69. Seeing Stars

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I pushed.

It wasn't a very hard push. Somehow, when pushing away Mr Ambrose hard body, my arms didn't want to move as determined as I had ordered them to. But the push caught him by surprise, and he staggered back, letting go of my wrists.

"Who do you think you are, telling me what I can and cannot be?" I shouted. I was angry. Boiling hot volcano angry! "I can be anything I want! I could decide to be the member of a yellow piggy dance troop, and I could make it work if I wanted to!"

The yellow piggy removed its snout from Mr Ambrose's coat pocket and shook its head vigorously. I ignored it.

"You can never be a man," he repeated, not retreating an inch from his position. His eyes raked up and down my body once more. I was very conscious of how, without my tailcoat, the fabric of the shirt barely concealed my form, which, while lacking upstairs, was definitely feminine in the butt department.

But... that couldn't be what he referred to, was it? He couldn't possibly think of me in that way, could he? He was talking about women's rights and liberties, not about me and him doing...

No!

Definitely not.

Oh God.

"I don't want to be a man," I somehow managed to say. Especially when you're looking at me like this, with eyes as deep and dark as the Atlantic Ocean. "All I want is to be treated the same!"

"Where's the difference?" he demanded.

The difference is the way I feel right now. The way the blood is pumping through my veins twice as hard.

"The difference," I said, with clenched teeth, "The difference is... it is...."

He regarded me like a scientist would regard a strange, undiscovered creature, while I searched for words that I could speak aloud. There were none to be found. All I could think about was how fast my heart was hammering, and how hot my face felt.

Well, what if it did? I was angry at him! So of course my heart was hammering and my face was flushed. And of course his being such a chauvinistic bastard was the reason. It had nothing whatsoever to do with how his deep, sea-coloured eyes were boring into me right there and then.

"You see?" he said coldly. "You can never be like a man."

I glared at him with all the force I could muster.

"Will you ever give me anything but scorn?" I demanded.

"Yes." My hopes flared—until he continued: "I will give you your salary at the end of the month. If you do your work properly, that is."

The flare of hope I had felt extinguished.

Why? Why did disappointment flood through me? After all, money was all I wanted from him. The money to give me my freedom. What else would I want from him?

He was still looking at me like that. In that way that made my knees feel weak.

"Good." I raised my chin, and, ignoring my knees, turned away from him. Marching over to the visitor's chair I sank down on it. "That's all I want. Money enough to be free."

"Oh, you'll have money." His eyes glittered. "You still won't be free, though."

My head whipped towards him. "How so?"

He marched back to his own chair and sank into it with a grace I couldn't hope to match. From behind his desk, projecting paramount, cold power and authority, he looked at me over his steepled fingers. "Just like in marriage, you'll still be tied to a man – to me."

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