We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Brutal Prince: Chapter 11


My husband spends the night in the emergency room. I guess that strawberry allergy was pretty serious after all. It doesn’t make up for the weeks Sebastian spent at the hospital, or the months of rehab and the loss of his basketball season, but it’s something at least.

It also allows me to skip out on the farce of the wedding photos, the dinner, the dancing, and all the other nonsense in which I wanted no part. It was bad enough having to spout off all those lies in a church, in front of a priest. I’m not religious, but that didn’t make it any better. The pious nonsense was the cherry on the bullshit sundae.

Callum and I were supposed to go to the Four Seasons to consummate our union, but that’s another thing that doesn’t end up happening. Instead I go up to the honeymoon suite alone to kick off my shoes, ditch the itchy lace dress, and order up enough room service that the concierge sounds very concerned when I tell her I only need one fork.

All in all, it’s a pretty glorious night. I try every kind of cake on the menu, while watching old episodes of Law and Order and Project Runway.

The morning isn’t quite as cheerful. I have to pack up my bag and drive over to the Griffin’s mansion on the lake. Because that’s where I’ll be living now. That’s my new home.

I feel deeply bitter toward my father and brothers as I climb in the cab. They’re at home in the house I was born in, the place I’ve lived every day of my life. They get to stay there, surrounded by family, while I have to march right into the lion’s den. I have to live in the middle of my enemies for the rest of my life. Surrounded by people who hate and distrust me. Never truly comfortable. Never really safe.

The Griffin mansion looks gleaming and formidable as I pull up the drive. I hate the perfectly manicured lawn and the sparkling windows. I hate how everything in their lives has to be so perfect, so soulless. Where are the overgrown trees, or the bushes you plant because you love the way the flowers smell?

If you told me their garden was full of plastic plants, I wouldn’t be surprised. Everything they do is for appearance, nothing more.

Like how Imogen Griffin stands in the doorway to greet me. I know she doesn’t give a shit about me, except for how I’m going to help promote her son’s career, and maybe provide her with grandchildren.

Sure enough, as soon as I’m inside, the mask drops.

“That was some stunt you pulled,” she says through pale lips. “I assume you knew he was allergic.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say.

“Don’t insult me.” Her eyes bore into mine, alight with blue fire. “You could have killed him.”

“Look,” I say, “I didn’t know he was allergic. I don’t know anything about him. We’re strangers, remember? We might be married today, but I feel the same as yesterday—like I barely know you people at all.”

“Well here’s something you should know about me,” Imogen says, her voice sharper than the ladies of the Country Club have ever heard it. “As long as you’re part of this family, I will help you and protect you. But everyone here pulls their weight. We work together, for the betterment of our empire. If you threaten what we’re building, or if you endanger any of the family, when you lay your head down that night, you’ll never lift it up again. Do you understand me?”

Ha. That’s the Imogen Griffin I was looking for. The steel behind the socialite.

“I understand the concept of family loyalty,” I tell her.

Seeing myself as part of the Griffin family—that’s another thing entirely.

Imogen stares me down a minute longer, then nods.

“I’ll show you your room,” she says.

I follow her up the wide, curving staircase to the upper level.

I’ve been here once before. I already know what lies to the left: the girls’ rooms, and the master suite belonging to Imogen and Fergus.

Imogen turns right instead. We pass the library, which gives no hint of smoky ruin. I can’t resist peeking inside. Looks like Imogen already renovated, replacing the carpet and repainting the walls. They’re pale blue now, with shutters over the windows instead of curtains. Even the fireplace got a facelift, with a new white stone facade and a glass enclosure for the grate.

“No more accidents,” Imogen says drily.

“Much safer,” I agree, not sure whether to laugh or be embarrassed.

We walk down a long hallway to another private suite, similar in size to the master. When Imogen opens the doors, I realize we’re in Callum’s room. It’s got exactly the sort of dark, masculine decor and attention to order that I would expect of him. It smells entirely of man—cologne, aftershave, soap, and a hint of his skin from the bed that hasn’t been slept in. It makes little goosebumps rise up on my forearms.

I was expecting the Griffins to give me my own room. Sort of like royals in the olden days, living in their separate suites. I thought, at worst, Callum would have to visit me in the night now and then.

But, apparently, they actually expect us to share a room. To sleep side by side in that wide, low bed. Brushing our teeth at the same sink in the morning.

