The wind blew my white lace curtains up into my rooms as a lay curled up in my bed; it was such a large, huge place... Such a waste for us...
It was only the three of us; my drunkard father, my older brother, and myself.
My mother had passed away years ago, she had been lucky to escape my dreadful father.
She had come from a small family, which had disowned her when she had fallen pregnant with my brother, which worked out perfectly for my father, because from the moment she had moved in, he had owned her.
And of course he had owned us all.
His word was law, no one and nothing could help you if you stood up to him.
He was a feared and respected business man, but behind closed doors, there was no respect, only fear; and he liked it that way.
My brother, Anthony fell on my father's every word, he was the obedient, golden child. He was working in my father's company.
He would "yes, sir" "no, sir" his way through everything.
I was the unwanted mess.
Hence I was the one with all the bruises on their body.
He had wanted me to marry the son of a powerful business man, I had refused and ended up with broken ribs; and that had just been the latest.
He had made it clear that once I was healed, the wedding would continue ahead.
Sighing, I pulled myself up, wincing in pain; no matter how many times this had happened, it never got physically easier.
Emotionally, I was cold as ice.
My cell pinged on the table next to my bed and I reluctantly checked it.
It was a text from my oldest friend, Ruby.
Rubes: Babe, u good?? Been calling
Me: All good, Rubes... What's up?
Rubes: Girl, need to go get some clothes and nails done... U comin?
Sighing again, I put the phone back down, I had been keeping myself distant from her for a while, not wanting any drama.
She hated my father and I didn't want her getting hurt because of me.
Picking my phone back up I texted her a reply
Me: Yeah... What time we u be here?
Rubes: 10 minutes
Getting to my feet I went into my bathroom and took a shower.
I put on a cute outfit that would cover the bruises on my upper body
And went downstairs to wait for Ruby.
I sat on the steps of my father's front porch, patiently waiting for Ruby.
It was only a few seconds before her bright yellow Beetle pulled up and I smiled as I made my way towards her.
She stuck her head out of the window, her coppery curls bouncing on her hair, "Girl, get in!"
I chuckled as I climbed into the passenger seat, "You are so damn impatient... Now, where exactly are we going?"
"Mall. And then we're going to do our nails and hair," she eyed me sideways, "Girl, no offense but your hair looks like it needs a lil' something, right?"
I rolled my eyes, "Don't you worry about my hair, what's the occasion?"
"You should get a tan too, you're snow white, haven't you been outside at all? And the occasion is.... Well, I don't need a reason to be looking good, but I've met a man and I like to look good for him."
I raised a brow, "I don't need sun, and tell me more about this man."
"Well, he's a lil' bit older, he's thirty. He owns that cute lil' diner we used to go to, y'all will get along, he also got a family with money."
"Ruby, don't start with that... And I'm really happy for you, I can't wait to meet him."
"Good, I'm having a party tonight, you'll meet him there."
"Oh, no, I doubt I'll be able to-"
I sighed, but kept my mouth shut; I didn't want to get into it with her again.
"Maybe you can find yourself a nice lil boyfriend ... Or at least a distraction."
"No thank you."
"Why? You think because I stay in that dodge area you won't find money?"
"Ruby! You know I don't care about any of that."
"I know, I just like teasing you."
We had been walking around the mall for hours when Ruby finally allowed us to leave to get to her salon appointment.
Ruby and I had always preferred to support the smaller salons rather than the snooty rich ones based in the mall.
And of course, she brought us to one near her apartment; a small little shop in the middle of graffiti filled buildings.
She sat in the chair getting treatment on her gorgeous locks and acrylic done on her nails.
I had just excused myself to take a cigarette break.
"God, I need to stop smoking."
"How you doing?"
I looked up to see a tall man, he had on jeans with a white shirt on, his arms covered in tattoos; short brown hair on his head.
"What you doing down here? You look like one of them high ends."
I scoffed, "I can be wherever I want to be."
He smiled, "Can I have a light?"
I handed him my Zippo just as another man, late twenties came up to him; his complexion told me that he was Latino; dark hair to his shoulders. He too had tattoos down his arms, on his hands and the sides of his neck.
