The jazz singer swayed and crooned into the microphone. She had a nice voice Jane decided, but no one was listening, they were too busy trying to be noticed and heard. Unlike herself. If it were possible to melt away into the shadows, she would be doing it. Instead, she had found an out of the way corner and just hoped to pass the night unnoticed.
The night club’s lights flashed off the jewellery on the women, and the sparkles in their clinging dresses.
She had dressed wrong, again, she thought miserably, though that was at least partly Baron’s fault. If he had deigned to tell her where they were going, she would have known that it was a place for slinky, sexy dresses rather than her pretty white lace dress. But then, she thought, if she had known that they were going to the opening of his new club, she would have told him she had a headache, and he probably knew that, and therefore hadn’t given her the opportunity to avoid going.
She might be an unwanted wife, but she was still a Corbyn, and that connection was worth the inconvenience of her to Baron.
She watched him mingle, every bit the alpha wolf, incredibly handsome in his tailored suit, his white teeth flashing in a charming smile, and the nightclub lights picking up the night-reflection in his eyes. The most handsome man in the room, any woman would exchange places with her in a moment, she thought, and they would be welcome to her husband and mate, for he hated her, and she knew it.
His eyes scanned the crowd, looking for her. And unfortunately, in her white dress, she was entirely too noticeable. A muscle ticked in the corner of his jaw, and his eyes hardened, his mouth tightened, when he saw her. He gave a slight jerk of his head to indicate that she should be at his side, and she sighed.
The Westerns and the Corbyns had long been rival packs, but the Corbyns had grown in strength where the Westerns had weakened, and in Baron’s grandfather’s time, the Westerns had lost their position and much of their wealth, and their pack had been absorbed into other, stronger packs.
Until Baron had come, seemingly from nowhere, with a strong alpha’s ruthlessness, and had built his business from the ground up, gradually gaining power and position until he had approached Jane’s father, Matthew Corbyn, wanting to marry and take as mate Jane’s older, prettier sister, Alice, in order to cement his place in Corbyn’s pack.
Matthew, instead, had offered Jane. A take it or leave it situation. Baron had taken it, and her. Reluctantly.
“Oh, for f-k sake, Jane, must you be so clumsy!” Angelique Devan exclaimed loudly as she poured her glass of red wine over Jane’s dress. “You have spilled my wine everywhere!”
Jane should not have been as surprised as she was, she thought, as she stood with the red wine stain slowly spreading through the white lace of her entirely too innocent and covered up dress for the venue, feeling it puddle into her shoes. Angelique was, none too discretely, Baron’s mistress, and was probably the only person alive who loathed Jane more than her husband did.
“You should put some soda water on that,” Angelique smirked. “Before it stains.”
As if soda water had any chance of getting rid of that wine stain.
“Jane,” Baron had crossed to stand behind Jane. A circle had formed around them, the glittering guests murmuring, and sniggering. Jane felt the crawl of dread through her chest, clenching its fist around her heart. She did not need to look at Baron’s face to know that she had humiliated him. Again. “Don’t just stand there,” his fingers closed around her upper arm, and he propelled her through the crowd to the back-area where only the staff and owner could go.
The music was muted by the door closing behind them, and the lighting was dim, just illuminating the treads of the stairs. Unlike the main club, this area was very functional and unglamourous, concrete painted black. Her high heels on the cement were loud and frantic as she needed to take several steps for every one of his long-legged strides and it was only when she almost slipped off a step that he seemed to realise that he was going to fast, and he slowed.
At the top of the stairs, he opened the door into his office. Here, there was a return to glamour and elegance. The floor was carpeted, and the furniture expensive. There was a textured wallpaper on the walls. He released her arm, and she resisted the urge to see if he had left marks with his grip in front of him. He opened a bar fridge and pulled out a small bottle of soda water.
“Here,” he thrust it towards her, and pushed her towards another door. “Go and do something about that.” He sighed heavily and braced a hand on the solid wood office desk, his shoulders tense and his hair falling into his face and his head fell forwards.
She took the bottle into the bathroom fighting back angry and humiliated tears. She unzipped her dress and slid it off. There was no point to trying to wash the wine out whilst she was wearing it. She kicked off her shoes and ran water in the sink. The bathroom was very masculine she noted, dark grey tiles, and a dark wood cabinet. In the mirror over the sink, she was ghostly pale, washed out by the bright light and the shock of having most of a glass of red wine poured over her, her dark hair and the dark tiles making her glow like a ghost.
She poured the soda water over the dress trying to rinse out as much of the wine as possible without getting the dress too wet to wear. Hot tears of shame ran down her cheeks as she worked.
Through the door, she heard Angelique’s voice, and Baron’s answer. She tiptoed to the door.
“That was unnecessary and cruel,” Baron reprimanded. “You spilt your wine on her on purpose.”
“She is unnecessary and cruel,” Angelique replied haughtily. “What were you thinking bringing her along tonight? Pathetic submissive little she-wolf. Her father was all to eager to palm her off on you. Gave you the runt of the litter. You should do everyone a favour, and drown it, like runts should be drowned at birth.”
“Angelique,” his voice was hard. “She is in the bathroom.”
“She can’t hear through the door. She’ll be forever,” Angelique purred the words. There was a long, long silence, and then Angelique moaned, and there was the rhythmic creak of the office desk being used for other purposes. Angelique was not quiet, and Jane leaned her head against the door as the other woman enjoyed Jane’s husband in a way that Jane had never done.
When Baron had come to Jane on their wedding night, he had been drunk. His hands on her had been rough, his body against hers clumsy and cruel, and he had abruptly left after consummating the marriage, leaving her bleeding, and weeping in the bed.
In the weeks since, things had not approved. He would come in the night, and she would lie and endure, and then he would go, and she would cry, certain that there was more, better than this, but also sure that he did not think that she deserved more. As Angelique said: Jane was the runt, the reject. The daughter given away, not the wife or mate that he had sought.
She moved away from the door and tried to press the water from the ruins of her dress, as her tears scalded her cheeks, salty tracks of pain and disappointment.
How different it would be, in her head. In her head, she was Angelique, in a figure hugging, sexy dress, and she would seduce her handsome alpha hubby to the point of f-king her against his office desk, and it would be her name he moaned, and her voice that cried out in pleasure.
She pushed the tears away on the back of her hands impatiently, feeling the clench of pain around her heart, and caught the movement in the mirror out of the corner of her eye, looking up and meeting Baron’s eyes in the mirror, before dropping her gaze down, embarrassed and ashamed to be found weeping whilst she scrubbed her dress of the wine his mistress had deliberately poured over her.
He closed the door, sealing her into the small room with her pain.