The definition of love, what a funny thing. My adoptive mom always told me that one day I would meet the perfect man, get married, and give her lots of grandchildren. She got one thing right; I was married, but not to a man I loved, let alone wanted to be in the same room with. The only man that meant anything to me was over nine hundred miles away, out of reach.
Three weeks had passed since Rui took me against my will. I finally understood where my place was. Seen, but not heard. It was the only way I would survive under Rui Salko’s control. At least he wasn’t around as much as when I first entered his home. He hadn’t touched me, other than a kiss here and there, which made my stomach turn. I was positive that my mouth was the cleanest one in the house since I couldn’t stand the taste of him. I was glad when he left, especially when his work took him away for a couple of days at a time. With him away, it meant he wouldn’t be touching me or disciplining me. If he wasn’t kissing me, he was punishing me for not following his instructions. He was a monster, and not even makeup could hide the marks he left to remind me of my place.
The front door slammed with a loud crash, signaling his arrival, but more than that, his mood. My heart jumped, knowing it wouldn’t be such great of a day for me. I could always tell how well Rui’s trips went by the way he closed the door. I never knew from one day to the next if he would return or what his mood would be, but I always prepared myself for the worst.
Shivers ran down my body as I heard the angry tone in his voice. “Reyna, I’ll be taking my dinner in the study.”
Holding my breath, I pulled the roast out of the oven. “Okay, Rui. I’ll have it done in fifteen minutes.” Giving the staff time off, cooking was one of the many things he demanded I learn. With the help of the cooking staff, I learned quickly how to prepare his meals. Without knowing if he would show up, I always made enough for two. Most of the time, the leftovers I had thrown away. Rui didn’t tolerate having to eat reheated food. I learned that early on. The hard way.
It wasn’t unusual for Rui to take his dinner in his study, and I preferred it when he did. It allowed me to avoid his sarcastic remarks about how thankful I should be that I was with him instead of Davian.
Almost always, Rui would bring his work home. I wasn’t sure what the mafia required of him, but I didn’t care. He would focus on it instead of me, and I would be safe from his wrath.
Dishing Rui’s plate just the way he liked, meat at two o’clock, bread at ten, and vegetables at six, I wiped off the excess juice that fell onto the plate before I placed it on the serving tray. Adding two ice cubes to his scotch, I set the glass above the silverware and made sure the glass lined up with the knife and was free of any water spots.
I shook my hands to ease the nervousness and took hold of the tray. I steadied the tray as I walked to Rui’s study. The door was slightly open, and the last thing I wanted was to disturb him while he was working. Taking a chance, I pushed the door open with my shoulder. I looked over to the window where I found him sitting at his large mahogany desk. It was always dark in his study, except for the only light he allowed, which was from the lamp on his desk. Of all the rooms in the house, his study was the single room where he demanded the curtains drawn closed. Only once had I opened them to bring in the sunlight. In return, he slapped my cheek. The bruise Rui left was a reminder. Even today, it was still visible, even with makeup.
I thought he hadn’t heard me come in until he lifted his head, and his stone-cold eyes met mine. “You’re late with my dinner, Reyna. It had better be good.”
I continued to walk toward the coffee table that sat between four wing-back chairs, two on each side. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking, concerned that if I didn’t control them, I would end up dropping the tray. My eyes focused on the scotch sloshing back and forth against the glass as I carefully lowered the tray onto the table. As I stepped away from the table, ready to make my escape, I crashed into Rui’s hard body. His eyes weren’t on me but on the table. “It seems you have forgotten how to follow instructions.”
Grabbing me by the back of my neck, he pushed my head toward the table and made me look at the tray. Everything on the plate had shifted. A normal person wouldn’t have noticed, but Rui did. Before I could explain, his free hand came across my face, which made me lose my balance. Unable to break the fall, I fell sideways onto the coffee table. The edge of the table dug into my side, and all I could do was watch the tray tumble to the floor, shattering the glass of scotch and the plate into a million pieces as it hit the hard floor. Pushing from the table, I held back the pain the fall had caused and tried to stand. Instead of showing concern, Rui was more worried about the mess I created. “Clean up this mess. I’m going out.”
Once he left, I fell to my knees and began picking up the larger pieces of glass first before tackling the smaller ones. As hard as I tried, the strain of the being under this man’s control for the last three weeks hit me and my tears fell. I didn’t want to shed one more tear because of this monster. It didn’t matter what I did. Nothing would be good enough for Rui Salko.
The constant abuse, I could handle. It was his words that took me further and further away from the person I was. I was lucky to escape with only a bloody lip or a bruised cheek. If I weren’t so afraid of him, I would fight back. I had to find a way to escape. In reality, Davian wouldn’t be coming to get me. I had to do this on my own if I wanted to live. I was done trying to become the perfect wife for a man I hated and would never love. I would rather die.
