I stare at him, trying to gauge his behavior. Maybe the scotch has made him extra frisky. A lot of times when we make love, it’s as simple as making love. But occasionally, our sex is wild. A little dangerous, like the look in his eyes right now.
I set the paper down, pull off my shirt, and then pick the paper back up. I start reading the article out loud, but he takes a step forward and says, “Not the whole thing.” He flips the paper over where it starts in the middle of the article and he points to a sentence. “Read the last few paragraphs.”
I look down, even more confused this time. But whatever will get us past this and into the bed . . .
“The business with the highest number of votes should come as no surprise. The iconic Bib’s on Marketson opened in April of last year, quickly becoming one of the highest rated restaurants in the city, according to TripAdvisor.”
I stop reading and look up at Ryle. He has poured himself more scotch and he’s swallowing a sip of it. “Keep reading,” he says, nudging his head at the paper in my hand.
I swallow heavily, the saliva in my mouth growing thicker by the second. I try to control the trembling of my hands as I continue reading. “The owner, Atlas Corrigan, is a two-time award-winning chef and also a United States Marine. It’s no secret what the acronym for his highly successful restaurant, Bib’s, stands for: Better In Boston.”
Everything is better in Boston.
I clench my stomach, trying to keep my emotions under control as I keep reading. “But when interviewed regarding his most recent award, the chef finally revealed the true history of the meaning behind the name. ‘It’s a long story,’ Chef Corrigan stated. ‘It was an homage to someone who had a huge impact on my life. Someone who meant a lot to me. She still means a lot to me.’ ”
I put the newspaper on the counter. “I don’t want to read anymore.” My voice cracks on its way up my throat.
Ryle takes two swift steps forward and grabs the newspaper. He picks up where I left off, his voice loud and angry now. “When asked if the girl was aware he named a restaurant after her, Chef Corrigan smiled knowingly and said, ‘Next question.’ ”
The anger in Ryle’s voice makes me nauseous. “Ryle, stop it,” I say calmly. “You’ve had too much to drink.” I push past him and walk quickly out of the kitchen toward the hallway that leads to our bedroom. There’s so much happening right now and I’m not sure I understand any of it.
The article never stated who Atlas was talking about. Atlas knows it was me and I know it was me, but how in the hell would Ryle put two and two together?
And the magnet. How would he know that came from Atlas just by reading that article?
I can hear him following me as I walk toward the bedroom. I swing open the door and come to a sudden halt.
The bed is littered with things. An empty moving box with the words, “Lily’s stuff,” written on the side of it. And then all the contents that were inside that box. Letters . . . journals . . . empty shoeboxes. I close my eyes and breathe in slowly.
He read the journal.
He. Read. The. Journal.
His arm comes around my waist from behind. He slides a hand up my stomach and takes a firm hold of one of my breasts. His other hand feathers my shoulder as he moves the hair away from my neck.
I squeeze my eyes shut, just as his fingers begin to trace across my skin, up to my shoulder. He slowly runs his finger over the heart and a shudder runs over my whole body. His lips meet my skin, right over the tattoo, and then he sinks his teeth into me so hard, I scream.
I try to pull away from him, but he has such a tight grip on me he doesn’t even budge. The pain from his teeth piercing my collarbone rips through my shoulder and down my arm. I immediately start crying. Sobbing.
“Ryle, let me go,” I say, my voice pleading. “Please. Walk away.” His arms are cutting into mine as he holds me tightly from behind.
He spins me, but my eyes are still closed. I’m too scared to look at him. His hands are digging into my shoulders as he pushes me toward the bed. I start trying to fight him off of me, but it’s useless. He’s too strong for me. He’s angry. He’s hurt. And he’s not Ryle.
My back meets the bed and I frantically scoot back toward the headboard, trying to get away from him. “Why is he still here, Lily?” His voice isn’t as composed as it was in the kitchen. He’s really angry now. “He’s in everything. The magnet on the fridge. The journal in the box I found in our closet. The fucking tattoo on your body that used to be my favorite goddamn part of you!”
He’s on the bed now.
“Ryle,” I beg. “I can explain.” Tears streak down my temples and into my hair. “You’re angry. Please don’t hurt me, please. Walk away, and when you come back, I’ll explain.”
His hand grips my ankle and he yanks me until I’m beneath him. “I’m not angry, Lily,” he says, his voice disturbingly calm now. “I just think I haven’t proved to you how much I love you.” His body comes down against mine and he takes my wrists with one hand above my head, pressing them against the mattress.
“Ryle, please.” I’m sobbing, trying to push him off of me with any part of my body. “Get off me. Please.”
No, no, no, no.
“I love you, Lily,” he says, his words crashing against my cheek. “More than he ever did. Why can’t you see that?”