Rose came awake with a jerk and she rubbed her eyes with the back of her palm in a disoriented motion. The high pitched laugh that had woken her up came again this time right outside the bedroom door and she knew Daniel was home. He rapped on the mahogany door with heavy blows and cursed loudly.
“Open…I said open the goddamn door Rose, you don’t want to keep a man away from the comfort of his own bed.” His voice was slurred and she knew he was drunk again. Her eyes darted to the bedside clock and the 2:32 a.m. on the screen seemed to mock her. She had been asleep for roughly two hours after getting tired of waiting up for him. It was supposed to be her thirtieth birthday last night and unlike last year’s celebration, Daniel had said they were going to have a private dinner. She had made the servants prepare his favourite meal of grilled chicken dipped in peanut sauce, served with rice and assorted grilled vegetables just the way he had shown her at the beginning of their marriage. She didn’t let the servants help her with the meal because she wanted it to be special and they had only helped her in setting up the table. By 6:00 p.m., she was sitting at the dining table in her purple sequined half gown; the very one he had bought her on his last trip to France.
The minutes soon turned to hours and anger gave in to worry. The food was getting cold. What if the coldness of the food made him not enjoy it? What could be keeping him? What if he was hurt? What if something had happened? Could he be in another woman’s arms? Had he gone drinking again? Unable to bear these thoughts any longer, she began to try reaching him on his cell but he wasn’t answering his phone. The time was 8:22. p.m. and sick with worry, she called his secretary only to be told he left the office around 3.30 p.m. in the company of some friends who came on a visit. With a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, she realized it was either he had forgotten about her birthday or simply chosen the company of his friends over an evening with her.
By 10.55 p.m. she had lost any hope of getting across to him and with a defeated sigh, she had asked the servants to clear the table as she went to prepare for bed. As she stepped out of her dress and began the process of wiping her face free of makeup, thoughts of the last few months had run through her mind.
She had met Daniel five years ago at a listening party of an upcoming rapper. She clearly didn’t belong there because everyone reeked of money and she was only here because her friend, Natasha who is a model had given her an invite. She had gone to the balcony of the party venue to get some fresh air and also escape the lewd stares and sneers of some of the guys in the room. All her life, the only compliment she had gotten was about her stunning beauty. She was the definition of a black beauty with her flawlessly smooth dark skin, ivory white teeth, oval face that housed almond shaped soft brown eyes. Her long lashes gave her a doll like beauty and her rich raven hair fell in loose waves around her shoulder without the need of a human hair extensions. Not that she could afford hair extensions since she was as broke as a church rat having being born to a petty trader and cobbler. Her beauty was all she had and many a time even that felt like a curse. She was swaying softly to the music that was drifting her way on the balcony from inside when Daniel walked up to her. He was a older than most of the other guys at the party and she had found out he was thirty-six when they got talking.
Unlike most of the other guys, he wasn’t lewd in his approach and had seemed genuinely interested in her. It was a whirlwind romance because three months later, they were tying the knot in a grand wedding as she took his last name. She knew Daniel was rich but she hadn’t realized how rich he was until they were actually married. He was an oil magnate with all the luxuries of the world, a private yacht, a towering mansion in the city, fleet of cars and all the other things that define wealth. From being the girl who wore hand-me-down clothing, she was soon dripping in diamonds, sipping on champagne and sleeping in feather beds. Her role as the news Mrs. of his world also meant she was holding parties for wives of the people he rolled with and attending high society events. She had a perfect life for the first one year then the troubles started. She had a miscarriage and it changed Daniel. He took to drinking and started keeping late nights. Two more miscarriages and he started hitting her, it was as if the Devil was suddenly living in him. Now she was stepping out for events having to cover the bruises from the previous night’s beating in makeup and hiding swollen eyes behind dark sunglasses.
“Fucking…open this door.” Daniel’s voice came again angrily followed by a heavy kick against the doors.
Rose sighed and got up from the bed to let him into the bedroom.
“You are home late…” she began but the rest of her words were cut off as he rushed into the room in a staggering haze and grabbed her by the throat.
She saw stars as a slap landed on her cheeks and his face bore down into hers with the smell of alcohol assaulting her nostrils. She was finding it hard to breathe as his grip on her neck tightened and he sneered at her as she struggled to be free of his grip.
“Don’t you ever fucking lock me out again! You hear me!” he snorted in her face before throwing her backwards as if he was tossing away a worthless toy.
Rose landed with a hard thud on the carped floor of their room with a scream and her head hit the wooden frame of the bed. A flash of pain coursed through and her hand went instinctively to her head. She felt the warm liquid on her fingers and knew it was blood even before she saw it. She stared at her bloodied fingers and began crying softly on the ground, her tears mixing with the dripping blood from the gash.
“You have been drinking again,” she said amidst her sobbing but he didn’t answer. He gave a high pitched laugh and discarding his clothes, stepped into the bathroom and drowned her sobbing with the noise of the shower.
To be continued