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Prologue

Nora


I sit at the dining room table staring at the plate of breakfast Sasha threw down in front of me. It’s been five minutes and I still have my hands folded in my lap.

“Are you going to eat?” she snaps at me, and I look up from the scrambled eggs and bacon to her.

She stares at me with that same sour face she’s had from the moment she met me. The woman can’t stand me and I have no idea why. I’ve tried being nice, but it never works. Now I do my best to not engage with her. She puts me on edge, but everything about being here puts me on edge. From the moment I crossed the threshold into this home it’s been that way.

Her hands rest on her trim waist as her bright blue eyes stare hard at me. You would think I’ve done something to her, but I’ve barely said a handful of words to the woman, and those were only in attempt to be nice. I try and stay out of her way, but I swear she seeks me out only to poke at me. There’s no winning with her. I don’t understand how she can be so pretty on the outside but mean on the inside. Sasha’s got long legs she’s always showing off in short skirts and her hair and makeup are flawless. Someone might mistake her for a model and not my uncle’s assistant. Though from the sounds I’ve heard when the two of them are alone, I don’t think she’s just his assistant. He keeps that behind closed doors so that no one knows she’s his dirty secret. I don’t understand any of it.

“I’m supposed to wait,” I remind her, but she already knows it.

I have to wait for my uncle to come to the table, but like always he’s late. This isn’t surprising. He’s my father’s brother after all, and they’re more alike than I thought they would be. I would swear they were twins if I didn’t know better. They’re both the same except my father never made me feel uneasy around him. The same could not be said about my Uncle Harry.

I never saw my uncle before my father died because they didn’t much care for each other. Both were competitive—so much so that my Uncle Harry moved across the country so that he and my father would never come face to face in a courtroom.

Sasha makes an annoyed sound at my response. “He doesn’t have time to have breakfast with you every morning. He’s a busy man,” she snaps at me again.

I don’t want to have breakfast with him, but he makes me, along with dinner, too. On rare lucky occasions I get out of dinners, but I think it’s because he has a date or is working late. I don’t know why he’s so set on eating together. My father barely shared meals with me, so I was used to eating alone. I used to hate that but now I wish I could go back to it.

I don’t respond to her and go back to staring at my plate. When I hear her heels click across the floor I let out a happy sigh that she’s gone. I’m also thankful that was all she had to say this morning. She can be extra nasty when my uncle isn’t around. Though if I had to choose, I’d rather her be here when he is. He’s not as handsy when she’s nearby.

I’m sure she’ll be back soon enough. I swear that woman can pop out of nowhere at any time. I wish he’d get here already so we can eat and get this over with. It’s not like I have anything to get to, but I know he’ll leave and I’ll have the place to myself. Except for the random people who come and go to do things around the house, I’m left alone. I’m trapped in a home I’m not allowed to leave unless my uncle calls for me or comes to get me himself. I only go where ever it is he wants me to. I’d rather stare at paint drying then spend another night out with him at one of his events. Especially after the last one. I touch my arm where I can still feel the bruise.

I quickly drop my hand when I hear his familiar footsteps coming down the long hallway. I sit up straighter and my whole body stills when he reaches me. He comes over and leans down next to me as his mouth presses against my cheek. It lingers there too long and my stomach tightens.

“Morning, Nora,” he says against my ear. His hot breath crawls against my skin as his hand comes down on my shoulder in a hard hold. It feels like a reminder that I belong to him and he holds all the power in my life.

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