How to Lose Control

Book IV, Ch 1. - How To Lose Control (Part I)

     I stayed to the left of my new husband, my eyes searching the growing crowd of locals for Cole.  I found him in the shadow of the women’s hotel, speaking earnestly and gesturing with his hands.  He hadn’t moved as such since becoming ‘armless’.
     There were too many in the way to see who it was that turned Cole from pudgy and pale to lit and lively.  As Cole’s conversation continued my frustration grew.  Then he blushed.  This wasn’t just any ‘read something kinky on the internet’ blush.  I’d seen this color recently.  The pink on his cheekbones and the tips of his ears were places I had pressed kisses to in the bathtub on our last night together.  It left me feeling off-kilter, as if something greatly important had been snatched off.
     “Well, you won.”  Gina sniped, stepping from the congestion and into the way.  She planted herself in front of me fully aware she was claiming my attention.  Had she not spoken the rank cloud of perfume that wafted around her would have gained my attention.  The sour musk went right up my nose and sat there.
     I twisted my head away, desperate for fresh air.  “I won?”  I asked.  For one heartbeat a blessed breeze brought order to my stymied senses.  “In what world would you even think that?”
     Adonin’s fingers curled around my elbow.  I’d forgotten he was there!  His fingers tightened, bruised.  It was a position of control.  Adonin was taking control.  “Say hello to Gina and Phyllis.  Make friends with them, wife, as they are my sisters and will be with us often.”
     Gina said, “You’ve married Adonin.  He is the head of the house.  And now you are the head of we women.”  Her eyes flashed her fury at me.  Had Adonin not been beside me I doubt she would have kept her claws sheathed.
     The crowds parted for a moment.  I looked past Gina, but Cole was gone.  Damnit!
     Into my ear Adonin said, “You are my wife.  You will obey.” 
     The insufferable, obtuse man!  I pressed my lips thin.  When Gina started up again I was in no mood to listen.  I pushed past her and through the locals gathering to wish good lucks onto Adonin.  Very few looked to me as I did so, their attentions on their hero, the newly married man. 
     Cole was not in the shadows.  Nor was he behind the women’s hotel.  And he was not inside.  I emerged into the bright island sunlight.  Shading my eyes with my hand I looked down the road leading to the shack.  Had Cole started home?
     “Wife.”  Adonin, again.  His hand wrapped around my elbow, again.  His fingertips tightened.  This time he did not relax his fingers.  Adonin continued with the steady pressure.  A quick look at his face showed he was not pleased.  I’d wondered off without his go-ahead.  Island wives did not as much sneeze without their husband’s permission. 
     It was a cross thought, a cruel thought.  It was a thought borne from my frustration with the enforced marriage.  It created darkness within that sniped at the world for the red-cheeked look on Cole’s face. 
     At once Adonin’s fingers lifted from my bruised skin.  My freedom lasted only a hair’s breath.  He slid his arm around my waist.  He said, “These are my people.  You will be kind to them.”  He’d spoken low and under his breath, but with a smile on his face.  Several of the older locals ‘awww’d this, and looked to each other with true smiles and happiness shinning from their eyes. 
     I tried pulling free.  This time Adonin held tight.  I said, “You cannot command friendship and kindness.  That is not how life works.  These are things that take -“
     Cole emerged from the steps of the house next door.  He adjusted his belt, checked his fly, and turned his head to grin at the woman standing behind him.  He blew her a kiss.  It was what lovers do.  He’d never, not once, blown me a kiss. 
     Adonin hugged me to him.  “You will kiss me, wife.”
    To pique Cole I let Adonin’s lips brush my cheek.  Before his face lifted I asked, “What are you going to do, new husband, when the old husband comes calling?”  I meant these words only for his ears. 
      Gina’s blare of brassy laughter quieted the crowds.  Damnit!  I’d forgotten she was there, too!  Though how with that stench, I’d later wonder.  She said, “Oh, brother, this first day of your wedding is all wrong isn’t it?  You’re courting her and she’s claiming you as second goods.”
      Adonin snorted.  He turned his head to study his sister.  “This is not so.”  There was a deep anger in his eyes.  Cole would have simply stepped back.  Not Adonin.  I understood then that I’d forced him into promising a year of peace.  Adonin, though, was an impatient man who did not like having to wait.  He’d test me. 
      But Gina continued, “Not married five minutes and you’re already fighting.  I wish you blessings, brother.  She’s a bitch who is going to make you suffer.”  There were gasps at these words.  The locals looked to each other, looked to me, and quickly away.  She linked arms with a gleeful Phyllis, and turned away.  They were leaving.
      My frustration with Cole, with the wedding, with being told to be nice to Gina of all people, boiled over.  “You should know,” I said to Adonin, and loud enough for the crowd to hear, “That I will not allow her to work on the dead.  They deserve far more respect than that port whore can give.” 
      The absolute silence of the locals, the boiling fury on Adonin’s face, Cole’s soft and disappointed, “Oh, Andy,” . . . I’d gone too far.  I had overstepped my bounds.  I’d ruined my second wedding day.

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