Two Years Ago
Toni Reed sensed the next few minutes would not go well for her.
As soon as Paul Lambert’s handsome face turned red, she knew. His blond side-swept bangs lay plastered across his forehead. The charmer’s usually playful blue eyes gleamed bright with anger. He shouted, “Were you trying to sabotage me?”
“No!” She backed away from Paul’s piercing stare bumping into the chair. “No,” she yelled, her eyes wide with fright. It felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. This must be what it feels like to be in the room with a wild animal where any sudden movements could result in a strike. The crazy thing was Paul had never laid a hand on her before. She tried to convince herself he would calm down and walk away.
I’ve seen him like this before.
Toni glanced at the wall behind Paul. Less than a month ago, she watched in horror as he punched a hole in the wall above his entertainment system. Books and DVD’s crashed to the floor as Paul swept his arm across the top shelf. The hole had since been covered up with one of her paintings, all the items neatly put back in place and not a word said about the incident.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to appear calm. “You know I would never do anything to sabotage you. I want you to look good. We talked about this last night. Remember? You said it was an important point.”
Paul stepped forward, “I had it under control. You’re trying to say you could do it better. That I don’t know what I’m doing. You made me look like an idiot.”
That’s not how I remember it. Why is he blowing this out of proportion?
Her heart pounded when she saw Paul’s clenched fists. Toni shook her head. “No, no…I just wanted to make sure you told him the benefits you could bring to his company.”
“You wanted me to appear like I was desperate and didn’t know my own company. He will never invest now.”
“That’s not true. You did a great job and —” Before she could finish her sentence, Paul grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall. She cried out in pain as her head bounced off the hard surface.
“You ruined everything! I saw the look on his face.”
The back of her head throbbed as she tried to focus. She wheezed, “What is wrong with you?”
Paul’s hand came across her face.
Anger surged. She was no match for Paul’s size, but she had to get away from him. Lifting her right knee, she shoved it up as high as she could into his groin area.
Paul groaned from the impact and loosened his grip on her arm. “You — “
Toni wrenched her arm away and wasted no time moving around him. She had to get out of there. Her bag was on the coffee table. She grabbed it and moved quickly to the front door. As soon as she reached it, she felt a strong hand grab her shoulder.
She screamed and turned, swinging her heavy bag across Paul’s face.
He stumbled from the blow, but it didn’t prevent him from reaching. He wrapped his arms around her body. Toni felt her feet lift off the carpet. She struggled and screamed. Suddenly her body was thrown across the room, crashing into the coffee table.
She cried out in pain as she felt something snap in her arm.
Through her tears, she saw Paul looming over her.
God, help me!