Faith’s body. She clucked her tongue and moved over, the woman now draped in her arms, breathing ragged.
[I You stupid girl.] She thought sadly to herself as Faith buried her head in her chest. Oh how the tables had turned.
“Go into the kitchen and get the kit from the kitchen cupboard.” She told Amber who tried her best to be quiet in going so, as she did worry that she was right and they were not instructed to move. Faith whimpered and in their moment of privacy, Diana shushed her, softly humming the same hymn that Faith had sang to her that night. The wine was starting to settle in which at least she knew meant she didn’t feel as much pain and Diana was glad to see the girl dozing off.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/3P83ySX.jpg]]
Amber soon returned with the box, her hands shaking some as she undid the clasp. She’d also come with a towel and warm water to clean the wounds before reaching for the ointment to rub on it. She tried not to show her uncomforted. There was so much she wanted to say. She wanted to scream at Diana, but what good would that do for their situation> Josiah was teaching them a lesson, all this fighting was not good for them, for their spirits. It was not in the way of the Faith to do so and Faith had selflessly gave herself up to prove that. Once she’d finished cleaning her wounds, she bandaged her so as not to be aggravated by her clothing come morning.
Diana surprisingly had taken to sweeping up the rice, small specks of blood barely able to be scraped away. They had stained this house. With Faith in the middle, Diana had surprisingly reached her hand out to Amber. The two woman had laid on their sides then, each cuddled close to the now sleeping sister.
Amber’s throat was dry, and yet still she knew she would find peace and recovery in Him.
[I [font times “Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain . . . ]]
[left [pic http://i.imgur.com/itqZ8JX.png]]
Come morning Josiah said his morning prayer. He entered the living room to find the woman as he expected, holding one another. He knew still he couldn’t be lenient. He had to make sure they learned their lesson. Amber was the first to wake, rubbing the sleep from her eyes then. He could tell how thirsty she was. Eventually the others had begun to wake.
“Brother Matthew will be arriving, as well as Sister Olivia and Sister Lilly. Hurry and get cleaned up, breakfast must be ready when they arrive.” Josiah had turned slowly then, heading to his own private bathroom to prepare himself.
When he came out, he found the women in the kitchen, silent shuffling about. Faith’s movements were slow and it did make him feel a smidge of guilt. She would learn to mind her words now he was sure of it.
He took his seat at the table then, watching them carefully. Amber had placed the cup of coffee in front of him and had started to set the table.
“Eggs please,” she had whispered toward Diana, who grabbed them before Faith could even attempt to do so. Last thing they needed was to make a mess.
Eventually there was a knock at the door then. The women looked up simultaneously. Josiah had removed himself from the table and walked toward the door, opening it with a great smile the women looked beautiful, much more fitting in as they wore similar clothes to the other women.
“Brother Matthew, ladies, Grand Rising. Please come in.” Josiah watched as Faith had placed the vase of flowers in the center of the table, just as they had entered.
The next morning Lilly and Olivia both woke as new people. They had been reborn overnight. Before they would wake, Matthew had come in early to remove the conditioning headphones he had given them the night before. It played the basic scriptures and subliminal messaging needed to ensure the women were mentally invested without rebellious intentions the next day.
By each beside in the two rooms of his home he had given them, rested a small weak cup of the Nectar. It held enough of the Lord’s blessing to enthrall them but allow the girls to be themselves as well. When they woke, they would drink from the thirst they would feel and then come find him. All of their things had been moved and put away in the rooms, the only things they wouldn’t find were Olivia’s phone charger and Lilly’s cellphone.
[center [pic https://i.imgur.com/ZXm5RPh.jpg]]
Matthew had looked through Lilly’s cellphone and admitted to being so very displeased. In fact a part of him was seething inside from the text messages he had read and the voicemails he had listened to. There was no doubt he had to hand her phone over to Josiah. He couldn’t believe the girl had been subjected to such before she had come and it allowed him an understanding of her true mental fatigue and possible fears.
It also made him think back to the night before. There had been a reason she had run into his arms seeking his comfort. From the messages on that phone, he could only guess it had something to do with the wives. There were nasty texts and voicemails for Lilly not just from that bastard but also from a woman who was Lilly’s matriarch. It was all negative influence of the outside world, a complete violation of the Faith. Men could discipline their wives, but none would take the pleasure in doing what was left on Lilly’s phone.
A particular message came in the form of a voice mail. It had started out quiet and Matthew was shocked when he heard the sounds of intimacy, of grunts and moans. Then it changed, from slow paced to fast, screams coming through of a woman calling out to a man named Randy. The screams had started out pleasurable, the woman sounding enthused, but soon the sound of a belt against flesh turned those pleased screams into terrified ones.
Matthew had almost hung up, but then a man’s voice came on and the things he said made Matthew wish to hide Lilly away. They were fowl and barbaric, and Matthew knew he could never let Lilly have her phone again. He would turn the phone over to Josiah. The man had said in the message he was in Lilly’s home, that he would wait for her to come back like a good girl unless he found her first. Then he promised to tear away her chastity and make her wish she had chosen differently.
Matthew had faith that Josiah would know what to do, how to handle such a situation. The men were protectors and the women were their responsibility. Matthew couldn’t allow any harm to the women whom he had vowed to protect. He would get to the bottom of it with Josiah. He would get to the bottom of a lot of things this day.
Lilly stretched, her body a bit sore but for once her heart felt lighter than it had in a while. Her hands reached her face and rubbed sleep away, her throat dry and her mouth feeling like cotton. Looking around, she realized she was in Matthew’s house. It seemed that she, Matthew, and Olivia had really hit it off while they had been there and chose to stay longer. [right [pic https://i.imgur.com/q7JNles.jpg]]
In Lilly and Olivia’s mind, they had now been there for a week rather than a day. The subliminal messaging recorded had played over and over the people that were important to remember and Matthew’s house had photos to help trigger the girl’s memories of people. Josiah and his wives pictures were especially placed so that when Lilly and Olivia woke they would see the pictures on their dressers. These pictures included hidden pictures that had been taken the whole day they had been there and altered to appear as if they had worn different clothing and seem to be different days.
Lilly held up the picture of her and Amber. They were hugging one another around the other women. She smiled as memories of the mousey girl sprang up, but shivered when she saw the next photo of Josiah and Diana together. Something about that photo frightened her.
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/kQvNOmO.jpg]] Olivia had entered the hall the same time Lilly had. Both women smiled warmly at one another and embraced affectionately. “I told you this would be an amazing experience, Lils,” Olivia said as they walked into the front room where Matthew was waiting. Lilly gave a soft smile, though she still felt a bit of unease seeing more photos like the ones in her room around the house. Matthew watched her as she turned a picture of Diana away so that she didn’t have to feel as though the woman was watching her.
“It was very nice coming here, Liv. I almost don’t want to go back home when it’s over.” Lilly sighed but turned to Matthew and smiled, truly smiled at him. “Oh good morning Matthew! Did you sleep alright?” Olivia stepped beside Lilly, asking their kind host how the night treated him while Lilly continued to beam a smile his way.
Matthew bowed his head, whispering a prayer before smiling at both young women. “Please feel free to stay as long as you like. You are very welcome here.” [i ‘You can’t go back, the Lord has brought you home to roost.’] “Are you ready to go to Josiah’s for breakfast? I see you both chose to wear the clothes the Sisters have gotten you, you both look darling.”
Lilly and Olivia had both chosen clothing from the community. Olivia sported a tan sun dress which the skirt pooled around her feet yet had a slit up the side to mid-thigh so that she could walk with ease. She looked lovely and almost seductive without being mainstream loose. Lilly on the other hand had chosen to wear a pair of white pants close to leggings in how they fit and a lovely tunic cotton long sleeve shirt that held yellow flowers embroiled on it.
Matthew paused for a moment, staring at the tunic amazed that it had been chosen. The flowers that lined it were a scarce plant from which the nectar was made. It made him smile, seeing it as another sign the Lord had sent her there for him to care for.
“I’m sure Josiah’s wives have spent all morning making a wonderful breakfast for us,” Matthew said as he brought the women up to his friend’s doorstep, knocking politely. “I’m sure the women will be happy to show you around, I just need a moment of Josiah’s time before we eat.” He needed to give Josiah Lilly’s phone.
Lilly and Olivia smiled at one another. “It’s no trouble, Matthew, we know how important you are to the community. I’m sure it is important so don’t feel rushed,” Olivia replied, taking his hand, her expression giving him a warm feeling of rightness.
Lilly stepped up and took his other hand shyly, her eyes downcast though she squeezed his fingers in reassurance. “I look forward to seeing Amber,” she said softly as the door opened.
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