The plan was simple: Destroy the girl. Ruin her life.
Burn With Me, an all-new dark, steamy, enemies to lovers romance and the first book in the Gods of Hazelwood: Icarus Series from USA Today Bestselling author Lucy Smoke is available now!
Aurora Summers is nothing but baggage.
Beautiful, dangerous, off limits baggage.
The plan was simple: Destroy the girl. Ruin her life. Make her and her mother leave.
Only … she’s not as easy a target as I thought she’d be.
She’s nothing but a pawn, a tool for my father to use against her mother.
But pawns don’t fight back the way she does.
They don’t violate my sanity the way she does.
She put herself in the mouth of the beast.
I wanted her out of the way, but now … I can’t let her go.
It’s empty. The hallway. The living room. My fucking bedroom. The whole house is empty. I’m standing in the center of it all, holding what is now apparently a useless set of keys and my cell phone, when the front door bangs open followed by the telltale sound of my mother’s heels clicking across the wood floor. Something insidious awakens in my gut. A curdling sense of dread that only seems to revive when she returns from wherever the hell she’s been for the last several months.
“Oh good, you’re here,” she says as she breezes past me.
Where the fuck could she be going? is my immediate first thought. She looks like she’s dressed for a god damn gala in a long black tank dress with a slit almost all the way up her thigh. The only things making it seem even remotely casual are the big floppy black hat, the shades, and the gray shawl over her shoulders. A shawl …in the May heat. But I know it’s because she’s afraid of getting sunburned; tanning ages a person, and even in her early forties she looks closer to a twenty-five-year-old than someone who has an eighteen-year-old daughter.
“Hurry up and double check to make sure the movers didn’t leave anything behind,” she calls over her shoulder as she reaches the kitchen, and I find myself drifting after her, needing answers. ‘What the fuck?’seems to be more than a question I keep asking myself; it’s my new motto.
“The movers?” I repeat. “Why did we have movers? Where’s our stuff? Are we going somewhere?”
My mother pulls down her shades, tossing them to the granite countertop as she reaches into the fridge and pulls out a bottled water. Over her shoulder, I note that a single case of it is all that’s left. Am I in the Twilight Zone or something? When I left for the last day of my senior year this morning, everything had seemed normal—and by normal, I mean my mother hadn’t been home in weeks and I’d received no phone call or messages saying when she’d be coming back. To us, that was normal.
This is not.
“Yes, we’re going somewhere,”my mother says. Ignoring my first two questions, she sets her bottled water on the counter and then thrusts her left hand in my face. It takes me a moment to realize that she’s trying to shove the giant diamond sitting on her ring finger toward my eyes as if I could miss the damn thing, especially now that it’s front and center to my vision.
“What did you do?” The words come from my throat like glass shards being pulled from a wound. Dizziness assails me. My stomach sinks, and then, as if she doesn’t hear the horror in my voice, she says the words I’ve always come to hate.
“I got married!”
This is not happening. My mother pulls her hand back, and the sound of her heels click across the floor as she moves away.
“Now, hurry up and check the house. We’re flying out to California in a few hours.”
“California?” My voice sounds like it’s coming from miles away, but one thing I do know is that her voice doesn’t get any quieter—it remains the same steady volume, which must mean that I’m following behind her even though I can no longer feel my legs. “Why are you going to California?”
I know why I would—I’m supposed to go to California. In two months to be precise. Because in two months, I’ll be joining my brother at Hazelwood University, one of the premiere colleges in the world, exclusive to the upper echelon. But she was never supposed to go. She was supposed to stay here.
My mother’s face comes into view again and I blink, catching sight of the open front door, and realize we’re at the entrance again. She laughs and reaches forward, tucking a flyaway hair behind my ear. It’s one of her rare maternal quirks. “Oh, sweetie,” she says, “because we’re moving there. Damien’s businesses are based there—he’s so amazing, oh! I just can’t wait for you to meet him. And isn’t it great that he’s based in California? You and I will be able to spend more time together even though you’ll be going to college. It’ll be like nothing has changed.”
With that, she pats my cheek, turns around, and disappears out the front door again, like she didn’t just barge back into my life like a whirlwind tornado and wreck all of my carefully laid plans. Plans that I’ve had in place for months—months that she’s been MIA, off doing whatever it is she does when she gets a bug up her ass and wants to go travel and play tourist or meet up with a friend in Tokyo. She’s never given a fuck that she has two kids. The second she deemed us old enough to no longer need nannies, we’ve been on our own, and for the last three years—ever since my brother went off to college, it’s just been me.
But this …this is a game changer. I know how she is. Every time she does this—every single fucking time she gets married—she suddenly transforms into this big family-minded woman who wants nothing more than to shove her latest conquest down my throat. After the handsy producer who thought fifteen-year-old stepdaughters were fair game, my brother put his foot down. He beat him to a pulp and has refused to meet another since. This is my turn. This is not happening, and if I have to dredge up the past and remind her why, I will.
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