Page 8 of Corrupt Kingdom

“I said last night . . .”

“Yeah, you did, but it didn’t mean shit to my father. He lost everything. He has nothing . . . and last night, apparently he lost what little was left, that and more.”

“What else? There’s more, or you wouldn’t have risked your life to summon me.”

Trent looks me straight in the eye and nods. “I heard him. He’s selling her. For the debt. And Boris said she would be perfect.”

Perfect? For what? Or, better yet, whom?

“And this is my problem how?” I keep my voice steady, never showing emotions, but his words cut me to the bone. No woman should have that fate. I might do a lot of evil things, but a woman on the auction block is not one of them. Especially not a block with Boris calling the shots. In this case, her best chance of survival is him selling her because if Boris keeps her, he’s nicknamed The Butcher for a reason. There is also the possibility—

“I thought . . .” Trent’s voice cuts through my inner thoughts.

“What the fuck did you think?”

He looks down. The arrogant shit looks devastated.

“The bank . . . I know . . .”

Trent starts to pace, and there is a long, brittle silence before he speaks. “You think my bank would bail you out? Listen, pretty boy, there is no collateral you could give me to cover it.”

He flinches at my words before righting himself. But even with his newfound composure, there is no denying the unease etched on his face.

“I’m good for the money. I’ll pay you back. All you have to do is give the money to Boris. Help her . . .” He points to the right. I can’t see what he’s pointing at, so I take a step closer.

My eyes find their intended destination.

There, amongst the bleak earth recently frozen by snow, is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

She’s young, much younger than a woman I should be looking at, but it doesn’t stop me from staring.

“How old is she? Is she even legal?” I grit through clenched teeth.

“Yes. Twenty-two.”

Thank fuck.

She looks ethereal, like a goddess of spring come down from the heavens to bring life.

“A means to an end,” Z mouths to me, echoing the idea that has also taken root in my head.

I nod to my men. “It’s done. I won’t be loaning you the money to fix your problem. There is only one solution.”

“What? I don’t understand?” Trent asks, following my gaze.

“I’m taking the girl.”

4

Ivy

My head throbs.

Why does it hurt so bad?

It feels like a jackhammer digging into my skull, reminding me of a construction site. My scalp being like the first bit of gravel to break before all the stone crumbles.

I reach my hands up to rub the sleep out of my eyes. The weight of my arm is unfamiliar. It’s as if I’m weighted down to my bed and can’t get up.

What’s wrong with me?

My eyes won’t open properly, but even with my temporary blindness, I can tell something else is off.

My limbs. My stomach. Everything aches, but it’s my head that scares me. It feels like a thick fog has descended over a mountain, making the visibility limited, but instead of a landscape, it’s happening to me.

When my eyes finally open, I’m met with little light. The windows are covered, making it hard to see. The sparse beams that stream across the room don’t do much to illuminate the space. An instant wave of nausea hits me at the same time that reality sinks in.

I’m not in my house.

The room is unfamiliar.

I lift myself to a seated position. My muscles scream as if I had drunk too much booze. But that makes little sense. The room comes into focus. Beautiful and ornate. It looks straight out of a castle. High ceilings, marble floors. Even though it’s dim, I swear I see gold leaf on the walls. What is this place, and what has happened to me?

I lift my hand and run my fingers through my hair, trying to remember.

Nothing comes to mind.

The last thing I remember is being in the garden. Odd. But that makes no sense. I must have done something else. Otherwise, how could I be here right now?

I’m in a house. In a bed. Alone.

I pull the sheet down, checking to make sure I’m not naked. A long-drawn-out sigh of relief pours from my lungs like the steam from a train.

Fully dressed.

I’m still in the clothes I wore when gardening, which means I didn’t get drunk, nor do I remember going out.

What happened then?

Throwing the sheet all the way back, I climb out of the bed. My body shakes uncontrollably. Something is wrong with me. It’s almost as if I have taken a sleeping pill.

But that wouldn’t explain where I am?

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