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Power Awakened (The Feral Book 2) by Charlene Hartnady (1)

Chapter 1

It was too late to duck. Pain exploded behind her eye and she was flung backwards. With this kind of momentum, Kerry knew that it would be impossible to keep her footing. She gripped her belly with both hands and tried to fall in such a way that would not injure her unborn child.

She’d found out just two days ago that they were having a boy. Jeff had been too busy to go to her doctor’s appointment with her. Now she knew why.

She landed hard on the marble floor of their condo. Pain shooting through her hip, which took the brunt of the fall. She couldn’t catch her breath for a few seconds as sharp pain slashed through her. Jeff said something, but she couldn’t make out what it was at first.

“You aren’t going anywhere!” he shouted again, leaning down, so that he could look her head-on. His eyes were hard. His mouth set in a grim line. “Get up.” He pointed at her suitcase. “Unpack. Do it now,” he added the last unnecessarily.

Breathe! Stay calm and breathe. “Okay.” Her voice was a tad shaky. “Fine.”

“On your feet!” he yelled, his face red.

Kerry swallowed hard, nodding once. She could feel that her eye was puffing up already. It felt hot and throbbed in time with her heartbeat. She needed to play along. Her hip was throbbing as well. She moved her toes and then bent her knee. Needles shot through her hip but nothing felt broken. At least, she didn’t think so. She started to stand. Knowing that if she didn’t do as he said and soon, she would pay the price. Kerry couldn’t have him hit her again. This time he might not stop. He might just hurt her son. Maybe this time he would get her in the belly. She had to bite back a moan as she rose to her feet. Her hip hurt. Her lip was still bleeding from the first punch he’d landed. “I’ll unpack right away.” There was a slurred edge to her voice.

“You do realize that all of this is your fault, don’t you?”

Like hell! “Yes.” Kerry forced the word out, tasting bile in the back of her throat.

“You’re my fiancée and you’re not putting out. You won’t even blow me.” He snorted.

Asshole! She wanted to tell him that she had just gotten over severe morning sickness. That was a major reason why she hadn’t felt much like sex, let alone giving him a damned blowjob. The effects of pregnancy definitely didn’t give him the right to go looking for it elsewhere. It didn’t work like that. What a dick. What an asshole!

Kerry nodded once, she walked over to her bag and unzipped it, moving slowly and carefully. Her whole body ached. Her eyes pricked but she held back the tears. Didn’t want to give the son of a bitch the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

Jeff smirked. “Maybe I’ve been on those single to mingle online sites but you can rest assured that I’ve made it very clear I only want sex. I love you, Kerry. You are my future. Once that,” he pointed at her belly, “is out of you, then we can go back to how we were.” Like hell!

Jeff didn’t love her, just like he didn’t love their child. There was only one person Jeff loved and that person was himself. There was no way she could tell him that she loved him back because she didn’t. It was true, at one time she had loved him. Over the last few months though, her feelings for him had been sorely tested, and now this…this was too much. Now all she felt was contempt. It was over! Only, he didn’t seem to get that. Jeff was too arrogant, too self-absorbed to realize it.

“It’s fine. I understand.” She nodded again, continuing to play along.

“I’m glad we finally see eye-to-eye.” He smiled. “Only one of yours is a bit swollen.” He snorted out a snicker. She could add ‘sadistic’ to the list of things she was beginning to realize about Jeff. “Now…” He grabbed her by the wrist, his face suddenly turning nasty. His eyes narrowed. “You’re going to finish unpacking and then clean this house. I expect dinner on the table by six. I have work to do. Someone has to bring in the bacon and it sure as hell isn’t you. If I want sex, you had better open those legs of yours. If I want to fuck someone else, I don’t want to hear anything about it, do you hear me?”

Kerry nodded, reminding herself that she was doing what she needed to do to keep her son safe. She curled her hand protectively around her belly. Then cursed herself for her weakness when she broke eye contact so that she could look at her feet. His stare was too harsh. Too cruel.

