It was late when he got back. Novalee was sitting on the chair reading a book by candle-light. “Aw, my sweet Jade, you look lovely in moonlight.”
She looked up from her book, “Have you been drinking?”
He took the book from her and pulled her to her feet. “So what if I have?”
“Let go.” She tried to pull herself free, but somehow in the next moment Novalee found herself on the bed with Slate on top of her. She struggled. “Stop it.”
“No I've waited long enough.” He pulled her skirts out of his way. “You owe me, or did you think I helped you out of the goodness of my heart?”
“Get off me!” When he didn't listen, she bit him. Her teeth clamped on his earring and she tore at it. He yelped. Blood dribbled down his cheek.
He smacked her. “You stupid whore.”
Novalee fell off the bed and cowered.
“You bitch! What do you think you are? Suddenly a free woman? No you are a whore, you were born a whore, and you will die a whore.” He kicked her. “I'll be back in the morning, and I expect you to be have more like you were taught.”
She heard the door shut and lock. She didn't move. She wanted to cry; instead she took a deep breath. She wasn't a prostitute anymore, she wasn't Jade Songbird, she was Novalee. Jade would cry and do what she was told. But Novalee, she stood, shaking, no, Novalee wouldn't take orders from any man. She sat on the bed and looked around the room. Slate would regret trying to have her.
When Slate came back she was ready for him. “Jade? Where are you?”
“Over here,” she said from the shadows. The curtains blocked out most of the light.
“I hope you are...” A large heavy bundle flew down and smacked him on the back. He lost his balance and fell forward against the balcony rail, which broke under his weight.
He came up for air just in time to see her throw his violin into the lake after him. “Jade... what?”
“I'm not Jade any more!” she yelled, “I'm Novalee. And no one is ever going to touch me like that again, not you, not the priests, not any one.” With that she left. She had waited years to live her life; no one was going to stop her now.