Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart

Juliet is introduced to a world very few see.


No! No! No!” yelled Nicci. “I do not like it!”

I sighed, as did Marifilwe. It was the seventh gown I had tried on, and the seventh Nicci had turned her nose up at. I did not understand why as they were all equally beautiful and painstakingly embroidered with the utmost dedication and care. They were simply stunning, but not good enough for Nicci who was becoming more irate by the second.

No!” she yelled again, scrunching up a piece of paper in her hand. “I do not like them at all!”

Marifilwe and I looked at each other, possibly thinking the same thing. How could you dislike a Chanel creation?

This is the latest collection, Nicci,” explained Marifilwe patiently.“No-one has even had the chance to see these dresses yet-and believe me-we've had requests.”

I gazed at myself in the mirror for the umpteenth time. I couldn't deny it gave me great pleasure that I was trying on the most finest clothes in the world when nobody else had been allowed to. This was what royalty must feel like.

They do not have any va-va-voom!” Nicci glared at Marifilwe as if this were her fault.

Don't let Karl Lagerfeld hear you say that,” said Marifilwe. “Heads would roll.”

Nicci ignored her. “If you cannot provide me with what I want, then I will go elsewhere. Say, Dior?” Her eyes glinted with malice. “They have never let me down.”

Marifilwe took a deep breath. “Fine, I'll see what I can do.”

When we were alone Nicci pulled out her phone and began tapping on it madly. I took the opportunity to twirl in front of the mirror. The nude lacy number I had on made a soft swishing sound as I twisted this way and that. This was fun. I could get used to it.


I stopped twirling. What was I thinking? This was just a dream. In all likelihood I'd never step foot in this place again.

So why not enjoy yourself?

I smoothed the train. I never enjoyed myself. I was never relaxed. It was as if I was always waiting for something to go wrong, which, in all fairness, it almost always did.

Relax, Beaumont. Forget how you got here, and just enjoy the moment.

I could try that. I needed a little fun in my life. I only wished Rachael was here. She'd have raided the entire shop in a minute.

As Nicci frantically texted I practised posing in the mirror. My pout needed work. Turning to my side, I examined my rear, trying to establish whether it looked as large as I believed it to be in my mind. I really needed to work out more. My behind was spectacularly large! I hoped people didn't stare at is when I walked by.

Nicci! Daaaaaaarling!”

I span around as the sound of a soft, feminine grand Southern accent filled the air, nearly tripping over the dress in the process.

“Oh!” I cried, in surprise.

Two very beautiful, very tall women had joined us in the dressing room. Impeccably dressed and teetering in sky high heels, they both wore garish caramel colored fur coats slung casually over their shoulders and carried identical brown (and no doubt designer) woven handbags.

An onlooker could have mistaken them for twins, so similarly was their attire, but that's where the likeness ended. One had a full head of the most silky straight blonde hair I had only ever seen in the movies, and the other had a wild mane of fiery red curls, that fell like a fountain about her head. Both ladies, however, had suspiciously full lips covered in gloss.

I recovered myself in time before I fell. I did not want to rip the lovely creation I wore.

“Hello, darlings!” Nicci turned. I registered the briefest look of contempt on her face before it was replaced by a toothy smile. “What a pleasant surprise!”

Hello, there, darlin'.” The blonde stalked her way across the room oozing enviable confidence and shrugged off her fur coat, allowing it to fall to the floor. “How ya doin'?”

They embraced European style. “Sara. It has been too long,” said Nicci.

You're a hard women to get hold of, sweetie,” said Sara, stepping back to look Nicci up and down. “But you never disappoint. I see you're wearing the latest Armani. Before everyone else, as usual.” She eyed Nicci black form-fitting dress enviably.

Nicci shrugged. “Of course. Nothing else but the latest for me.”

