Page 52 of Corrupt Kingdom

“Your father is worthless.”

My eyes snap to him. “What did you say?” There is no way he said that. He doesn’t know my father. Sure, my father was no prize these days, but still . . .

He looks directly in my eyes and repeats the offensive words, shocking me to the core. Malice drips from his tone, but the malice is misplaced. My dad is bad, but he’s not a monster like Cyrus is making him out to be.

“Why would you say that? You don’t know my father.”

“I know his kind,” Cyrus answers sternly.

“And what kind is that?” I shoot back, growing more pissed by the second.

“The kind who treats his daughter like a meaningless possession to be handed off whenever it suits him. The kind who wouldn’t know something valuable if it were looking him square in the eye. A worthless fuck.” He emphasizes the last word so crisply, I flinch.

My lower lip starts to quiver. It feels like the walls are closing in on me. It’s the first time I have thought of my childhood in some time. It’s one of the fond memories I possess, and Cyrus practically spat on it.

I’ve felt alone for so long. Even before the island, I have missed the happy times, and finally, when I remember something good, he has to go and remind me of what a pitiful asshole he is.

I stand abruptly. “I’m done.”

“Ivy, wait. Please. I-I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things.”

My chin tips down to meet his dark eyes. They drill into me, and there is an endless depth to them. So many unspoken words and sorrow swim in them, but I don’t want to hear them now, so I shake my head.

“Well, you did, Cyrus. Attacking my family won’t get you far with me. They’re all I have.”

“Just sit, will you? Let me explain.”

I want to walk out of the room and get as far away from him as possible, but the offer of any type of explanation is too great a promise.

Curiosity killed the cat.

“I . . .” He starts and then stops. Whether he is choosing his words carefully or deciding whether to go back on his word, I’m not sure, but he finally continues. “I didn’t have the best home life, Ivy. Things were . . . difficult. I’ve had to do some bad things to change my circumstances. I didn’t have a choice. But others . . . they do, yet they still choose their vices. Their families suffer at their hands and don’t even realize it.”

My eyebrows knit together. “I’m sorry for that, Cyrus. But I don’t understand why your past would make you so hostile toward someone you don’t even know,” I say. “I won’t lie and say my dad has been the best recently. My father might not be the best man right now, but deep down, he’s a good man.”

He inhales deeply, several emotions playing out on his face, which is a contradiction to the Cyrus I’ve grown to know.

A man who is anything but readable. Someone who can school his features so well that you can’t tell what he is thinking. Or if he’s thinking at all. At this moment, he looks almost . . . vulnerable.

“If I were a father, I’d protect my child with my own life. Nothing would ever happen to her. He had you, Ivy, and he let you be taken. That’s unforgivable in my book.”

I smile at his backward thinking. “I’m an adult, Cyrus. He couldn’t have prevented this.

At some point in time, we become responsible for ourselves. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nothing more.”

His eyes harden. “It’s so much more than that, Ivy,” he says through gritted teeth.

“Tell me then,” I counter. “If you have something more to say, open your mouth and tell me. Enough secrets.” My hand reaches up in the air, angrily. “I’m sick of it.”

He shakes his head. “That’s all I’m willing to share for tonight.”

And with those words, the conversation is cut off, and I’m left in the dark yet again.

28

Cyrus

My blood fucking boils at the fact that prick yet again is the cause of turmoil for Ivy. I have asked myself a dozen fucking times over the past twenty-four hours why I don’t just tell her. I can’t quite figure out who I am protecting by keeping this secret. But I know now. I’m protecting her.

I didn’t want to break her any more than she is already broken.

In her eyes, her family is everything. She might not like her father these days, but her memories live inside her still. Can I tarnish that?

I know it would kill her to know that the reason she is a captive on a private island is because her own father sold her during a game of cards.

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