With hurried steps, Zee got back inside the house. Her family was still the way she had left them except that Israel saw her and was immediately following behind her.
She was glad that he had forgotten the strange episode of her transformation so quickly. Children were so innocent. That was a good thing. She lifted him.
“Forgot something?” her mother asked.
“Yeah.” She said and left with Israel to her room where she tried to put him down but he would not budge. He kept clinging to her. “No.” he said adamantly. “Cayi me.”
“I want to change. I’ll carry you, okay?”
Zee groaned. Time was not waiting for her. Time waited for no one. Still, she tried to be patient with him. “Izzy, love. I will buy you ice cream. Come down please?”
“Icekim.” He said and she nodded, giving him what she hoped was her best convincing smile. She felt his grip on her soften and gently, she set him down on the bed where he proceeded to jumping up and down. She didn’t bother telling him to stop if that would keep him engrossed.
She didn’t want to waste too much time thinking of what to wear. She went to her closet and grabbed a black mid length flared skirt. It went perfectly with the T-shirt she had on.
She picked Israel up, returned him to her parents and left the house. Surprisingly, Israel did not protest. He settled into her mother’s arms happily.
Zee saw the car door open with Michael checking his watch as he straightened up from having it open for her.
“Right on time. Good girl.” He commented as she slid into the seat beside him and shut the door, watching him briefly examine her skirt. “Perfect.” He said. “Now that’s a good one.”
“Thanks.” She said reluctantly. She hadn’t had a choice in the matter.
He saw a small pout form across her lips. He didn’t care. She could sulk as much as she wanted. She had chosen this life when she wouldn’t stop seeking him out as some sort of entertainment. Well, the show was over. “You’re welcome.” He replied, started the car and drove away from her home.
Zee kept her eyes on the streets as he drove. He was silent and she wondered what he was thinking. When the silence seemed to stretch between them, she stole a sideways glance at his hands on the steering.
She remembered them smacking her bum without mercy. She quickly averted her gaze. That had not been fun at all. Seconds later, her curiosity about where they were going, got the best of her. What if he wasn’t being true to his words and still had the mind to whip her butt again?
“Michael.” His name sounded tentative in her ears but it did not matter to her. She was afraid.
“Yes, Zee.” He could hear the fear in her voice. “What is it?’
“Where are we going?”
He glanced at her before returning his eyes to the road. “Why do you ask?”
“Nothing. I just want to know where we’re going.”
“Why? You don’t trust me? You think I still want to punish you?”
“Hmn. You never lost your intuition.”
“No I didn’t. And don’t worry. You have my word. Meanwhile, you didn’t ask of the dress?”
Because I don’t care, she wanted to say to him but chose to be quiet. Her silence should speak to him.
Michael ignored her silence. “I’m not surprised, anyway.” He told her. “You’re an unhappy bride to be. Despite that, I will not tolerate the silent treatment. That means if I talk to you, I expect a response. Am I clear?”
“Yes.” She mumbled.
“I didn’t get that.”
“Yes.” She said more audibly.
“Good.” He commended. “Now I asked you a question. Why didn’t you ask about the dress?”
“Because I don’t care.” She responded. It was just the truth. To her surprise, he laughed.
“Fair enough.” He responded. “But then, I don’t care.”
Zee decided then that since he was being somewhat conversational, she might as well engage him in the only way she knew best which was to annoy him.
“Where are your thugs?” she asked and was not surprised when a frown marred his brow.
“Yes, the hooligans surrounding you all the time.”
“Don’t test me. Those are my men, not thugs.” He sounded calm. She had expected some uproar.
“If you say so.” She said casually but started to panic as he slowed the car down and started parking it by the curb on the street they were in.
“What are you doing?” she asked, unable to mask her apprehension. He didn’t respond until he had parked the car, leaving the engine on. Then he faced her, reaching out for her hands with both of his.
“Give me your hands, Zee.”
Slowly, reluctantly, she did and he held them in his, much like a lover about to make a promise or say something important to his significant other. But Zee knew that their case was different and far from such. She kept her eyes on her lap, afraid to face him.
“Look at me.” He said. His voice was still calm. She kept her eyes where they were because she was scared of whatever he had to say to her. She didn’t think it would be anything pleasant. She wasn’t deceived by the calmness of his voice.
“Look at me.” This time it was a command, his voice steely.
She raised her eyes and unwillingly met his gaze.
“Do you know why I had to stop the car?” The steely edge had not left his voice.
She shook her head. “No.”
“I did that because I want this message to sink in. I will not tolerate any form of disrespect from you. If you ever behave disrespectfully around me again, you will have yourself to blame. Is that understood?”
“Good. I like that.”
He let go of her hands, started the car and drove off again, leaving her quiet and nervous beside him.