I had my useless secretary try to get a hold of you for the gala, but she told me no-one at your offices would even pick up the phone. Why is that?” Sara's displeasure was evident in the way she spoke. Her voice wavered now and then as she struggled to keep it even. “I don't appreciate being ignored. By anyone.”

Perhaps Nicci sensed her irritation, or maybe she was used to temper tantrums thrown by the rich, as she smoothly turned on her charm offensive. “Darling! I would not dare to ignore a call from you. It must have been a mistake. You know I love to hear from you. I adore out trips together.” Nicci's performance was astounding. I was impressed. “But I received a special request that I simply could not turn down.”

From who, sweetie?” Sara was not easily appeased.

James Hunter.”

The atmosphere in the room changed instantly. Sara whipped around to give her friend a sharp look. Then they simultaneously turned to look at me.

The red-head narrowed her eyes as she stared at me. I felt like a child about to be attacked by bigger and stronger bullies, who should probably run to a safe hiding place, but cannot, being trapped.

This is Juliet Beaumont. Mr. Hunters new assistant.” Nicci's emphasized the word assistant, as if she was trying to send an invisible message to them.

Well, I'll be damned,” murmured Sara. “He moves on like lightning, doesn't he?”

Mmm hmm.” The red-head spoke for the first time, and it wasn't pleasant. “And he doesn't care what he moves on too, does he?”

Now, now, Brigitte. Let's play nice,” admonished Sara. “Rudeness does not become a lady, and that is what we are.”

Nicci had a sudden coughing fit, which sounded more like her trying to cover her laughter.

My name's Sara Caldwell.” She extended her hand. I shook it tentatively, still reeling from Brigitte's insult. “This is my partner in crime, Brigitte Devear.”

Brigitte did not move. Only when Sara raised a finely manicured eyebrow did she sigh and greet me.

Of course, you've probably heard or see us on some lewd gossip site?” Sara giggled coquettishly. “The paparazzi just loves hounding us, right, Brigitte?”

I wondered what the correct social etiquette was when you hadn't actually heard of someone. At the moment Rachael and I could not afford a new laptop, therefore we did not have access to the web right now, and even if we did, following the lives of wealthy rich young ladies did not appeal to me what so ever.

She looks lost, poor thing.” Sara continued to giggle, but I could tell she was miffed I did not recognize her. Brigitte just stared at me like I was a rat who had emerged from a sewer, an insulting thought, yes, but a funny one.

She's wearing the latest Chanel,” Brigitte pointed out in amazement. “Since when did Chanel start running a charity case? Because it's clear, honey, from your...” She wrinkled her nose in distaste. “Clothes, that you cannot afford it.”

James must be footing the bill,” interjected Sara. “Is that right, Nicci?”

Mmm.” Was the vague reply they got. Now that Sara and Brigitte were occupied with wielding their sharp tongues at me, Nicci had gone back to tapping on her phone, leaving me to fend for myself.

What would Rachael do?

Well, that was easy. She would have already ripped Sara's hair out and would be in the process of happily punching Brigitte's lights out.

I suppressed a smile.

Sara lowered her head so she could look into my eyes. “Tell me, Juliet. Who is James taking to the gala on Friday?”


Who is his date?” prodded Sara. “What is her name? If I know anything about James Hunter.” She glanced wickedly at her friend. “And the good Lord knows I'm an expert in that field, I know he won't be attending alone. He'll no doubt bring some pretty little thing along with him.”

I heard he's hooking up with that French model, whatsername...” Brigitte pouted.

What do you know, Juliet, sweetie?” Sara gazed at me steadily. She was desperate to know, that much was clear, but she hid it well.

I have no idea,” I said at length.

Really, honey?” Sara gave it one final go. I nodded.

I just answer his phone.”

Of course she wouldn't know,” cried Brigitte. “Why the hell would he tell her anything?”

True, true.” Sara tapped her chin thoughtfully.

I tried to back away from them, but I had nowhere to run. I had never met such rude people in my life. They talked about me as if I wasn't there, or maybe they didn't care?

