Preyuna retreated to her room. She closed the door and locked it.
She put her hand to her face. It was still hot where he had struck it.
Preyuna pushed the ugly image out of her head and returned to her bed. She laid down and covered up.
It didn’t make sense.
All of the lines were thick and disjointed and ugly. As for the image they had formed…
She closed her eyes and rolled over on her side.
I wish I were home where things are beautiful and sensible.
Nayla, I miss you and my beautiful harem.
I wish I were home.
I wish I were with you.
Mark Caten painted in silence.
Garish red and harsh black.
Bold and jagged lines.
Heartbreak and pain and revenge made alive in thick paint.
He cleaned his paintbrushes and patted them dry. His eyes were sore. His shoulders hurt. His entire body felt as if he had bled himself onto the canvas.
Mark Caten studied his handiwork. “It will do for now. Must let it dry before I can hang it.” He rubbed the back of his hand against his forehead. “Must find the right spot to hang it. A special spot.”
He closed his eyes.
Must go back to bed.
Maybe I will sleep well this time.
Preyuna’s body relaxed as she started to drift off to sleep. She sank though soft, feathered blankets and pillows – dense, cushioned, protective.
It felt good.
She jolted awake as someone banged on her bedroom door.
Preyuna winced. “There’s only one person in this whole household who’d be that inconsiderate.”
And I don’t want to face him.
The banging grew louder and more determined.
“But I will not get any sleep at this rate.” She tossed her blankets aside and got out of bed.
If he touches me again…
If he lays a single hand on me…
She opened the door.
Mark Caten stood on the other side. “Ahh, cupcake. Is there a good reason why you locked me out?”
She glared at him. “I have a long list and a short list. Which one do you want to hear first?”
He laughed and pushed his way into the room. “Neither one, because obviously they don’t exist. I am perfection. I am God.”
“You are also not wanted in my bedroom.”
He smirked. “I seem to remember you saying ‘Ohhhh, my glorious lord and divine king!'”
“I did not say that.”
“‘My bed is so cold and lonely without your exquisite manliness lying next to me.”
“I may have said something similar to that, but I did not say it like that.”
“Face it, cupcake. You want me.” He grabbed her shoulders and forced her to walk backwards toward the bed.
“You disgust me.” She maneuvered out of his grip. “That hideous painting—-”
“Darling. Darling. Do we have to talk about that now? I’m so tired.” He grabbed her neck. “And you’re so soft.”
“Let me go home. Please, Mark. Let me—-”
He kissed her, forcing her into silence.
She reluctantly returned his kiss.
His hands moved down to her waist. He grabbed her sides, pinching her skin.
Her reluctance dimmed and faded and disappeared.
He broke off to smirk and say, “Told you so, cupcake. But, you know, it’s only natural for you to fall for me. I am simply irresistible.”
“I want to go home.” Her words came out in a soft murmur.
“Yes. Yes. Of course, you do.”
She looked into his eyes. “You hit me.” She snapped out of whatever spell he was weaving. “You slapped my face repeatedly.”
His expression hardened. “We will not talk about that. After all, I don’t feel like hitting you again. I’m dreadfully tired. Come. Now.”
Preyuna considered the cost of disobedience.
She reluctantly obeyed.