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For as long as she could remember, the beach had always been a natural enemy of Willow’s. Her short plump stature clung throughout every developmental stage of her life. While Farrah only grew taller, slenderer, and prettier, Willow’s baby fat developed into just plain fat. From a young age, she had struggled with accepting her fat rolls and cellulite. The clothes she wanted were never in her size and the clothes that were in her size made her look ugly. So, she fell into a tomboy stage that stretched to adulthood. Dark baggy clothes were a staple in her closet that loosened her obsession on what everyone else thought of her. She rarely strayed for she had a sense of loyalty and no one questioned her for it.
However, when it came to the beach, she became very self-conscious. She had tried on many swimsuits and even bought a few, but never had she went to the beach wearing one. Instead, she always opted for baggy shirts and gym shorts much to the dismay of her family and friends.
However, this time around it was…different.
All her safe choices were collecting dust in her closet on American soil. All her available choices were things she would never wear in a million years. Though she couldn’t deny the fact that the things hanging in the closet and folded in the dresser were gorgeous, her self-esteem prevented her from properly picturing herself looking decent if she wore them.
On this day, she wanted to get out of the house for being in the same proximity as her husband wasn’t a good idea considering what happened last night—or at least, what shouldn’t have happened. She effectively dodged him for much of the day or at least, she wanted to believe. Somehow though a tiny piece of her thought her husband was purposely giving her space. She would never know unless she asked and that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
So, she decided to go to the beach and dressed herself in a 1950s-styled lime green halter-strapped swimsuit with white polka dots that hung nicely in the closet. She even found a pair of white sunglasses and sandals. Soon, she found herself on the private beach lying out an jumbo orange towel before she settled down onto it. The sunlight beamed down upon her, soaking into her brown skin. It warmed her like a snuggly blanket. Pleasant ocean breezes licked her from time to time. The rustling sound of the ocean streamed into her ears—a sweet lullaby that coaxed her into a nap.
Much later, she woke underneath the comfortable shade of a beach umbrella. Her eyebrows scrunched together in confusion as she gazed up at the object that had seemed to have somehow magically appeared while she slept. She sat upright, peering all around her for the magician who pulled such a trick. A glimpse of something in the turquoise waters she noticed from the corner of her eye caught her attention. She arched an eyebrow as she applied her full attention to the breathtaking scenery, cocking her head to the side.
Then something—no, someone—resurfaced from the vibrant depths, rolling waves crashing against his backside.
Willow’s eyebrows shot upward in pure awe as Sebastian sauntered back to shore, a pair of dark blue swim shorts hanging deliciously low on his hips. She pulled the sunglasses to the top of her head, her jaw slowly down as she witnessed what played out before her. His flesh dripped with droplets that glistened in the sun like bright stars, giving him an unearthly glow of a Greek sea deity. He smoothed back his damp short brown hair with his fingers as he advanced in direction.
After picking up her jaw, she cleared her throat and put her sunglasses back on before he finally arrived in front of her. He stood at the edge of the umbrella’s shadow, wet skin still glimmering in the sun’s rays.
“Sleep well,” he questioned.
She bit her bottom lip and nodded.
“Mm hm,” Willow hummed.
“Good,” Sebastian replied. “Now get up.”
Willow blinked in surprise. “Wh-what?”
“Get up,” he ordered.
She snorted at his command before she reclined back onto the towel, adjusting her sunglasses as an added move of dismissal. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply through her nostrils, attempting to relax. However, her effort was futile as a strong hand clasped around her arm and pulled her up. She stumbled to her feet with a yelp and before she could even comprehend what the hell was going on, Sebastian bent his knees and hauled her over his shoulder.
He turned on his heels, marching from underneath the shade of the umbrella with a protesting Willow who kicked and screamed as he marched towards the waters. His hold on her was firm even as her legs flailed wildly and her hands pounded into his slick muscular back like a tribal drum. Sebastian waded chest-deep into the waters before he released her suddenly, which mixed terribly with her violent reaction. When she bucked against him in opposition, it caused her to fall off his shoulder and plunging into the water with a shocked scream.
She emerged from the salty waters, gasping for air. Her sunglasses now belonged to the ocean. Willow balled up her fist and punched him hard in the back. However, it did more damage to her than it did to him. Sebastian turned to face her with a charming grin that almost immediately washed away any ounce of anger she had for him in that very moment. Nonetheless, she narrowed her eyes at him.
“You’re a bastard,” she sneered before she swirled around, wading angrily back to shore.
