“Addio per sempre, anima gemella,” I whisper, hugging the letter to my chest.
I’m so distracted, I don’t hear the door creak open or the footsteps padding into the room.
“Solnyshko, I hope this letter finds its way to you.”
My body freezes, tensing up at the cold, raspy voice.
No. It can’t be.
I stand still, as if I’ll disappear into thin air somehow. I’ll sink through the floor. I’ll cease to exist completely.
No longer existing sounds better than what I’m about to face.
The torn envelope. It was him. He read my letter.
“Lucius,” I say, keeping my back to him. “You’re not supposed to see me. It’s… it’s bad luck.”
“I don’t believe in that superstition.”
He locks the door.
I swallow hard. My hands tremble as I try to stay calm. “Marsia and Florina will be coming back with my dress. I have to get ready.”
He ignores my comment, circling back to our last topic. “You know what superstition Idobelieve in?”
“What… Lucius… I don’t…”
“Turn around, Stef.”
With fear infecting my lungs, I do as I’m told. I turn around to face him with the letter clenched in my hand.
“What’s that?” he asks simply, though he knows.
He so clearly knows. It’s in the glint in his beady eyes. It’s in curl of his fat lips. In his stupid patronizing tone.
He wants to hear it from my mouth.
“A personal letter.”
“A personal letter,” he repeats. He holds out his large, meaty hand. “Bring it here. Share.”
“We’re man and wife, Stef. Do you know what that means? It means no secrets. What’s yours is mine. Bring it here.”
Going anywhere near him feels like approaching a mine field. You never know what you’ll step on and when it’ll explode.
I suck in a breath and then on weak knees, I walk it over. “Lucius, it’s from the past. You’ve said it yourself. I had many suitors. A… a lot of guys were interested. That’s all it is. Somebody unable to let go. It’s not a big deal.”
He snatches it out of my grasp so roughly, his hand smacks my hand out of the way. I step back several paces and watch as he unfolds it and scans the contents as if it’s the first time he’s reading it.
Today is the day I’ve been caught red-handed.
His beady eyes shrink meeting mine. “About the superstition I believe in, Stef—want to know what it is?”
He’s asking because he expects me to sayyes. So I do.