Mina stared at her hands silently as she listened to her siblings argue in front of her. They had been yelling since her brother had come home with his grand plan to get their family back into good standing with the leaders of their people, the Genii. The fact that they were yelling about her did not spur her to join the argument, even though it was her future they were debating.
“You can’t just marry her off to one of Cowen’s men. Especially not him!” Mina’s sister fumed.
Their brother Caleb threw his hands in the air in frustration.
“Your well-being is my main responsibility, and I’ve run out of options to get us back into Cowen’s good graces. What else would you suggest I do Thali?”
“The marriage is not the idea that I am opposed to, it’s the person you want to marry her off to. He’s a cruel man and he is much older than her! Couldn’t you pick someone else? Ladon would be a much better choice. He’s closer to her in age and is close to Cowen.”
Caleb sighed and shook his head.
“I didn’t choose who she is going to marry. I brought the idea before Cowen and he made the choice. Commander Kolya is one of his most trusted men and is in good standing within the Genii. Not to mention that he is one of the best fighters we have and could protect her.”
Mina decided she had finally had enough of their bickering and stood up from her chair, bringing her siblings’ eyes to her.
“I wish the two of you would not act as if I am a child. I know that this decision is for the best, and I am willing to do my part to bring the Delaine name out of the dirt. Even if that means marrying someone that may not be the youngest or kindest man available.”
Thali looked at her sister with pity and crossed the distance between them, placing her hands on her shoulders.
“Are you sure Mina? You don’t have to do this.”
Mina met her sister’s eyes, giving her a sad smile.
“Yes I do. As a Genii, it is my duty to help my family and my people. If this is how I do it, so be it.” Mina embraced her sister and jokingly added, “and please don’t offer Ladon as an alternative. I’ve known that man my whole life. He’s a snake in the grass, and we both know it.”
Thalia chuckled quietly and returned her sister’s embrace. Caleb cleared his throat to get their attention.
“Does that mean that you will marry him?”
Mina pulled away from her sister and turned to face her brother.
“Yes Caleb, I will follow your plan and marry him.”
Acastus Kolya stood before Cowen’s desk, not sure what to make of what the man had just said to him.
“You wish for me to enter into an arranged marriage? Are you sure I am the best candidate for this? Surely someone younger would be better, someone like Ladon or Mekhai?”
Cowen shook his head and walked around the side of his desk to stand beside Kolya.
“Caleb Delaine came to me in an effort to restore his family name to good standing to fix the mistakes made by his father. His suggestion was to marry off his younger sister Mina to someone trustworthy and in good standing. My mind immediately went to you.”
Kolya raised his eyebrows at the mention of Mina being the younger sister of someone that was barely 30. His mind went to Sora Tyrus, who he had taken under his wing after her father’s passing. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with being married to someone close in age to one of his students.
“Again I suggest someone younger. If this girl is young, surely she will want a husband that she could live out her days with.”
“She is nearly 28, so not as young as you are thinking. I’m sure things will work out. If you are truly unwilling, I will find someone else. If it eases your worries at all, you could simply view this as an order and be done with it.”
Kolya closed his eyes in thought. He had never seen marriage as a priority. He could always go with Cowen’s idea and view it as an order. Arranged marriages were not common among the Genii, but not unheard of. The couple usually was able to work things out and live in a way that suited them both.
“I will marry this girl.”
Cowen nodded in approval and moved to sit behind his desk again.
“Very well. I will let Caleb know. I imagine the engagement will be short and then you can resume normalcy after the ceremony.”
Kolya bowed his head in agreement before turning and leaving the room. He made his way down the corridors of the underground facility until he reached the entry to the surface. As he walked the path towards the above ground settlement, his eyes drifted to the groups of younger people milling about. One of them could be his future wife. Since he had no idea what Mina Delaine even looked like, he was at a loss when it came to finding her within the crowd.
Kolya entered his home and glanced around. There was nothing of significance in the home that showed someone actually lived there. Maybe having a wife would do him some good, put a little color in his life. He walked back to his bedroom and grabbed a small box out of the drawer of his bedside table.
He opened the box to reveal the one thing left to him by his mother. Though he had never really planned on marrying, he had kept the ring after her death. It was simple, a silver band with a royal blue stone attached. It only seemed right that Mina should have the ring, given she was not likely going to want anything else from him.
His mind kept going back to what Cowen had said, this was simply a business arrangement. Romance had nothing to do with it. He decided that he would leave Mina to her own devices and simply be her husband by law, and nothing else.