Strong arms wrapped around her waist, holding her firm to him. A strong chin rested on her right shoulder, his lips brushing against her ear.
“Is it wrong for a husband to want to have a little fun with his wife,” he breathed into her ear. Her eyelids slid shut, her body shuddering against him.
“Not when the wife’s husband is being a dick,” she said, trying to resist the urge to melt into him. He countered with a husky chuckle as she managed to break away from him. She turned to face him and he gazed down at her with brilliant green eyes that shined with humor and what she feared even more: adoration.
“Don’t,” she said in a way that could very well be considered pleadingly.
He arched an eyebrow. “Don’t what?”
“Look at me as if everything is alright because it’s not, Sebastian,” Willow said. “Just because we fucked last night doesn’t between it’s time to break out the friendship bracelets and sing kumbaya while I braid your hair.”
Sebastian ran his fingers through his wet hair. “I never considered having braids, but I’m always willing to try something new.”
Willow looked at him unamused. “Is this the part where I’m supposed to laugh?”
His eyes bored into hers for the longest moment, a thoughtful expression etching itself onto his face. “Maybe this is the part where you punish me—where you teach me a lesson.”
Willow’s head reeled back in surprise and a tiny gasp escaped her lips as she absorbed the weight of what he was implying. Her eyes frantically scanned his face, searching for a lie or a joke, but all she caught was raw truth.
He wanted to be punished for his sin by her hand.
He expected it.
Deep down, he probably believed that he needed it.
In that moment, her bitter anger was replaced with sympathy. Her face softened as she gazed at him, her brain piecing together all that she knew to be true of her husband. He was a creature that thrived on pain and suffering because that was all he knew.
He suffered the pain of tragically losing his first wife and daughter.
He suffered a childhood of his mother’s hatred of him.
He suffered a lifetime of his father’s cruelty and coldness.
He suffered underneath the iron grip of Juliette.
“I’m not your fucked-up father or that bitch Juliette, Sebastian,” Willow said. “I’m nothing like them. I could never hurt or punish you like they have.”
“This rift between you and me is torturous. I don't know how much longer I can take this...take us being on opposite sides." His voice was gruff and restrainted as if he were holding himself back, as if he were trying to bury his feelings like skeleton bones in the backyard and he knew she was watching.
“And who exactly was responsible for that? Because it sure as fuck wasn’t me,” Willow shouted, losing her patience. “You killed an innocent man.”
“I DID IT TO PROTECT YOU,” Sebastian exploded.
Willow widened her eyes in shock and fear at his apoplectic outburst. Her heart jumped into her throat and she retreated backwards, splashing water as she flailed her arms when she nearly lost her footing. He had only ever his voice at her once before. He had only ever lost his composure in her presence once before. Sebastian was the embodiment of cool, calm, and collected since then and until now.
His nostrils flared as he breathed in short spurts like an enraged bull. His broad shoulders rose and fell with every inhale and exhale. The veins in his neck and face bulged against his reddened face.
She should've been scared at his outburst. She should've gotten as far away from him as possible, but she didn't.
Deep down, she knew he could never hurt her.
Then in a flash, his fury was gone.
His face was now a perfected emotionless mask while his eyes raged with all types of emotions. It didn’t take much for her to figure out that a war was raging within them. An internal battle between Sebastian the monster and Nathaniel the man with no victory in sight for either. In that moment, she understood him. She understood that when it came to her, he was ripping himself apart to find a perfect balance of monster and man to keep her—to fight for her.
His need to protect was severely misguided, but it was still there ever present with no intentions of going away.
She understood now why he did was he did.
Simon caused her suffering and Sebastian protected her by removing Simon from her life. He protected her because he knew what it was like to be thought of as less than. He knew what it was like to be defenseless to the cruel intentions of others. So, he protected her even though he couldn’t protect himself.
Willow understood now, but that didn’t mean she agreed with it.
That didn’t mean she accepted it and she was far from forgiving him, but there was this internal need to protect him in her own way and she decided that she would act upon it.
Sebastian was the first to move as he waded past her silently to go back to shore. A cold blank expression radiated from his face as he passed her. She turned halfway to watch him go. She knew he wanted to be alone, so she didn't follow him.
Willow wasn't sure what to say or do to him if she had.
She needed time.
She needed to think.
She swam a few yards out and reclined backwards, floating on her back against the sway of the water ocean. She stared at the brilliant blue sky dotted with cottonball clouds and surrendered herself to her troubling thoughts.
She thought of him,
She thought of his past.
She thought of their marriage.
She thought of their future.
Willow’s brain scrambled to make sense of him—of everything.