A loud noise startled me, and I rolled over to my side to find that the alarm clock read five in the morning. I had cleaned the mess I made in the study over eight hours ago, and I wasn’t sure if Rui had come home yet. As I pushed to my feet to investigate what caused the noise, I noticed a large figure in the doorway to my bedroom. It was Rui. He didn’t say a word as he walked over to the bed. Woman’s perfume laced with alcohol lingered in the air as he stood beside the bed. I avoided eye contact, and I headed to the bathroom to get a drink of water.
When I returned, I should have been angry, but I wasn’t. Rui’s body stretched across the bed. He was out. I didn’t dare wake him. I should have been thankful that he had passed out and another woman got his attention instead of me, but all it did was make me sick. She was surely another victim of his wrath.
I left the room and carefully shut the door. Instead of catching more sleep, I decided to get a jump on finding a way to leave this place, once and for all. Rui would be out for hours, and since it was Saturday, the alarm in my room wouldn’t be going off to wake him since I hadn’t set it. I had only a short window of opportunity to search the house for a phone. I could have searched his body for his cell, but I feared that I would wake him and he would finally take what he hadn’t in three weeks. As I headed down the stairs, I decided to check his office first.
Closing the door behind me, I worked my way to his desk in the darkness by taking slow, careful steps with my hands in front of me. When Rui’s desk hit my legs, I knew I had reached it. Turning on the desk lamp, I waited for my eyes to adjust to the light before rounding the desk. I pulled out every drawer hoping to find something, anything that would help with my escape. Staring down at the only drawer I hadn’t tried, I gripped the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. Rui locked it. None of the other drawers held a key, so it was either on Rui’s person or hidden somewhere else. Scanning the top of his desk for anything that I could pry the drawer open with, I spotted a letter opener beneath a stack of papers. Working the letter opener between the drawer and the desk, I could finally pry it open.
As I pulled the drawer free, my breath hitched as a gun stared back at me, lying on top of some other papers. Lifting it with my thumb and my index finger, I put it on top of the desk. I didn’t hate guns, but I hated what they could do. I slide my hand under the papers, and something hard hit my fingers. It was a phone. As I pulled it out, I saw it was a flip phone. My eyes widened with hope until I flipped it open. I tried to bring it to life, but it was dead. Defeated, I leaned against the back of the chair, all the air left my body in disappointment. I had to keep searching. There had to be a cord to charge it somewhere. Leaning forward, I pulled the papers from the drawer where I found the phone. I reached towards the back, and my fingers pulled out the cord. My heart fluttered with excitement.
When I was about to leave Rui’s office, I heard my name. “Reyna, where the fuck are you?”
Turning off the light, I crawled underneath his desk and remained still. If he found me in his study, he would undoubtedly kill me. Somehow, I needed to get to my room, but how? It sounded like he was still upstairs and I couldn’t stay under his desk forever. Eventually, he would find me. I had to move. Sliding out from under his desk. I slowly crawled on my hands and knees to the door. When I didn’t hear his voice again, I carefully turned the knob and pulled the door open. The phone and cord were still in my hand as I made my way to the kitchen. It would be the one room he wouldn’t question me being in. Once there, like a dutiful wife, I would answer his question about my whereabouts.
The lights were off when I reached the kitchen. Before switching on the lights, I searched for a place to hide the phone and cord. I couldn’t risk Rui finding them on me when he came down the steps after hearing where I was. The time of morning provided very little light, but I remembered a small accent table with a drawer beneath a painting near the staircase. It was a risk, but it would be the safest place to hide it until I could get to it later.
Once I placed the phone and cord safely in the drawer, I headed back to the kitchen. Even if he came down the stairs, I would be safe with my explanation. Reaching around the corner, I switched on the light.
I gasped with surprise as I heard Rui’s words. “Why the fuck didn’t you answer me?” His eyes were on mine, and a rage of anger I had never seen sent a chill down my spine.
My body was shaking with fear, and I was unable to speak. Rui’s eyes grew darker as he stood from a kitchen chair and walked toward me. My mind was telling me to run, but my body wouldn’t move. Without warning, he pressed my body against the wall, and his hand went to my throat. I couldn’t breathe but somehow answered his question. “I was upstairs. I didn’t want to wake you, so I used the guest bathroom.”
“You’re lying. Just like your mother.”
Before I could explain further, he released the grip on my throat and replaced it with the back of his hand against my cheek. I wobbled from the blow but remained upright. The taste of metal tinged my mouth, and I was sure he had split my lip. No tears… Reyna, No tears.
When he placed his hand on my cheek, my head jerked, a response to getting hit again. Smiling, he leaned in, his whiskey breath close to my ear. “You are a beautiful woman, my sweet Reyna. Don’t give me a reason to kill you. I would hate for you to end up like your mother.” When he pressed his lips to mine, the bile in my throat rose. “I’m going to shower. When I return, I trust you will have breakfast ready for me. I’ll take it in the garden.”
When he left the kitchen, my body fell to the floor. I hated him. Even though he didn’t come out and admit it, he killed my mother, I was sure of it. Stay strong, Reyna. Your days with this monster are almost over.