His tattoos screamed gang member; his walk showed nothing but confidence.
He barely glanced at me as he turned to the brunette, "What the fuck, man? You're just standing here? We gotta go."
He held out my Zippo, "I was making friends with this gorgeous lady, you can't blame me."
This earned me a rather dirty look from the newcomer.
I shook my head, "Keep the lighter." I turned and walked back into the salon, those two were clearly busy with something they shouldn't be.
One of the ladies who worked in the salon came up to me with a smirk, "I see you met CJ and Diego."
"Briefly; seems they have some issues going on."
"That's what happens when you're involved in the amount of illegal shit that they are."
I frowned but said nothing, something bugged me about this... My heart kicked in and I wanted to ask more, maybe I could help them.
But I dismissed the thought as quickly as it had come; it had nothing to do with me.
I hadn't bothered to go home for long, I had gone home long enough to get ready for Ruby's party and leave before my father got back.
By the time the taxi had dropped me off, the party had already started; her apartment was packed and the music was blaring.
She came running over to me, bright red heels on her feet and a matching, very short, tight dress, with a huge gold necklace.
She wrapped her arms around me and squealed, "I'm so happy you came, Faye! You look great!"
I had gone to a bit of extra effort, I wore a short black dress with long sleeves and silver sparkling heels.
"Come meet James!" She grabbed ahold of my hand and pulled me along with her out onto the balcony up to a man with the best jawline I had ever seen, he had dark skin and wore a simple white button up shirt with black jeans.
"Baby, this is Faye."
He smiled brightly at me as we did our introductions, while Ruby draped herself over his arm.
They genuinely looked so happy together.
Ruby grinned, "Mingle a bit, Faye, catch you later." She winked before she and James walked back into the apartment.
Sighing I leant my arms on the banister, staring out into the night.
She was on the 10th floor, so the view was nothing but amazing.
I would have given anything to switch places with her.
"At a party and you don't have a drink? You don't even look like you're enjoying yourself."
I turned to see the man from earlier, Diego; his accent was thick, I noticed now.
He wore a black T-Shirt with dark blue jeans.
I raised a brow, "Ah, feeling a bit friendlier, I see."
He took a sip of the beer he held in his hand, "Earlier... It was a bad time."
I nodded and looked away, I really didn't want to be staring at this gorgeous man.
"You want something to drink?"
"Not just yet. Thank you for the offer though."
He held out the beer he had in his hand, "No drugs, I swear."
I couldn't help but smile, "That had been the last thing I was worried about."
Suddenly Ruby was between us, "Here you go, babe, happy to see you've made friends with Diablo," she turned to him, "This is my bestie, Faye."
She handed me a glass of alcohol, I could only assume was rum and raspberry; she knew me well, before leaving again.
I turned to Diego, a frown on my face, "The lady at the salon said your name is Diego, but Ruby just called you Diablo?"
He grinned, his face lighting up with his smile, "My name is Diego Hernandez. I'm known as Diablo, for devil."
"Oh, how lovely." I didn't bother hiding the sarcasm in my voice.
"Hada... It means fairy, your name it means fairy."
I frowned, he was rather strange, "You trying to change the subject?"
"No... I Haven't seen you around, did you just move here?"
"No... I stay, um, further up in the neighbourhoods."
"Ah, you are a niña Rica, a rich kid."
"I'm not a kid, and my father has money, I do not."
He frowned, about to ask me something when my phone rang.
I froze, that would either be my brother or my father.
I downed my drink and ignored my phone, my hand tightening around the glass.
Diego was openly studying me, and I turned away.
"I'm going to get another drink."
He shook his head, "No, let me."
I watched him walk away with a deep frown on my face.
My ribs hadn't even healed yet and I was already setting myself up for another beating.
Diego returned and I jumped when he gave me my drink.
He frowned, "Okay, Nena, this is a party, why are you so tense?"
I took the drink from him and drank it in a gulp.
My phone rang again, "I should get going. It was nice meeting you, Diego."
