Many families lived on the plantation. They'd been placed there after becoming behind in their debt payments to their sovereign lord. That was long ago. Now someone was buying the place and inspecting the area and the debtors who worked there. The man was Rafael, tall, attractive, and single. He had been a seafarer but had turned to land to settle down. His black hair refused to behave and his eyes were a deep brown, both traits giving a sense of boyishness in the weather hardened man. The present landowner, Evan, was giving him a tour. They passed the Robinson family's cabin and garden. The mother Elaine and the eldest child, Anna, were picking food for their supper. Rafael's eye strayed onto Anna and stayed there. Her long, flowing black hair fell straight down to her waist. Her flawless skin and beauty took Rafael's breath away. "Who is she?" he asked.

"Her? That's Anna Robinson. Her family was one of the first on this plantation if I remember my history correctly." They continued on, but Rafael's thoughts remained on Anna.

That night, Rafael became the new master of the plantation.

"What do you think the new master is like?" Anna asked her brother, Luke.

"I don't know and I don't care. Just as long as he lets us live our lives the way our last master let us," was his answer.

The family sat down to dinner that night at their small table. The father Richard, Elaine, Anna, Luke, and the youngest daughter Jaclyn were all there. The cabin was small and had three rooms: the kitchen also served as a dining room and living room; the parents' bedroom; and the children's bedroom. Many of the other debtors' cabins were also like this.

Someone knocked on the door. It was Cameron, a dear friend of the family who lived alone a couple cabins away from them. His family had been accused of something and then executed when he was a teen. He was deeply saddened when he learned that it hadn't even been their fault but everyone helped him recover, especially Anna. He had noticed her grow up into a beautiful, young woman and planned on marrying her. "Cameron! Won't you come in and join us for dinner?"

"If you don't mind."

"Of course we don't. There's always plenty for more." Cameron and Anna exchanged happy glances as she moved aside to make room for him.

During their dinner, Cameron brought up the subject of Rafael. "I've heard some rumors about our new master."

"What? Already? He's hardly been here for half a day!"

"I know. Some people are saying that he has his eyes set on Anna."

She blushed and looked down at her plate. "I don't know what he'd want with me. I'm just a daughter to a family of debtors."

"Oh come now! You know as well as everyone else in the community that you're the most beautiful woman in the area! And the only reason why they're staying away is because of our engagement." Anna gave a short shrug to answer Cameron's outburst and continued to eat.

The next morning, while everyone else was working in the fields, Rafael went to Anna's house and ordered her to gather her family. When all but Luke were assembled, he proposed to Anna, ignoring the fact that she was already engaged to another. He offered her the finest clothing, jewelry, and food, and the same for her family plus a better house and a job for everyone. Anna was careful to act neutral in the situation but much less was to be said of her parents. They went alone to their room to discuss the possibilities.

"This is a great opportunity for us! We have to say yes!" Elaine frantically whispered to her husband.

"But what of her engagement to Cameron? It will break his heart!" Richard argued.

"So? There's no law that they can't still be friends. This is a chance of a lifetime! We may even be freed from our debt! Just think! No more working in the fields!"

Richard despised the idea but had to give in. Elaine never gave in to anything that would better the lives of all in the family, not even for emotions such as love. When they came back, Anna took one look at her parents and quietly left the house, knowing their decision. Rafael watched her curiously. She'll get over the other. She'll be happier with me anyway. "I've arranged for the wedding for this Sunday," he announced. "I hope you all will come. Invite all your friends too!" And with that, he left and went back to the main house, the soon to be home of his wife.

Jaclyn found her sister crying in a secluded glen she always went to when she wanted to be alone. Anna looked at her sister, tears still flowing down her face. "He knows, doesn't he?"

"Yes, he has. News spread quickly and now Cameron's so sad. It's worse than when his family died. He thinks you've betrayed him. He won't let anyone comfort him."

