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Chapter One

WHILE I SAT IN THE RESTAURANT waiting for my husband, I couldn’t help but glance around at the couples eating together and wonder if they were truly happy. From the way they shared smiles and sweet looks, they certainly seemed content. My shoulders slumped. I wanted to projectile vomit all over them because it had me pondering, yet again, on where had I gone wrong? How had I become the doormat in my relationship?

I had instantly fallen for Robert in my final year at college. I had been in the library sitting in the corner at a desk on my own. A group of idiots across from me were calling me fat and ugly, among other things.

I’d ignored it to start off with, thinking they were only trying to be cool with each other. But after some time, I’d had enough.

Lifting my gaze, I’d glared across at them and asked, “Do you want to suck my little toe?”

Silence followed. One scoffed and said, “Why in the fuck would we want to?”

Shrugging, I placed my pen down and said, “Well, I just thought unless you want to suck each other off, which would be about the size of my little toe, it’s the only action you guys will get from the opposite sex because you’re nothing but fucking pricks.”

“You need to—” The guy didn’t get to finish because Robert showed up out of nowhere and took them down another notch or two. Once they’d left, he’d sat with me and asked if I was okay. My heart melted right there and then.

Back then, I was accustomed to being invisible, the girl who wore thick glasses, loose clothing, no makeup, and I didn’t care about any of it. If people tried to crap in my cheerios, I told them where to go.

Six years later, I figured out somewhere along the way, I had lost myself, and it pissed me off.

Over time, he’d shaped me into a different woman. One who wore stupid frilly dresses like his grandma used to wear—which got me thinking he may have had a thing for geriatrics—to please him, who did as she was told—eye roll—and who thought herself useless. It was hard not to believe those things after hearing them every day.

Was I strong enough to change?

To be who I wanted to be?

I wasn’t sure.

Though as time went on, I was closer and closer to breaking free. To standing on my own two feet and learning once again to appreciate the person I used to be before Robert.

However, the move to do so, to leave him, was terrifying.

Why was love, lust, or even like such a miserable aspect of life? It may not be the case for most people, yet for me it was. I should have known my love life was going to suck donkey’s balls right from the start.

In my teens I had crushes, but those crushes tore my heart out of my chest, spat on it, and threw it to the ground. Not that I cared. They probably couldn’t handle all my sass. Though their brush-offs could have been why I fell for Robert immediately and did as he advised so willingly. Then again, he was a different person to start with. Caring and sweet, he’d taken me places. Wined and dined, only he never sixty-nined me. Which was a disappointment as I’d heard how amazing it was.

I jumped when the chair beside me was pulled out. Robert smiled down at me before he sat, but his eyes were hard and filled with contempt. “Randal will be here soon.” His new business associate, or at least that was what Robert hoped. My husband had told me to meet him at the restaurant for a Friday lunch meeting because he wanted to show Randal he was a family man. Apparently that meant he was a man who could be trusted with money and was a man to trust with any legal affairs Randal may ever have. “I asked you to dress nicely, Makenzie.” He glared at my dark blue summer dress. I cut off my snort. I thought I had dressed nicely. Once he had even said he liked it. As I went to comment, the dick continued, “You do know people have designed undergarments that help suck some of the fat in? Maybe you should invest in a few.”

A blush heated my cheeks. I flicked my eyes down to my hands in my lap and clenched my jaw. It was something I seemed to be doing a lot lately, which annoyed me, made me feel weaker when I never used to be. What I would have preferred to do was throw my water in his face, kick him in the shin, and stab him in the eye with my fork, then sit back to watch him bleed, before storming from the place.

Still, I was grateful I had my imagination; it was only my backbone I had lost.

As my mind caused him harm, the weak me sat there and said nothing. So what if I had put on a few pounds? Did he have to be an ass and point it out? And hell, I was happy with the way I looked.

“Too late to do something about it now. Suck it in,” he hissed and then turned in his seat and boomed, “Randal, good to see you.”

“Fuckhead.” I froze. The word was coughed out through a manly voice behind me, startling me. I itched to turn around, to see where and who it came from, but didn’t, and if Robert had heard it, he gave no indication. Instead, he turned back to face me with a bright, fake smile on his face.

“Randal Muller, this is my wife, Makenzie.” Robert gestured with his hand in my direction. Looking up, my eyes landed on a god. He was absolutely breathtaking. With his wide frame, I could have sworn he once would have been on the football team back in the day. He was tall, slim, but firm. His eyes were light, like the ocean on a clear, calm day. He ran a hand through his blond hair before smiling down at me.

“Great to meet you, Makenzie. Robert has told me many wonderful things about you.”

I just bet he has. I winced and knew he had caught it, if his raised brows were anything to go on. I smiled politely, fiddled with my fork, and said, “Robert certainly has a way with words.” That could cut me to the bone.

Robert’s hand slid across the table and grabbed mine. Anyone would think it was an affectionate touch. It wasn’t. His hold tightened on mine. I bit my bottom lip and smiled so I didn’t cringe from the pain.

Robert wasn’t one to hurt a person. He hated pain in fact, and later he would be very apologetic, saying it was my fault and in the end, he would be so convincing I would somehow believe him. Never once had he beaten me, hit me, or hurt me more than a hard squeeze or pinch.

Instead, he used words to cut me down.

Robert chuckled and said, “Only with you, sweetheart.”

Turning my gaze to him, I made sure my eyes held adoration as I replied, “Of course, pumpkin.” I had a translation for each pet name I’d used for Robert. Pumpkin was prick.

As soon as Randal sat down, Robert got down to business. At least he tried. Randal cleared his throat, picked up his menu, and suggested, “I’m sure Makenzie doesn’t want to hear all about work. Why don’t we order?”

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