tagRomanceFalling For Aiden

Falling For Aiden

byfancypriscilla©

Prologue

My husband's ranting carried across the small apartment into the bathroom. It was the same tired rant I'd heard for three years. "...busting my ass to provide for you...don't appreciate it...you think your job is hard, you try climbing ladders all day in the heat..."

I didn't bother anymore to reply. In the first year or so of our marriage, I would reply that he had chosen his career as a sheet metal journeyman, that I brought home just as much money as he did, that since I did all the housework and cooking, I was technically contributing more to the family than he was. But it didn't make a difference. He never saw my side. He was right, I was wrong. So I had, long ago, stopped arguing.

I started drawing a bath, so the noise of the rushing water would drown out his words. Heaps of bubbles started forming after I poured in lavender bubble bath.

"ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?"

I jumped. My husband was right behind me, crowding into the tiny bathroom. He grabbed my arm and pulled me away from the tub into the bedroom, shoving me onto our bed. "Such a bitch. Can't even listen to your own goddamn husband. I slave all day for you, and you can't even appreciate it."

He took his belt off, and shoved his jeans down to his ankles. My pink spaghetti strap nightgown was around my waist, and before I knew what was happening, he flipped me onto my hands and knees, and thrust himself into me. I wasn't wet, not in the slightest, and it burned.

"Please don't!" I gasped. "You're hurting me!"

He ignored me. He wasn't much taller than me, but he was stronger than me, and his hands gripped my hips so tightly, I was sure I'd have bruises. It didn't take long for him to finish.

"Ahh... you're a good wife, Marion." He walked into the bathroom to clean up. I turned over and lay down on the bed until he came back. "I'm going to bed, babe. Long day at the site tomorrow. I won't be home for dinner. I'll probably grab something with the guys."

"OK." I went back to my bath. He had turned the water off, but bubbles and water flooded the floor. I grabbed a couple towels to mop it up.

He raped me.

He had never hit me. He wasn't a drunk, and he didn't abuse drugs. There had not been a good reason to call him a bad husband. Until now.

I examined my hips. I was right, bruises were forming. They'd show up more tomorrow.

After I cleaned up the mess, I called the sick line at work. I wouldn't be in tomorrow, I told the voicemail. I have a stomach bug.

Then I went to bed. Tomorrow, I had to pack up my things and get the hell out of here.



Chapter 1

Two years later

"You should come out to the Edison tonight!" My coworker, Lizett, was perched on my desk. "My cousin's jazz band is playing there tonight. They're really good."

"I don't know, Liz..." The Edison was right around the corner from my loft, but I usually didn't go out on work nights.

"You like swing, right?"

"Yes, but we have to work tomorrow, and –"

"Their last set is at 11. It won't be too late. You should wear that purple cocktail dress you wore to the Christmas party last year. I'll pick you up at 8?"

"No, it's ok. I'll meet you there. I'm just a couple blocks away from there."

"OK cool. I'll see you there tonight."

***

The problem with the purple cocktail dress Liz had mentioned was that my boobs were a cup larger than last Christmas. Not that I had a problem with that, but my cleavage was a little, well, abundant.

Whatever. The color was amazing with my dark brown hair and blue eyes.

Liz was already at the bar when I arrived. She and her boyfriend, Chase, and saved me a spot. I ordered a vodka/Sprite. "When is the first set?"

"Half an hour, I think. Want to order some munchies?"

"Yeah, you get whatever you want. I'm going to the ladies." I slipped off my stool to go touch up my lipstick.

The Edison was a vintage styled lounge. Old fashioned light bulbs lit the club, and some nights old silent movies were projected onto the walls. The lounge had a steampunk feel, and nearly everyone here wore cocktail or professional clothes. This is where downtown Los Angeles' young urban professionals came to relax after a stressful day in the office. Everyone in the bar screamed "successful," and it wasn't that I didn't fit in, but I wasn't into designer handbags and shoes like everyone else. I sewed most of my own clothing, and I was carrying a hand-beaded clutch purchased off Etsy. My earrings were designed by a friend who was trying to launch her own accessories line, and my pumps were plain black satin from Nordstrom, with shoe clips to match my dress.

After another coat of red lipstick, I headed back to the bar. I saw the band starting to set up, and I was staring at one of the cutest guys I had seen in a long time. His hair was gelled in a vintage style, and with his thin moustache, he was the spitting image of Clark Gable. I was so caught up in him, I ran into a wall.

Wait. Not a wall. Walls don't wear suits.

I looked up. "I'm so sorry –" Clark Gable faded from my mind. The guy in front of me wasn't beautiful. He was rugged. I was a good five-foot-ten in my heels. He was an easy six-foot-six. His dark hair was mussed and wavy, and he had brown eyes, the exact color of brown sugar. His shoulders were incredibly broad, and his thick, short neck reminded me of Tom Hardy's neck from Warrior. He had a heavy five-o'clock shadow, and he was wearing a black suit, with a blue shirt. No tie.

"I didn't mean to run into you," I said softly. "Did I hurt you?"

"It's fine. Don't worry about it." The huge man stepped to the side, to allow me to pass. I was more than a little disappointed that he intended to let me walk away without getting my number, or at least flirting with me a bit. His right cheek crinkled up into a slight smile. "You couldn't hurt me if you tried. You're a tiny thing."

Tiny? Me?

He nodded at me, and then slipped past me. I walked back to Liz and Chase.

"You're back, good! They are about to start!" Liz turned on her bar stool to face the stage. "You're gonna love them."

The band was definitely good, I had to admit. But the rest of the evening, I kept scanning the lounge, looking for a glimpse of that huge man. But I didn't see him, and I told myself that I would probably never see him again. Oh well.

It was almost midnight when I said my goodbyes and started walking back to my loft. I was about a half a block into my walk when I heard footsteps behind me. I turned – there was the huge man! He caught up to me within a few seconds. "Where's your car?"

"I walked, actually. I don't live far –"

His mouth pressed flat, and his eyes narrowed. "Seriously? You walked here? This is downtown LA. There are transients everywhere. That's not safe."

"I'm just another two blocks from here," I said. "I'll be fine. Thank you for your concern." I started to walk away.

The huge man sighed irritably. "Fine. I'll walk you home."

I whirled back around. "You'll do no such thing! How do I know you aren't intending to get me back in my loft and rape me?"

"Trust me," he said wryly, "it wouldn't be rape."

My eyes widened. "I'm sorry, mister, but you are not walking me home. I will call the police if -"

"Aiden."

"What?"

"My name is Aiden."

I stared at him as if he was a half-wit. "I don't care what your name is. You are not walking me home."

Aiden's mouth wrinkled slightly. "What if I get you an escort? I can get an officer here in a few minutes."

My head cocked. "A police officer? Aiden, I don't need a police officer to take me home. I'm seriously a couple minutes away. I would have been home by now if you hadn't stopped me."

"Those are your options. Wait for an officer, or let me walk you home."

I huffed a frustrated sigh. "You have no right to tell me what to do."

"Marion, I'm not going to let you walk home by yourself at midnight."

My eyes widened. "How do you know my name?"

Aiden had the nerve to look slightly guilty. "My friend owns the Edison. You paid with a credit card. I asked him to get me your name."

A cool breeze swept past us. I shivered involuntarily. Aiden took a step closer to me. "Let me take you home, baby. I promise I won't hurt you." He reached up and brushed my lower lip with his right thumb.

I knew it was stupid. I knew that if anything happened, I would be victim-blamed for letting him come home with me. But I wanted him to be good. I wanted him to be everything I had ever fantasized about. So I tucked my hand into his elbow, and we walked to my loft.

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