His grip on her arm tightened and she cried out, trying to move away. He wouldn’t let go though, not until she looked back up at him. His eyes glinted with…humor…he was enjoying hurting and taunting her.

Bastard!

“Don’t think about leaving while I’m at work today. I will find you. I know where your sorry excuse for a family live. You have nowhere else to go.” He shook his head. “Stay in line and do as I say and you’ll have a roof over your head and food in your belly. You need the medical cover right now.” He looked down at her stomach, his face tightening with distaste. Then he looked up at her. “I love you, Kerry.” He put his arm around her and she had to work not to tense up, not to outright pull away. “I’ll look after you…after you both.” His voice became clipped as he spoke of the baby.

Jeff didn’t want this child. He’d tried to talk her into an abortion and had even questioned whether the baby was his. Her eyes pricked again, but she blinked the tears away.

He pulled her tighter against him. “We’re going through a rough patch but we’re going to be just fine,” he murmured, before pulling back. He turned and began to walk away. She was about to breathe out in relief when he stopped and glanced back. “Oh, and make the prawn linguini I love so much.”

She nodded and plastered on a smile. At least, as much as she could smile with a split lip. “I will, and I hope everything goes well at the office.”

“Of course it will go well.” Another famous Jeff smirk. She couldn’t believe how she’d ever fallen for all his bullshit. “I’ll see you a bit later.” He kissed her cheek and headed out the door. Not once did it occur to him that she might disobey him. Jeff could go and suck on eggs if he thought she was staying.

Thankfully her clothes were only half unpacked, shouldn’t take too long to have her bag ready again. Then she stopped what she was doing. What if Jeff was testing her? What if he came back in ten minutes only to find that she was all packed and ready to go? Or worse, what if he caught her leaving?

Abandoning her bag where it was, she began cleaning the house. Pushing the vacuum cleaner backwards and forwards. Going through the motions but not really doing much. Not that she could do a whole lot with her hip throbbing and her lip still bleeding.

Half an hour became forty minutes, which was soon an hour. He had to have left by now. Surely he wouldn’t still be waiting for her? Jeff wasn’t very patient so she doubted he was still there. She had to be sure though.

Worry and indecision ate at her. Then she had an idea. Kerry reached for her phone and dialed his office. His personal assistant answered after two rings.

“Hi Liezel,” Cool and casual. “Is Jeff in?”

“Yes, he is. I’m afraid he’s in a session right now though, so I can’t put you through.”

“Oh,” she pretended to sound defeated. “That’s too bad, I’ll try him later.”

“I’ll tell him you called.”

“No!” A little too rushed and maybe a bit shrill. “Don’t worry.” More evenly delivered. “He’s so busy. I don’t want you to bug him. I was going to ask what he wanted for dinner, but I’ll just prepare his favorite to be sure.”

“Good idea! It must be so wonderful to be able to stay home and relax.”

“It’s awesome.” She tried not to sound sarcastic.

Liezel didn’t seem to notice because she sighed dramatically. “To be able to just look after your man like that and prepare for the birth of your first child.” Another sigh. “I had to go back to work within weeks. My stitches were barely out.”

“I’m very lucky.” If only Liezel knew. “I look forward to being a stay-at-home mom.” She hoped she didn’t sound like a robot.

Again, Liezel didn’t seem to notice anything untoward. She spoke a bit more about her own pregnancy and then they said their goodbyes. Kerry put the phone down and huffed out a breath of her own. She needed to get the hell out of there.

Moving as quickly as her injuries would allow, she made her way back to the bedroom and repacked her bag. There was no way she could keep up with this act for even a moment longer. She would find a way to protect her child. Kerry had a couple of hundred dollars. Not much, but enough to hole up somewhere while her bruises healed. Then she’d find a job and a way to get by.