Copyright © 2016 by Alice Rachel
Cover art © 2016 by Alice Rachel
Edited by Krista Venero from Mountains Wanted Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any way or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without written permission by the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, or incidents resembling events, locales, or persons, living or dead, are coincidental. They originated from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.
William’s short story starts when he meets Thia for the first time, at age fourteen.
“William, please come downstairs,” Mother calls.
The Clays are here. Today, I am to meet their daughter. Father said I’m allowed to reject her if she’s not to my taste, but he hopes I’ll like her because he has already made a deal with her father. I asked him about it, but he refused to say anything more.
I’m wearing a tailored suit with a tie, all black except for my green button-down shirt. My hair is short. I don’t like it that way. Next time, I’ll get the haircut I want. Mother doesn’t get to choose what I should look like.
I’ve never met Thia before. I hope she’s pretty. Mother has introduced me to some of her friends’ daughters too; I didn’t like any of them.
I head downstairs, stand up straight, and enter the living room. My parents are talking with the Clays. I look at them, and my eyes fall on the girl. She’s short; I like that. Her hair is pinned down and gathered into a ponytail, but curly locks have escaped the tie like rebellious strands refusing to obey. She’s pale, deathly white, really. I’ll just have her join the tanning salon when we are married. I like them with bronzed skin, long, straight hair, and curvy bodies. This girl has none of that. She’s only thirteen though. Maybe she’ll fill out a bit by the time we wed. No matter what, by the time I’m done with her makeover, she’ll fit my standards. I was told she was mine, which means I can mold her into being exactly what I like.
I give her a once-over, and she blushes. I nod a greeting and keep my eyes on her. She squirms as if she’s scared of me. Good! Fear keeps girls in their rightful place.
“William,” Mother says, “please, come closer.”
I glare at her. I don’t like it when she orders me around. I step forward anyway and hold out my hand to Mr. Clay. I don’t look at his wife; she doesn’t matter. In my peripheral vision, I see Thia studying me, blushing all the way down her throat. I cast one single look at her and smirk. She likes what she’s looking at, I can tell.
Three years later
It’s been three years since I met Thia. I’ve only seen her once, and I don’t even know what the point of the meeting was. Probably just Father checking that Clay is still a good asset for his company before making more plans for the future. I don’t know why we haven’t seen those people again since then, but Father says the wedding is still going to happen.
Mother has invited a friend of hers to come over today. I’m annoyed with her. I was supposed to hang out with Todd, but now I’m stuck here having to make small talk with those females. The woman has brought her daughter, Joy. I’ve spent a few afternoons with that girl before. She’s sixteen years old; I’m seventeen. She’s a dimwit; I’m smart. End of story. I asked her questions about politics, and she just stared at me with her eyes wide open. She knows nothing about our state’s current affairs, nothing about literature, nothing about anything. Her brain is empty. Either that or she’s too wary to talk and speak her mind. No matter what, she’s a bore, and I’m irritated with Mother for forcing another dull afternoon on me.
“William, could you take Joy for a walk?” Mother asks. “The weather is so beautiful today.”
I’m not going to take that girl for a walk. I have other plans. I smirk at Mother and nod my agreement anyway. I stand up, take Joy’s hand, and lead her up the stairs, straight to my room. Mother is too busy talking to notice where Joy and I are heading. I open the door and let Joy in before I close the door and she looks around for a few seconds.
My room is three hundred square feet, with marine blue walls, a king bed, a desk, six bookshelves, a couch, a walk-in closet, and a flat-screen TV on the wall facing my bed. I take Joy’s hand and lead her to the couch. She hasn’t sat down yet, but I’m already kissing her. When she doesn’t protest, I run my hands all over her and push her against the couch. She lies down underneath me. I take my shirt off and then her dress. Things happen fast, and I lose my virginity right here on the couch, deflowering Joy in the process. She makes a tiny sound as if she’s in pain, but I don’t stop.
When we’re done, I ask her to put her clothes back on. If Mother finds out what I did to her friend’s daughter, she’ll have a fit. Not that I care what she thinks, but I’ve just ruined this girl for all other men to come. Mother won’t be happy, but Father will probably give me a congratulatory pat on the back.
