By: Rebecca Brooke

Her hands landed on my shoulders. “You’re not, but until you see that, you’re stuck with him. Please don’t give him any money to gamble again.”

I let the subject drop. It wasn’t worth the argument. I knew full well if Dominic asked me for money, I’d give it to him. What Gretchen didn’t realize was that with every suggestion, he was only trying to improve my appearance, or the way people looked at me. All of it was to help me. Dominic would never do anything to hurt me.



After our disagreement, the shift went quickly; odd, considering it was my twelve-hour day. Gretchen apologized later, which I accepted, and at clock out time, I waved a quick good-bye on my way out of the door. She lifted her chin in response, knowing I couldn’t stop because I needed to get home and get dinner ready for Dominic. It wouldn’t do to have Dominic come home from work and be disappointed in me. Speed walking down the block, I made it home quickly, thankful I’d thought to marinate the chicken last night before I went to bed. Paired with a side dish and a vegetable, it made for the perfect dish, and would definitely be done in time.

I was just setting the table when Dominic walked through the door. “Fucking chicken, again,” he said, his tone cutting. “It better not taste like shit.”

He dumped his stuff by the door and sat down at the table. I cast a sideways glance, making a mental note to tidy it all away once I finished cleaning up from dinner. We ate in silence, Dominic spending the entire time on his phone. At least he liked it. He finished everything on his plate. Dropping his fork, he stood.

“Finally, something edible. Now that you’ve shown, after all this time, you can cook, make sure it all tastes good.”

He left the kitchen and I set to work. My goal was to make sure the kitchen was spotless by the time he came back out to watch TV and, hearing the squeak of the showerhead, I knew I had about ten minutes. In that time, I wiped off the table and loaded the dishwasher. Dominic came out dressed ready to go out. His dark brown hair was wet, making it match the color of his eyes. At five foot nine, he had about six inches on me. He watched me and for one small moment I hoped the points I’d earned at dinner were enough for him to take me with him.

“Where are your tips?”

Dropping my shoulders, I reached into the pocket of my uniform and pulled out the sixty dollars I’d earned, handing it over to him. Whether Gretchen liked it or not, we were married and whatever was mine was his.

He grabbed the money from my hand and counted it. “This is it? Jesus, you can’t even earn a decent amount delivering food to tables.” He shoved his phone and the money into his pocket. “It’ll have to do. Make sure my lunch is made for tomorrow.”

Without another word, he walked out the door. My throat burned in an attempt to hold back the tears. I did as he said and made his lunch, followed by a quick shower. Dominic was out, meaning I didn’t need to wait for him to fall asleep, so I went to bed early. Exhausted, I climbed under the sheets and let sleep take me.

The bed dipped down, letting me know that Dominic had made it home from his night out. A quick peek at the clock told me it was after three in the morning. I had about another hour before the alarm went off. I attempted to go back to sleep, but Dominic’s constant tossing and turning kept me awake. Eventually, the alarm sounded on my phone and I got up for the day.

Whether or not Dominic had gone to sleep or not, I didn’t know, but by the time I got home from my shift, he was gone. And I’d finished early. Gretchen was off for the day and I saw no reason to hang around and talk.

A few hours later, dinner was on the table and ready but Dominic still wasn’t home. I called his phone. No answer. Knowing it would be bad manners to start eating without him I waited. And waited.

Over an hour later, he showed up.

“Elena, where the fuck are you?” he yelled, slamming the front door.

“In the kitchen, waiting for you.” I didn’t want him to think I’d started without him, or done nothing all day. I sat stoically at the table, hoping he would notice how clean the living room was on his way through.

He came storming into the kitchen. “Go get changed into something . . . nicer. Not sure you have anything, but try. And pack an overnight bag.”

Excitement flooded my body to the point where my hands shook. Listening and following Dominic’s instructions had finally paid off. He was taking me out. Digging through my closet I found an older dress that would be perfect, no matter where we went. Who cared about dinner? I’d deal with the mess later.

I hurried to pack my bag, not giving him the chance to change his mind. When I stepped out in the hall, he raked me over with his eyes.

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