Page 81 of Corrupt Kingdom

By the time Cerberus and I make it up the hill through the trees to the clearing, my mind has started to clear.

Once I’m sitting, I stare out at the ocean. It’s vast, but in the distance, a small glimpse of land appears. Where it all started. How I got here?

He did everything to protect you.

As if the air has cleared me, I feel emotions I have not felt in a long time. For so long, I have been the only one looking out for myself, but now, Cyrus has shown me he too has.

I feel special. Cherished. Loved.

Love?

I never thought I would feel this way, but Cyrus has shown me so much. My chest flutters as an overwhelming feeling pours through every molecule of my being.

Until I can’t not say the words out loud.

“I love Cyrus Reed.”

Even if he’s a monster, he’s my monster, and I love him.

42

Cyrus

As per usual, I’m working. Which, unfortunately, means leaving Ivy alone in my bed. I had to head back to the estate to get some files, but now I’m back, knee deep in shit.

Holding the money for the mafia would be a full-time job as it is, but couple it with the fact that I also do business with the cartel and arms dealers, and it could take two lifetimes to do what I do.

It’s why I’m so damn successful. Because I have no life.

Well, that’s not true. Recently, I have finally let myself indulge a bit, but today, even though I’m still on the island with Ivy, there is plenty to be done for my clients.

Turning dirty money clean isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. But luckily, I am damn fucking good at what I do.

Today, I’m helping broker a deal between Alaric and Matteo.

Alaric has guns, and Matteo needs guns. Although this isn’t my typical day’s work, it benefits me regardless.

Not only do I make money off Alaric’s deposit with the interest I charge for him to keep his money in my bank, but I also get a cut of the sale.

Think of it like a finder’s fee or kickback. Whatever the fuck it is, just money in my pocket.

“Are you busy?” I hear from the doorway.

Yes. I want to say, but I can’t. Not when my eyes meet hers.

She’s so fucking stunning, and it knocks the words right out of my mouth. Her hair is pulled back in a disheveled bun on the top of her head.

There is something dark on her nose, though.

I stand and make my way to her.

“What’s this?” I swipe the dirt off.

“I was gardening.”

“Oh, were you now?” But then it dawns on me where she was, and my jaw tightens.

She drops her head, her blond hair falling over her face as she looks at me through the wisps. The way she stares is unnerving. She is really looking at me, like she can see past every lie I have ever spewed.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. In the past, I would have hated it. Fuck, if anyone else looked at me like this, I would, but when Ivy does, it’s different.

“Why do you hate it?” she asks, her voice low and uncertain that she can talk about this.

Feelings. God, I fucking hate them, but just thinking about going in there brings them up.

I shake my head and walk past her, toward the door. This is not something I want to get into right now.

“Cyrus.” I stop and turn to look at her over my shoulder. “What is it?” she asks.

“It was hers,” I grit.

She looks at me with confusion, but then it must hit her because her eyes go wide.

“Your sister’s.”

“I lied when I said I bought this home because of the proximity to my estate. This was my family’s summer home.” I bury my hands in my pockets.

“Can I tell you something?” she asks, and I don’t answer, so she continues. “When I was a little girl, my mother taught me how to garden, but as I got older, I didn’t like to go out there with her anymore. I wanted to live my life. It wasn’t until she had her mental breakdown and I came back home to live with her, to take care of her, that I stepped foot in a garden again. I was eighteen. The first time I stepped foot in it, I sobbed. I lost it right there because everything reminded me of the mom I lost. Then I pushed past the pain, and I started to dig. It was hard at first, but as I planted my first seed, I remembered her smile. I remembered the jokes she used to tell when she was happy. From that moment on, it no longer made me sad.”

She pauses, and I see a tear in her eyes. I lift my hand and catch it.

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