The shock in AJ’s eyes shouldn’t have made a difference to Anna. Yet it did.
He hadn’t called or texted her in nine months. Not even a call to ask after granny’s health. Nothing. Then why this affront now? Unless it was because, for the first time in their relationship, she was being active instead of passively accepting whatever he decided. Instead of letting him lead, letting him dictate the very course of her life.
Some hitherto unknown steel she didn’t know she had stiffened her spine. Or maybe it was the fact that she had nothing to lose anymore by being quiet. “Why do you look so surprised? Or is it that you haven’t even discovered how much time has passed in your high life.”
“High life?” His mouth twitched. “Wild parties? That much anger isn’t good for you, Anna.”
“How about we don’t pretend that you care what’s good and what’s not for me?”
His mouth flattened and he pressed a finger to his temple. But when he spoke, his tone was curiously flat. “Why did you wait this long to make your move?”
Anna frowned, wondering what he was getting at. “I had my reasons.” She wanted to tell him how scared she’d been when her grandmother—the strong, loving woman who’d raised her—had had a heart attack. How much she’d wanted to be wrapped in his strong embrace. How much she’d wanted to be told that she wasn’t alone in the world.
After waiting in the hospital alone the whole night, when Granny had been fighting the hardest at dawn, she’d given in and called him. Only to be told by the automated message in three languages that the number had been discontinued. So she’d called his family home even though she knew how much they disliked her.
Because she’d foolishly assumed he’d wanted to see Granny. Because she’d believed him when he’d told her that he cared about them both.
His sister Seema—the one who owned the fashion studio—had informed Anna he was in Mauritius. Living it up, as usual. Still, Anna had begged her to send him the message. He hadn’t even returned her call. By the time morning had dawned, her granny had been past danger, but Anna had realized her marriage, on the other hand, couldn’t be revived.
“If you think you can get a fat settlement by being present, you can forget it. And don’t go thinking I’ll be the ladder you climb to get to high places, Anna.”
“That’s…unfair,” Anna said, more surprised by the high pitch of her voice.
Did he truly think so little of her? Tears welled at the back of her eyes but she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t shed any more over him. Not a single drop. Anger came to her defense, washing away the useless hurt. “If that’s what you want to believe, then there’s no point in…” But as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t just quietly let his horrible statement stand.
“Are you saying you didn’t take a nice payment to walk out of this marriage?”
Anna frowned. “Of course I did. My stupid middle-class morals dictated I take just enough.”
“Just enough for what?”
She was so angry that she couldn’t stop and answer his questions. “But I realized my foolishness too late. I thought I was being bought off by your father. He was buying you back from me. But now I know I should have asked for more. I should have asked for everything. Because that’s what you promised me in front of God, remember?”
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