Angeline didn’t want to go home, but she didn’t have a choice. She couldn’t tell anyone in fear Nathan would hurt them, or that her punishment would become more severe. Every day, she’d glance across the street from her bakery and notice a patrol unit parked outside. She was disgusted. He’d even gotten one of his closest friends in on this, just in case she decided to make a run for it.
People had noticed she’d changed. She didn’t talk much these days. Her friends tried to coax her into talking with them, but she kept her mouth shut. The beatings had gotten so bad she couldn’t wear skirts and short sleeve blouses due to the bruising on her thighs and arms. So she had to substitute for slacks and long sleeves.
She hated him. She hated herself. She hated the fact that she was too weak to leave him, too scared of what he may do to her if she did. As she washed up the baking tins, all of the employees started to leave one after the other for the evening, she was no longer able to hold her composure—as soon as she locked the front door, she fell to her knees and sobbed loudly.
After she managed to stop crying, a firm rapping on the door caught her attention. To her horror, it was Officer Chavez, who was parked across the street. He motioned her to unlock the door. She stood up and wiped a few stray tears in her eyes before she did so.
“Nathan wants you home, now,” he commanded, stepping across the threshold. He smirked and crossed his arms over his chest, so damn arrogant she wanted to grab the nearest thing and bash him across the head.
“Yeah, okay,” she confirmed through the lump in her throat. Angeline willed herself to be strong as she grabbed her purse from the counter. As she got level with Chavez, she looked at him with as much hate as she could muster. “This is low, even for you,” she growled before walking past him.
Chavez made sure she went straight home after work, tailing her the whole way. When she turned off the ignition, he opened the driver’s door and pulled her out of the car. He had his hand clasp roughly around her arm as he dragged her helplessly up the walkway to the front door. Angeline’s breath hitched when she saw Nathan standing on the porch with a scowl on his face.
“Get your hands off me, you pig!” She pulled away from Chavez.
Nathan grabbed her arm with bruising force and pulled her to him. She let out a yelp as pain shot through her. Angeline met his rageful eyes—nothing like the eyes of the man she fell in love with at UCLA all those years ago.
“Get inside, now,” he ordered and she obeyed, slowly making her way into the living room.
Several moments passed in silence only to be broken by the sound of the front door slamming in the foyer, causing Angeline to jump. A tear rolled down her cheek as Nathan stepped into the room. She felt the blood rush from her face, and she could feel herself sweat from anxiety.
“What did you call him back there?” Nathan’s voice was low, the threatening tone unmistakable.
The order settled into the silence between them. The words physically chilled her, a shiver working its way up her spine.
“Nathan,” she pleaded
He stared down into her eyes. He seemed taller, more intimidating than she’d ever remembered. She lowered her shoulders, his posture seeming to demand it.
“What did you call him?”
She snapped her jaw shut. Anything she said now would be futile—he wasn’t interested in excuses.
He threaded his fingers into her hair, gripping it by the roots to pull her an inch closer. She whimpered at the small pain. Her hands found his chest, the leverage holding her up as her knees weakened slightly.
“Answer me, dammit!”
“I called him a pig,” she whimpered. Though it wasn’t a lie. Most of those men on the force were corrupted through Nathan—they followed him around like lost puppies, and it disgusted her.
He backhanded her, causing her to fall down onto the ground. She instinctively placed a palm on her face and saw white spots dancing around as she closed her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she cried softly as she struggled to sit up.
Nathan raised his right leg and delivered a sharp kick to her side, extracting a pained cry from Angeline. She gasped as she tried to scramble away, but was easily deterred by Nathan delivering another blow to her side.
Several thoughts flooded her mind a mile a minute, but she couldn’t process any of them. All she had to do was survive. She tried several times to make a run for the door, but it was futile; he always managed to drag her back and continue his ‘punishment.’
Nathan stood up and panted heavily as he wiped sweat off his brow. He sneered at the broken woman who lied helplessly on the floor. “Angel,” he said, nudging her in the side with his foot.
Angeline grudgingly opened her eyes. “Please… stop,” she begged, fighting to stay awake, but the pain was so unbearable she wondered how long she could hold out for.
She whimpered as he lifted her off the ground and carried her over his shoulder to their bedroom.
“No… please, no more,” she pleaded as she used every bit of strength to fight Nathan off.
He threw her down onto the bed and pinned her wrists above her head. Straddling her hips, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a pair of handcuffs and cuffed her to the headboard.
Nathan removed his gun from his holster and pressed it to her forehead. “I set the rules here, Angel, not you,” he said. “Do you understand?”
Her lip quivered as she held back a sob and nodded. “You make the rules.”
Angeline’s eyes were closed as she trembled beneath Nathan. She had lost track of how long she had been in this room with her husband, how long he had been raping her. He stayed in her for a few more minutes before he managed to pull out and reached for his boxers beside the bed. He bent over her and kissed her lightly on her forehead, and she turned her head away in disgust. As she did, he slapped her one last time. She couldn’t feel her face any longer. He pulled her by her hair and forced her to look into his eyes.
“Remember, Angel,” he spoke quietly. “Not a word, understand?” She made no reply and Nathan jerked her head even harder. “Answer me! Do you understand?”
She whimpered and nodded quickly. Nathan kissed her once again, as if nothing happened, and pulled on his pants. Her eyes followed him as he put on his shirt, but she didn’t move, too exhausted after being used by him. Fully dressed, he returned to her side and sat at the edge of the bed, blue eyes admiring his handiwork as he took in her figure, bruised and filled with his essence.
“I can’t... I refuse to live without you.” He frowned, pushing a damp strand of hair away from her forehead with surprising tenderness. “I think you understand what I’m saying, don’t you, Angel?”
She nodded mutely, signaling that she did.
He reached into the nightstand and pulled out a key, removing the cuffs around her wrists. He gently laid her hands down to her side, and she made no effort to move. “I love you, Angeline.”
A tear fell slowly down her cheek. “I love you, too.”