Together they were polar opposites birthed into different circumstances and yet they somehow fit. It wasn’t a perfect fit. Their jagged edges were unforgiving to each other, but hey were both stubborn to solve their puzzle of a marriage.
A spark of realization ignited inside of her.
She needed to try and accept him back into her life bit by bit. And if she couldn't live with his sins then she would walk away once and for all knowing that at least, she tried.
Eventually, she swam back to shore. She folded the beach umbrella and picked up her towel. She slipped on her flip-flops before retreating to the veranda. She leaned the umbrella against the veranda’s railing and made her way inside with her jumbo towel slung over her shoulder. She froze as she stared at the destruction that awaited her.
The floor was a minefield of scattered glass vases and overturned furniture.
Sebastian did all this?
He was rapidly unraveling and now she was terrified. Now for herself, but for him. A rush of panic overcame her and she ran through the wrecked living room, racing towards his room while praying that he was still in one piece. However, her right foot slipped on a patch of broken glass which caused her to lose her balance and fall forward. She landed on her hands and knees, crying out as the glass shards cut into her.
Sebastian barged into the living room and quickly went to her, scooping her off the floor and into his arms like a bride. He took her into his bathroom and placed her onto the closed toilet seat. He took ahold of her hands to survey the damage. There were tiny bleeding cuts on her palms. It wasn’t too bad. It was tolerable. However, her knees were a different story. Impressive cuts dotted her kneecaps. Her knees stung and burned, but it was nothing excruciating.
His nostrils flared as he exhaled angrily.
Sebastian straightened his backbone and ran his fingers through his thick short hair roughly, cursing as he went to the cabinet underneath his bathroom sink and retrieved an impressive first aid kit.
“It’s not that bad, Sebastian,” Willow assured, sniffling.
“You’re bleeding,” he said gruffly. “That’s bad enough.”
He took out the necessary items before he dropped to his knees in front of her and stared to clean her wounds. He began with her palms and cleaned them with peroxide and cottonballs. The liquid stung a little as it fizzled and bubbled in her tiny cuts. His calloused hands were careful and gentle as he dabbed and swiped in light strokes, the cottonballs transforming from a snowy white to a light pink from the blood.
She gazed at his face hardened with a look of concentration, guilt, and self-directed anger.
He was furious with himself.
She remembered the day she found him beaten and battered by Juliette’s doing. He ended their relationship because he thought it would spare her from having a weak and injured man as her protector, as her lover. There was this constant need inside of him to be a perfect protector and soldier. Losing his cool was a weakness he thought he couldn’t afford.
Willow could see that now.
“This isn’t your fault.”
His green eyes cut to her face at her words. “You know that’s a lie.”
“It’s my fault. I ran across the room knowing there was scattered glass. I shouldn’t have done that,” she said.
Sebastian snorted sharply as he proceeded to clean up her left knee. “Stop making excuses for me.”
“I’m not making excuses,” she replied, wincing at the treatment of her sore wounds. He was very gentle, but it still hurt.
He kept quiet and kept on with his task.
“Look at me, Sebastian,” Willow asked softly—worriedly.
She needed to do something and she needed to do it fast before she lost him to the turmoil he battled within himself.
Willow reached forward and grasped his bearded chin, tilting it upward so she could see his intense eyes.
In that moment, she was unsure of what to say, so she leaned forward and slammed her mouth against his. A good kiss was worth a thousand words and she hoped that he’d listen to what she had to say. Her tongue slithered into his mouth hungrily and navigated the course of the desperate kiss with eager flicks and bold swirls. She shuddered as she gave into her emotions and desires, pouring everything she had into that kiss. Their tongues danced to each other. Their mouths worked in unison like a perfect partnership.
She wanted to show him that she was going to take care of him to keep true to their wedding vows that she had planned on walking away from.
She wanted to show him that she loved him.
She wanted to show him that she wanted him.
She wanted to show him that she needed him—that they needed each other.
Willow broke the kiss, panting heavily. She pressed her forehead against his.
“We’re going to be okay,” she whispered.
It's been a little while. At the end of the school year, there was lots of drama at my job. My best friend and colleague is being moved to a different grade level and is being replaced by a new teacher who is absolutely crazy. My muse was absolutely shot because I was stressing over how I have to deal with this woman next school year. She is absolutely terrible.
Now I am slowly getting my muse back.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Willow is starting to understand why Sebastian did what he did. That's a good start, but Sebastian is losing control of himself. :<
Hopefully, I can post His Mercy very soon! Have a wonderful Saturday!