On the subject of Mr. Hunter's date: how on earth was I supposed to know such information? I had a hard time keeping it together in the office without snooping into his very private life. And it wasn't as if we were going to share pleasantries over coffee anytime soon.

Thankfully Marifilwe chose that awkward moment to walk back into the room. In her arms she carried a large cream box and placed it with great care on the table.

We all watched her as she opened it, all questions forgotten. “This is vintage couture,” she stated, as she peeled white tissue paper back. “It's off limits to everyone, but for you, Nicci, I make an exception,” she murmured.

I held my breath as she picked up something wrapped in muslin. She removed the protective fabric and shook the dress out, drawing gasps around the room.

In her hands she held the most exquisite gown I had ever laid eyes on.

The floor length, silk gown was midnight blue in color and had a sensuous plunging neckline, with delicate embroidered sequins covering every inch of it. Marifilwe turned it around to reveal it had no back.

Oh, my,” breathed Nicci, clutching her hands to her ample chest. “It it....just...simply...”

Beautiful.” I finished for her.

I know,” smiled Marifilwe, and gestured me to her. She held it out for me and I took it with trembling hands.

It suits you, Juliet,” she said, her tone gentle. “Go and try it on.”

I nodded wordlessly. It was soft to the touch. I was afraid I would damage it somehow.

Nicci stopped me to admire it further. “You have done an excellent job, Marifilwe. I am impressed.” She gave me a smug, self-satisfied smile. “Hurry, girl, and try it on!”

I had almost made it to the changing room when I was jerked back by the arm. Someone span me around. “Hold on a darned minute!” It was Sara.

She gripped me surprising strength. It would not have been painful had it not been for her long fingernails which sank into my flesh.

“How the heck does she get such a fine outfit? She's just a damned servant!” she yelled as her cheeks flushed pink.

Obviously, Sara could not keep up the pretence of being polite when it came to fashion.

Yeah!” chimed in Brigitte. “What gives?”

Excuse me, madam.” Marifilwe marched over to us and prised Sara off me. “Please get your hands off her.”

Sara saw Marifilwe meant business and released me. I looked down and saw an angry red welt developing where she had embedded her claws into my flesh. I knew women went wild for clothing, but this was ridiculous.

Sara stepped back and seemed to recover herself. “Oh, my!” she cried, patting her chest. “I did get a bit carried away, didn't I?”

Marifilwe and I exchanged amused glances. “A tad,” said Marifilwe, the sarcasm in her voice cleverly disguised.

Do forgive me, Juliet! I am so sorry!” Sara's eyes told me she was anything but.

It is understandable,” interrupted Nicci, before I could speak. “It is Chanel.”

I simply shook my head. Was that an acceptable excuse for what had just occurred? Marifilwe apologetic expression told me it was.

What a peculiar world these people inhabited, I thought to myself, as I escaped to the dressing room. What strange women.

I hung my work clothes neatly on a gold peg and slid the hanger off being as careful as possible. The dress glinted and glittered under the dewy lights overhead, and I couldn't help but sigh as I admired it. It really was a piece of art.

The gown slipped with ease over my shoulders and glided down the length of my body as smoothly as water. I turned to see my reflection in the large gold framed mirror which sat in the corner.

My heart stopped for just a fraction of a second.

Even without my hair and make-up done, I looked...well, amazing. I was reminded of a Hollywood star of days gone by, a golden era.

The dress fit perfectly, hugging and amplifying my curves with elegance. The risque neckline worried me a little, I was showing, perhaps, more flesh than I had ever shown in my life. Even my back was exposed, right down to the nearly the top of my behind which made me nervous.

I moved forward and almost suffered a wardrobe malfunction as a strap fell down. “Uh oh,” I whispered. I couldn't wear this. Sure, it was beautiful, but it hadn't been made for someone like me. This was a dress for a fearless lady.

