4 You Are Mine Now

1382 Words
Isabel didn't have much time to worry about her traitorous cousin. Her stomach cramped and twisted and dull pain seized her lower back. Her periods were usually painful, but the progesterone seemed to be making this one so much worse. Wrapped in the bedsheets, she climbed out of bed and walked toward the ensuite bathroom.  She walked toward the medicine cabinet under the sink. The marble floors were cold under her knees as she knelt down to look. The shelves were completely empty. She groaned and headed toward the walk-in closet.  And then, Isabel was shocked to find the closet full of clothes. An entire wall was devoted to dresses: cotton sundresses, glittering cocktail dresses, a few gowns with designer tags dangling from the shoulders. She turned to look at the next wall. It was lined with shelves made of glass. Each shelf was lined with shoes and small lightbulbs cast halos on each pair of shoes. She gasped and turned to the third wall: drawers full of shirts and pants, lacy underthings, silk scarves, and glimmering jewelry.  She examined the clothing—looking at the tags to see the size. It was all her size. She checked the shoes and then the bras—they were all her exact size. Even more surprising, they looked like her own clothes. Isabel had never had such an extensive wardrobe, but each of the items was something she would have chosen for herself.  "What kind of man is Howard?" she wondered as she fingered a pink lace bra. "He barely knows me, but he's prepared this fantastic wardrobe for me." Hope fluttered in her stomach, but she squashed it immediately. Just because he wanted her to look good, didn't mean he'd treat her well. Many famous and powerful men enjoyed showing off gorgeous bejeweled wives in public, only to humiliate and torture the wives at home.  After a few minutes, it was clear she wouldn't find a tampon. She dug around in the lingerie drawer looking for a plain, cotton pair of underwear but everything was made of lace and silk. It seemed a shame to ruin them so she headed back to the bed—the sheet was already stained.  She rang the PA button on her nightstand but no one answered. Exhausted and stressed, she collapsed into the bed and drifted off to sleep. She opened her eyes as a horrible pain seized her stomach. She curled into a fetal position as hot bile shot up her throat. The feeling passed and a large hand stroked her hair, pulling the sweaty strands away from her face.  "Howard?" she asked.  "The servants said you were groaning in your sleep," he said. "What's wrong?" "It's just my period," she whispered. "It hurts. But I'll be okay later." "Oh," he said, sounding uncomfortable. "I see." Without saying another word, he stood up and left the room, leaving Isabel clutching her stomach. Half an hour later, someone knocked at the door.  "Come in," Isabel groaned. A short, muscular woman with close-cropped black hair marched into the room carrying a large plastic bag. Isabel vaguely recognized the woman as Macy Jeffords, one of Howard's female bodyguards. Her thin eyebrows knotted together in annoyance as she thrust the bag at Isabel.  "Mrs. Denmark, this is for you," she said. Puzzled, Isabel peeked into the bag. She wanted to burst into laughter at what she saw: ten boxes of tampons in different sizes and with different applicators and ten packages of pads in all shapes and sizes. Macy cleared her throat with annoyance. "I'm sorry," Isabel said. "I really appreciate it, but what kind of woman needs this many tampons and pads?" For a second it looked like Macy might crack a smile. She cleared her throat again and said, "Mr. Denmark insisted I get every single type—he wasn't sure what you preferred." "He could have sent a servant to ask me," Isabel said, searching for her usual brand in the bag.  "He insisted that no one bother you," Macy said, looking uncomfortable. "I see," Isabel said. "Well thank you. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go clean myself up."  She carried the bulging bag into the bathroom and left it on the floor. She unwrapped the dirtied sheet, balled it up, and tossed it into a corner before stepping into the steaming shower. The warm water blasted her from all her directions and her aching stomach relaxed. She sighed with relief and wondered about Howard. What kind of man sent his bodyguard to buy his wife tampons in the middle of the night? And what kind of man insisted that the guard buy every possible kind. She smiled to herself, it was such a small gesture but its sweetness surprised her. For a moment at least, Howard had wanted to make sure she was comfortable and cared for. … Howard scrolled to the bottom of the page and shut his laptop with a click. According to the hospital website, dysmenorrhea was a common and painful condition that caused some women to faint or vomit. The website said that there wasn't a cure, but hot baths, warm compresses, and tea helped some women.  He stood and marched down to the kitchen. The cook seemed surprised to see him.  "What can I do for you, Mr. Denmark?" she asked. "Yes," Howard said. "Ginger, honey, lemon, and a pot of water."  The servant looked baffled but she sprang into action, racing around the kitchen to collect the ingredients he asked for. He grated the ginger and squeezed the lemon into the water. Then he bent over the steaming pot, stirring the hot liquid until a spicy, warm aroma filled the air. He ladled it into a porcelain teacup patterned with roses and carried it upstairs.  Isabel looked pale in the moonlight. Her lips were tight with pain and sweat glimmered on her furrowed brow. Dark purple bruises covered Isabel's neck, and Howard clenched his free hand into a fist.  She looked far too weak to be a woman on her period—he'd have to call the doctor to check her again in the morning.  … Isabel woke as the bed shifted beneath her. Someone had sat down next to her. The bedside lamp clicked on and a gentle hand pulled her up into a sitting position. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. Howard was sitting at the edge of her bed holding a porcelain mug.  "Drink it," Howard said, passing her the steaming mug.  She accepted the mug and took a cautious sip. It tasted warm and gingery, and she took another bigger sip. The warm liquid relaxed her, soothing some of the pain in her abdomen.  "How did you know ginger tea helps?" Isabel asked. Howard shrugged. "Did you make it?" she asked again. "No," he replied in short. "Well, please give my thanks to the chef who made it," she said between sips. "I'm feeling much better already."  Howard's eyes flashed and his mouth twitched. Isabel took another sip, wondering why he was still in her room. It was weird enough that he'd personally brought her the tea. Why was he hanging around? "It tastes very good," she said. "Thank you." He smiled and said, "I'm glad." Between sips, she looked at Howard. The lamplight silhouetted his regal profile and shone in his hair. He turned to look at her and his eyes seemed gentle and sad.  "Go to sleep," he murmured.  Soothed by the ginger tea, Isabel sank down into the warm bed, pulling the quilt up to her chin. The painful ache in her abdomen relaxed and her mind wandered. How did Howard know her so well? Was that how he'd known she'd try to run away with Noah?  She drifted into a deep dreamless sleep, feeling warm and safe for the first time in a long time.  … Howard waited for her falling into sleep, and then he tugged his pants off and slid under the covers, pulling Isabel's warm body against his.  She was soft and gentle in her sleep, almost like a doll. She murmured something quiet and wiggled up against him.  Howard smiled and kissed the back of her head.  "Isabel Aediles, you must behave yourself," he whispered. "You're mine now." 
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