One of the most important elements in the Shaede Assassin series (for me, anyway) are the flash back scenes. I think it helps to give the reader a more rounded story and better insight to Darian’s character when you can see what events have molded her present. I wrote a scene from Darian’s past that didn’t make it into Crave the Darkness (out today), and though it’s an unhappy memory, it was one that I felt was a defining moment in Darian’s character. Today, I want to share that scene with you guys.
I fumbled with the ribbon on my nightgown one last time and readjusted the gauzy fabric so it lay just so, draping over the edge of the bed. My nerves had gotten the better of me, not to mention the champagne that clouded my mind in a pleasant haze. It would hardly be comely for a newly married woman to fall ill on her wedding night, but the chaotic swirl of butterflies in my stomach threatened to put an end to such a wonderful evening.
My mother had explained to me—in her stiff, proper, aristocratic way—what I could expect from Henry on our wedding night. And though I’d never received any attention more sensual than a dutiful kiss from Henry after we’d said our vows, my body stirred with a need that I found exhilarating. If only I could calm my nerves…
Henry stumbled through the door, the raucous calls of his friends echoing behind him down the hallway. He puffed out his chest and entered the room like a conquering king, his gaze raking me from head to toe before he turned toward the leering faces of his many drunken comrades who’d escorted him to our suite. “What do you say, lads?” Henry’s voice slurred. “Is my wife not the most beautiful woman in all of San Francisco?” He was answered by another round of cheers and he strode to the door. “Now, go find your own diversions. My bride needs attending!” The group of men burst into another round of deafening laughter and applause as they cheered Henry on. With a regal wave of his hand, he slammed the door in their eager faces and turned to face me.
“Aren’t you a portrait of loveliness?” he said with a sneer in his voice. “The ripe virgin, ready to be plucked.”
I swallowed hard and wiped my clammy palms on the bed linens. He’d never addressed me so coldly, and it frightened me. Now of all times, he should have spoken with love and kindness in his voice. But what flavored his tone was a far cry from affection. I stood, suddenly unsure of what I should do. My husband had obviously imbibed too much, the champagne and expensive scotch having taken its toll. Perhaps he was just as nervous as I was about our wedding night. Surely I could put him at ease. “Henry,” I said as I went to his side, “let me help you undress. I’ll take your coat—”
“Don’t touch me,” he seethed, straightening his tuxedo jacket as if he had no intention of removing it. “It’s time you realized something, my dear. I’d hoped that you’d be smart enough to determine the parameters of our relationship all on your own, but I should have known you’re nothing more than an empty package with a pretty wrapping.”
“Darling, you’ve been drinking,” I said in a quiet tone. “You need to rest.”
“Don’t tell me what I need,” he slurred. “You can’t ever give me what I need.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as my sense of unease intensified. “Henry,” I said, “what’s gotten into you? Why are you being so cruel?”
“You’re nothing more than a means to an end.” Henry sighed and strode to the bar where he poured himself another drink. “A bauble to display for the benefit of our peers. Never think that you’ll ever mean more to me than that.”
“What are you saying?” I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. His words pierced my flesh, burrowing a deep hole into my heart.
“I’m saying that I don’t want you, Darian. I’ve never wanted you, and I will never want you. You’re my property and nothing else. Play your part: be the dutiful, adoring wife and I’ll feed you, clothe you, and you’ll live like a queen. Disobey me, or outwardly show any discontent in our marriage, and you’ll be punished. Do you understand?”
He tipped back the glass and swallowed its contents in a single gulp. Without pausing, he refilled his glass and drained it again. I nodded my head and wiped at the tears streaming down my face as he watched me with an expression so close to disgust that it made my stomach churn. The steely look in his eyes didn’t soften as he set down his glass on the bar and strode toward the door. “I’m going out. You should retire for the night, and in the morning—” he jerked open the door and gave me one last contemptuous appraisal “—I suggest you pretend to be the blissfully satiated wife. Good night, Darian.”
The door slammed behind him, and I crumpled to the floor, weeping in earnest. This was certainly not how I’d pictured my wedding day to end…
The totally fantastic Amanda Bonilla has offered up two copies of her latest Crave The Darkness for VBC readers. If you haven’t read the first book, Shaedes of Gray, I highly recommend it. Contest is open to U.S. addresses only. Enter on or before March 12.