“Don’t tell me you didn’t tell your husband you’re riding.”
“I didn’t tell my husband I was riding.” I stared ahead, ignoring the prickle of fear pinching my spine.
Hunter dragged a hand over his face, tipping his head back. “God-fucking-dammit, Pers.”
Within three seconds, Cillian was riding by my side on Franklin, pushing Hunter out of the way, forcing him to ride behind us. Everything, from his good looks to his flawless posture, bothered me. His easy movements put us all to shame.
He didn’t wear any riding gear. Not even a helmet.
He did wear an expression of someone who was dangerously close to committing a massacre.
“The hell do you think you’re doing?” His eyes tapered, zoning in on me like a weapon.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” I used the sweetest, most innocent voice in my arsenal.
“Pissing me off.”
“Thought you were above human emotions.”
“This one seems to be reoccurring every time you’re around. You found your calling.”
“Ha,” I gasped, “so I am good at something. And here you thought I was average.”
“Hunter.” Kill snapped his fingers behind him, his hard stare giving my cheek frostbite. “We’re splitting. Lead the group to another trail. I’ll help Persephone get back to the ranch.”
“No, you won’t,” I countered, feeling abnormally irritated. I was the mellowest woman in Boston—voted Most Likely to Replace Mother Teresa in my high school yearbook—but somehow, my husband made me feel angrier than Pax ever did even though Pax had screwed me over so hard I’d almost died.
“Last I checked, it’s a free country. I’m allowed to ride a horse, hubs. Whether you like it or not.”
“The country is free, but the horses are not. Hamilton belongs to me, and I don’t want you riding him. Ceann beag.” Kill turned to his brother again, snarling, “Beat it before I beat you.”
“Sorry, doll. There’s a reason he has a demon in his garden fountain and not a cherub or a fawn. You married Satan, and I don’t want the fucker to assign me a room in hell. He’ll probably put me in the same cul-de-sac with Hitler and the dude who invented berry-flavored La Croix. I deserve better neighbors. Just following orders.” Hunter pushed two fingers into his mouth and whistled, redirecting our friends to a side trail, leaving Cillian and me on the main one.
Lava simmered in my belly. Every inch of my body charred with humiliation.
How dare he scold me publicly after avoiding me the entire weekend?
Our entire marriage?
In the back of my head, something else also bugged me. Something completely trivial.
Cillian had a demon-shaped fountain in his garden, but I hadn’t seen it before. Not even the day Petar snuck me into the house for a tour when Kill wasn’t home.
“I’m getting you off this horse,” he said matter-of-factly.
“Why don’t we start with you just getting me off? You seem to be having trouble in that department,” I hissed out.
“The first and last time I touched you, you came so hard I was worried my dick would have to be removed from you surgically.”
“That was accidental.” All the blood rushing to my face made me hot and sweaty.
“So was my giving you an orgasm.”
“You really want me to hate you, don’t you?”
I didn’t know what I expected when I married him, but it definitely wasn’t this. The hermetic resistance no one could pierce.
“Sailor is not riding,” he pointed out.
“Sailor is pregnant.”
“As far as we know, you could be, too.”
His temper was frayed, and I couldn’t figure out why. I’d stayed well away from him the entire weekend. What else did he want? He seemed to be put off by my existence, and I was growing tired of it.
“If I am pregnant, it’s at a very early stage.”
“All the more reason to be careful.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Kill. Don’t give me this bullshit as though you actually care about my well-being.” My voice cracked, and I turned to face him, momentarily forgetting I was on a horse.
His nostrils flared, and he let go of his rein to pop his fingers.
“Do not curse.”
“Or else?” My chin felt wobbly, much like my insides. My grip on the reins tightened. “What’re you gonna do about it? You’re already the worst possible husband a woman could have.”
That wasn’t exactly true, seeing as Pax was the reigning champion of Worst Husband for this calendar year, but I wanted to hurt him back. To make him feel the way he made me feel.
“By the way, are we going to have sex once a month and pray I get knocked up? How’re we going to do this thing? Please let me know because I’m starting to realize you haven’t thought your genius plan through!”
My voice carried with an echo that ricocheted on the treetops, shaking the ground beneath Hamilton’s hooves.
Hushed murmurs seeped from the parallel trail our friends were taking.
“…can hold her own.”
“I swear to God, if he hurts her…”
“She’ll hurt him back. You said it yourself, Belle. She’s not a kid anymore.”
Our friends were arguing whether to step in or not.
Now everyone knew we were a mess, and whatever was left of my hope to make this marriage resemble normalcy flew out the window.
“You’re being a brat,” Cillian said coolly, regaining his composure.
“You’re being a coward.” My teeth chattered with fury.
Hamilton stirred beneath me, his strides jerky and uneven. I ran a hand over my face. “Seriously, if you’re going to ignore me for the rest of our lives, just grant me a divorce. I’ll pay you back the money, and we’ll forget this ever happened.”
“Never.” His tone turned steely. Punishing. “I’ll give you a lot of things, Flower Girl, but divorce won’t be one of them.”
“That so? I’ll tell Sailor, Belle, and Hunter. I’m sure they’d love to know what you roped me into.”
“Go ahead.” He tapped the side of his boot to his horse, making it go faster. “See how much power other people have on me. You’ll find the exact amount is absolutely none.”