Chosen By A Sinner: Chapter 15

Mariya

The peace only lasts until I head to the guestroom so I can take a relaxing bath and change into my PJs, seeing as my overnight bag is still in that room.

“Seriously,” Luca says, a dark frown settling on his forehead from where he’s standing in the doorway. “I thought we had an understanding.”

“Jesus, I’m just going to take a bath.”

“My bedroom,” he practically growls.

I grab my belongings, and giving him a scathing glare, I shove past him. “Fine, I’ll use your bedroom.”

I knew the moment of peace was too good to be true.

Upset, I stalk into his bathroom and slam the door shut. I open the faucets, then suck in deep breaths of air to calm down.

I wish I were home in my own room. I hate being a guest here. It feels like I have to ask permission before I do something, which upsets me all over again.

This rollercoaster of emotions I’m on is going to drive me insane. One moment things are calm, and the next, everything blows up in my face.

He kisses me, making the mustard seed of hope grow, then stomps all over it with his expensive leather shoes.

I’ve never had to deal with this kind of tension before. My whole life, I got what I wanted, when I wanted it. Now I have to walk on eggshells.

I slump down on the closed toilet lid and bury my face in my hands, wondering how we’re going to make this work. It’s one thing loving the man from afar and a whole other thing living with him.

When the tub is full, I close the faucets and strip out of my clothes. I tie my hair up in a messy bun and sprinkle some bath oil into the water. When I climb in and lay back, I let out a moan from how good it feels.

Just relax. Don’t think about the marriage. Enjoy your bath.

I focus on the balmy water caressing my skin while taking deep breaths.

My phone starts to ring, popping my meditative bubble. I reach over the side of the tub and have to stretch to hook the strap of my bag. Tugging it closer, I dig my purse out and finally get to the device.

“Hello?”

“God, woman, I thought he killed and buried you already!” Violet snaps.

“Close, but no.” I relax back into the water. “We went out for dinner.”

“Can we talk?”

“Yes. I’m taking a bath.” Only then do I think to ask, “How is Oliver?”

“Better. He’s not hugging the toilet any longer, and I finally got some food in him.”

“That’s good.”

“How are you holding up?” Violet asks.

I scrunch my nose and twirl circles in the water with my free hand. “Ugh. We mostly argue. It’s exhausting.”

“Why are you doing this? Go home.”

“You know why I’m doing this,” I mutter.

“Do you think with time you can make the marriage work?” she asks.

“I have no idea.” I let out a sigh. “I’m going to try my best. We’re just off to a rocky start because we’re both stubborn as hell.”

“Just don’t put yourself through unnecessary torture.”

“I won’t.”

“Let’s talk about our spa day. When’s good for you?”

“You’re the one with the job,” I chuckle. “You pick the day.”

Violet’s quiet for a moment, then says, “Next Saturday?”

“Works for me.”

‘Love,’ I hear Oliver call Violet.

“Got to go,” she says.

“Thanks for the call.”

I set the device down on the toilet seat, then close my eyes and soak until I start feeling cold. Letting half of the water out, I add more until it’s warm again before I wash my body and shave.

When I climb out of the tub, my skin’s all wrinkly. I take my time lathering myself with my favorite cherry blossom lotion and applying my skincare products.

Wearing my buttery soft shorts and matching tank top, I open the door. There’s no sign of Luca, and I quickly place my overnight bag in the walk-in closet.

As I turn around, Luca stalks into the bedroom. While I was in the bathroom, he changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt which doesn’t make him look any less formidable.

“Finally, I was about to check if you drowned.” Then his eyes slowly sweep over my body, and I swear I see a flash of desire.

Don’t start imagining things.

I cross my arms over my chest and just stare at him, too tired for another argument.

His eyes sharpen on my face, then he tilts his head and slowly moves closer. It makes me feel like I’m being hunted, and I immediately uncross my arms and change my stance to a ready-for-anything position.

Instantly, Luca stops the expression on his face darkening even more. “Why are you assuming a fighting stance?”

I wave a hand at him. “You went into predator mode.”

He takes a step back, actually looking shocked. “Do you really think I’d hurt you?”

No, I don’t.

My body relaxes, and feeling stupid, I explain, “All the tension is getting to me.”

Luca approaches me as if I’m a bomb that’s going to detonate on him. He reaches for my shoulder, then pulls me into a hug.

When he presses a kiss to my temple, I close my eyes and wrap my arms around his waist.

“I’m sorry I raised my voice earlier,” he murmurs.

Loving the feel of his arms around me makes me feel like it’s safe to admit, “This is harder than I thought it would be.”

“There are going to be rough patches, but we’ll work our way through them,” he assures me. He holds me a little longer, then pushes me back so he can make eye contact. “Our bedroom. Our apartment.”

I search his face, and appreciating that he’s trying, I say, “I just need time. It feels like I’m a guest who needs to ask permission for everything, which is something I’m not used to.”

He shakes his head, and lifting his hands, he frames my face. “I’m sorry. I’ll work on it.” He surprises me by pressing a tender kiss on my forehead.

“Thank you.” His phone starts ringing, and when he ignores it, I say, “You can take the call.”

“It can wait.” He pulls the device out, switches it off, and drops it on the display case containing his wristwatches and cufflinks. “You’re more important.”

Jesus, my heart.

Taking my hand, he says, “Let’s relax in the living room. I’ll let you pick a movie we can watch.”

Loving the sound of that, I chuckle, “Brace yourself for one hell of a sappy romance.”

Feeling much better after the tender moment we just shared, I grin as we head downstairs. I sit down on the couch, folding my legs beneath me, and take the remote from Luca when he holds it out to me.

“How does your TV work?” I ask while pressing a button to switch it on.

Our,” he corrects me before patiently talking me through the process.

When I pick Grown Ups, Luca chuckles, “Thank God for small mercies.”

“See, I’m not a bitch all the time.”

He wraps his arm around my shoulders and tugs me to his side. “You’ve never been one.”

God, this is a refreshing change of pace.

This I can do.

Watching a comedy with Luca, the last of the tension eases between us, making space for the attraction to return full force. I’m overly aware of every breath he takes and the feel of his powerful body next to mine.

My eyes lower to his hand resting on his thigh, and I admire how strong and sure his fingers look.

I want to hold his hand but don’t have the courage.

As if Luca can read my thoughts, his hand finds mine, and he interlinks our fingers.

I can’t keep a smile from spreading over my face and try to focus my attention on the movie again.

If things remain like this, I can actually start to believe there’s hope that Luca might love me one day.

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