Joy sits up and looks at me. Her cheeks are flushed. She bats her lashes and bites her lower lip. She probably thinks this is it, that we’re getting married. I already have a fiancée. I don’t tell her that though. I want to make sure we can play this game again if I feel like it. Make her believe she stands a chance, and she’ll do anything I want for as long as I want.
I smile at her, and she averts her eyes when I put my pants and my shirt back on. I watch while she gets dressed, then I take her back downstairs.
“Be quiet,” I whisper in her ear.
I lead her out the back door. I take Joy for a walk like Mother asked me to. We don’t talk. She has nothing to say. Her words don’t matter to me anyway. My interest lies elsewhere—right under her dress—and she knows it. I take her hand in mine, make her feel secure. We walk around the block, and I take her back into the house.
Mother stands up when she sees us. “Did you have a nice walk?” she asks.
Joy blushes just a bit. I give Mother a snide grin.
“Yes, Mother. It felt really good. Didn’t it, Joy?”
Joy flushes crimson red, all the way down her neck. My smile widens.
My father’s driver John drove me to school this morning like he does every single day. There’ve been rumors of a new student joining our class today. I enter the room and sit in the back. Todd joins me and takes the seat to my right.
“Did you have a nice weekend, Fox?” he asks. “I thought we were supposed to hang out, but you never showed up. A phone call would have been nice, you know.”
My lips curl up. “I was busy.”
Todd glances at me. “Busy doing what?”
“I think you mean ‘doing whom,’” I reply.
“Ohhh!” He waggles his eyebrows, chuckles, and holds his palm up for a high-five. I give him one, and he laughs. “Definitely better than hanging out.”
Mr. Sanchez walks into the room, and Todd opens his backpack to pull out his books. The new student is right behind our teacher, and Mr. Sanchez asks us to stand up and greet him.
“Please, introduce yourself,” he says to the new guy.
The student scans the room slowly. He’s studying us just as we’re observing him.
“I’m Jordan Wilcox,” he mumbles as if he can’t quite get the words out. “I used to go to school in Syracuse, but this establishment is rated much higher, so I asked to be transferred here instead.”
A few students whoop in agreement, and Mr. Sanchez asks them to please calm down. The new student looks familiar somehow, but I can’t quite place where I may have seen him before.
“Thank you, Jordan. You may be seated now. There’s still a seat in the back next to William. Mr. Fox, would you be so kind as to show your new classmate around the school after class?”
I nod reluctantly. Jordan comes to sit next to me. I hold out my hand to shake his. He takes it with a strong grip and rakes his other hand through his hair. Then he sits down and pulls some fountain pens and papers out of his bag.
During class, I look at him from the corner of my eye. He’s going to fail this course. He hasn’t written anything down. He’s just holding his head up with his hand as if he’s incredibly bored or annoyed. He even sighs at times as if he can’t be bothered to care. I smirk at the teacher’s comment about the poor, and when I look at Jordan, he narrows his eyes at me. Weirdo! I could swear I’ve already seen his sulky face before.
Two years later
My parents have thrown a party for my nineteenth birthday. Every month they invite people over. It’s just a way for my family to brag and show off their wealth. However, these are not the parties where my father invites girls over while my mother pretends not to know what’s going on. These are real social events meant to dazzle their so-called friends. Tonight is different though; tonight is about me.
My parents have officially accepted Thia as my promised fiancée, so the Clays were invited as well. Thia is standing by the buffet. She’s nibbling on some appetizers. I’m glad she’s eating; she still needs to fill out—especially her small breasts. She lifts her eyes to look at me, but she doesn’t smile. She’s not like the other girls I know. She never tries to impress me. She never beams at me with joy so overbearing that it irritates me. And there are times when she just plain ignores me. I’ve seen her get irritated at Mother’s comments too, even if she tries to hide her anger. I like that. Mother always pisses me off.
Thia finally showed some enthusiasm when I took her to the ball at my school. In the car, we started talking about books. I’ve never discussed literature with a girl before. When I meet a chick, I usually just take her to my room, or some hotel, and hope she’ll shut up while I find my pleasure.
I turn my eyes away and notice Joy staring at me. She’s standing against the wall next to the door. When our eyes meet, she smiles. I walk up to her and nod politely as if she were just a member of my parents’ entourage and not someone I sleep with on a regular basis.
“Is that her?” she asks while looking at Thia.
“Yes, stop staring.”
“She’s not pretty,” Joy adds in a tone that implies the exact opposite.
