Chapter 2: The Strange Man
If she hadn’t heard it with her own ears, Candice would have never believed that Rufus would be willing to go so far as to force her to cheat on him in order to be with Rita. Fighting back the fire in her body, she clenched her jaw and ran to the door.
There was a man standing outside, clutching a card for the eleventh floor in his hand. Candice instantly thought that he was the bait Rufus had left for her.
Alcohol can bring out a heart’s emotions, including hate.
Candice felt her fury at Rufus explode, her mind filled with his lies and blatant actions. Her sincere affection had been fed to the dogs, and she was heartbroken.
She drunkenly walked straight up to the man. “Is it you?”
The man sniffed and raised his eyes. She was startled for a moment by the black depths looking back at her.
Wild. Dangerous. Sexy.
A close look into those eyes invited a woman to sink deeper
into their depths. His composed, angular face left a lingering impression on her.
She had to admit that Rufus had good taste at least. He had certainly found a handsome man. This one had a unique charm, and a mystery to him that made her want to learn
put her arms around his waist. The man held a cigarette in his hand, watching her face without saying a word. She leaned her head drowsily on his chest. “I want to hear your voice.”
The man put out his cigarette and embraced Candice from the side. She could feel the brush of his stubble on her neck, the scent of smoke from his mouth making her feel even more intoxicated. “You can hear it in bed with me.”
Candice had only ever experienced cold detachment from the man in her bed. She hadn’t expected someone to account for her feelings and patiently attend to her desires. He even sweetly helped her clean up once they were finished. She was very impressed with his poise.
He was equal parts aloof and seductive.
There were only two possible ways a man could be so good
in bed. Either he was a veteran on the battlefield of love, quick to take advantage of a new morsel, or he was a professional, skilled at managing any kind of woman who came his way.
Candice wasn’t too greatly interested in finding out which of the two he was. For one it was a love affair, and for another it was a drunken misfortune. The less they knew about each other, the better.
After they had rested a while from their exertions, she decided to talk. “How did he get in touch with you?”
The man got up, fastening his belt. His voice was soft. “What are you talking about?”
“How much did Rufus pay you?”
He tilted his head down to look at her. “Who is Rufus?”
“My husband,” Candice said.
The man frowned. “You’re married?”
Candice froze, realization dawning on her. The man hadn’t been there for her after all, and he had simply been swept away by her mistaken assumptions. He was handsome, skilled, and probably specialized in his line of work.
Rufus was a corporate executive. Candice knew what he could get with the money he made. If the watch on the stranger’s left wrist was genuine, Rufus would have to spend half a year of his salary to get the same thing.
Candice panicked, worried that she might have given him something he could blackmail her with. “I didn’t bring any money.”
The man gave her another look as he silently got dressed.
Candice couldn’t guess his motivations. “You didn’t take a video, did you?”
“I’m not into that sort of thing,” he replied.
She sighed with relief and nodded.
The two of them parted ways in silence after that.
As Candice left the room, a muscular man left room 1106 just ahead of her. She could hear a crying woman inside, shouting that she would call the police. The big bed was a mess, and she could smell the aftermath of their entanglement.
“Damn it, I can’t believe she would lie about her identity like that!” The muscular man cursed.
Candice cornered the handsome man she’d just parted with moments later in the lobby. “Can you please lend me fifty dollars? I urgently need some money.”
He narrowed his eyes, studying her face as if trying to discern her true intentions. She didn’t look like a schemer. Her face was cute, and she had the air of someone who couldn’t do much even if provoked. He really didn’t buy it.
When most women tried to seduce men, they played hard to get. His first thought was that Candice was no different, and he had no interest in those kinds of games.
It wasn’t until later that he found out she was genuinely pure, and not acting at all.
After a moment of hesitation, he handed her a wad of bills from his wallet. “Don’t follow me.”
Candice only took a twenty dollar bill and put the rest back in his hand, along with a paper she had written her number on. “Contact me so I can return it to you.”
This time she had been lucky enough to end up with someone good–looking, rather than being victim to Rufus’s scheme. She would have died of disgust if she’d been used by that other man.
But borrowing money and not returning it wasn’t a good
thing to do.
She left and hailed a taxi from the curb. Inadvertently she glanced back at the man, who had followed her out of the hotel. In that single glance, she froze.
He was walking toward a silver Jaguar XJ. She knew one of those cost around three hundred thousand dollars.
She really had found someone rich.
The man got into his car and answered his phone. “What’s the story?” the person on the other end asked.
He rolled down the window, looking at Candice in the rearview mirror. “Married.”
The other party was amused. “You do get around, Byron. Does she know who you really are?”
Byron watched Candice go past the Jaguar in her taxi. He could clearly see her through the open backseat window, the red bite marks on her neck particularly vivid against her creamy skin.
Touching her would be trouble, but he hadn’t known that
before he did. “There was no need for her to know,” he said calmly.
The other side persisted in questioning. “Was it more exciting with her than someone younger?”
“Yes.” Byron tapped the steering wheel. “But there won’t be a next time.” He took out Candice’s number and tossed it out the window.
Candice returned home and took a hot bath. Her first
experience felt like both life and death. She was hot and sore, but now had a sense of revenge against Rufus in her heart.
Rufus came home at exactly 8 PM. Usually, she would greet him after work, but tonight she felt too lazy to move. She was soaked in sweat, and her face was flushed. He immediately came over and felt her forehead. She didn’t have a fever, so he pretended to joke, “You haven’t been fooling around, have you?”
Candice immediately knew what he was asking. “You should know best if I’ve been with another man or not.”
Rufus sounded odd. “Who upset you? Don’t take it out on
“The guy in the next room got drunk and tried to embrace
me.” Candice rolled over. “I got into a fight with him.”
Rufus scrutinized her calmly. “And then what?”
“Then nothing,” Candice told him.
Rufus was clearly interested. “How did the fight go?”
“What are you hoping happened?” Candice turned to glare at him.
Rufus softened his tone. “I’m just worried that something happened to you.”
He got up and went to the balcony off the living room. Candice opened the door a crack so she could hear what he was saying on the phone.
“I put seven thousand dollars into your account. Did you sleep with my wife or not?”
She couldn’t hear the answer, but Rufus was clearly unhappy. “You don’t have a video? What about photos? You didn’t take any of those either? I need physical evidence.”
It was everything Candice could do to stop herself from rushing out to slap him. He had actually paid someone to rape his wife. Only Rufus would stoop so low.
apter 2: The Strange Man
He ended the call and returned to the room, looking for a
fight. Reaching out to rub Candice’s neck, he asked, “Why are you wearing makeup? Didn’t you wash it off in the shower?”
She avoided his touch. “It’s not makeup. It’s a moisturizing patch.”
“Moisturizing patch? Candice, do you think I’m an idiot? This is clearly a bite mark. Rufus pulled at her like a madman. “What did you do this afternoon?” His eyes were red. “I admit I’m useless, Candice. I can’t satisfy you. Could you not take the loneliness anymore? We can get a divorce. I’m willing to let you go, but don’t do me wrong. I still have my pride!”
Candice shook her head with a bitter smile. “Are you feeling guilty, Rufus?”
He panted violently, barely stopping his hand in mid–air. Suddenly the will to fight seemed to drain out of him and he clenched his fist at his side. “Let’s be honest, Candice. I don’t want to be with you anymore.”