2 Don't You Even Try to Escape From Me

1182 Words
Though Isabel was wrapped in the warm duvet, she shivered. Howard stood at the edge of the bed glaring down at her. The air around him seemed frozen and she tried to scoot away. "Don't you dare, Isabel Aediles," he hissed. "Don't you even try to escape from me." "I didn't," she whispered. "I don't want to." His eyes became even colder, "Don't lie to me. You've made it clear you think my home is a prison. You've made it clear you'd rather run off with Noah Cameron than spend a life with me." "What?" she asked. "No, I don't. I don't want to run away with Noah. I hate him."  Howard scoffed, "You hate him? You just planned to run away with him. What kind of woman runs away with a man she hates on her wedding day?" Isabel closed her eyes, trying to think of a way to explain herself. The bed creaked and something cold and powerful pinched her jaw and turned her head to the left. "Look at me, Isabel," Howard said. "Don't you dare look away from me when I'm talking to you." She opened her eyes and found Howard's face inches from her own. His features were twisted with rage and his eyes flashed with anger, but he was still handsome. She shivered but held his gaze.  "So what?" he finally asked, a hint of self-mockery in his voice. "You think I'll spare Noah if you claim you hate him? Or do you think I'll go easier on you?"  "I—I," she stammered miserably.  "You what?" Howard asked. "I don't know," she said. "My head hurts."  Howard's nostrils flared but his expression stayed the same. He climbed off the bed and barked an order into his phone, and paced the room like a wild beast stuck in a cage. Beneath his exquisitely tailored suit, Isabel knew he was toned and muscular. The thought of his body sent a strange, hot shiver running through her. It had been a long time since any man had made her feel that way. A sharp rap sounded at the door and Isabel sank back down on the bed.  "Come in," Howard shouted.  The door swung open and a bodyguard marched in. Short and a bald, he looked like many of Howard's bodyguards. Isabel half-wondered if Howard hired them for their looks alone.  "Tell me, what's a fitting punishment for the man who abducted my wife?" Howard asked.  "I don't know, sir," the bodyguard said. "I wasn't asking you," Howard snapped, turning to Isabel.  "I don't know either," she said. "I don't care what you do with him." Howard laughed, cold and low and humorless, "Oh, you don't care? Well then, maybe I'll have him castrated." Isabel shuddered but said, "Well, do as you please." Though the punishment was gruesome, she really didn't care. After all, Noah had put her through, he deserved much worse.  "You're a cold woman, Isabel Aediles," Howard said. "You'd really sacrifice your lover like that?" "He's not my lover," she said. "Don't lie to me," Howard roared. With a swipe of his hand, he knocked a vase from a small table near the wall. The precious vase crashed to the floor and shattered into thousands of shards. Isabel closed her eyes and rubbed her throbbing temples.  "So do you want me to castrate him, sir?" the bodyguard asked.  Howard stormed out of the room without saying a word, leaving the confused bodyguard standing next to the door. After he rushed away, Isabel called for someone to clean up the mess he left. A woman in a calf-length black dress walked into the room carrying a broom and dustpan. With a quiet sigh, she began to sweep up the small shards. Isabel listened to her work—soothed by the sound of the rough broom bristles as they scratched across the floor.  "I'm sorry, Mrs. Denmark, but I have to get a vacuum," the woman said. "The pieces are too small and they're caught in the carpet fibers. I hope the noise won't disturb you too much." "No, that's fine," Isabel said. "Wait, Alma, is that you?" "Yes, it's me, Mrs. Denmark," the woman said.  "Oh my god," Isabel said. "I thought I'd never see you again." Alma sighed and said, "You've been very reckless. Mr. Denmark is in such a rage—I haven't seen him like this in years. Just look at what he did to your neck." Isabel's fingers moved to her aching neck—so the handprint belonged to Howard. Her stomach sank and hot tears filled her eyes. She'd had bruises like that before. Over the years, Noah hadn't left a single inch of her body unbruised or uninjured, but she'd thought that Howard was different. She knew he had a temper, but she'd never seen him hit a woman.  "Don't cry, Mrs. Denmark," Alma said, handing her a tissue. "It'll be alright. You can make things right with him."  "That's not why I'm crying," Isabel said, wiping the soft tissue under her eyes.  "Then why?" Alma asked. "Never mind," Isabel said.  For a moment when she found herself young and beautiful, she'd let herself hope. The day she ran away from Howard Denmark with Noah Cameron had turned out to be one of the worst in her life.  She closed her eyes and thought back on the afternoon—how happy she'd been when she made it past Howard's estate. How Noah had taken her in his arms and whispered that everything would be okay. How hopefully she imagined their life together—traveling across Europe with him while he completed his degree, being loved and cherished and cared for.  Just a few days later, she learned to regret her mistake. Noah turned cold and cruel and violent. The soft caresses became stinging pinches and then harsh blows and the gentle, flattering words turned to nasty insults and demands. When he let her take the fall for him and go to prison, she was almost grateful—in prison, she'd finally be free from him.  She looked around the grand old room and sighed. For a moment, she'd wondered if she'd been given a second chance. When the maid called her "Mrs. Denmark," a shiver of hope had run through her. With Howard, she could start fresh. She could live the life she'd foolishly given up before.  She touched the bruise on her neck and a fresh round of tears welled in her eyes. Howard was just as cruel and violent as Noah. Perhaps all men were the same. Perhaps she was doomed to suffer over and over again.  "Oh, Mrs. Denmark," Alma said, carrying a small vacuum. "I know you to be a strong, fierce-minded woman. You've made a terrible mistake, yes, but sitting here and blubbering about it won't change a thing. Take your fate into your own hands, and do something." Isabel sniffled and pressed the PA system button on the bedside table. The small microphone crackled to life and she cleared her throat.  "Howard Denmark," she said. "I want to talk to you." 
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