“I’m not your baby. Don’t call me that.”
“If you weren’t my baby, you wouldn’t get pissed off by another woman’s lipstick. So yes, you are my baby—whether you like it or not.”
When I saw that lipstick on his neck, I flipped a switch.
Imagining some woman dragging her tongue up and down his body pissed me off. I was sleeping on the couch waiting for him to come home while some other woman was sinking her claws into him.
I shouldn’t care, but I wasn’t going to pretend that I didn’t.
He said nothing happened, but I didn’t know if I could believe him. He was a man of his word, a man who wasn’t afraid to do whatever he wanted. He snuck into Lucian’s house to fuck me without caring about getting caught. He didn’t care about anything. So why should he care about being with other women? Why would he lie? I was his prisoner regardless of whether or not he pissed me off. Whether or not there were other women in his bed didn’t change the fact that I belonged to him.
I was angry with him anyway. I believed him the first time, but the sight of that lipstick made my skin burn like it was on fire.
I didn’t leave my room the entire day because I didn’t want to see his face. I didn’t want to look at those pretty blue eyes and that handsome face, not when they might soften my anger.
I hadn’t had a phone in almost two weeks, and I hadn’t checked in with my brothers. If I went too long without contacting them, they would really start to worry. I needed to negotiate some kind of freedom soon—and I suspected that meant I had to sleep with him. If I ever wanted to leave this building, I would have to give in.
At three in the afternoon, there was a knock on my door.
I refused to open it. “Go away.”
The sound of something solid tapped against the hardwood floor on the other side of the door. The clatter of utensils followed. His footsteps sounded again a second later, retreating as he moved back down the hallway and into the living room.
My curiosity got the best of me, so I opened the door.
On the ground was a plate of food. A turkey sandwich with a bag of chips and a pickle. There was a cold bottle of beer and a glass of water too. The sight softened my heart just a little, but I took a deep breath and tried to brush it off.
I took everything into my room and ate, comforting my starving belly with food. I ate the entire bag of chips and downed the beer like water. A slight headache formed at the front of my right temple because I’d fasted for too long.
I finished everything and left the plate on the coffee table. I still refused to leave the room, so I took a bath then read for a few hours. After a late afternoon nap, night fell.
He knocked on my door again, close to eight in the evening.
I didn’t open it. “What?”
“I’m leaving for the night.”
Disappointment washed through me. He seemed to be gone most evenings. When we were sleeping together, he always seemed to be home, but he must have changed his schedule so he could be with me then.
He set something on the ground. “I got you a phone. My number is in your phone book if you need me.”
“What if I call the cops? Tell my family?”
He chuckled in his deep voice. “You do that, baby.” His footsteps sounded as he walked off.
I wondered if he would come home with lipstick on his neck again. Was he going out for work? Or was he hooking up with someone? I’d never cared who Lucian was screwing, but I couldn’t fight the pain and jealousy when I imagined Balto coming inside someone else. It haunted me.
But I refused to vocalize my thoughts. I refused to share my vulnerability. Even if he already knew how I felt, I refused to confirm it. As a Cardello, I was much too stubborn. That would only mean I actually had feelings for this man, feelings for the man who had captured me like I was an animal rather than a person. So I would stick to my guns…as long as possible.
Just like every other night, I couldn’t sleep.
I paced around the floor and looked out the window, seeing the city lights and the streets I used to frequent all the time. It’d been so long since I lived a normal life that I could barely remember how that used to be. I’d lived in a little apartment in the city, and Evan slept over all the time. We would cook dinner every night, make love, and then he would leave for work in the morning.