Chapter 1: The Changed Woman
The extravagant bed curtain, patterned with fleur de lis, is half closed, and a romantic aroma drifts in through the gap. Andrea opens her heavy eyes. Her head feels like it’s going to explode and her body aches as if its been taken apart and reassembled.
What is she doing here?
She stumbles down from the bed and walks bare footed on the dark, intricately patterned carpet. She leaves the room and drifts down the hall towards a dim light at the end. She pushes the partially open door revealing that the light comes from a gigantic screen on the wall.
Her face reddens with boiling blood as she sees the thrilling images on it. A naked man and woman are engaged in intense lovemaking, oblivious to everything else. The woman is a beauty with a fair and slender back and blonde hair. She has long, slim legs and she’s contorting them into various shameful positions. The man in the video grasps her chin and turns her head to face the camera. With a brutal look, he suddenly lowers his head to her ear and murmurs something.
Andrea holds her breath but hears nothing. Then she realizes the movie is set on mute. Neither grunts nor blush-inducing moans can be heard, but the picture is enough to incite Andrea’s flushing. Her face is so crimson that veins seem to burst out. She grabs the metal door handle as hard as she can to resist the urge to jump into the video and choke the woman to death. But she can’t because the woman in it is herself. And the man is her husband
“Isn’t it wonderful?” an extremely sinister voice echoes in the large and luxurious room.
Her husband is sitting on the jacquard sofa with his back to her. He has a neat haircut and is wearing a custom made suit which subtly exudes power and wealth.
“Not at all. The woman has a wretched face and the man is terrible at what he’s doing,” Andrea turns her eyes away and replies like it’s a notorious and disgusting movie.
A deep and sonorous laugh spreads through the room and his voice rumbles in his chest, “The truth is that you climbed into my bed, opened your legs, and begged for it in various ways.”
In the shadows, he crosses his legs and swirls the wine in his glass. He sips slowly, savoring the wine as he talks, enjoying the position he’s in. Andrea thinks he’s behaving like a p*****t. He talks about the p*********y as if it’s a collectible classic worth watching over and over. Any normal guy would want to find a way to release himself while viewing such erotic scenes.
Andrea glares at the back of her husband’s head, “Believe it or not, I was drugged.”
“Why should I believe you?”
“Believe whatever you want. But I tell you I’d rather sleep next to a corpse in a coffin than get into bed with you.”
Her voice shakes with rage. How disgusting and conceited of him to make a video of what happened last night and then replay it on the big screen!
Andrea looks beyond the sofa and notices several legal-sized papers on the dark blue table. The large words “DIVORCE AGREEMENT” are clear as day. She quietly moves forward to check if the papers have been signed.
“Are you upset because I didn’t ask for enough last night?” He asks incredulously. “Or have you decided to seduce me by playing hard to get?”
“Whatever you want to think.”
“Or maybe you want to steal my semen and get pregnant so your status as my wife is unquestionable?”
Andrea sighs, “All you have to do is sign the paper.”
A signature would solve everything. Andrea cranes her neck and sees the blank, unsigned line at the bottom of the page. Though he thinks she’s vain and unworthy of being his wife, he hasn’t signed the divorce papers as she’d expected he would.
“Come over here.” The man looks at Andrea and the divorce papers and a crass idea comes to his mind.
He smirks at her, “I’ll give you two choices. Tear up the papers or unmute the video.”
The blue light from the screen washes over Andrea’s face in the dim room. The man and woman in the video are still at it and it’s quite passionate. She doesn’t want to think about what will happen if she unmutes it; she doesn’t have to hear it to know how primal and provocative their moans are. The man in the video, now sitting in front of her, does it like he’d never been with a woman before and he’s so hard that she still feels sore.
She looks at the remote control and the divorce papers on the table in front of her. She doesn’t hesitate. She strides over to the table and picks up the remote The gigantic screen goes black the second she clicks it off.
The half-open door flies open and two stern looking maids in short, black skirts enter the room. A middle-aged woman with high cheekbones walks in the lead and bows apologetically.
“Mr. Hamilton, I’m so sorry to give you such terrible news,” she says, “Last night, Mrs. Hamilton forgot to take her medication and she became paranoid and unstable. She called the Aitkens and told them that she was divorcing you.”
A divorce between Andrea and her husband is serious business for their families; the marriage was carefully arranged to reinforce the families’ elite social status and a divorce could prove disastrous. From the day she was born, Andrea Aitkens was instilled with the knowledge that her only purpose in life was to marry one of the Hamilton men. Like the three other Aitkens girls, she had to excel in fine arts, piano, horseback riding, literature, and French among other subjects fitting with her status as a future Mrs. Hamilton.
As every elite family knows, the Hamiltons have unparalleled power in both government and private business. Becoming a Hamilton guarantees an easy, luxurious life with endless wealth. Three years ago, the upper class girls in the city fought to gain Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton’s approval and permission to marry their son. Every important family encouraged their daughters to gain the Hamiltons’ favor, hoping to secure an alliance with the powerful family. Andrea prevailed and her wedding was as spectacular and prominent as a royal wedding.
“A divorce?” her husband asks.
He finally stands up from the sofa and his long shadow falls on Andrea. The maids grab her arms and force her to stay still and watch him approach step by step like a phantom. His commanding presence intensifies as he comes nearer. Every part of him—the deep, dark eyes, the aquiline nose, the full, sexy lips—looks as perfect as if he were sculpted by gods.
He grabs Andrea’s jaw in a viselike grip and she trembles at his strength.
“So you are playing hard to get,” he says,“It’s a pity that I can’t get hard for you without aid. Maybe try something else next time?”
Is he suggesting that she drugged him last night?
Andrea laughs, “If that’s really how you feel, then there’s no need to preserve this sham marriage. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Hamilton?”
Andrea’s attitude, neither respectful nor groveling, makes the maids gasp. No one ever talks to Lance in such an insolent manner. Mrs. Hamilton really must be crazy to speak to him that way. The maids hold her arms harder ready to escort her out of the room.
Before Lance can respond the butler barges in, flustered and out of breath, “Mr. Hamilton. It’s Mrs. Hamilton. She leaked the news about the divorce and the press is swarming the front gate.”
Lance narrows his eyes and his face becomes dangerous. The woman standing in front of him looks up at him, her gaze fearless and proud. He can’t see a single trace of her past obsession with him. Concern and love have been replaced with contempt and loathing.
Lance smiles blandly at the butler and gives his wife a threatening look. She gazes back, her eyes fiery and intense like a fierce panther preparing to pounce on its prey.
This woman has changed.