Those made of glass, like the perfume, shatter.
He steps over them, the tiny crushed pieces crunching under his feet, and he snatches a pair of scissors off the vanity counter.
“P-please,” I sob. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
I don’t even know what I’m apologizing for.
For the letter. For calling our marriage arranged. For loving another man before him.
For wishing it wasmio anima gemellaI was walking down the aisle to today and not the devil.
Fisting his fingers into my hair, he raises my head high enough so I’m forced to stare at our reflection in the mirror—me, flushed and teary-eyed with blood spots under my nose and him grinning behind me.
“You gonna tell your Pop on me?” he taunts. “That’s what you’re thinking, right? Go ahead, Stef. Rat me out. I dare you.”
“I wasn’t thinking that… I wasn’t thinking anything—”
“You really want your Pop finding out you’re fucking the enemy,puttana a buon mercato? How do you think that’ll go over? You realize the kind of shit you’re gonna start between our family and his? Use that pea-sized brain of yours,” he growls, shaking my head with his fistful of my hair. His other hand tightens around the scissors he holds. “What do you think is gonna happen when he finds out his baby girl’s a cheap slut whose been opening her legs and fucking the Kozlov crew?”
“Shut up!” he snaps. He glares at me in the mirror, the hate in his gaze bone-chilling. “You fucking disgust me, Stef. You have no idea how I’m gonna make you pay for this. For trying tohumiliateme. I can humiliate you too.”
“But that’s not what I was doing!” I’ve sobbed so hard I feel dizzy. Not that he cares.
A moment passes where he stares in the mirror and studies our reflection.
Considers my punishment.
Today is the day I learn he always wins. No matter what.
“How about I carve this pretty face of yours up?” He trails the sharp blade of the scissors along my cheek, my nose, lips and jaw. “Make you not-so-fucking-pretty so he doesn’t want you anymore? No man will want you. Let’s face it,puttana. You’re not too bright. You’re not interesting. That’s all you’ve got going for you—this pretty face and this body. All this fucking blonde hair.Solnyshko, right?”
He holds up a lock of my hair in one hand and the scissors in the other.
My eyes widen as it dawns on me what he’s about to do.
I watch as it seems like forever that the lock of my hair falls to the floor.
Over the next minute, dozens of others join it.
Snip! Snip! Snip!
Lock after lock of my long hair floats to the ground as he hacks away. He chops it all off so fast, so eagerly, it’s like he’s getting off to it. He grunts and pants. His hand clamps down on my shoulder and he pins me against the countertop, holding me down. He climbs onto the bench, practically on my back, to reach across my head. I try to cover myself with my arms, but he laughs and restrains those too.
His heavy weight presses into me. I choke and tears blur my vision watching the pile of blonde hair on the floor.
Once he’s satisfied, he wrenches me up, and shows me my ugly new makeover.
“How do you like it?” he asks. When I try to turn my head to avoid looking, he jerks it straight again. He digs his nails into my chin, and I can feel it—cold, evil malice from the deepest part of him. It becomes more than a feeling. It’s apresence, taking over the room.
Taking over me.