MOTHER BEFORE WIFEby Melissa Brown
Release Date: February 4, 2016
So many secrets. Nothing but secrets.I started another life with a new husband, thirteen new sister wives and a new
place to call home.
But the secrets weigh on me, on all of us.
And every secret leads back to the Prophet the, self-proclaimed, mouthpiece of
God. The man I’ve worshiped since childhood, the man we obey without question.
And he’s the man who will destroy us all.
I must reveal his secrets.
Prove his betrayal, his lies and his deceit.
I will not be silenced, no matter how hard he tries.
And I will never give up. Ever.
The Prophet linked his hands behind his back, tilting his head a bit as he studied me. “The cake is delicious. Did you make it?”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it, but no, Sarah is the baker of the family. I do make a delicious roast chicken.”
“I should like to try it sometime.”
“I’d be honored.”
Another pause, and my heart raced. There had to be a reason for this conversation. Perhaps he would explain his actions, although the chances of that were slim. The Prophet answered to no one. Who was I to think he’d feel any obligation to explain himself to me?
Get a grip, Aspen. You’re nothing special, just a woman, like any other on this compound.
“My mother is certainly taken with you.”
“Thank you. I like her very much.”
The Prophet stared back at the bench where Jorjina was watching birds chirping from the tree above her. “Well, she always has liked Paul’s wives.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, wondering if I’d misunderstood his last statement.
“How’s your dog?” he asked, clearing his throat. When he turned his attention back toward me, his face hardened.
“Scout?” I asked, my throat dry. “He’s fine. He’s off playing with Jeremiah, I’m sure. They’re attached at the hip.” I attempted to divert the conversation in another direction, but I failed.
“Yes, your boy seems rather attached, doesn’t he?”
“They’re the best of friends.”
“You know, I was surprised to see the dog off the grounds of his home. Is he allowed to roam?”
“No, sir, he normally stays in our yard. Someone left the gate open and he just got out, I guess.”
“Ah, I see.”
“I’ve asked my sister wives to double-check that they always lock the gate, so it shouldn’t happen again.”
Please understand what I’m saying. Please don’t punish my family for what I saw . . . what I think I saw.
“I should hope so. It would be a shame if he wandered away; it seems your little boy would surely follow. You said yourself they’re attached at the hip.” He tipped his head forward and raised both eyebrows. “Am I making myself clear?”
Jeremiah? No! Don’t you touch my baby!
I swallowed hard as sweat popped out on my forehead, my neck, my hands. The Prophet was threatening me, threatening to harm my little boy. In sheer panic, I gave the only answer I could possibly offer.
“Good.” He clasped his hands together. “Now, I believe I’ll have another slice of cake.”
He stared at me, waiting for me to serve him. I was nothing if not perceptive to expectations. The Prophet had threatened me, and then demanded dessert. His eyes were dull and lifeless, as if threatening to harm my child was just another part of his daily role as Prophet.
In that moment, something shifted within me. If the Prophet felt the need to threaten me, to threaten the life of my youngest child, then he was up to no good. This became quite clear.
And at that realization, I grew angry. Furious.
For weeks, I’d hoped that I was wrong, that I misunderstood. But I knew without a shadow of a doubt that if I’d misinterpreted what I’d witnessed, then there would be no need for the warning that had just taken place.
So I harnessed my bravery within, took a breath, and looked him square in the eye. “Of course, dogs do have minds of their own, don’t they?”
The Prophet’s jaw tensed and his Adam’s apple bounced as he swallowed. “I suppose they do.”
“We try to control him, but he’s just an animal, after all.”
The Prophet stared at me in silence.
“I’ll get that cake for you,” I said with a nod, and went to retrieve a plate with the largest piece I could find as my heart pounded furiously in my chest.
As I walked back to join him, I felt strong, powerful. I’d called his bluff and gotten away with it.
Or had I? Panic replaced my confidence as my heart continued to thump so hard within me that I felt my lungs could deflate completely. The pressure within my chest was almost unbearable.
What on earth did I just do? Have I put my baby at risk? What kind of mother am I?
Apologize, Aspen. Repent! Make things right!
I returned to the Prophet, placed the plate in his hands, and opened my mouth to speak. Before I could utter a single syllable, he gripped the plate with one hand and my forearm with the other. He squeezed hard, painfully, and I gasped.
“Watch your step, Aspen. Your life can change in an instant.”
“Yes, sir.” I looked around the yard to see Paul watching my interaction with his brother. A concerned and confused look crossed his handsome face as he studied me.
Keep sweet. Keep sweet. Keep sweet.
“If you’ll excuse me, I should join Paul and my sister wives.”
“Of course.” The Prophet nodded, releasing my arm and turning his attention to the cake on his plate. He glanced down and smiled. “Ah, a corner piece. My favorite.”
He plunged his fork into the thick icing and placed the large bite of cake in his mouth, such a carefree action considering the tension that loomed between us just seconds before. While I required every ounce of strength within me to join my husband and appear unruffled, the Prophet had no trouble going about his business and enjoying his dessert.
A disturbing thought came to me as I walked to join Paul. Perhaps I don’t know the Prophet at all.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES
Wife Number Seven (Book #1)
Melissa Brown was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois and is the mother of two fantastic kids. She’s an avid reader who enjoys making handmade gifts for her family and friends, as well as baking and painting. Melissa has an unhealthy obsession with pop culture. She speaks fluent movie quotes from the 1980s (John Hughes = genius), reads celebrity gossip magazines and never misses an episode of Scandal. She enjoys writing contemporary romance, romantic suspense and young adult novels.All of Melissa’s books are currently available exclusively through Amazon.com and are part of the Kindle Unlimited Program.