"But it's not my fault! You know I don't want to marry Rafael! I love Cameron!" Jaclyn nodded at her sister as a fresh set of tears poured forth. "I guess I better cheer him up," she said when she finally calmed down. "I'm not any happier than he is. I just wish our parents answered differently, but nothing can change that now. Wish me luck, Jaclyn." Anna turned and went slowly toward Cameron's house, trying to think of what to say.

Anna stopped on the doorstep, afraid. Then she raised her hand and knocked on the door softly. A sullen voice bid her in and she blinked as her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the cottage. A solitary candle lit the room. Cameron sat in his mother's rocking chair, suddenly looking very old, instead of the youthful age of twenty-two, the same age as Anna. He gazed at her with forlorn eyes. "Why did you do this to me?"

Once again, tears threatened to overflow from Anna's eyes. "I didn't ask for this and you know that. My mother answered for me. You know how she is when it comes to getting things better. It's not my fault!"

He finally rose from his seat and drew her into his embrace. "Oh Anna, I know it's not your fault. It's just that…" He cupped a finger and lifted her chin so she looked into his eyes. Their eyes met, both filled with misery. "No matter what happens, remember that I love you, now and forever."

"I love you, too."

It was late when she left his house and walked back towards her house with a slightly lighter heart. Three more days of freedom, she thought. Just three more days…

Those three days of freedom were spent quickly as she prepared for the big day and visited her friends and of course, Cameron, numerous times.

The wedding day came, but Anna remembered nothing of it or the reception after. Everyone had come. Even Cameron had come to bid his final farewell. Right after the reception, a servant led Anna to a bedroom. It was one of the upper bedrooms of the mansion with a balcony that didn't have a door to close it off. The balcony was made of stone, giving it a medieval look to it. The only thing that separated the balcony and the room was a thin, white sheet billowing in the wind. The room was bare except for a four-post bed to the right of the balcony. It was dark and cold. Anna walked onto the balcony and looked down below. She saw the crops being grown and the cabins that the people so dear to her heart lived in. A longing filled her chest as she wished she were with them.

The door opened and in walked her husband. She didn't even bother to turn around. He came to her, wrapping his arms around her to protect her from the cold, and followed her gaze towards the little cabins. "Don't worry about them. I'm planning on building them better places to live in. Hopefully, they'll be done by this winter." Anna smiled sadly and was led from the window to the bed. "Listen, Anna. I've never felt this way about anyone before. Never. That's why I married you. Please understand that." Anna nodded sadly.

As time went on, Anna grew to be content with her circumstances and a relationship grew between the newly wedded couple. Anna often visited her family. On one of her trips, she talked to Luke in the secluded grove. "What are you worried about? You know she loves you and you love her. What's the problem?"

"I don't know how to approach her parents, that's the problem! If I were rich like Rafael, then it would be different, but I'm not!"

"You think that matters to her? Just be yourself! That always works. She's waiting. She's been waiting for your proposal!"

"I know she has been. I'm just nervous."

"Luke? Nervous? I've never heard of such a thing. Just give it a try!" She gave a comforting hug to her brother as they rose to leave the grove.

He comfortably wrapped an arm around her waist and led them out. "All right, all right, I'll do it." A great big smile broke out on her face and she leaned up to give him a kiss on the cheek. Little did they realize that they were being watched as they left their secret hiding place.

As soon as Anna got home, she noticed the sudden change in Rafael. He was cold and distant toward her. The next day, all were gathered into the old hangman's square, untouched for so long. Finally, Rafael arrived and behind him, someone dragged Luke along. A great cry broke from the crowd. Anna didn't know what was going to happen but they forced her to watch and stay through the whole thing. A black mask was put over his head and he was forced onto the platform under the noose. The rope was secured around his neck and the platform was knocked from underneath him. The crowd wailed as they watched him struggle and die a slow, painful death, unable to do anything because of the security around him. Anna turned to Rafael, the only one who could have answers and saw a victorious gleam in his eyes. And then she was on the stage too, pointing an angry finger at her husband. "What in the world have you done?"

