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I’ll protect her, no matter what!
Trying to run a billion-dollar empire while my son chews up nannies for breakfast is tough.
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I have to get out of here.
Standing in the corner with the brass table lamp clutched tightly in my shaking hands, I wait. The sound of my heavy breathing punctuates the stillness in the soundproof room.
I’ve already been waiting days to execute my new escape plan, which adds to the weeks I’ve been trying to escape from this gilded hellhole.
Seven weeks and four days.
That’s how long I’ve been rotting here. That’s how long it’s been since I made the biggest mistake of my life.
I should have known it was too good to be true. I should have known a nobody like me with no name, no money, no manager, and no family would never make my mark on the world. But did I listen to that voice inside my head? No.
I thought at twenty-two I could already spot bullshit and assholes. I thought I was strong enough, wise enough. But no. I was too weak, too naïve, too foolish.
And now, I’ve paid the price.
Not anymore. Enough is enough.
I glance at the bed. I’ve already arranged the pillows beneath the blanket so it seems like I’m still hiding under there with my wrists and ankles tied.
Thank God I managed to cut through the pillow cases that he used to tie me. I cut them with my teeth and my guitar pick–the only thing really left of my guitar–that I keep in the back pocket of my pants.
Now all that’s left to do is to wait for Vince to come in.
Finally, I hear someone at the door. I hear the beep, which means the keycard has been accepted. I hold my breath as I lift the lamp, wincing from the pain that shoots up my still-bruised left arm from Vince’s last tantrum but ignoring it as I prepare to strike.
Please let me hit him.
The door opens and a man with hair as black as his tux and a blonde in a red dress, both wearing masks, tumble in.
“I told you it was a good idea to get that keycard, Babe,” the woman says. “I knew it would lead to an interesting room.”
“Steal the keycard, you mean,” the man says.
“Whatever. Finally, we can have some privacy.”
They start kissing, oblivious to my presence or to what they’ve just stumbled upon.
I still don’t know what’s going on, but it doesn’t matter. The door’s open and there’s no sign of Vince, so I go out, leaving the lamp outside the room.
As I do, I realize there’s loud music playing. Really loud.
A party? That would explain the weird couple and the masks they’re wearing.
A masquerade party. My perfect chance to escape.
Avoiding the cameras in the hall, I sneak into one of the rooms, finding another couple fooling around in there.
What kind of party is Vince throwing?
I don’t care. I pick up the feathered mask and the gown that have been discarded on the floor and I put them on before continuing my escape.
I go down the stairs, trying to act as naturally as I can past Vince’s thugs. I pass through the crowd of guests, half of whom are dancing and the other half making out, most of them drunk. At least they provide good cover.
As I catch a glimpse of Vince, my heart stills, fear coursing through my veins. I steel my nerves, though, and quickly leave the crowd to search for the exit. Finally I see the door leading to the kitchen, which I know leads to the gardens and to the gate.
Just when I’m a few feet away, a thick arm stops me.
It’s one of Vince’s thugs. Bart, I think his name is. I don’t know. They all look the same to me – huge and scary.
“Where do you think you’re going, miss?” he asks with a grin, putting his hand on the wall.
I take a deep breath.
Calm down, Sabrina. He doesn’t know who you are. Yet.
Right. He thinks I’m a guest so I should act like one.
I return his grin with a mischievous one of my own as I run my fingers through my hair.
“Miss? How kind. My name is Eleanor, and I’m actually looking for my husband.” I lower my voice as I lean forward. “We’re playing a little hide-and-seek, you see.”
I can hardly believe it, but he’s blushing. So, even brutes can blush.
“You didn’t happen to see him pass this way, did you?”
He touches his stubble. “No. I’m afraid I can’t say I have.”
“That’s fine. He’s very good at sneaking and hiding.” I trace circles on the front of his shirt. “You could say he’s had a lot of practice. But I will find him. And when I do, he’s going to pay for all the trouble he’s caused me.” I clench my hand into a fist then look up at him sweetly. “Do you think you could step aside so I can check the kitchen just in case? He does like sweets, you know.”