I look her straight in the eyes. “She’s prettier than you. Jealousy does not become you at all, my dear Joy.”
Her face twists under the insult. “There’s no need to be cruel,” she says, her voice breaking on the last word.
“You’ve just insulted my fiancée. What other response do you expect?”
I cast a look at Thia. Her back is turned to us now. She’s leaning over the table while talking to the server. Joy uses the opportunity to run her fingers over my lower arm. I pull away.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing.” Her eyes carry a very specific message that she sends me every time we’re around each other.
My lips tilt up. “Go to my room. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Joy bats her lashes twice and nods. When she turns around to exit the room, I steal a glance at Thia. She’s talking to her brother now and laughing. No matter how much fun I’ve had with Joy, I have to break it off. She’s tedious, and I’m losing interest.
Thia has remained distant though. Not that I’ve made much of an effort to communicate with her, but she has piqued my curiosity. She’s much more interesting than most girls I’ve met—definitely more intriguing than Joy.
I head upstairs and find Joy in my room. She’s not the only girl I’m seeing. Although, apparently, she believes she is. Her feelings for me make her so gullible, I almost feel bad. It’s almost too easy.
Sadly, I can’t take my time tonight; I have to rush things. We can’t be up here for too long. I tell her that, and she obliges me like she does every single time. She probably still thinks we’re getting married. But when we’re done, I tell her this is the last time she can come to my room.
She looks at me and blinks. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m done with you. You can go back downstairs now.”
“No, I deserve an explanation,” she says.
“You and I,” I reply, motioning with my finger between the two of us, “are done. For good. You can leave now.”
She holds back a sob, but tears come pouring out of her eyes. Why do they always have to cry? I hate it. Every time I meet a girl, she takes it to mean so much more than it is. I tell them I won’t marry them—after the fact of course, not beforehand; I’m not that stupid. I tell them I’m already engaged, and they break down in tears because I’ve supposedly ruined their reputation for life. I can’t stand it. They should have thought about that before joining me in bed.
Joy is no different. She’s sobbing so hard now that I have to hold my hands to my ears to quiet the noise.
“Stop crying!” I snap at her.
She swallows hard and tries to restrain herself.
“I gave you my virtue,” she says. “No one’s going to marry me now.”
“They can’t prove you’ve been touched,” I exclaim, exasperated.
Of course, that’s a lie. The promised fiancé always checks the sheets for blood after the fact. If the girl doesn’t bleed, he will cast her out.
Joy stares at me with her eyes wide open like a deer before the kill. “William,” she hiccups, “I love you. I’ve always loved you. Please, don’t do this to me. I gave you everything I had.”
Is she for real? I laugh right in her face. I can’t control myself. She’s just ridiculous. Her features contort with sudden anger.
“Joy, I’m going to marry Thia,” I say.
“What does she have to offer you that I don’t?” Joy shouts in my face. “She didn’t even look at you all evening.”
My nostrils flare. I won’t allow her to raise her voice at me. I tell her exactly that.
“You’ve ruined my life. I can raise my voice all I want,” she shrieks.
I take a warning step toward her, towering over her frame. “Do not talk to me like that ever again!” I snarl in her face. “Thia is smart and beautiful. You are none of those things. Now, leave!”
“My parents will hear about this,” she threatens me.
I laugh harder now. “Are you going to make this affair public, then? Joy, if you talk about this, everyone will cheer for me. No one expects men to remain virgins until marriage. And you’re not promised to anyone. I didn’t do anything illegal. Your parents, however, will tear you apart if they know you’ve been touched.”
She blinks at me. She knows I’m right.
“You are a despicable man. I never want to see you again,” she barks.
I smile at her and wave her goodbye. Good riddance!
She puffs out her anger. Her hands have turned to fists on both sides of her body. “I hate you, William Fox. Someday, you will pay for your wicked ways.”
And with that, she storms out of my room and runs to the bathroom across the hall, probably to fix her makeup and salvage the little dignity she has left. I shake my head at her when she bangs the door on her way out. Foolish girl!
I grab my tie and put it back on. Then I straighten my suit and join the rest of the party downstairs. Thia is sitting on a chair, looking bored. I head her way, and when I stand in front of her, she raises her head.
“Would you care for a dance?” I ask.