Everything okay in there?” asked Marifilwe from outside.

Um?” I examined myself further. Could I pull this off? I twirled around, I felt incredible, confident, but only because I was alone at the moment. How would I feel with eyes on me in a room full of people?

Marifilwe popped her head around the curtain. “Wow! Juliet!” Her eyes went round. “You look amazing!”

Let me see.” Nicci barged past her. Her mouth dropped open when she clapped eyes on me. "Mercy! She is beautiful!" 

I couldn't help notice how pleased she appeared with herself.

This is the dress you are going to wear to the gala! Mr. Hunter will be pleased,”she said happily and left.

The colour drained from my cheeks at the mention of his name. How had I forgotten I was attending the gala with my boss? I stared at myself in horror. What was I thinking? This was merely a scrap of blue silk. What sort of impression would that give a known playboy?

And what about Roman? I had forgotten all about him. What would he think of me?

Oh, God.” I moaned.

What? What is it?” Marifilwe cocked her head to the side. She hesitated a second as if considering something then joined me in the dressing room.

I can't wear this,” I said, hoping she'd understand my dilemma.

She assessed me. “It is slightly revealing.”

I sank into a soft, cushioned seat. “I can't wear this, Marifilwe. I'll faint.”

“Every man who claps eyes on you will faint,” she said with humour. “You look wonderful, Juliet.” She sat beside me.

The mischievous strap slid down again. “See?” I pulled it up. “With my luck the dress will slip off me in front of Mr. Hunter leaving me butt naked.”

I bet he'd enjoy that!” giggled Marifilwe, with a naughty grin.

Before long we were both giggling like silly schoolgirls discussing a boy crush. “Look,” began Marifilwe after we had collected ourselves. “We can make it so you don't have any trouble with the gown. No parts of your body will show that you didn't authorize.”

I nodded. “I've never worn anything like this before.”

She smiled. “That's why you should wear it." She spoke in earnest. “Girls like us don't get chances like this. When you do, you should grasp them with both hands. I say, have fun with it.”

I knew the that I had found a kindred spirit in Marifilwe. This was somebody I could actually become friends with. I believe she thought the same as she pulled out her cell phone and handed it to me. “Here. Put your number in. After the gala we can discuss how it went.”

I was thrilled I'd made a new friend. A silly notion as it should have been easy for me to do so, but it wasn't. Making friends was not a social skill I had ever acquired. I was simply awful at polite small talk, somehow I always ended up talking about the weather, or serial killers.

When I handed back the phone she was smiling at me. “Will you be attending the gala as well?” I asked her.

She nodded. “Yes.”

That's brilliant!” I could see myself actually making it through the dreaded evening if Marifilwe was going to be there. “Who are you attending with?” I inquired.

She fiddled with her perfect hair. “Just someone I know.” She did not make eye contact when she spoke and I knew she didn't want to say anything further, so I asked her nothing more.

Girl?!” Nicci bellowed from outside. “Have you fallen asleep? We have things to do! Shoes to pick! Accessories to choose! Hurry!”

We sprang out of our seats at the sound of her voice. “We'd better hurry,” giggled Marifilwe. “Otherwise she'll really lose her temper.”

So that's her being calm, is it?” I laughed.

She left, chuckling quietly, leaving me alone. I removed the dress and replaced the hanger. It was when I had changed back into my work clothes and was readjusting my skirt when I remembered.


How long had we been shopping? Time had completely slipped my mind. In a panic I hauled myself out of the dressing room, nearly colliding with Nicci. To my relief Sara and Brigitte were nowhere to be found.

Ay, girl?” Nicci tutted. “What is it? You ran out of there as if the devil himself were chasing you.”

What time is it?” I squeaked. “Oh, my God! I know I'll be late getting back to Mr. Hunter.”

