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Fortitude - Chapter XLV
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A silent, heavy tension filled the room, broken only by the hushed, crackling fireplace. All eyes remained fixed upon Ashton, waiting for him to make the next move. He studied me a moment longer, then gripped the armrests of his chair and slowly rose to his feet.
I stood my ground as he approached, struggling to read him. A frown pulled at his hardened features, and every step seemed to fuel his anger. Then he stopped within arm's reach, staring with his cold, glaring green eyes. My hands tensed beneath my cloak, ready to shield Shayne from potential attack.
But Ashton's gaze never left mine—not until he raised his hand and struck me across the face.
I could have avoided the blow, but I let it come. I even let myself cry out, stumbling back as I cradled my burning cheek. I knew Ashton drew some twisted pleasure from such a display. I wanted him to underestimate me, to believe he held complete control.
"Leave us," I heard him address the guards. They q