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CHAPTER 4

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Looking at his serious face sparked an erratic rage within her.  In her younger years, she'd been taught never to fight back. Her father- Jim- had spent years changing that mindset. He had built up her confidence and taught her free will. Since then, she had been working on being strong enough to speak her mind.

Now, it was time she did. "Who do you think you are?" she asked Nick with a finger pointed accusingly towards him. He took a step back in surprise.  Annabelle watched as his eyes widened so much that his sunglasses slipped down the slope of his nose. If she weren't so angry, Annabelle would have marveled at finally being able to see his eyes. She ignored the urge and his jilted expression and rather powered on through. "Let's get something straight here," she said walking towards him. Her hands shook in fear. She'd never been this brave before. "I am not some well-behaved Stepford wife whose only purpose in life is to serve you. You got that? I am my own person, with my own job and dreams. I am not here to do your bidding. If you want this marriage to last your five years, you better learn very quickly that I will not succumb to gender stereotypes."

Nick gulped and gave her a rushed nod of his head. Annabelle tried to revel in the delight of seeing Nick struck speechless but, her anxiety overwhelmed her. She wasn't this person. She'd never been one to fearlessly demand her rights. It was exhilarating. It was a feeling she could grow addicted to. Nick's reaction had been gentle, but Annabelle knew it could have taken a different route.

She breathed out a large sigh of relief and turned to her new husband. She smiled at him; a gentle stretch of her lips. She tilted her head a bit to the side and said sweetly, "So, what do you want for dinner?"

He blinked. "I thought you said you won't cook."

"I didn't say that. I just said I won't stand for you assuming I'll always do it because it's my job. I'll cook when I feel like it and only because it's something I want to do."

Nick rubbed his forehead and moved to sit on one of the stools by the kitchen counter. "This is confusing."

She laughed. "Think of it this way. When I do something, it won't be because it's my duty, but because it's my choice. That's all I'm asking for; the choice and not the obligation."

"I can understand that," he answered softly.

"Thank you." Annabelle looked around the kitchen with a crease in her brows. "Do you object to me making dinner?"

His head shook quickly. "The space is yours to use. I'm happy with the salad but, feel free to make your own dinner." She frowned. She wasn't completely convinced Nick's salad would be substantial enough. Annabelle moved carefully around the kitchen as she thought about what to cook.

"I have some fresh ingredients in the fridge," said Nick from behind her. She watched him stand up and move to open his tall steel refrigerator. It's size alone was beyond anything Annabelle had ever seen in a house. She fully expected it to be stocked full with fruits and vegetables but, it wasn't. One shelf had a large bowl on it with a third of it filled with Nick's salad. The second shelf had a good-looking head of broccoli and two fresh tomatoes next to it. In the door, there was half a carton of milk.

Annabelle wasn't sure how to respond. Nick's fridge looked as bad as hers only, he had the money to do better. "Um," she looked at the fridge with large eyes. "I can use the broccoli."

Nick was pleased by her answer and passed her a full smile. She was finally able to stare back at him, to look into the eyes she'd been curious about all day. It surprised her how handsome he was. She knew Dina described him as a hunk, but rarely did they share the same type. This time, Annabelle agreed with Dina. Her new husband was a hunk.

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