He deserved to die. At least that’s what I told myself as I glanced down at his broken body crumpled in the corner of the small, darkened room. Blood seeped from fresh wounds, evidence of the violence he’d thought me incapable of. Underestimating me had cost him his life, just like it would anyone else who got in my way. I watched as the blood pooled beneath him, as he struggled desperately, trying to claim a breath his weakened lungs were too broken to inhale. His dark eyes were on me, beseeching, begging me to help him. Begging me to undo the torment he’d been in at that moment and I couldn’t help the sneer of disgust that crossed my face.
For a moment, I thought about him and how things used to be. I thought about the moment he’d proposed, sliding down to one knee with a hopeful glint in his deep brown eyes. The way he worried a box in one hand as he reached with the other to capture my hand. He’d been handsome then, tall, a mess of dark curls atop a face so chiseled I’d imagined it sculpted from the finest clay. A light blue sweater stressed across lean muscle. My favorite sweater. One I’d given him for his birthday as a token of my appreciation. One he’d burned in our fireplace just to spite me. But in that moment, he’d worn it, a display of how much he’d wanted to impress me with his proposal, and how much he’d wanted me to accept it.
“Lani,” he’d said, his smooth tenor washing over me like a gentle caress. “I’d be honored if you’d be my wife.”
It hadn’t been a question, because he had no need for questions. He had only to ask for what he wanted and anything, no matter what it was, would have been granted. That was the Robert I’d grown to love. A man who demanded what he wanted. A man who commanded respect from everyone around him. He’d been cruel in his ambitions to others and the power he displayed made me giddy. I loved watching people cower to his demands, slink out of his way as he laid a path of destruction on those who failed to give in to him. In that, I’d felt as powerful as he was, and lucky he’d chosen me to share that power with.
I’d been a fool.
The front door opened to our massive home and I could hear the echo of it bouncing off the walls. He’d sent his servants away that day, wanting me all to himself and wanting no witnesses to the damage he’d planned to inflict on me because I’d made the mistake of denying him. I’d made the mistake of telling him no when he’d wanted to expand our family. But bringing a child into his home as another victim to be toyed with and used for his own gain felt wrong to me. I knew who he was. I knew what he was. And I knew any child I brought into the world would be another punching bag for him to take out all of his aggression on.
Footsteps sounded downstairs as a lone voice called out to me.
“Lani! Are you okay?”
Henrich. Of course they’d send him to apprehend me.
I allowed my husband one final gaze as the light slipped from his eyes for the last time. He was dead. The deed was done and relief surged through me. He wouldn’t hurt anyone else.
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