What the hell happened to her? She’d become a stranger almost overnight, and weeks passing didn’t change that. Where had the gentle, thoughtful, sensitive woman all of them had know gone? The new mean, furious, demanding woman had the same hair, the same face, the same body… But she didn’t have the same eyes. Hate filled the rich chocolate eyes that had once shone brightly with joy and love. She now recoiled from any soft touch and snapped at any kind word.
His baby brother, so close to proposing to her, couldn’t even speak of her. A silent head-shake answered any question about her now that he almost feared her. It was as if his girlfriend had died, and acceptance was far off.
His middle brother lost his best friend, the best friend who’d introduced him to the woman who would become his wife and the mother of his two daughters. To the least social of them, losing someone he’d been so close to was shattering in every sense of the word, and he began spending more time working just to distract himself from his profound loss.
But him? Well, he’d loved her for years, a secret he had intended to take to his grave to spare his cherished little brother from any insecurity that could come with such a close relation sharing the same feeling for her. Though he loved hearing her talk about books, or music, or philosophy, and how much he loved her spark for life, he’d carefully concealed anything that could pass for more than civility. Better for her to think that he didn’t care much for her than to ever suspect that he had fallen in love with her.
Perhaps most confusing of all was his cruel father’s sudden approval of her so soon after meeting her father. His father never liked anyone unless he had something to gain. But why would that change her? She must have concealed her true self from them all. No one who had presented herself as she had could ever turn so wicked. He glanced across the veranda at her stormy face, believing he’d finally seen her at last.
But he couldn’t see the bruises on her model body, or the tears hidden behind livid eyes, or the devastation that crushed her heart into a million shards that spread throughout her body, causing her excruciating pain. He couldn’t know that it was only then that she wore a black mourning veil to hide herself from the world.
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