She’d been out in the barn with her Mephala, one of the few places she enjoyed more than anything. The horse she was currently with was one of the few she could groom in her stall, not having to tether her anywhere. Thank God at least one of the horses was even-tempered. It was just as she was finishing up, quietly trailing her fingers through the horse’s mane, when her phone started ringing.
And why did Vivienne answer it? Because only a few people knew her new number. And those that did, she didn’t mind talking to. But the voice on the other end of that phone made her heart drop like a brick. “Well, if it ain’t my favorite little brunette. How ya been, Vivi?”
“You don’t get to call me that, Eric.” Venom dripped from every last syllable she spoke, her hand clutching at the phone in her hand. “The hell do you want?”
“I just wanted to call up my favorite girl, see how you’ve been.” Ugh. That Cajun accent of his rolled off his tongue like honey. Even though Viv knew it to be nothing more than acid. “I hear you’ve been away from Lake Charles, cherie. Now, why ever would you leave home?”
Part of her wanted to say that she left to get the hell away from him. “It ain’t your fuckin business, Eric.” She hurt. And not in an emotional way. Honestly, she’d cut off that part of her mind years ago. Six years, to be exact. No, his voice hurt her like a stab to the gut. It was a physical pain, a burning pain.
“You know better than to talk to me like that, Vivienne.” Oh, there it was. The true nature of the man she’d dated for almost three years. The one man she’d almost shot. Her jaw clenched, Mephala snorting next to her. Right. She almost forgot. Slowly, she took the lead rope and led the horse out of the barn, turning her out into the pasture behind it.
“Yeah, well, I know that you’re also a slimy piece of shit who’d rather rape a woman than anything else. But here we are, right?” Tears were filling her eyes, and she wasn’t quite sure why she was about to cry. But maybe it was because of the six long years of keeping most of those emotions buried.
“Don’t fucking talk to me like that, Vivienne. You might be on a different planet now, but I will come up there and find you. I bet you’ve already got some poor fuck wrapped around your finger. Have you finally decided to put out, Viv? Does he know you’re damaged goods?”
That was it. She’d had enough. She hung up the phone, tempted to throw the damn thing across the pasture. And if the horses crushed it? So be it. Instead, she shoved the phone back into her pocket, stalking from the barn. She grabbed the hatchet that was leaned against the side of the barn. She needed to just go cut some firewood. And imagine that it was her ex’s head she was splitting in half.
Why was she so upset that she’d gotten that phone call? Because that man, Eric Martin, was one of the few men she’d dated in her lifetime. And he was the only one who’d ever brought a level of wrath from Vivienne that made her damn near commit murder.
Another log split, and she started to feel just a little better.
He was the reason she was so nervous around men now. Why it had taken her so long to just get up and talk to Christian. Why she was actually a little nervous about talking to men in general.
Tears fell from her eyes as she split yet another log, and she choked back a scream.
Why couldn’t he just have left well enough alone? Why did he have to call her? Ugh. She’d have to tell Christian about this. And change her number again. This time, though, she wouldn’t give it to anyone other than Caroline. That was the one person she trusted not to give it out to anyone else without Viv’s approval.