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Chapter Two

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*** Petropolis, Brazil ***

8:00 a.m. the following day, Sophia went out of the grocery store, carrying a bag full of fruits and vegetables. She was just a few meters away from the grocery store when she noticed someone following her. Her heart pounded so fast and cold sweat ran down her spine. She suddenly slowed her pace, and her eyes peered at the side. She turned around slowly, but there was no one. She breathed deeply and sighed.

It's just my imagination, maybe from too much watching horror movies. She smiled to herself.

She started walking again. Then she saw through her peripheral vision a man in dark shades, white flannel shirt, and faded blue jeans following her.

Oh, God help me! A stalker or a serial killer is following me.

She walked hurriedly, half running, and the man walked faster, too, following her pace.

Just two blocks more, and I'll be at my Aunt Beatriz's house!

She saw a secluded alley at the side of a building and decided to turn into it to hide. Holding the bag of groceries tightly to her chest, she peeped at the side of the building and felt so relieved that her stalker was gone.

Whew! Thank God, he's gone. Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord. She sighed with relief and offered a silent prayer.

Sophia was about to get out of the secluded corner when someone suddenly grabbed her arm behind her. Alarmed with fear, she shrieked with panic and shouted at the top of her lungs.

"AAaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!" She shouted and immediately, the man's hand clamped her mouth. The bag of groceries fell on the floor, scattering the fruits and vegetables. She tried to punch and kick the man, but he was big and so strong. His body pinned her to the wall, and her wrists were trapped in one iron hand above her head. She struggled and wriggled her body for an escape but to no avail. Then she bit his hand so hard.

"AH! F***n' Shit!" He exclaimed and removed his hand from her mouth. He winced and rubbed his injured hand to his jeans. His dark shades dropped on the floor.

"Heeeeeeelllpppp!" Sophia shouted again. The man clamped her mouth with his other hand.

"Stop shouting! You are attracting an audience." The man blurted angrily.

Sophia's eyes widened with shock. She stared at her attacker's eyes and realized that his dark blue eyes were vaguely familiar. She tried to remember where she met him. I know him, I know him. She thought. Her attacker stared back at her, boldly and intensely that she cringed with fright.

"I'll remove my hand, but you have to promise not to shout." He spoke gently to her as if talking to a toddler with tantrums. His blue eyes held hers, and his breath fanned her face. She could smell his scent, a combination of masculine cologne, musk, and breeze.

Trying to comprehend what he said, she nodded. Her eyes studied his face unhurriedly, feature by feature. From his eyes, a dark shade of blue, to the bridge of his well-sculpted nose, to his thin lips and strong jaw. Then she recognized him. Her ambiguous feelings of fear, shock, and anxiety suddenly turned to intense rage. Up close was Enrique Monteiro, her so-called fiancé!

Enrique gently removed his hand from her mouth. He felt guilty seeing the reddened marks of his hand on her face. She looked so young, helpless, and innocent at that moment. However, he knew that it was only superficial. Looks could be very deceiving.

"Are you okay?" His gaze lowered, as did his voice.

Sophia was breathing so hard, gasping for air. Her heart pounded so fast at the same time. The maniac! He was trying to kill me with fright! His body was still pinning her to the wall, so she pushed his chest forcefully, for an escape.

Avoiding his intent gaze, she scrambled on the floor, hurriedly gathering her scattered groceries and putting it back in the grocery bag. He helped her get the oranges that tossed from afar, at the same time trying to explain his unjustifiable actions.

"I'm sorry if I gave you a scare, believe me, it's not my intention to frighten you." His voice was deep and smooth.

Sophia was not listening to his explanations. She was totally ignoring him as if he didn't exist. She was so mad at him for scaring the hell out of her. Then she fled without warning.

"Hey! Where are you going?" He was alert in following her. "So this is how you treat your future husband, ignoring him, huh?" He drawled with distinct mockery. "We need to talk." His voice rang with command, but she still ignored him by increasing her pace. "I know you're mad at me for doing that stunt. Again, I apologize. Okay?"

Sophia pretended not to hear him and continued walking silently.

"Aren't you going to answer me? I apologized already." Enrique's voice was cool and lashing. His expression bordered on mockery. "Are you deaf? You are acting like a child. I'm warning you, Sophia Castello. Stop ignoring me. Talk to me like an adult. We need to discuss the conditions of our marriage. "

She suddenly turned to him and shot him a hostile glare. Her rebellious emotions got out of hand. Then she spat out the words contemptuously. "There's nothing to discuss, Mr. Monteiro because I'm not going to marry you, over my dead body! Even if you were the last man left on earth, I won't allow myself to be chained and dragged to the altar. So have the decency to leave me alone."

The force of her seething reply caught him off guard and then quick anger lit in his eyes. His eyes held hers disparagingly before she turned away, not waiting for his answer.
Sophia was so glad when she finally arrived at her Aunt Beatriz's front yard. She hurriedly entered the house and went to the kitchen. Her aunt was cooking pancakes.

"You look so upset. What's wrong?" Her aunt asked.

"He's here. Oh God...Enrique Monteiro is here." Sophia said, gasping for breath.

Her aunt heaved a sigh and smiled at her niece. "Really? Oh, that's so sweet of him. He came to fetch you, dear."

"No. Of course not."

Then the doorbell rang. Sophia's eyes widened.

"Auntie, that's him! Oh, I'm going to hide."

"No, stay there. I'm going to let him in."

"But Auntie, I don't want to talk to him. I hate him, he is so arrogant and a...a bastard!"

"Sophia, where are your manners? Talk to him at least. You owe him an explanation after walking out on him yesterday." Her aunt reasoned out and walked out of the kitchen to open the main door.

Sophia felt nervous even more.

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