A Billion Vendettas

By: Jessa York

The plaster walls were a rich, pinky-salmon color, which made the greeny-turquoise furniture really pop.

Pictures of what looked like Mexican landscapes hung behind the bed.

I wandered over to the double doors on the far side of the room. Surprisingly, they opened.

I stepped onto the narrow balcony and looked down at a huge pool. It was surrounded by chaise lounges.

Large, wooden, scoop-backed chairs with oversized cushions encircled round glass-topped tables.

Palm trees and various cacti were featured in the near distance.

It was beautiful.

A thought came into my head—climb down.

Get out.


I quickly dismissed it.

Where exactly would I go?

To the first iron gate?

And then what?

To the second?

And then what after that?

Get eaten by wild wolves?

Bitten by a rattlesnake?

No, right now, the safest place for me to be was right here.

I had no idea what laid beyond those gates.

What I did know—was that I was no match for it.

Me, in my wedding night lingerie, and torn up stockings—versus the dark, Mexican desert.

I didn’t stand a chance.

I knew it, and so did Maxim.

Otherwise, this balcony would be nailed shut.

No, Maxim Castaneda knew he had me between a rock and a hard place.

I left the doors open while I walked to what I guessed was the closet. It was a walk-in, with no door.

The shelves and hangers were full of clothing.

Which seemed more than kind of creepy.

Why would there be clothes in here?

Did someone else stay in here before me?

I roamed the closet, more than curious.

I wondered if Maxim had stocked the closet, knowing he was going to take me.

Something about that theory didn’t seem right to me.

First of all, Maxim didn’t seem like the kind of man who cared all the much about clothing.

Or about women in general.

Secondly, something seemed oddly familiar about these clothes.

Like I’d seen them before.

How would that even be possible?

I’d never been to Mexico.

I didn’t know anyone who lived here.

But still, something hung in the air that felt like—home? I didn’t know, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

There were several racks of high-end, designer clothes.

I didn’t know anyone who wore these.

Well, except me.

Nick had made sure my closet at home was packed with fancy stuff like this.

On the far end, there were smaller shelves and more racks of clothing.

These ones seemed much more—informal.

Sweats, yoga pants—a ton of casual, activewear.

My fingers lingered over a few of the shirts, again trying to place where, and when I’d seen them before.

Suddenly, my hand stopped moving all on its own.

My heart fell to my stomach.

And my stomach fell to the floor.

It was a shirt that had half of a heart, and half of the words, ‘Best Friends’ printed on it.

I knew that because I had the matching, other half.

Because, I’d had them made.

One for me.

One for Louise.

My stomach began to clench, and I knew I needed a bathroom.


I held my stomach with one hand and covered my mouth with the other.

I barely got to the bathroom before I started vomiting my guts out.

I was in Louise’s room.

My former BFF’s, abusive, criminal, kidnapping husband, stuck me in his wife’s room.

The door had a lock and a bar across it.

Was this how Louise lived?

Was she here?

Would she be walking in at any moment with a huge belly, full of her, and my husband’s baby?

Or, would she be walking in with a newborn baby?

Oh, gosh, I wasn’t sure if I could handle that right now.

Or ever.

Why, in a house this enormous, would Maxim choose to put me in this room?

I wiped my mouth with some tissues and sat on the floor after I flushed the toilet.

The tile floor was made of beautiful, shiny, terracotta tiles. Blue, aquamarine tiles covered the wall, and the ceiling was painted a pretty, bright green.

It had a large tub and a separate shower.

When I felt like I could stand, I rose, and made the mistake of looking into the mirror.

Now, I understood exactly why Maxim found me so cringe-worthy.

My face was crazy swollen.

Like, I could be Rocky’s stunt double.

My nose and my lip had been throbbing.

But, I never could have imagined I’d look this bad.

The dried blood caked on my skin was starting to itch, and crack.

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