He tilted his head, "You've had two drinks and already want to leave? At least dance with me before you go, Hada."
The wise part of my brain told me that this was not a good idea.
But, of course, I didn't listen.
We stood between the drunken people, some couples danced lovingly in each other's arms, others danced wildly.
Diego hung his hands loosely on my hips, my arms around his neck as we gently moved together.
Nothing wrong with dancing with a dangerous, handsome stranger at all.
Right here, at Ruby's party, I could pretend to be normal.
I could pretend that I didn't have an abusive drunk as a father.
I could pretend that he wasn't trying to force me into some business deal marriage.
I could pretend I was just a normal, happy woman.
I had been at the party a bit too long, dancing and drinking with Diego.
I had excused myself for a bathroom break which was when I noticed the fifty missed calls from my father.
I hurriedly said my goodbye's and stumbled my way out of the apartment.
And of course, I had fallen from the last step, I grabbed ahold of the railing to avoid meeting with the floor, but the momentum swung me into the wall, side first.
The jar to my already damaged ribs caused me to cry out and slide down to the ground.
"Hada? Are you okay?" Diego asked as his hand wrapped around my arm to pull me up.
He pulled me up and I let out another squeak of pain.
His face furrowed in confusion, "What is wrong?"
I shook my head, "Nothing, please get out of my way, I need to get home."
He moved and I involuntarily placed a hand on my ribs, wincing as I tried to breathe passed the pain.
His hand wrapped around my wrist, "Your ribs? Did you hurt them?"
"I... Yeah... Um... Fell off a ... Horse a few days ago, broken ribs." I gave a weak smile.
"Nena, you will soon understand, in my world, I know when someone is lying."
"Just, help me get outside and get a taxi please."
He allowed me to lean on him as we walked out into the road.
"I can take you home."
Panic rose in my chest at the thought of my father seeing me with him, "No, it's fine, a taxi is better."
"Look around you, there is no taxi now."
He was right, there were no taxis.
But my father would be waiting for me, and he saw me with a man, the punishment would be worse.
"Maybe you could drop me in my road."
We walked over to a black older model Mustang.
He opened the passenger door and helped me in before going around and getting into the drivers seat.
I stayed in silence the complete drive, until we got to my road.
"Drop me here."
He frowned, "Where is your house?"
"Just drop me here."
"You don't want to be seen with nausea?"
I frowned, "What? What does that even mean?"
"What?! No, it's not like that."
He had already pulled into the road.
I stayed silent until we reached my father's house, "This is it, thank you."
As I was about to get our, he placed his hand over mine, "I don't know is going on with you, but I can tell it will not be good. I hope you are okay."
I nodded, "Thank you." I got out from the car and hobbled my way up to the house.
As I reached the glass doors, the opened to reveal my father's glare.
He wore a dark suit, clearly he had been wailing for me since he had discovered that I wasn't home.
"Inside. Now. "
I gulped and walked passed him, flinching as he slammed the door.
I kicked my heels off and turned to him.
"Father, I was with Ruby-"
"Did I ask you to speak, Faith?"
I cringed at my full name, my mother had named me for the Faith she held that I would change things.... Ironic considering I was now the one getting beaten.
I shook my head.
"You are my daughter. You should be upholding the name, not going out to little parties and acting like loose harlot! You should conduct yourself as a lady! This is what I get; your mother comin out!"
Without thinking I lifted my hand and hit him across the face, anger boiling in my blood, "There was nothing wrong with my mother and I am proud if I have her tendencies."
He chuckled, "You are lucky that I need you to meet with Matthew tomorrow and can't have any bruises on you. Get to your room."
Sighing, I made my way up the stairs and into my room.
At the age of twenty-three and I still couldn't live my own life.
He still expected me to meet with Matthew tomorrow, the man he wanted me to marry.
Laying down on my bed I wished desperately for the world to swallow me up whole.
The time I had spent at Ruby's party had been great, I had felt like a different person, a real person.
And now, I was here, back to my life.
"Faith, come on, get up."
