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𝘍𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘴 𝘴𝘰 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘱𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘨𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘴. 𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘋𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢 𝘓𝘢𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘵, 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨. 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘱𝘧𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳’𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘮. 𝘈𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺, 𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘧𝘪𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘯.
𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘰 𝘊𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘪 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩. 𝘏𝘦’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘣𝘰𝘴𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘺 𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘭 𝘩𝘦’𝘴 𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦. 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘋𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘢 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘵, 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘱 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘺𝘢𝘭 𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩. 𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥, 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘷𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘯.
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I pocket the phone again, opting to keep it until I’m satisfied, and turn back toward my waiting vehicle, walking over the two dead men on my way. By the time I’m in front of the driver’s side door, I have one of The Elixir staff on the phone.
“There’s something you need to deal with out here,” is all I bark into the phone before hanging up and focusing on Della, who still stands on the sidewalk, a little dumbfounded. I know she won’t run because I have something of hers, and clearly, she’s scared at what I’ll learn about her, which means safety is now secondary from her perspective.
She looks around, her big eyes scanning the street before glancing toward the dead men. Debate rolls over her expression in the form of a downturned mouth before she side-steps them and walks toward the car, stopping on the passenger side. I watch her, brows lifting slowly as I silently command her to enter the vehicle.
“Don’t make me repeat myself. Men have died for less.”
“You wouldn’t kill a woman.”
Some made men won’t because they view women as people too gentle to do harm, to be needing protection instead; that if they were to harm them, they have an unfair advantage. I don’t think like that because it’s sometimes women who are the nastiest of snakes. They use their gender as protection, knowing they can do anything and walk away unscathed. Women and men are equal in their ability to lie, steal, cheat, and betray, and for that, I will hurt a woman if the situation calls for it.
“You don’t know what I’ll do, so if you value your life, get inside the car.”
She levels her gaze at the vehicle. “First, my phone.”
My teeth grind together, annoyance working at my nerves. It’s like she’s completely forgotten the part about her being in my debt, not the other way around.
Gripping the top of my door, I’m seconds away from going around the car and throwing her ass in the back myself. “You are in no place to bargain, Della. Last time I’m repeating myself. Get in the fucking car or I’ll find you a place to sit, and I promise, you won’t enjoy it.”
The skin between her eyes furrows and her nose does this cute little flaring thing as the spark of fight is still lit inside her, but she finally obeys me and ducks inside the car.
Fucking Christ. I don’t know what I’m getting into with this woman, but already, I’m exhausted trying to figure it out. I slip into the driver’s seat and immediately start the car, suddenly eager to get back home and be alone with her.
In my peripheral vision, I watch how she squirms, pressing her legs together and moving her body as far away from me as possible, right up against the passenger door. Her head is angled away, watching as we drive down Sainte-Catherine Street.
She remains silent, wisely not asking for her cellphone again. I maneuver us quickly through the other vehicles on the road, managing to make it to the highway in record time, then up toward the Corsetti mansion.
As I pull off toward my house, I wonder how she made it there the first time. Mentally, I list the things I’ve learned about her, and what I actually know about her. Her name certainly isn’t Anna, but if that’s what she went with, it means there was an Anna on the guest list. Did Della know and choose a name that would guarantee to get her inside or did the name end up on the list because she managed to get it there? Who was Anna supposed to be? Who brought her to my mansion, and why? Is this some giant ploy to get close to me and she created this whole persona to do just that? The girl I met last night avoided me at the party though, so why would she run off when she gained my attention? Or is that part of the game she’s conducting?
And why do I feel like I’m part of some malevolent plan? I design the games, no one else, and Della will learn this very soon.
I pull into the driveway, throwing the car into park, and leave it right in front of the house, rather than inside the multi-car garage we have. I’ll get someone to put it away later. Before exiting the car, I take her cell from my pocket and toss it onto her lap. The only use it has is gaining her submission, and now that we’re at my house, her phone is meaningless.
“Next time, don’t leave it around a stranger’s house.”
She grasps it eagerly, barely glancing at it before sliding it into her small purse. Strange, for someone to be so excited about their technology and not even give it the attention I’d assume she would have.
I get out of the car and by the time I make it to her side, she’s also opening the door. Finally learning the rules.
Without looking at her, I enter the mansion, walking past the single soldier stationed by the door. She’ll follow because she has nowhere else to go. I lead us down the hallways and toward my office.
At the doorway, I stand aside, letting her go first. She stops at the door and glances wearily at me, her brows dipping over her eyes.
“How do I know you won’t hurt me once we get in there?”
“That depends. Do you deserve to be hurt?”
Her lips press together and instead of responding, she enters my office. Her silence tells me everything though.
She’s stacking up her falsities, but they’ll all come crashing down soon. Liars can only maintain deceit for so long before they crack. And I’ll be the one to make her crack. To shatter and spread those broken pieces.
She’ll reveal everything before long.
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Read the FIRST CHAPTER today!
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M.L. Philpitt is Canadian-born and raised, and enjoys representing Canada within her novels. As a Ravenclaw, she loves education, having undergraduate degrees in English Literature and Sociology, a certificate in Autism and Behavioural Sciences, and a MA in Counselling Psychology.
She writes in various romance new adult genres including paranormal, fantasy, dark romance, and contemporary. She has lots of crazy trapped in her head for readers to enjoy.
When M.L. Philpitt isn’t making up stories, she’s devouring those imagined by other authors. Her love of reading began when she was a young child and only grew with age. She enjoys many genres, as reflected in her writing preferences.
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