"You will accept my proposal, Daria. You will become my wife."
"And what makes you so sure about your proposition?" I said. God I wanted to knock that smug smile off his addictively handsome face.
"Because you have no choice. So why fight it? Besides, it's only a year. What have you got to lose?"
Everything! I wanted to scream. My hopes. My dreams. Genuine affection. Real love. I'd be giving up all of that if I agreed to become his wife — even if it was only for one year. What would be left of me after?
I had dreamed of being Glory Falkner's wife a thousand times since I first met him at ten years old. But never once had my fantasy played out like this.
And that's because it is fantasy, a tiny voice whispered in my head.
I turned around to face him. "We all have choices Glory."
"In theory, yes. In reality, no. In your world, you may not have realized that fundamental truth. But you live in my world now."
"And what world is that?" I asked, my arms folded across my chest.
"The real world," he said, reaching over and tucking a tendril of hair behind my ear. "In the real world dearest Daria, only those with power have choices."
I could feel the thumping of my pulse on the side of my neck where his hand had come to rest. He was so sure. So confident.
And no wonder; tears stung the back of my eyes as I realized the truth of what he said. I don't think I've ever hated another human being as much as I hated him at that moment.
"Alright Glory, you have yourself a wife. But if you ever lay a finger on me, you will regret it. That I can promise you," I finished, my eyes never leaving his.
His thumb caressed the side of my neck, the pulsing of my vein mocking my words.
"I like my women ready, willing and able Daria. I don't see you qualifying on any of those fronts. So don't worry darling, your virtue is safe with me."
I watched Glory's broad, ram-rod straight figure disappear through the large glass door. I'd managed to save my beloved art gallery from bankruptcy, but at what cost?
Would my heart pay the price for something much more valuable?