“You’re later than normal.”
Sidney took a deep breath, prepared to put up with more shit tonight. When she decided to study abroad for her senior year of college she never expected the headache of feeling trapped when she should be enjoying her time. Poor choices on her part once again.
“It was busy tonight.”
“Or you were too slow,” Rod said back. Rodney Enfield was older than her by five years. But at just twenty-seven, his law degree and family money were turning him into a colossal douche. She wished she’d realized it months ago before she moved in with him and gave up her spot in her cramped shared apartment. Now she was stuck with him for another month until the semester was up and she could get the hell out of London.
He didn’t seem so bad at first and maybe it was the newness of the relationship, but the longer she was with him, the more she wondered who the hell he was.
“I have no problem keeping up,” she said back and moved to the kitchen. The flat she shared with Rod was three times the size of the one she’d shared with two other people. She’d take those close quarters back if she could. Instead she had to walk on eggshells to see what kind of guy he was going to be tonight. Loving, sweet, funny or downright rude and in your face asshole. Sometimes scary if he’d been drinking, but she’d been able to handle him most times.
And whenever the undesirable attitudes came out and she told him to cut the shit, he’d apologize and give her gifts the next day. After she’d walked away from him, proving he’d pushed too far.
She was pretty much over it now.
“Oh, then maybe someone wanted a bit more action than a drink tonight?” he asked, grabbing her arm when she tried to walk away.
“No.” She said, pulling her arm away. “But you’ve been drinking tonight I see.”
She knew enough to stay away when he had been. Looked like the asshole was out tonight. Long gone was the guy that was trying to romance her back to his place. She fell for his English charm and would always regret it.
The first time he put her down, she just figured it had to do with his upper crust personality. That he was making a joke and she wasn’t getting it. She even called him out on that and he’d confirmed it.
But then she started to realize that, no, he actually enjoyed putting her down. And when she was pissed off enough, he’d apologize and try to make it up to her and tell her she was too sensitive.
She’d never felt she was a sensitive person. That was Anne. Sidney was more pragmatic and realistic. Then why had she fallen for someone telling her she was more like her twin when he didn’t even know she had one?
Knowing she didn’t have much time left, she was trying to keep the peace as best as she could. He seemed to think she was going to stay here when the month was up even though she’d been talking about going back to Montana. Yep, she was the backwoods country girl he’d called her a few times too.
If there was an insult he could throw at her or demean her, he’d done that.
Sidney didn’t care. The simple life was all she ever wanted. Somehow she got sucked into more here and wished she hadn’t. She just thought it was the chance of a lifetime and did it more because Anne couldn’t. She was doing it because her twin never had the chance.
A stupid reason she’d have to live with.
“Nothing more than what you’ve been serving all the blokes that were hitting on you. I know I’m right,” he said, his hand gliding down her cheek.
She turned her head away and went to move, but he gripped her arm harder and held her in place. “Let go of me. It’s been a long night and I’m tired.” He was scaring her but she didn’t want to let on. Lately he almost seemed like multiple people to her.
“Don’t walk away from me, bitch. You should know better than that.”
This was new…and frightening. Talking down to her was one thing. Insulting her too. Threatening was another. She didn’t take shit from anyone. This country girl knew how to fight back.
“Let go of me now,” she said, her voice low, her eyes narrowed.
It was the wrong thing to do. His arm came up and backhanded her.
Stumbling a few feet back, she tasted blood, felt it pooling in her mouth from where her lip cut on her teeth. She turned and swung at him, but he blocked it and wrapped her up in a bear hug. She started to scream and kick, fight with everything she had. She wasn’t going down without leaving some of her own marks.
She was making enough noise that the tenants next door started banging on the wall and wanting to know what was going on.
“That was stupid,” he said low in her ear, releasing her and shoving her away. She caught herself before she hit the wall.
Marching to the bathroom, she slammed the door, locking herself in for now and trying to get control of her shaking.
An hour must have gone by as Sidney sat in there and cleaned up, hoping he’d pass out. There were tears in her eyes and she let them fall while she figured out her next move. First thing in the morning she’d be out of here when he left for work.
When she thought it was safe, she opened the door and saw the lights out in the flat, knowing Rod must have gone to bed.
She grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch hoping to fall asleep.
When morning came, she pretended to be sleeping as she heard him moving around. He stood over her, looking at her, she knew. She could feel his eyes on her.
His hand came out and touched her arm lightly, and he whispered, “I’m so sorry, Sidney. Please forgive me. I don’t even remember much of last night. I hope you can forgive me. I must have blacked out. I just love you so much and the thought of you working last night while I was here alone sent me to drink more than normal.”
She battled back the snort along with the tears. He liked to make that excuse, but she knew better.
And when the door shut behind him, she jumped up and turned the deadbolt, then packed up her stuff. She would be gone within the hour and he’d never touch her again.