Calm yourself, girl,” said Nicci, taking the gown from me to hand it to Marifilwe. “I asked for an extension on your lunch break. He agreed to it.” I sagged with relief. “We still have about half an hour left to finish what we started.”

Nicci and Marifilwe got to work choosing the best accessories to go with the gown while I hovered in the background trying to stop myself from biting my nails. In little time, they had picked black strappy heels that complimented the outfit, a matching clutch and small white diamond drop earrings that had been brought in from Cartier.

We are done here,” said Nicci finally. “Let us leave now.”

Everything will be delivered to your home, Juliet,” said Marifilwe.

I tried not to appear horrified. Rachael and I did not live in the most respectable neighbourhood. At the moment home was a downtrodden little town located on the west side of Chicago. Violence, burglaries and other unspeakable violations were rife, and I had forbidden Rachael from leaving our apartment at night. It was not uncommon for the authorities to be regularly called to our apartment complex due to heated neighboring altercations. We did not stay out of choice. We currently could not afford anything better. It would be a long time when we could.

Not if you use the card.

I would have smacked myself had it not been for the ladies before me. “Um.” I twisted the strap of my handbag. “I don't know if that's such a good idea.”

Don't worry.” Marifilwe gave me a smile which put me at ease. “We'll make sure everything's delivered safely.”

Yes,” added Nicci. “The Chanel is to be protected!”

I wanted so badly to roll my eyes. Was Nicci in love with the brand? Or did she rate material objects above all else?

We made our way to the door. I soaked in every detail that I could before I stepped out of the door, as I wanted to give Rachael every minute detail.

Sara and Brigitte were browsing a rack of clothes. I slipped past them, not wishing to be manhandled again, and exited the store.

I smiled at Henri as he held the door open for me. He was young, like me, with warm brown eyes and a neat, trimmed goatee, which made him look older-which, when I thought about it, was probably the point.

I waved goodbye at Marifilwe as Nicci made herself comfortable beside me when a thought struck me. “I didn't give her my address.”

Huh?” Nicci was busy applying an unnecessary layer of mascara. “What was that?”

I said, I didn't give Marifilwe my home address. She doesn't know where I live.”

Nicci snapped her compact mirror shut. “Darling, if we can get your bra size without your knowledge, you can bet we can get your home address with no problem.”

I was silenced once more.


Technically I was an hour late getting back to work, but according to Nicci it had been sanctioned with Mr. Hunter's permission. Still, I felt a small tremor in my heart as I took my seat at the front desk. I felt like I had been away for weeks, not hours.

I got straight to work, checking for new e-mails. There were none, which was strange. I checked again, but the Inbox was empty. I tugged my hair as I wondered what had happened.

One thing I had come to learn in the few days I'd been here was that the world and her friend were trying to get into contact with PhysTech Industries, some in ways you'd consider shameless. There had to be some technical hitch.

I rubbed my rumbling stomach as I re-checked the e-mails. I was not the type of girl who enjoyed missing a meal.

But still none showed up. I placed my elbow on the table and rested a hand under my chin as I strained my eyes, scanning the screen to see if the messages had gone off to hide somewhere.

“Where are you?” I muttered with frustration. “Stupid technology.”

It was then that the most extraordinary thing began to happen to me. My heart suddenly and without warning began to race-no, thunder-in my chest. My body became alert, every sense sharpened, yet my mind felt like a cloud. I was soaring, so elated did I feel then.

I did not seek an explanation for this strangeness, because, with a clarity that carried the weight of a freight train, I knew.

I looked up and there he was, watching me.

I had felt his presence, right to the very core of myself, and it had stirred in me something I had never experienced before.

Our eyes locked from across the room and I saw a glint of something which frightened me: it was triumph.

Neither looked away. I couldn't, it was impossible. Something held me in place as the atmosphere between us grew electric.

Leaving me with little choice, I pinched myself hard underneath the desk, then winced as my thigh protested. It did the trick, the connection was lost as swiftly as it had begun.

Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” I asked, in a false voice.

I trembled when he walked toward me in silence. I ripped open a drawer and rifled through it, searching for absolutely nothing, praying with fervency that someone, anyone, would walk in and halt what was happening.

When the phone rang I almost cheered with joy. I dived for it just as he reached me.

PhysTech Industries. How may I help you?” I babbled. I would have kissed the person on the other line for rescuing me if I could.

Get James on the line! Now!” screamed a woman. “Now!”

She was so loud I had to hold the receiver away from my ear. “Sorry?” I spluttered.

Are you deaf?” she shrieked. I would be soon if she carried on so. “I said get James on the line now, you moron!”

The telephone was wrenched from my hand. Mr. Hunter did not even look at me. He simply placed the phone back in it's cradle without bothering to talk to her.

I swallowed. “Erm, she's going to think I did that, sir.”

Let her think what she wants,” he said softly.

The mood was now different. Whatever happened minutes before was forgotten by him, he was distracted. I was simply relieved. I needed to go home and think about what I had felt. It was not what I thought it was. Definitely not.

I clicked on the screen. “What are you doing?” he snapped. I froze.

Working,” I replied in a whisper.

He glared at me now. “Working?” he snarled. “There is nothing to do. It has been taken care of.”

I cowered before his sudden anger. The swiftness in which he could become furious was alarming. His face grew dark and I looked away.

I decided to stay silent and still, not wishing to give him more reason to shout at me. He had the worst rage issues I'd ever encountered in a person. He was worse than our neighbors, and they screamed non-stop.

How was lunch?” he asked, after an irate silence.

I refused to look up from the floor. Making eye contact with him at the moment was not a good idea, for more than one reason.

“Good,” I replied, not wanting to go into detail. I wished he would go away.

Did you buy anything pretty?” It was said in such a sneering, sardonic manner that I had to raise my head. He was smirking in a way that did his face no justice.

I folded my arms and turned back to the screen. I didn't have to reply. If he was so desperate to know then he could ask Nicci himself.

Miss. Beaumont?” His tone was eerily flat. “I believe I asked you a question.”

He was maddening, this man! Why did he insist on behaving like an oaf, devoid of all feelings, and then expect me to put up with his behavior?

I counted to ten in my head. “It was fine.” I spoke like him, in a wonderfully frustrating flat voice.

He chuckled, which surprised me. “Excellent. I look forward to Saturday.”

With that he left, leaving me relieved and more nervous for the gala then ever before.


You WHAT?” Rachael was stood on a stool for reasons I could not fathom, with one hand placed on her chest and one foot resting on the counter. This was how she'd chosen to react after I'd told her about my shopping trip.

You went to Chanel without me?” Her mouth was wide open. I reached up and closed it for her.

I had no choice,” I explained.

Without me?” She wasn't listening. “I can't believe this! This is the ultimate betrayal.”

I sighed. “I've had the longest day, okay? I just want to have dinner then sleep.”

Rachael kneeled on the stool. She looked a bit like an actress, acting out a dramatic scene. “But it's Chanel! You went alone? How could you?”

It was not a recreational trip. I was forced to go for the gala,” I said patiently.

So this is how Jesus felt when Judas betrayed him?” she murmured to herself.

Okay!” I laughed. “Tell me your didn't just compare yourself to Jesus?”

I have been betrayed.” She hopped off the stool. “By my own flesh and blood.”

I followed her into the living room/kitchen. “Okay.” I tried my best to take her seriously. “But remember, the dress will be delivered to our apartment on Saturday morning. We have to be here to sign for it.” Despite Marifilwe's reassurances I was still concerned about whether everything would be delivered safely. Not even a few hours had passed since I'd heard about a burglary which had taken place a few apartments down from ours.

Rachael was busy spooning soup into bowls for us, but I knew she was listening. “Here,” she sniffed. “I made this especially for you.”