I opened my eyes to my brothers face, his dark hair combed perfectly back, black suit on.
I frowned, "Anthony? What do you want?"
"Father needs you ready to meet with Matthew."
I let out a groan as I rolled my eyes, "Yeah, thanks, I got it."
"There was a black muscle car outside earlier. Seems to be some sort of criminals, they were staking the place out. Probably want to rob us."
I sat up, "Muscle car? Criminals?"
"Yes, Faith, that's what I said. A white man, a black man and I guess a Hispanic one?"
My eyes widened slightly, "Did they leave?"
"Yes, father called his security company."
"Okay... Wait downstairs, I need to get ready."
He walked out and the moment he closed the door and grabbed my phone, dialling Ruby's number.
It range twice before she answered.
"Hey, boo, I heard you went off with Diablo.... Any spicy details?"
"No, he dropped me off at home. How do you know him?"
"He's a friend of James'.... And it's a small place, we know of each other even if we don't know each other. Why?"
"The lady at the salon said he and CJ I think? They're into illegal stuff?"
"Yeah... Sort of, I mean they were in this gang, killings, theft sort of thing."
"Oh my God. How could I be so stupid. He was using me to get a place to steal from."
"What? No, I don't think so, he seemed worried about you. He came back to the party and sat sulking in a corner."
"Well he and his friends were here."
"I know, James went with them. I told him about your dad."
"Ruby! I met him once, don't go broadcasting my life."
I hung up and threw the phone onto the bed.
I sat at my dining room table with my mother.
She watched me closely as I pushed my food around on my plate.
"What is bothering you, hijo?"
I sighed, "Mamá, I met a woman last night."
She pursed her lips, "Oh Dios, another one?"
I chuckled, "No, Mamá, not like that. You know James is dating Ruby? It's her friend. Her name is Faye; but there is something bothering me about her... She was in pain, she said she fell off a horse and broke her ribs. I took her home, and she was so scared."
I could see the knowing look in my mother's eyes, my father had been abusive for years.
"Do you think someone is hurting her?"
I nodded, "I spoke to Ruby... She says the father is abusive. Rules her."
"Hijo, you like this girl?"
"I just met her, I don't know her. But I don't like to know what is happening to her."
My mother smiled, "invítala a cenar, hijo."
I shook my head, of course my mother wanted her over for dinner, she was trying to get me to quit my bad habits by trying to hook me up.
"Estoy preocupada por ella... But I will think of something."
My mother smiled as she stood, "I must go or I will be late for the interview."
I nodded; she had applied for a cooking position at one of the rich families.
I hated that she wanted to work, she was meant to be home and I was to look after her.
But my mechanics shop was taking time to build up, and she hated the things I did to get money in.
I couldn't blame her; she wanted a son she could be proud of, not the mess that I turned out.
I sat on the opposite side of the table from Matthew.
He was handsome, I'd give him that much; neat blond hair, sparkling blue eyes. He wore a dark blue suit.
I had chosen a sleek black dress which came to my knees, black heels on my feet, and my dark hair in a sleek bun.
I had been told to make sure I looked the part of a professional.
Matthew was older than me, he was thirty-one.
He stared across at me as he sipped his black coffee, "You're pretty, you'll look good on my arm. But you must understand, this is a business deal, to strengthen the companies, and I need you to understand that you will need to play the part of my wife. No divorce. You will be on my arm whenever I require it, you will behave as a proper lady. No short dresses. No harsh make up. You will not color your hair. No piercings other than your ears. No tattoos. If you already have any, you will have it removed. You will not use foul language. You will see no other men. I however will fulfill my needs with whomever i see fit; it will be discreet and you will never be publicly humiliated by it."
I frowned, "Sounds like the dream."
"I must be upfront about it. I am not happy about this arrangement myself, but it must be done."
I scanned the up market restaurant as Matthew continued stating rules and regulations, I had no interest in what he had to say.
"Look at me when I speak to you, Faith."
I glared at him.
"You need to look interested in what I'm saying, smile at least. We're meant to be in love. The pictures will start and we can't have it seem like this isn't a happy relationship."
