A cautionary tale of the dark side of the fashion industry where secrets are your currency, and nobody is irreplaceable, is coming next week from authors Kathy Ireland and Rachel Van Dyken, and I have a great sneak peek for you.
The ceiling fan whipped around in circle after circle—and with each pass, anxiety pressed down on Everlee’s chest, making it nearly impossible to breathe, holding her prisoner as the blankets weighed heavily against her ribs. If she focused hard enough on the whooshes of air, she could almost hear bone shattering, her heart stuttering to a stop with each breath she sucked in through her teeth.
It hadn’t always been like this.
But it was a reality now.
A constant reminder.
A nightmare she couldn’t see past.
Always the same.
The only thing that had changed was her. And the only reason she had changed was because of him. She checked her phone again—three a.m. She had to be up early for a photo shoot, and then she was meeting the girls for drinks later. If she could just focus on the positive, on work—on the fact that she was still working in the industry—she would be okay. Not thinking about him, the past, about how each year seemed to add more time that they spent apart rather than together. How each time they were together, he became a little more aggressive, a little more violent, taking pieces of her heart with each passing day and refusing to acknowledge he was doing it in the first place. Like a sick game that she didn’t know the rules to.
She swiped at a tear under her right eye.
Nights had once been filled with laughter, sex, and late-night TV. She even used to get crazy and talk about her dreams with him.
Now, he was late.
And he’d apologize while smelling like alcohol, cigars, and perfume.
And she’d forgive him.
Because she’d forgotten what life was like when she wasn’t counting turns of the ceiling fan; when she was so poor, she heated up Chinese takeout two days in a row and prayed she’d get a stomach virus so she’d drop another dress size and look willowy for her next runway show.
Life had seemed empty then.
Filled with so many rules: restrictions on what to eat, what to wear, how to act. Everlee had seen Frederick as her freedom. Her dreams had shifted.
She’d had no idea that she would merely be exchanging prisons.
And handing off another set of keys to an equally punishing guard.
She only wondered what was worse?
Or letting someone else do the honors.
The door clicked closed down the hall.
She squeezed her eyes shut as the flicker of the flat-screen in her pristine master bedroom caused shapes and colors to dance along the wall.
She bit down on her bottom lip… and held her breath.
The bedroom door clicked as it closed.
She exhaled in relief. He was too drunk to pick a fight. This was good; it would be fine as long as he slept it off.
A string of angry curses had her flinching. Another stumble as it sounded like his pants got caught around his ankles, and then more cursing until finally, his body bounced onto the mattress. It didn’t matter that she was huddled in the corner.
Or that she had the covers pulled up to her chin.
It never mattered.
Because as her husband, he had certain expectations, certain… rights. Please pass out, please pass out.
Everlee’s upper lip began to perspire as Frederick tossed and turned, and then she felt it, his hand creeping along the silk sheets. The linens he’d bought after she complained about the cotton ones causing her long hair to knot at the back of her head.
She stayed stock-still as a warm hand cupped her hip. With one pull, and in record speed, he had her body jerked across the mattress. Never let it be said that Frederick wasn’t inhumanly strong. He was the opposite of what everyone expected a photographer to be in the fashion industry.
It’s what had drawn her to him.
His alpha-male tendencies that made her feel like the most important woman in the world—that was until she’d aged.
Now, this alpha male would never forgive her for not stopping the inevitable.
“Mmm.” Frederick kissed down her neck, his mouth hot and eager. She wanted to respond to him, she did. He was, after all, her husband, and that was her job. To honor him, even when he smelled like Chanel when she’d always worn Gucci.
Even when his skin smelled like sweat.
It was her job to love him unconditionally.
And love him unconditionally she would.
Besides, that was just the life they lived.
The parts they played.
Lies they believed.