Page 84 of Corrupt Kingdom

Obviously, it had to mean something.

But my defense mechanism kicked in, and I didn’t let him explain. I look down at the ocean. A boat in the distance.

He must not have left yet.

If I go now, I can apologize.

I know he’s not a good guy, but I don’t think he’d hurt me.

No.

I know he won’t. I was a fool for saying what I said.

Maybe.

Maybe I can catch him.

I start to head back down the hill. Through the trees and shrubs. My pace picks up.

Almost there. I dash forward.

Thump. Thump.

The boat is approaching. My gaze skates the distance. He should be somewhere near, but I can’t find him. Maybe I beat him here. Just as I’m making it through the clearing, I see someone emerging from the boat. I take a step back on instinct. Slowly, to not be seen.

The sound of my shoe hitting a fallen branch screams into the silence.

Fuck.

My gaze is still forward, praying this stranger didn’t hear, but his head rises.

Dark, menacing eyes meet mine, and the left side of his mouth tips up, showing teeth in a snarl.

“Hello, Ivy. It’s about time we become acquainted.”

Without another thought, I turn around, dashing toward the house. Cerberus is inside, if I can get to him, he will protect me. Now I’m alone with this man, and I don’t need an introduction to know exactly who that man was. Boris.

A man known to cut up his victims. As I head back to the estate, branches and twigs scrape against my limbs, cutting into my skin.

Burning.

But I don’t let that stop me.

I need to find Cyrus. I need to get away.

But then my stomach drops. If that boat wasn’t for Cyrus, that must mean Cyrus isn’t on the island.

I run faster. My legs burning with pain.

I can’t hear his footsteps behind me over the pounding of my heart.

It rattles violently in my chest, telling me to go faster.

Run harder.

I don’t need to hear him, though, to know he’s gaining on me. I can feel it in my bones. In the ice that travels through my veins.

I don’t stop, though. I push past the pain. Through the aches and scrapes. I’m so close.

I can see the large oak door. If I can just get to the door.

What?

What will I do? I’m stuck here.

No weapons.

No escape.

I push down the thoughts and keep going.

I’m not weak. I will never be weak. I will fight with everything I have before I let him take me.

I’m there. So close. My hand reaches out, and my fingertips touch the cold knob. But then I’m slammed forward. My head ricocheting off the wood that should have been my salvation. I can’t see the blood, but I can feel the bite of my flesh ripping. His hands bracket around me, pulling my limp body to his. Bile travels up my throat. A ringing sound echoes in my ear.

“You will be fun to break,” he whispers in my ear.

Making my stomach roil. A metallic taste infiltrates my mouth.

No.

I can’t let him take me.

“Get your hands off me.”

I kick.

I shout.

I throw my head back. But it doesn’t stop him from grabbing me and pulling me toward the boat.

My arms burn in the sockets, and I’m sure if I fight harder, I’ll dislocate my shoulders.

I try to struggle, but it’s no use. It’s hopeless as he throws me on board. My body grabbed by another man as The Butcher pulls my arms behind my back and secures them with zip ties.

He looks down at me.

There is nothing but malice in his eyes.

I had thought Cyrus was a monster, but this man is truly one.

Cyrus.

My gaze turns the island as the boat pulls away.

Will he look for me?

Will he find me?

Will he even care?

44

Cyrus

I should have answered her. I should have told her the truth. But the words died on my tongue. What could I have said anyway?

Truth.

A part of me did want to use her.

Fact.

But that changed, and I should have told her. Another truth, I didn’t want to. A dark feeling spread through my chest at the accusation.

How could she doubt me? I had borne my inner turmoil to her. She saw my demons and embraced them only turn me away. Did I deserve it? Fuck yes.

But it didn’t make the pill any less bitter to swallow. So here I am, with my head up my own ass, avoiding her.

A grown-ass man.

A man who fucking holds the money and fortunes of the world’s worst men in my hands, and I’m hiding from a little girl.

A girl who makes you feel.

Sun.

She started off as a poison in my life, a means to an end, a sick obsession I needed to exploit for my own gains, then she became someone to protect, someone to care about, someone to cherish.

How the fuck did I let it get this bad?

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