She nods without a single smile and gives me her hand. By the time Thia is wrapped in my arms, Joy has fixed herself up and come back downstairs. I pull Thia into a deep kiss while locking my eyes on Joy’s, and I watch as Joy’s face contorts with barely contained pain before she turns away to leave the room.
Two months later
Everything is so screwed up! Nothing’s going as planned. I’m sitting on the bed in the hotel room I had reserved for Thia and me. The place is ransacked. I got so mad that I took my anger out on everything in this place. The pillows are torn apart, the lamps are broken, and the bathroom mirror is shattered. It felt good to lash out.
Thia will pay for what she did to me. I go down to the lobby, pick up the phone, and call John to tell him to come and pick me up. I tell the person at the desk that I was attacked in my own room. It’s unacceptable. He will hear from my father. The man apologizes, cowering so much in front of me that his head buries itself in his shoulders. He and everyone on staff will lose their jobs for letting Jordan Wilcox into the hotel.
I storm out of this place and wait for John on the sidewalk. I pace up and down the street until he gets here. Then I step into the car without greeting him.
“Take me to my father,” I snap.
“As you wish, Sir.” He gives me a quick look through the rearview mirror and drives without talking.
My father keeps his office in the camp closest to Eboracum City, about thirty minutes away from here heading north. He’s always working. Each day, he leaves early in the morning and comes home around midnight. I hardly ever see him.
When we arrive at the camp, John parks the car. I step out and head straight to my father’s office. I turn the knob and walk in to find Father is sitting behind his desk with an officer standing in front of him. Father’s eyes shift from the officer to me with a quick flash of irritation.
“What is it, William? It’s called knocking, you know. You can’t just barge in here whenever you feel like it. This is a place of business, and I’m having a meet—”
“Thia was kidnapped earlier tonight,” I cut him off without apologizing for intruding upon his so-called important business.
“What?” Father stands up from his chair. He shoos the officer away with a motion of his hand. “Explanations, William. I don’t have all night.”
The officer leaves, and I explain the circumstances.
“What’s that kid’s name? The one who took her, do you know his name?” Father asks.
I nod. “He goes to my school. His name is Jordan Wilcox.”
Fox’s brow furrows. “Wilcox, as in computer security genius Neil Wilcox?”
I shrug. No idea who that guy is, and I don’t care.
“Let me check the school’s files,” Father adds.
He sits back down in his leather chair, logs onto his computer, and accesses the school’s records after just a few seconds. His eyes widen.
“Is that him?” he asks me while turning the screen toward me.
I lean over the desk and see Wilcox’s face. My hand twitches in response. “Yes, Father.”
“I should have had him killed when I had the chance!” Father exclaims, punching his fist on the desk.
“What do you mean, Father?”
He ignores my question, picks up the phone, and dials one single digit. “Bring me Richards, now.”
Father’s features turn livid when the person on the other end of the line replies. “I don’t care that he might be sleeping, Smith. I pay my guards to work around the clock. Tell Richards to bring his ass up here, now! Don’t make me ask you twice!” He slams the phone down in anger.
“Father, what’s going on?” I ask.
“Nothing that concerns you, William. Just go home. I will find the girl. It’s only a matter of time.”
Father’s cold gaze cuts me off. There’s no arguing with him when he gets mad.
“Fine!” I sigh with irritation. “Good night, Father.”
“Good night, Son.”
I leave my father’s office, kicking the door on my way out. I hate it when he treats me like a child and hides things from me. Something’s going on—something other than what I came here for.
I cross the hall, take the elevator, and go down to the main courtyard. The door opens up automatically, and I step out. It’s nighttime, but the yard is lit. I walk over to the front gate, and from the corner of my eye, I see someone move just as I’m about to get out. The person is standing just a few feet away from me. His back is propped up against the wall and his arms are crossed over his chest. His eyes are closed as if he’s relaxing. And I recognize him right away—Jordan Wilcox. I frown. What the hell is he doing here?
No, this can’t be right. Of course, Wilcox wouldn’t be here. But this guy is his exact replica; he looks just like him. That’s why Jordan has always seemed so familiar; I had already seen his twin brother here before. That’s why Father recognized Jordan’s picture so quickly, too.
I want answers, and I want them now. If Father won’t give them to me, I will pull them out of this guy. I take a step toward him when someone shouts from across the yard, “Eh, Richards, Fox wants you in his office, now.”
The guy opens his eyes, sighs heavily, and mumbles something I don’t understand but sounds like an insult to my father. I take another step toward him, but he shoots me a nasty glare as if I were the one giving him orders. He passes by me without looking back, and I stand here for a few minutes. Father owes me some serious explanations.
“We can get you another girl if this one doesn’t come back, William,” Mother tells me.
We’re sitting on the leather couch in my parents’ living room. She doesn’t understand. I don’t want another girl. I can get all the girls I want, for goodness’ sake. That’s not the problem here. Being married to Thia won’t prevent me from going around if she’s not to my taste. But Thia is mine. She was promised to me when I was fourteen years old. She belongs to me, and I’m not going to let some good-for-nothing criminal take her away.
I saw the look she gave him at the gala. She’s infatuated with him, and it sickens me. She’s mine. She had no right to do what she did. Chi is not even worth a quarter of my inheritance. He’s a lascivious scoundrel and a murderer on top of that. I will find Thia, and she will pay for what she did to me. I shouldn’t have to step back and let him get her. I shouldn’t have to take a bow and watch him steal what’s mine. I simply refuse to let him win.
When I find him, I will make sure Father puts him down. He’s just some loser who can’t even afford this game he has bet on. He’s not good enough to attract a girl of his own, so he had to take mine.
I wanted to break his neck when I saw him kissing Thia under the Arch. She didn’t even push him away. She just took it, as if that kiss was his to give, as if it were his right. But it’s wrong. All of this is wrong, and I won’t accept it.
“She’s not worth the trouble, William,” Mother says. “She’s lucky enough that we accepted her in our family. I know your father has high hopes for Clay, but I’m sure he can find some other man to do the job. I have friends who have daughters too, and I can guarantee you that they are a lot more beautiful than Thia. She’s not worth the investigation your father is instigating just to find her.”
Mother is irritating me. I’ve spent enough time with Thia to know how smart she is. She’s not some half-wit. I don’t need some trophy wife who can’t align three words. I can get any girl to lay down at my feet or in my bed. That’s not what I want. Thia is a challenge I plan to take on. She has rejected me, and I shall prove to her that she can never scorn me like that again.
“Honestly, I pity the girl for getting kidnapped by some low-class criminal, but she’s no longer ours to worry about. You just turned nineteen, and you need a wife worthy of your status.”
I sigh heavily. I’ve had enough. Enough of her lecturing me constantly, over and over again about this. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours since Thia left, and Mother is already pushing some ignorant girl on me, just to please one of her friends. I should put her back in her place. I don’t have to listen to her, and I’m sick of her malicious comments.
I only respond to Father, and Father is siding with me on this. Thia is to be mine. Father plans on granting her father some prominent position he won’t tell me about. But if I reveal Thia wasn’t really kidnapped and that she actually agreed to run away with Chi, my parents might call off the wedding. Then Chi will have won. I won’t let it happen. He will never get what’s mine.
The officers have found Thia and brought her home. Talking to her riled me up. How could she just stand there and look at me without apologizing or showing submission?
The phone rings in the living room. I head downstairs and answer it, but I don’t recognize the voice on the other end of the line. She says her name is Emily, but I don’t know anyone by that name. I hope she’s not one of those psychos I’ve slept with. I should really choose them more carefully. Some of them are so desperate to get married that I can hardly pry them off of me after introducing them to my bed. Seriously, I have higher standards than marrying some random half-wit just because she’s willing to put out. Thia, though, had the gall to push me away. The girl is feisty. I like it. Breaking her into obedience will be a fun game, and I’m all play.
“What’s this about?” I’m this close to hanging up on Emily, whoever she is, but what she says next stops me.
“What the hell do you mean, ‘Thia left?’” I shout into the receiver.
Emily explains the situation: Thia ran away to go find Chi again. And her mother helped her this time. Somehow Thia’s betrayal stings. It affects me more than it did on our prenuptial night. The fire inside me grows and turns into fury. I try to tame it. I try to keep control, but I can’t.
I hang up. My fingers grip the edge of the desk, and I’m suddenly screaming at the top of my lungs. I could just kill her. She keeps shaming me over some low-class rascal. Does she have no sense of decency at all? I will break her into compliance if it’s the last thing I do.
She’s mine. Mine to mold. Mine to touch. Mine only!
I head out of the house.
“John, take me to my father’s office, now,” I tell the driver.
He nods at me politely, and I climb into the limousine. I’m so angry that it takes all I have not to wreck everything inside this car.
I want him dead. Chi will die for this. If Father doesn’t take care of it, I will do it myself. And Thia will be mine whether she wants to or not.
I arrive at the camp and walk straight to my father’s office. But when I get there, Father is shouting so loud his voice can be heard through the door. I don’t even need to eavesdrop. His words stop me in my tracks.
“Absolutely out of the question,” he yells.
Someone else is talking now, saying that Chi needs to be released from custody. Is he for real? Father will never agree to this.
“Sir, if I don’t help the Underground get him out, my cover will be blown. Richards will not drop the search for his parents. The Underground could be partly brought down when they reach the camps. Let him go, and I can guarantee you they will come right here, Chi included. He’s been looking for his parents for a long time. He will come here for them himself.”
Chi’s parents are in this camp? Father never cared to share that information with me. I thought Father and I were a team. How am I to take over his business someday if he keeps hiding things from me?
Still, there is no way he would agree to this nonsense.
“This had better not be a trick of yours. If you screw me over, Harris, I will show no mercy. Take this as a nice warning.”
What? Father is releasing Chi? How could he do this to me? He’s going behind my back, betraying me, making me look like a fool and letting that jerk out just like that. I can’t believe this.
“Of course, Sir.”
Father dismisses Harris, and I find some closet nearby. I hide inside and leave the door just slightly ajar so I can see the man leaving the office. I want to know where the rebels are taking Chi. I will find Thia myself since I can’t rely on anyone, and I can’t even trust my own father. I study the man and imprint his face into my brain. I’ve seen him here many times before. He will give me the information I need if I have to torture it out of him.
When he’s gone, I return to the limousine. Forget about talking to Father. He can go to hell for all I care. He’s humiliating me in front of his officers—in front of everybody.
I find the car and tell John to take me far from here.
“Where should I take you, Sir?”
“The Joy of Life,” I reply.
“Is your father aware, Sir?” he asks.
“Does it look like I care?!” I shout with scorn. “When I need your opinion, John, I’ll ask for it. Just drive the fucking car.”
I pat around for the liquor that Father always leaves around here, and I drink it right from the bottle. The first gulp burns my throat and fires right through me. I take another gulp, and another. It numbs a bit of my stabbing irritation, but not much.
By the time we reach the joy house, I feel slightly better. I get out and knock on John’s window. He rolls it down.
“Don’t tell my father about this, John,” I warn him.
“I’m his employee, Sir, not yours,” he dares reply. Wrong answer! I grab him by the neck and push my mouth to his ear.
“I know where your family lives, John. Don’t be stupid.” I let go and rejoice in the fear that flickers on and off in his eyes.
“Wait for me here. I’ll be back in an hour.”
I walk into the house, and the owner Jasmine comes right to me.
“William,” she greets me. Her voice is like honey, so sweet it disgusts me.
“To what do we owe the pleasure?” she asks as if she didn’t already know the answer.
“Is Lillian here?” I ask.
Jasmine sends me a quick knowing smile. “Yes, of course. Just one minute, please. May I serve you something to drink?”
I shake my head and go wait in the parlor.
After a while, Lillian enters. She’s short, with black curly hair. She’s not Thia, but she’ll do. She’s the best there is in this place, too. She knows her job, and she does it well. She grins and holds her hand out to me. We don’t talk. She knows how I am. She knows what I want. I follow her to the bedroom and push her toward the bed the moment she closes the door behind us.
Lillian hardly made me feel better. I’m still angry. I need more alcohol. John gives me sideways glances through the rearview mirror. I flip him off and his eyebrow rises. He’s getting on my nerves. I don’t owe the guy any explanation. He would never behave like this around Father. Everyone respects him. Everyone. But no one respects me—not even my fiancée. My nostrils flare as I take another sip.
By the time we get to my parents’ house, I’m completely drunk. Mother is going to flip out like she does every time I come home intoxicated. As if I care what she thinks.
I can hardly find the handle to the door. I stumble out and manage to make it to the house somehow. I get in, and Mother is right there with all her stupid friends. They all look at me; they’re judging me. I’m still holding the bottle in my hand. I wave it at them.
“Why did you invite all these unbearable women into our home, Mother?” I exclaim, laughing into the bottle before drinking some more. “To discuss the latest fashions in town?” I scoff at her just to piss her off.
Mother stands up in response.
“William, have you been drinking?” she asks.
“Of course not,” I retort while taunting her with the bottle. “Why? Are you going to ground me, woman?”
She narrows her eyes, and her stuck-up friends look at one another in shock. I laugh at them loud enough to be considered overtly rude. I can’t stand these insufferable females.
Mother is so humiliated, her cheeks have turned red. Perfect! Why should I be the only one to suffer from embarrassment today?
“Go to your room!” she shrieks in a high-pitched voice.
“Or what?” I challenge her.
“I’m calling your father,” she adds while looking at me like I just shat all over her Oriental rug.
“Yes, please call God Almighty, Mother. Let’s see what he has to say for himself.”
Her face turns quizzical. “I have no idea what you are talking about, William, but you shall go to your room right this instant, and your father will hear about this.”
“I don’t take orders from you, damned woman!” I shout right in her face. “It’s time you remembered your place, Mother. But please, do call Father. I have a few issues to settle with him.”
I walk right past her, shouldering her on my way out. She tries to grab the bottle from my hand, but I hold it out of her reach.
“Nuh uh, that’s mine.” I chuckle at her dismay.
Father is going to rip me a new one for this. I can’t wait for what’s coming.
Father is standing right in my face, but I’m too inebriated to push him back. I just want to laugh. I want to laugh so badly right now. The fury on his face is just hilarious.
“What the hell is wrong with you, William?” he shouts. His voice is harsh, and his face is red with anger. I’m a disgrace to him. I’m never good enough.
“What the hell is wrong with me?” I yell back. “You’re the one letting criminals out. You think I don’t know about Chi? How could you do this to me, Father?” I bark in his face with spit flying in frustration. “And what’s up with that guy I saw at the camp? He looks exactly like Chi. What the hell is going on, Father?”
“Stop acting like some damn child, William. I have valid reasons for doing the things I do. This does not concern you.”
I’ve had it. I’m losing it. I’m literally screaming in his face now, “My promised fiancée left again to find that jerk, and you’re going to let him out.”
“What?” Father pauses. Ah, he was not expecting that one!
“Yes, those people you think so highly of… That woman, Cecilia Clay… She just helped Thia run away last night. And Thia went to find Chi.”
Father looks at me like I’m too drunk to enunciate clearly, so I repeat myself, louder this time. He doesn’t respond. He just turns around and leaves.
I fall flat on my bed. My back hits it hard, and my head starts pounding as though sledge hammers are striking against the sides of my skull. The thought of Thia and Chi together makes me sick. I throw up right there on the comforter and pass out.
“William, this is Amelia.”
Mother didn’t even wait twenty-four hours. I just woke up with one hell of a hangover. I showered, and here she is, already pushing the daughter of her dimwitted friend on me. My teeth clench. I give the girl one single look up and down, just long enough to know I’m definitely not interested.
“And what do you want me to do with that?” I ask while motioning toward Amelia with my hand.
Amelia’s cheeks turn red. I never said I wanted anyone other than Thia. Sure, this is the second time Thia has betrayed me. It’s getting just a tiny bit tiresome, and I’m losing patience with her, but she’s mine. I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this to Mother: Thia is mine.
Mother sends me a cold look. “Show some respect, William,” she dares scold me. “You owe me for yesterday.”
My nostrils flare.
“I owe you nothing,” I reply with spite. My nose is mere inches from hers, and I tower over her. I turn on my heels and leave her there.
I have places to be and things to do, quickly. I call John and tell him where I want to go. I will find Harris, and he will tell me where to find the rebels. I will help them get into Camp 19. Father has betrayed me. It’s time he knew what that feels like. I will make sure Chi doesn’t make it out of the camp alive, and Thia will finally be mine.
In the car, John turns on the news. “Chi Richards is still on the loose…Cecilia Clay was taken into custody last night for complicity in his escape…William Fox was a key witness; his testimony helped the officers apprehend the suspect…”
What the hell! Damn it, Father!
I never meant for Thia’s mother to be taken away. Father took this whole affair too seriously. Why the hell did he have to arrest the damn woman? Nice way to screw up my chances with Thia, thank you very much! I couldn’t care less about that woman, to be honest, but she’s still Thia’s mother. Thia will probably hate me for this. I sigh.