"What do you mean what have I done? I just killed your lover! Tell me, it was a second wedding you were planning, wasn't it?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Weren't you two alone yesterday, making arrangements for him to ask your parents for permission to-"

She cut him off, shrieking and shaking with fury. "Those wedding arrangements were for his proposal to Rachel!" Suddenly remembering her friend, she leapt into the crowd and found Rachel on the ground crying. She rocked her friend, letting her cry as she continued to scream up at Rafael. "What kind of person are you to assume something like that from me! I thought you trusted me! You killed my brother, Rafael! My twin brother is dead and you broke Rachel's heart, not to mention countless others!" She left Rachel to other friends and family and hurled herself onto Rafael. His servants quickly dragged her back to the mansion and down into a dark room underground. Meanwhile, he stood frozen in place, shocked. Apparently, his informants hadn't told him everything and now he was stuck. Angry, he yelled at everyone to go home before he stormed into his mansion and locked himself in the study. He would teach Anna to behave in public. Oh yes, he would.

Anna was led into the darkest room and had her arms locked to the walls so she couldn't even get up. No one came down there, not even to bring her food or water for three days in which she had plenty of time to think. Luke was dead and her heart heavy at the thought. Everything was happening because of her and she cried at the thought.

After three days, Anna was led up the numerous flights of stairs to her room. She was weak and needed to rest often. Once there, she was given a little bit of food and water but that was all.

When night came, Rafael entered the room and locked the door behind him. He looked at her and felt a twinge of guilt for what he'd done to her, seeing how bad she looked, but he resisted in giving her any sympathy. He wanted to punish her for making him look like a fool in front of everyone. His pride would not allow him to think it was his own fault. Rafael came over to her and forced her to stand in the middle of the room. Before she was even fully awake, she found her clothing being torn off. She cried out in protest but he didn't listen. From his back pocket, he took out a whip and used it on her brutally. Her cries of pain didn't reach his ears as he slashed at her skin time and time again. Only when she was crying on the ground, begging for him to stop did he cease. All over her body, she was covered with thick, red blood. His whip dripped with the same dark liquid. Grunting, he picked her up and dropped her onto the bed; she screamed as the cloth aggravated her wounds. He never heard her whimpers and screams as he bedded her. Outside, family and friends listened to her cries and wished that they couldn't.

The next morning, Rafael was gone by the time Anna was up. She was too far-gone in pain to move and so she lay there, crying. How could I have ever loved that man? She looked at the wounds on her arms and hands before turning away, feeling sick. Look at what he's done to me! She cried herself back to sleep.

Anna didn't hear him come in that night. She's so beautiful. I can't bear to hurt her anymore. He touched her, let his hand travel over a cut from a whip on her cheek, feeling the coolness of her sin. He drew the blanket over her and tucked her in. She sighed in her sleep but didn't awaken.

Anna was never allowed out of the room. Her meals were brought to her and her wounds were taken care of. Finally, he talked to her again. He'd noticed her sullen silence and instinctively, knew that something other than him bothered her. She slowly answered him, "It's my family. They've been here so long. As a child, I heard stories of how grand our former home was. And then when we got into debt, we were forced to work here. They're tired though. They've paid their debt long ago, but were never let back onto their own land."

Anna didn't turn around to see his reaction, but she missed his look of sympathy. "They're moving back tomorrow."

"You mean it? Really?" She finally turned around and her eyes lit up as he nodded. Anna gave him a hug before backing off, suddenly shy.

He laughed quietly. "It's all right. I've been preparing this for some time now."

The next day, Anna went to say good-bye. Rafael had already gone ahead to make sure everything was ready for their return. Friends came and everyone noticed the faints scars on her face and hands. Anna turned to Jaclyn. "Be good now, okay? You're the only one they have now. I'll visit. Be strong for them." They hugged and she turned to her parents, giving each a hug. Finally, all watched as the Robinson family finally left the plantation.