For a moment, he stares, a big brute in a suit whose very presence feels like a threat. Waiting for his answer is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. It can’t be anything good. A second later, he proves me right.
“It’s bad luck when the whore of a wife can’t keep her legs closed. That tends to not bode well for her or the marriage.”
“Lucius, this was before you,” I say with a desperate shake in my voice. I stumble more steps away from him, needing the space. “This was when my father hadn’t chosen my suitor yet. A long time ago.”
“Did you love him?”
“When I ask you a question, Stef,” he says coolly, though its with an edge of warning. “I expect an answer. Did you love him?”
“So it was a big deal.”
“You said it wasn’t a big deal. Now you say you love him. Which is it?”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant it’s in the past. I…I’ve moved on. I loved him, but that was before my father selected my suitor. He arranged our marriage.” I’m fidgeting, my eyes wide, nerves fluttering inside me like crazy.
The more I talk, the deeper I dig the hole. But I can’t shut up. He’s glaring at me as if he expects an explanation.
“Are you saying our arranged marriage matters less than the love you had for him?”
“Do you think it’s smart, Stef? Doing what you’re doing? Disrespecting me? Is that what you want to do—you really want to try me?”
“Please… I swear that’s not what I was doing. This thing between us—it’s been arranged—that’s all I was saying.”
He shakes his head and neatly folds the letter in half like he’s about to return it. Instead, he rips it down the middle. Those halves get torn up again and then again until it’s basically confetti he tosses up into the air.
“No!” I scream in horror.
An emotional reaction that only gives him ammo. That only confirms what he already knows.
He smiles. The most evil smile I’ve ever seen. It sends a chill down my spine and disturbs my spirit. It’s not a smile worthy of a normal human being. Nobody with a soul would ever smile like this.
“C’mere, Stef.” He crooks his index finger at me.
I take a step back and shake my head.
He charges at me like a bull. The evil smile vanishes. Fury clenches onto his face in its place. He raises his meaty hand in the air. I shriek and spin around to run and hide.
I’m not fast enough. His fist grips me by the roots of my hair and he rips me off my feet. Pain smarts across my scalp as I’m flung halfway across the room like I’m some weightless toy.
Today is the day I realize just what my forever’s gonna look like.
Before I’ve even regained my balance, he’s grabbing me again. He’s got a fistful of my hair as I cry out and beg him to let go.
Lucius yanks on it like it’s a leash, ramming me straight into the vanity table. I crash into it with flailing arms. My head collides with the mirror and all of the beauty products on the countertop spill to the floor.