HIDDEN HEART– Excerpt
“You said you’d call, but never did. You lied to me! All I asked for was that you call and give me another chance, but I guess that would’ve been beneath you, huh?” Daniel waved the knife at her.
“Stop this nonsense! My calling or not calling has nothing to do with what happened between us. I can take a lot, but I can’t accept cheating and you knew better when you chose to do it. Why can’t you just accept that it’s over?”
She felt his hot, rancid breath once again on her cheek. “It’s over, you think? Why do women think they can tell me when it’s over and end it for me? Why? After all I did for you!” He slammed the fridge door closed and shoved her against the countertop. His blood-shot eyes seemed as if they’d pop out with rage and, before she knew his intention, his fist connected with her jaw.
Unbearable pain shot through Tessa’s body as her mouth filled up with blood. She shakily lifted her hand to her lips, her stunned eyes never leaving his face, and wiped off the blood. It felt as if her head had exploded, but she didn’t have time to think about the pain, worried about protecting her baby. Her mind worked fast. Did the other woman, the one he’d been cheating with, leave him, too?
Taking a stab in the dark that he referred to the woman she’d caught him with, Tessa asked, “It’s not like she didn’t know about me, why did you break up?”
He seemed to think for a few seconds, walked to the table and lifted the red wine bottle out of one of the grocery bags. He opened it and helped himself to a big gulp of wine straight from the bottle. He held the bottle in one hand and the knife in the other, then focused his eyes back on her.
“You know, I gave her everything, like I gave you, and what do I get? The minute she had the money, she told me to get lost. Me, get lost, can you believe it?” he waved the knife again and took another gulp of wine. The red liquid dripped on his green shirt. He wiped off his mouth with the back of his hand and laughed diabolically. Then his face contorted with anger and disgust.
“But I made her pay. Like I’ll make you pay.” He put the bottle and knife down. Walking slowly, stalking her, he cornered Tessa between the fridge and the sink. She leaned forward, bowed her head and crossed her hands over her belly. Daniel’s fingers curled around her neck. With the pressure on her throat restricting her breathing, her vision blurred, her knees buckled. Making one last effort she placed her hands on top of his, digging her fingers between the soft skin of her neck and the hard force of his hand. She pulled them away and hissed, “Let go!”
He backhanded her, only the counter behind her back keeping her from buckling to the floor, then he stepped away. He leaned against the table.
She coughed and spat blood, then held onto the countertop to steady herself.
“The notary stole money from the farmers,” Tessa heard herself say. She needed to buy time. Alessandro should be home soon. Then she’d be safe.
Daniel returned to stand in front of her trapping her once again. She spotted his fist out of the corner of her eyes and covered her face to avoid another strike. This time the punch landed behind her left ear. She fell to the floor.
Daniel grabbed a handful of her hair and lifted her head. He bowed closer to her face. “You don’t give me any credit, do you? You think only you women are smart. Only you can make money and wrap men around your fingers . . . you’re so full of shit, Tessa!”
He shoved her and kicked her in the ribs. He walked away, ran both hands through his hair and held onto the back of his neck.
“I stole the money, not her. I had it all planned out, the call about the contracts damaged by water, I was the mastermind of the plan, not her. She was too stupid to see, like you were too stupid to see how disgusted I was being with you.” As if to emphasize his words, he came and spat on her.
She jerked and covered her abdomen for fear he might hit her again and hurt the baby. Panic clouded her mind. She pushed herself onto one elbow and leaned against the stove. She could barely breath.
His revelation shocked her. “You? You tried to get me fired and ruin my life? Why, Daniel? Why? If you were so unhappy, why did you stay with me?” Her tears mixed with blood and anger.
She flinched when he came and sat next to her.
“Why?” He snarled. He rested his head against the stove and said, “For money. I used to love you, you know, but then, the more money you made, the more insufferable you became. All you could talk about was work and money, how you buy this, how you buy that. I began resenting you. But I liked your money. I began pretending to love you just to get to your money. That’s why. I cheated on you with every single woman I could, just to laugh at you.”
It all came back to her. His weekend disappearances, his partying, his extravagant expenses, his eagerness to help her find a good notary it now made sense. The woman she’d caught Daniel with was . . . the notary. The shock overcame her. She stood, unable to breathe. Between sobs she asked, “What did you do to her?”
“I gave her a lesson, like I’m gonna give you.”
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