"I'm not good at acting."
"Well, you will need to learn."
"I think it's unfair that you get to go around with other women and I need to pretend to be a faith wife. This is business. I will be your wife for publicity only, but I will not be your slave. If you can see who you want, so can I. I will keep my part for the public only. If you don't like it, by all means, you can find someone else."
He smiled slightly, "Fiesty, I like it. Alright but that needs to be kept between us. These were your father's rules, not mine."
"We will have a few of these meetings, allow the public to get used to us 'dating', before we announce anything."
Again, I nodded.
He lent over and placed a hand over mine, "Don't worry, I'm not as bad as I seem."
I walked into my room, I couldn't wait to get out of the uncomfortable dress I had been in.
I changed into a pair of denim shorts and a black tank top before going back downstairs.
Amy, one of our maids, came passed, "Good morning, the new cook has arrived."
I smiled at her and went into the kitchen,
Where I found a beautiful, elderly Hispanic woman.
I smiled at her, "Hi, are you the new cook?"
"Si... Oh, I am sorry, the boss said to only speak English, forgive me."
I raised a brow, "The boss is a piece of shit. What's your name?"
"Antonia, Miss Faith."
I Laughed, "Call me Faye, and no miss. How would one address someone older with respect in Spanish?"
Her brows furrowed, "Faye...Tía, it means... Aunt... Faye... Your name is Faye."
"Well, it's Faith but I prefer Faye."
Her eyes lit up suddenly, "You know my hijo, my son, Diego."
My eyes widened, "Diego is your son? Oh... Small world."
"Si... You know, he told me about you this morning."
He was talking about me at home?
"Oh? We've only met once."
"I know. I told him to bring you for dinner."
"Oh, that's so nice of you."
"He is a good man, he does things that are not so good... But he wants to make it easier for me. He's a good person."
Before I could reply, my father walked in.
He glared at Antonia, "Get to work, I don't pay you to entertain my daughter."
She nodded and turned away.
I glared at him, "You don't get to treat people like crap just because you pay them."
He laughed, "I get to do whatever I want to do."
He walked out once again, presumably going to his study.
Sticking my feet into black boots, I walked out.
I was fully aware of the fact that my father would not be happy about this, but I also didn't care.
He couldn't leave marks in me while I was having meeting with Matthew.
I was, essentially safe for a while.
Instead of taking a taxi, I had opted to take my car to Ruby.
Who was extremely happy to see me.
She had been sitting on the steps to her apartment building, watching pre-teens play in the street with a ball.
I took a seat next to her on the steps, "So, Diego's mom started working for us as a cook."
"What? Are you serious?!"
"Yeah, she seems really nice, too. She knew who I was, he had spoken about me."
"I can just see the two of you are going to be having something going on."
"No, Ruby, nothing like that. I don't know him... And my father is marrying me off for business purposes."
Suddenly my phone rang, I answered it cautiously because it was not a number I had saved.
"Faith, it's Matthew, there's a dinner tonight. Need you on my arm. This is where you will be introduced to the public as my girlfriend. My driver will fetch you around six."
He hung up and I groaned, "That was the guy I'm supposed to marry. Gotta go to a dinner with him tonight."
Ruby raised a brow, "This is bullshit! We aren't property, we can make our own choices."
"Yeah, and if I do, my father will literally kill me. At least I'll be away from him in all of this."
"Why don't we just go to Diego for help?"
"No. I'm not getting involved in anything illegal."
"You feeling better today, Hada?"
I squinted up to look straight into Diego's deep brown eyes, noticing now that there were specks of gold in them.
"Yes. Thank you.... I met your mom today."
The smile on his face dropped, "What? How?"
"She's our new cook. She's so sweet."
"Oh.. she's working for you? Did she.. say anything?"
I smirked, "She told me that you spoke about me, care to explain?"
"No," he turned his attention to Ruby, "Is James here?"
"Nah, he's at the diner."
"Thanks," he turned to me, "Take care of yourself."
As I watched him walk away, I couldn't help but smile; he was sure nice to look at.