Nick sat up and swung his feet to the floor, his eyes slits, mere inches from her face. She didn’t shrink. But how much had he drunk? She stood and took several paces away.
“And you,” he said, “flirting behind the palms with not one man but two, getting known as a spin. Your behavior is ruining me.”
She wasn’t going to take anymore of this nonsense. “I can’t seem to please you. Either I’m dull or I’m attracting too much attention.” Her voice broke. “Why should you worry what anyone thinks of me? You’re too preoccupied with the likes of Margery . . . and Tikah.”
One second he sat on the bed, the next he crossed the room and towered over her. “What do I have to do? Put you in purdah like the Indians do? Hide your humdrum face behind a veil to make sure you don’t disgrace me?”
She squared her shoulders. “You’re trying to pin everything on me, and it won’t stick.”
He glowered at her. “You were behind those pillars an awfully long time, and out in the garden, surely not with that stuff-shirt of a major. At least if you’re going to have an affair find a man who’ll oblige you. Clyde’s amenable to the idea. He’s always around.”
It couldn’t be real. She shook her head. He inched closer, and she stepped back, bumping into the edge of the bureau and bruising her spine. His eyes razed her.
“Nick, go to bed. We’ll talk tomorrow . . . after you’ve sobered.”
He roped his good hand into her hair and jerked her to him. Her vision went white with pain. Everything funneled so all she saw was his face above hers. Her gown snagged on the bureau. She heard it rip but felt no sorrow. It was only cloth—but their marriage . . . “Stop it, Nick, you’re hurting me!”
All thought left her. She pushed him away, but he didn’t move. Instead he shoved her against the wall.
“You’re ruining everything,” he shouted, “my entire life here I’ve built up.” He hauled his arm up and flung the back of his uninjured hand across her face, knocking her head against the doorframe.
Lights exploded behind her eyes. A buzzing filled her ears. Her mouth flooded with the metallic taste of blood.
|Abby's bungalow in Amritsar, a house empty of love.|