No matter, she will love me eventually. She has to. She’s mine, after all; no one can steal her from me. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
This scene takes place after William’s death, and it is a prelude to Book 2.
Someone knocks on the door, making Dimitri Fox look away from the window. “Come in.”
When an officer walks into the office, with his head lowered in submission, the tall, bulky man turns toward him.
“I have news of your son, Sir,” the officer says.
“Where is he?” Fox asks with irritation. He’s been looking for William for a couple of days now, wondering where his son could possibly be.
“He’s in the camp, Sir,” the officer replies.
Just thinking about the news he has to deliver makes him shake with fear. The repercussions will be terrible for him and anyone else working in this camp.
Fox glances outside the window. In the courtyard, some prisoners are lined up against a wall, with their backs to the officers. Guns are raised. Bullets are shot. The prisoners fall to the ground. Fox smirks.
Then the man narrows his green eyes. “What is William doing here?” he asks, now looking at the officer.
“I’m afraid something happened last night, Sir,” the officer answers quickly before shutting up in cowardice.
“What is it, Smith? I don’t have all day.”
Smith clears his throat uncomfortably. “I’m afraid he’s dead, Sir.”
Fox’s face turns into a mask of dismay and profound heartache before he recovers his composure. “What do you mean ‘he’s dead?’”
“I am so sorry, Sir. We just found your son in the yard. He was shot. He’s not breathing.”
“What the hell was my son doing in this camp?” Fox’s tone turns to ice so cold it freezes the officer in fear.
“We b-believe he helped the rebels, Sir,” Smith stutters.
Fox grinds his jaw in response. “That’s just not possible.”
“We have one guard saying he saw your son helping them.”
Fox’s nostrils flare. “That’s a lie. My son would never help the rebels,” he snarls while running his hand over his face. “Who shot my son?”
“We’re not sure, Sir. The cameras in that yard were turned off. We have no footage of it. It appears the rebels came in through the tunnels as planned, but we weren’t expecting them so early, Sir.” The officer averts his eyes.
Fox’s hands clench. “Idiots! All of you! Nothing but a bunch of idiots!” he yells. “I don’t care when the rebels were supposed to arrive or how! Orders are orders! You hardly took any of the them down, you incompetent buffoons!”
Smith doesn’t dare look at his boss again.
“How about Chi Richards?” Fox snaps. “Did he come for his parents? Do you have him?”
The officer squirms. “I’m afraid he ran away, Sir. The girl as well.”
“That was your job, Smith! I specifically told you Chi Richards was not to leave the camp,” Fox yells in his face. “I should have done the job myself.”
“We weren’t expect—” the officer tries to defend himself.
Fox slams his hand on the desk, making Smith jump back. “I don’t want to hear your lame excuses, Smith.”
“I’m s-sorry, Sir,” Smith apologizes, close to tears.
“What about his brother?” Fox’s nose wrinkles with disgust. “Did Stephen help Chi at all?”
“Richards was found unconscious, Sir. We’re not sure what happened.”
“I see.” Fox shakes his head. “Maybe he isn’t the backstabbing slime I expected him to be.”
“What about the rebels, Sir?” the officer asks.
“Kill anyone who was left behind. The others won’t take long to fall now. The rebels took in the Trojan horse that will tear them apart from the inside out. The disease will take them down one by one. Make sure that Richards is okay. I’m not done with him yet.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alice Rachel grew up in France before moving to the Unites States to live with her husband. When she doesn’t write, Alice teaches French to students of all ages.
She also spends hours reading books of all kinds (Young Adult, New Adult, Mystery, Horror, Romance, History, Graphic Novels…There probably isn’t a genre she doesn’t like). She also enjoys going to the movies, visiting museums with her hubby, taking care of her guinea pigs, and drawing.
Alice loves to interact with her readers (and so do her characters). You can find her on Twitter under @AliceRachelWrit. She also likes to chat through her website at www.alicerachelwrites.com as well as on Instagram, GoodReads, and Facebook.
What William wants, William takes. He doesn't need to ask for permission. He wasn't raised to accept rejection. And yet, his promised fiancee dares to turn him down and betray him. But William's obsession with her has turned unhealthy at best, and he's not about to let her go so easily.