Authors: Rita Herron
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Table of Contents
No one will ever love you like I do.
The first time Geoffrey Jones whispered those words to Mia Matthews she’d thought it was romantic. That she’d never grow tired of his doting affection.
Then it had become obsessive. Smothering.
She had to get away from him. In fact, she’d been planning her escape for months. Ever since the last time he’d vented his temper on her and sent her to the ER.
He reached over in the bed and spooned her, sliding one hand over her breast to squeeze it. She drew a deep breath as if she was asleep, hoping he wouldn’t push for more this morning.
A second later, he whispered in her ear. “You know I love you, Mia. I wish we had time for another round, but I have a breakfast meeting.”
Thank God. She was still sore from his
the night before.
Pretending to be the dutiful wife, she rolled over and gave him a kiss. “Have a nice day.”
He framed her face in his hands, gentle, almost like the old Geoff, the charming man she’d dated and fallen for.
Before the beast had been unleashed.
His coppery, snake eyes bore into hers, assessing, probing. “You’ll be here when I get home tonight?”
She forced a smile, knowing any hint of defiance – or her plans – would set him off. “Of course. I was going to make that prime rib you like for dinner.”
“With the little new potatoes and asparagus?”
“Yes. And your favorite cheesecake for dessert.”
Relief filled his face. “Good. I’ll pick up a bottle of wine.”
“That sounds lovely.”
He stared at her for another minute, an odd expression flickering in his eyes, and she hoped she hadn’t gone overboard with the cheesecake.
Then he stroked her hair from her cheek. “You are such a wonderful wife.”
Meaning she was being obedient.
Hopefully for the last time in her life. If she escaped him, she’d never allow another man to order her around. Tell her what to wear. How to fix her hair. How to talk and smile.
How to raise her unborn child.
She watched as he climbed naked from bed and strode into the bathroom to shower. Sinewy muscles and impeccable abs, not an ounce of fat on his lean body, because like everything else, Geoff carried working out to an obsession.
Twenty minutes later, the designer suit he chose indicated the breakfast meeting was important. Probably with another multi-million dollar client from the law firm.
He thought his wealth and lavish gifts would keep her satisfied.
But she could care less about the money.
She wanted out.
She refused to raise a baby with a father who ruled the house with his fists.
As soon as the door clicked shut and the sound of the alarm dinged that he’d reset it, she rose and showered, forcing herself not to rush in case he forgot his keys or wallet.
Thirty minutes later, adrenaline spiked and a voice whispered in her head, urging her to hurry. She rushed to her hiding spot, retrieved the cash she’d saved along with the phony ID and the debit card under that name, and raced outside to her car. Once she got out of town, she’d ditch the Toyota and catch a bus out of Austin. From there, she’d take different buses in a zigzag pattern to thwart detection.
Maybe she’d settle in some small town out west. A ranch out in the country where it was quiet and peaceful.
Some place Geoff would never find her.
She had just closed the trunk and walked back inside to grab the .22 she’d purchased for protection when the kitchen door swung open and Geoff stepped inside. Pistol in hand, she quickly tried to store it in the kitchen drawer, but his disapproving gaze raked over her, and his lips thinned into a straight line.
“Going somewhere, Mia?”
She sucked in a sharp breath. “Just to the market to pick up fresh vegetables for dinner. I thought you had an early breakfast meeting.”
A muscle jumped in his cheek as the familiar look of fury darkened his face. “I do. With you.”
He suddenly lunged for her, and she knew what was coming.
Panicking, she swung the pistol up. “No, Geoff. Not this time. You’re going to let me leave.”
A cynical laugh rumbled from his throat. “I will never let you go, Mia.”
She pulled the trigger, but it made a clicking sound and no bullet fired. Panic hit her as he dropped the bullets onto the counter.
His eyes narrowed. “You didn’t really think you could hide anything from me, did you?” He reached up and twirled a strand of her hair around his fingers. “I’m your husband. You promised to love me forever.”
But she never finished the sentence. He drew his fist back and slammed it into her jaw. She staggered backward, the gun flipped from her hand onto the floor, and he grabbed her throat.
Fighting him always made it worse, so she normally cowered and tried to protect her face. But not this time.
Determination kicked in and she struggled, kicking and pulling at his hands. He flung her against the counter, and she managed to open a drawer and grab a knife. She jabbed it at him, but he was stronger, and they wrestled for it.
A blow to her stomach knocked the breath out of her, and she buckled, giving him just enough time to yank the knife from her hand.
One slice to her arm and blood trickled down her wrist. Then he raised the knife and pressed it to her throat.
Fear mingled with rage. God help her.
He was going to kill her before she had a chance to escape.