This is important, Rachael,” I said to her, taking the bowl.

“Marifilwe texted me before saying they'll be here at nine o'clock on the dot Saturday morning. We cannot afford to miss them.”

Where am I going to run off to that early in the morning?” she huffed. “I'll be here. Don't worry.”

I offered her a cracker as a peace offering. She took it with a sniff.

“I'm sorry about the state of dinner,” I said as she drained the last of her soup. “There wasn't much money left after I paid rent to Mr. Gianopoulos. He was getting impatient so I thought I'd get it over with. My account has been completely wiped clean. Going shopping for clothes was probably not such a wise idea after all.”

Don't be ridiculous,” she said sharply. “You needed new outfits for your job. Did you get that? New job? Meaning you'll be making tons of cash soon. Even more if you get busy with your boss like he wants.”

I almost dropped my bowl in shock. “Excuse me?” I was appalled. “What did you just say?”

Keep your panties on,” Rachael gave me the cheekiest grin. “I was just kidding.”

I narrowed me eyes. “You'd better have been.”

Does it get boring being a paragon of virtue?” she continued. “You should come to the dark side sometimes, have a little fun, get a little wild.”

I can't afford to get wild.” I went to the sink and started washing the dishes. “I can't afford to do anything really.”

Yet you're going to a gala every social climber in the vicinity would sell their soul to attend, and, you didn't even have to pay for the dress.” She patted my arm. “You've got skills, woman,” she laughed. “You didn't even have to jump into anyone's bed for it!”

I flicked soapy water at her and she shrieked. “Shut up.”

Really, Juliet.” My sister was relentless. “If you haven't figured out why he's doing all this then you're plain stupid.”

How many times do I have to tell you? He doesn't even speak to me in a friendly way, let alone give off romantic signals.” I failed to mention what happened after lunch, she would start picking out wedding rings.

"All I know is, no man, especially a rich one, spends money on a woman for no reason.”

I tossed a dish cloth at her. Dutifully she did her bit and dried the bowls and spoons. It was always the same, she never washed the dishes as she claimed her hands were too sensitive to hot water. She didn't seem to have a problem when she took her twenty minute long shower every morning, leaving me with little hot water.

If you're finished, I have work to do,” I said and retired to my bedroom.

I still love you even though you betrayed me, sis!” she yelled after me.

Alone in my bed I cast my thoughts to the days events. Was Rachael right? Were Mr. Hunters intentions murky? I had hidden the black card as soon as I'd gotten home, out of her reach. I did not want to hear what she would say if she ever found it. My sister had the vexing habit of hitting the nail on the head with her assumptions, and I was too busy drowning myself in denial.

I wasn't aware men like him existed in the world. Men who could fill you with fear with one glance, whose words cut like the sharpest knife. Mr. Hunter's behavior with me was not consistent. It was little wonder I walked around in a state of such confusion. He gave off strange, mixed signals. He was so...strange.

Or insane.

He was going to drive me to madness.

As I lay in the dark thinking of him, the feelings that had engulfed me earlier began to return. I flipped onto my front and closed my eyes.

Is he thinking of me right now, as I am thinking of him?

Stop!” My teeth were gritted. “Right now!”

I couldn't allow myself to think like this. It was dangerous. He was dangerous.

I forced myself to remember what he had done to Victoria, and I was saddened by his actions.

He forced her to have an abortion.

That is all it took to bring me back on a path I found correct. I would not permit myself to think any sort of thoughts about a man who did not have any respect for human life.

Or so they say.

That's it.”

I reached over to the table next to my bed and plucked my old, battered CD player from it. The headphones went firmly over my ears and the volume was turned up nearly full blast.

I would do no more thinking that night.

© 2013 Joan*Eckhart

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Added on April 24, 2013
Last Updated on April 26, 2013
Tags: Love, Romance, Betrayal, Secrets, Obsession, Power, Danger



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Chapter One Chapter One

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart