This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
"Lacey, are you ready?" My sister Lauren called. She had been pestering me for the last hour making sure I wasn't backing out of going to the party she was dragging me to.
I stood there staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, my black hair was done in a single thick braid that reached my lower back. I usually wore little to no makeup, but being that I'd just moved to the city and in with my sister a few months ago to start anew, I decided to go with a light smoky eye look to accentuate my blue eyes. I was already dressed in a pair of black skinny jeans and a dark blue button down which I kept untucked. I slid my feet into my Xelement biker boots. I grabbed my leather jacket and made my way up the stairs from my room in the basement.
"Wow, Lace! You look amazing. I'm so glad you agreed to come out with me tonight. You've been cooped up in this house since you got here." My sister gave me an excited smile.
I nodded thanks to her, grabbed the keys to my black Audi R8, and followed her or the door. "I hope you'll attempt to have some fun tonight. I know you've gone through a lot in the past. This is your chance to start again. Just try, ok?" my sister pleaded. "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. If I had known. . ."
"It's ok sis, it wasn't your fault." I grabbed her hand and gave her a reassuring smile. "Thank you for being patient with me, and for letting me stay with you."
"I wouldn't have it another way. I've missed this." She pointed between us. "And just know from now on I will always be here for you."
"I know I don't say or show my emotions much, Lauren, and I keep to myself. There is still a lot for me to work through. The nightmares are still there, but I'm no longer that broken, weak little girl."
She smiled at me, "I know Lace. I know it was a lot to ask of you so, I wanted to just thank you again for coming with me, and I'm glad you'll finally get to meet Amelia in person."
We were on our way to a birthday party for my sister's coworker and best friend Amelia. I had time to think as I drove. I had moved in with Lauren after my honorable discharge from the military. Six years of service. I had joined right out of high school to get away from my abusive stepfather who refused to accept the fact that I was a lesbian. It had also been a way to help forget the horrible events of the night that led me to lose the one person I ever loved.
After a quiet forty-five-minute drive, We pulled up to a small mansion on the outskirts of the city. I looked at the rich home in amazement. "Why is Amelia working at the newspaper with you again?"
"It's her boyfriend's home. Well, his parents' home. Senator and Mrs. Richmond" she explained.
I pulled up and backed my car up in the first available space to avoid having to hand my keys over to the valet. I followed my sister to the door. We were greeted there by a man in a white tux. "Are we supposed to dress up?" I whispered to Lauren as we were led through the foyer.
"Come on!" she grinned as she looped her arm on to mine and tugged me forward through the main floor. We followed our well-dressed guide through the glass doors leading to the garden area in the back.
There was a stage set up with a live band. Some of the guests who all looked to be about our age were already bumping and grinding each other on the dance floor which was laid out just below the stage. Strings of white lights adorned the trees that lined the garden area, giving the surrounding tables just enough lighting. It had the feel of a cozy upscale outdoor restaurant.
Lauren continued to guide me, leading us to the open bar where she ordered a rum and coke. I settled for a beer. She finally released my arm and waved to a group of her friends before heading over to them, allowing me to slip away into the shadows. I watched as she turned to smile at me before turning her attention back to the table. She knew I didn't care much for crowds.
There were sixty or more people there mingling and having a good time. I stuck to the perimeter of the party attempting to avoid most of the guests. I had come to a stop near the dance area when a tall blond guy came over to me. He looked like he had spent an excessive about of time in the gym, and even more time in a tanning salon.
He walked over with two beers in hand and a grin on his face. "Hey beautiful, are you a friend of the birthday girl?" he asked.
"Friend of a friend" I replied with a short answer, hoping he'd get the hint I wasn't interested. I continued to look out towards the people moving on the dance floor.
"I'm Brad, I saw you standing here alone and thought I'd bring you a refill." He held out a beer to me.
"Thanks, but I'm good." I showed him my drink. "Excuse me, I need to go find someone," I said as I started to turn away.
I felt a hand grip my elbow. "What's your deal, I was just trying to be polite," he said, roughly turning me towards him. I looked at his hand gripping my arm and tilted my head to the side slightly. I arched my brow in question feeling my anger rise.
He pulled me closer to him just as a cheerful voice interrupted us, "There you are! I've been looking for you everywhere." Lauren said as she walked up and stood next to me. "Hi, and who might you be?" my sister asked the creep who was still gripping my arm.
"I'm Brad" he answered smugly while loosening his grip. "We were just getting to know each..."
My sister cut him off, "Well, it was nice meeting you Brad, I need to steal my sister for a moment. We'll see you around." She gave him a fake smile and pulled me along with her.
"Looks like I saved him just in time" my sister laughed as we stopped at the bar once again, She knew with my past I didn't like being manhandled and the situation could have turned ugly very quickly.
I kept quiet while I tried to rein in my emotions. My sister handed me a beer while she attempted to remove the empty one from my grip. "Take a deep breath Lace," she instructed. I breathed in and allowed myself to relax once again as I slowly released the air from my lungs. My grip on the empty beer bottle eased as the tension left my body, allowing Lauren to take it from my hand. "Better?" she asked. I nodded yes.
She quickly led me to an empty table where I took a seat with her and pushed a plate of food in front on me. "Here, I got you something you eat." she smiled.
"Thanks, Lauren. For the food and for. . . You know." I motioned towards the direction we came from.
She laughed. "He's the one who should be thanking me. For saving his life." I smiled and started on the plate of food.
We sat there in silence for a while scanning the people on the dance floor as I ate. I looked around and saw Brad talking to a couple of guys who then left him and headed into the mansion. My eyes moved back again to the dance floor.
My heart stopped. Emerging from the bodies, that were lost in the beat of the music, was the most breathtaking redhead I'd ever laid eyes on, a beautiful smile on her face as she briefly acknowledged the people she passed.
My eyes followed the graceful movement of her slender yet curvaceous body as she walked towards me. I continued my visual worship, moving upwards from her three-inch black heels, over her form-fitting black dress, taking in the curve of her neck and the fullness of her lips which were once again parted in that gorgeous smile. Then, a pair of deep emerald green eyes that locked onto mine.
I was pulled from my trance when a finger gently pushed up on my chin closing my mouth. My sister leaned over and whispered, "you're drooling Lace." She giggled before standing to pull the woman into an embrace.
When her angelic voice addressed Lauren, I forced myself to look away and back to the crowd in an attempt to ease the heat of embarrassment I felt on my face. I was tuned into their conversation enough without looking at them to find out that this beauty was Amelia.
Lauren tapped me gently on my shoulder to get my attention. "Hey Lace, I want to introduce you to the birthday girl and a very good friend of mine, Amelia Watson. Amelia, this is my baby sister Lacey." Lauren always introduced me as her baby sister even now, when I towered over her five-foot-six-inch frame by a good five inches.
Amelia reached out to shake my hand and I stood there like an idiot staring at it. I nervously glanced at my sister, Amelia probably sensing my hesitation, dropped her hand, but kept her smile, "it's a pleasure to meet you, Lacey, I hope you're enjoying the party." I nodded as Lauren linked arms with Amelia and suggested they go to the bar for some drinks.
They excused themselves and I took my seat and watched as they walked away. The two were greeted shortly after at the bar by a familiar creep, Brad. I watched as he tried sweet talking them. He grabbed their drink from the bartender before handing it to them. I shot from my seat and quickly made my way to my sister, grabbing it from her before she could take a sip.
My sister looked at me and understood my reason. She once again linked her arm through Amelia's and excused themselves from Brad, who stood there and scowled at me. Lauren grabbed my arm on the way, pulling me away to avoid the pending confrontation.
Once we were away from Brad I gave my sister a look, then glanced at the drink in Amelia's hand as she lifted it to her lips. Lauren quickly caught her hand as she was about to take another sip. "I'll explain later," she said. She took the drinks and dumped it into the nearby trash can.
I turned to watch Brad's expression as the drink was discarded. He had an angry expression on his face as he slammed his drink on the bar and headed into the crowd.
Lauren and Amelia chatted for a bit longer while I sat and watched the crowd. Then the birthday girl excused herself to mingle with her other guests. Lauren then informed me that Brad was the brother of Amelia's boyfriend.
"I'm sorry Lauren, it's just..." I tried to explain. "There's just something about him I can't place."
She rubbed my shoulder and gave me a small smile. "It's fine Lace, he gives me the creeps too." She then pointed to Amelia, who was standing next to a guy who looked like Brad with fewer muscles and not sporting that fake tan like his brother. "That's Amelia boyfriend, Thomas."
I felt a little jealous as I watched Amelia lean into Thomas. He was not really paying attention to her, as he continues his conversation with the man he was talking to. He whispered something in her ear before kissing her forehead and walked away with the man, leaving her frowning and standing alone. 'Such a loser' I thought.
I stood up and told Lauren I was heading for a drink. She accompanied me back to the bar and ordered for both of us. We walked around for an hour while Lauren attempted to introduce me to people. My eyes caught a glimpse of Brad with his arm around a stumbling woman who I could not quite see behind his towering figure.
I watched as he brought the stumbling woman into the mansion. The two men Brad spoke to earlier in the evening followed shortly after. "I need to use the restroom " I informed Lauren, who leads me towards the direction Brad went.
When we entered I saw the two guys slip around a corner and down the hall on the second floor. "The restrooms are the other way." Lauren pointed out.
"Stay here. Don't move. , I'll be right back." I made my way up the stairs and down the hall. From a room on the right, I heard voices and arguing. I came to stop at the door and listened.
The voices died down a little. But as I turned to leave I heard a muffled cry. I reached for the door handle and slowly, listening once again. Hearing a woman cry the word 'don't' was all I needed. I turned the knob and peered into the room which was dimly lit. Brad and the two men were standing with their backs to me as I quietly entered the room.
The men hovered over the woman. The one with dark brown hair knelt over her, blocking her from my view as he held her arms above her head. His other hand appeared to be firmly pressed over her mouth. Brad had already taken off his pants and was stroking himself. He started tearing at a now familiar looking black dress as the third guy behind him started undressing. 'Amelia!'
Instinct took over, I knew from experience and the feeling of adrenaline pumping through my veins that my blue eyes would be black as coal.
I swiftly rushed forward and hit the guy standing behind Brad in the throat, bringing my knee to his face as he bent forward, making him drop to the floor unconscious. I spun pushing Brad to the side and away from her as I caught the brown haired guy with a roundhouse kick to his temple, causing him to crumple over a motionless Amelia.
As I turned I was caught by a punch to the face, causing me to stumble back "You bitch!" Brad growled as he quickly came forward wrapped both his hands around my neck and started choking me.
I placed the palms of my hands together, moving my arms in between his, pushing them both upwards as far as I could reach before bringing both elbows down with force connecting them with both his forearms causing his grip to loosen. Once I was able to take a step back, I brought my knee up forcefully connecting with him between his legs. As he dropped to his knees, my foot met the side of his head, which caused him to fall face first into the carpet. Making sure the others were still not moving, I turned my full attention to Amelia.
I pulled the brown haired guy off her and let him fall to the floor. I looked into her eyes as they started to close. " I got you, " I whispered. "You're safe." I wrapped her in the duvet from the bed, and picked her up in my arms, allowing her head to rest gently against my chest, I opened the door and walked into the hall.
I was met with a confused look from Lauren as I descended the stairs. "I'll explain in the car, get my keys from my jacket," I motioned to my right, as we rushed towards the front door we originally came in when we arrived.
Lauren unlocked the car we made our way to it quickly as Lauren opened the door. "Get in. You're going to have to hold her." I told Lauren. She got into the two-seater car and I shifted Amelia into her lap. "I know it's a tight squeeze, but we have to get out of here fast, Just hold on to her."
I heard a shout from behind us as a shirtless Brad came rushing out of the mansion. "You're going to pay, bitch!"
I reached between Lauren's feet into the hidden compartment I had installed in the car and pulled out my handgun. I spun to face the oncoming Brad. He continued his threats, but came to an immediate halt.
"When I get hold of you, you're going to wish you never met me," he spewed.
"Whenever you're ready," I growled, the adrenaline still coursing through my body.
"Lace let's go please" Lauren pleaded. "Lacey please."
"He should pay for what he tried to do," I said with the gun held tightly in my left hand, my finger itching to pull the trigger. I felt a hand slide into my right one, causing a calming tingling sensation to flow through my arm. I turned my head slightly while keeping Brad in my peripheral and the gun still trained on him. I found Amelia now conscious.
"Please," she whispered. She gently squeezed my hand before releasing it. I nodded to her as her eyes started to close again. I stepped forward and closed the car door. I held the gun on Brad as I made my way to the driver's door.
I got in still keeping Brad in sight and started the car as a few people exited the mansion causing Brad to turn and walk away. I exited the parking spot slowly. Once we left the estate I hit the gas and headed to Laurens.
GeorgeS: The author has a VERY refreshingly direct writing style. Sometimes being punched in the gut (or nose, as the case may be) can be an excellent thing, indeed. Whatever may be lacking in subtlety is more than made up for in the diamond clarity of character development. I look forward to MORE. I c...
ericaporamoralcine: La trama es muy interesante y original y eso ya dice muchísimo cuando todos tratan de triunfar con ideas ya trilladas.No puedo opinar en detalle sobre la gramática, porque a pesar de entender el inglés a la perfección, la falta de uso en cuanto a lectura y diálogo hacen que me maneje bastante mal...
marklurch1: What an unexpected pleasure! I usually avoid modern gothic stories as the zombies and demons shown on TV seem so one-dimensional. But the demons in this story were truly menacing as their powers grew and transfigured as the story progressed. But then, great heroes require great villains. There we...
KC_Ward: Black Mark was one of the most interesting romance novels I have read. I really enjoyed the fact that Mora has such a strong character and held her ground. Each character had a background story that gave clues as to what shaped their personalities. This novel was almost like two books rolled into...
Sandra Estrada: I loved every minute of it and I thank my lucky stars that brought me to the story, it's been a whirlwind of emotions, plot twist after plot twist but I never got tired of them. Abby and Kade's story is a hard one to understand but once you're submerged in their story and love, you can't help but...
annie08c: I really like this story, I can relate to it a lot and with how she feels, the boyfriend and the events that happened but I'm a little bit younger. It was really good plot, really liked how you stuck to the topic and you had a new title for every chapter making me guess what's going to happen. Ma...
hsng12: A very nice book to read with lots of touching moments. It makes me reflect on my life, learn how to appreciate love from people around us. The story needs a bit of editing here and there just to make it perfect. Overall message well conveyed and I love it. It made me tear, really inspiring I wou...
Mourn8220House: When first reading "Avarice," I thought it would be another fairytale but I was taken back the author's approach and choice of ending. There is little to be said for the story and overall plot besides the sudden twists and speculation, other than that I do not want to ruin a fantastic tale, you m...
Michelle Shane Hammatt: Well written fiction. I couldn't put it down and read it until I was finished in one sitting. Can't wait to see what the author has in store for us next. The characters were real and you felt like you were watching the story being played before your eyes.
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."