Beautiful Revenge (A Good Wife #1) - Sienna Blake
There is a locked wooden box I hide under my bed. I only dare to take it out when my husband is away.
I stand at the edge of the tall casement window in my bedroom and peer around the curtains, my fingers gently pulling the thick pallid-blue satin aside. Mist hangs across the moors beyond the Worthington Manor grounds, the early morning light making everything seem dusky. Half-real. Like I’m still dreaming.
I’m just in time to see the dark figure of my husband duck into the back seat of his silver Bentley, parked in the gravel driveway below that curls around the towering marble fountain. The uniformed chauffeur shuts his door and marches around to the driver’s side. My heart rate climbs steadily as the vehicle purrs down the mile-long carriage driveway, past the lake, and disappears through the cluster of trees that edge this thousand-acre estate.
I force myself to count down five minutes just in case he has forgotten something and decides to return. I made that mistake once.
He won’t be back for two days this time.
My body trembles with relief as I close my curtains completely, leaving my room lit only by my vintage shell-like bedside lamp.
I don’t go to the bed. Not yet.
I tread on soft, thick carpet, across the expanse of my room to my door, painted the same robin’s egg blue as my curtains. In fact, this exact weak, placid shade of blue is the only colour accenting my ash wood, marble and cream room, overly decorated with crystal chandeliers, antique furniture and a ridiculous number of fringed pillows.
I turn my doorknob and peer outside into the second-floor hall. Worthington Manor, an early Georgian countryside mansion, has been in my husband’s family for over three hundred years, or so I hear him boast at dinners and parties. The marble hallways stretch along in two wings, with dozens of rooms branching off on either side. The high vaulted ceilings and walls are all crammed with intricate cream plasterwork, making me feel like I live inside a wedding cake.
I listen. I hear no one. Not the footmen or maids. Not even Emily.
I close my door again. My bedroom is lockable but only my husband has the key. As far as I’m aware, he either takes it with him when he leaves on business or he hides it somewhere. I’ve looked for it during his absences, late at night when the rest of the house is asleep. I could never find it.
I run to my unmade bed and fling myself to the lush carpet beside it, another victim to the washed-out blue colour. My fingers shake with greed as I reach underneath, find purchase on the grainy wood and tug it out. The moment my eyes land on the simple mahogany box, a little bigger than an Old Testament Bible, a brass lock on the front, my throat starts to swell from the inside. I can feel the memories pressing up against me, tapping like hungry beggars against glass. I can hear his ghost whispering from over my shoulder. Like he’s standing right behind me, brushing the hair off my neck, lips tracing my earlobe.
I stumble to my feet and collapse onto my bed. I pull the box into my lap, my fingers clutching it as if it were a forgotten child. It’s an anchor tying me, my past, and my present together.
Until the end of time, Alena…
I draw out the locket at the end of a long silver chain around my neck. I crack it open and pull out the hidden key inside, my fingers slipping slightly as they have now gone clammy. My breathing shakes out through my teeth as I push the key into the rusty lock.
Why do I do this to myself? Every time I open it, it cuts open this old, unhealed wound. I can’t help myself. I can’t bear to throw this box away. I can’t let go. Perhaps this pain that I force upon myself is my only way to absolution, self-flagellation in the hopes it will one day redeem me from my greatest mistake.
I turn the key with a slight effort, hearing the familiar click. I’m surprised when water drops onto the lid. I’m crying, hot tears leaking like blood from my eyes. I don’t wipe them away.
I take a breath and open up my past.
They are all there, each piece I saved, nestled in the red velvet heart. Each jagged memory. I pull out each item one by