This is so fucking weird.

Callum and I haven’t had one conversation that wasn’t furious or threatening. How am I ever going to close my eyes at night?

“I’m sure there’s plenty of space for your clothes,” Imogen says, eyeing my small suitcase. “Will your father be sending over the rest of your things?”

“Yeah,” I say.

It’s just a couple of boxes. I don’t have that much stuff. Plus, I didn’t want to bring anything personal over here. My tiny little christening dress, my mother’s wedding ring, old photo albums—all that can stay in the attic at my father’s house. There’s no reason to move it.

“When will . . . Callum be back?” I ask Imogen hesitantly.

“He’s here right now,” she says. “Resting down by the pool.”

“Oh. Okay.”


I was hoping for a longer reprieve before I saw him.

“I’ll leave you to get settled in,” Imogen says.

It doesn’t take long to stash away my toiletries and clothes. Callum considerately cleared out the space under one of the sinks in the bathroom, and in half of the massive walk-in closet.

He really didn’t need to leave one whole side empty. My clothes look ludicrously lonely, dangling in the space.

Not that Callum has that many clothes himself. He’s got a dozen identical white shirts, three blue, suits ranging from charcoal to black, and a similarly uniform casual wardrobe. His clothes are hung with robotic precision.

“Oh my god,” I whisper, as I touch the sleeve of one of three identical gray cashmere sweaters. “I’ve married a psychopath.”

Once I’ve unpacked, there’s really nothing left to do except look for Callum.

I slink downstairs, wondering if I should maybe apologize. On the one hand, he totally had it coming. On the other, I did feel a little guilty when his whole face started to swell up, and he was clutching and clawing at his throat.

I snacked on strawberries all morning, thinking it would give him hives. Maybe ruin a few of our stupid wedding photos.

The actual effect was far more dramatic. If Imogen Griffin hadn’t had an epi-pen stashed in her Birkin bag, I might be a widow right now instead of a wife. She ran to her son, jamming the uncapped needle into his thigh, while Fergus called an ambulance.

However, when I reach the pool deck, I see that Callum looks completely recovered. He’s not resting at all, but swimming laps. His arm cuts through the water like a knife, brilliant droplets sparkling in his dark hair. His body looks lean and powerful as he dives under the water, pushes off the wall, and rockets half the length of the pool before having to come up for air.

I sit down on one of the deck chairs, watching him swim.

It’s actually pretty amazing how long he can hold his breath underwater. I guess the Griffins must be part dolphin.

I watch him swim a dozen more laps, only realizing how much time has passed when he stops abruptly, leaning his arms on the edge of the pool and shaking water out of his eyes. He looks up at me, fixing me with an unfriendly expression.

“There you are.”

“Yup. Here I am. I put my stuff in your room.”

I don’t call it “our” roomIt doesn’t feel like that at all.

Callum looks equally irritated at the prospect of sharing close quarters.

“We don’t have to stay here forever,” he says mutinously. “After the election, we can start looking for our own place. Then we can have separate rooms, if you prefer.”

I nod. “That might be better.”

“I’m going to finish up,” Callum says, readying himself to push off the wall again.


“Oh, but one thing first.”


He beckons for me to come closer.

I walk over to the side of the pool, still distracted by the question of whether I should say sorry or not.

Callum’s hand shoots up and closes around my wrist. With a jerk, he yanks me down into the water, and wraps his iron-clad arms around me.

I’m so surprised that I yelp, letting out a breath instead of sucking one in. The water closes over my head, colder than I expected. Callum’s arms squeeze me hard, pinning my arms against my sides so I can’t move them at all.

The pool is too deep for my feet to touch. Callum’s weight drags me down like an anvil. He’s squeezing me like a snake, crushing me against his body.

I’m trying to squirm and struggle, but there’s nothing for me to kick against, and my arms are pinned. My lungs are burning, heaving, trying to force me to inhale, even though I know I’ll suck in a mouthful of chlorinated water.

My eyes open involuntarily. All I can see is bright teal, turbulent from my useless struggles. Callum is going to kill me. He’s going to drown me right now. This is the last thing I’ll ever see—the last bit of my air, rising to the surface in silvery bubbles.

I’m twitching, jerking, starting to go limp as inky spots burst in front of my eyes.

Then he finally releases me.

I pop to the surface, gasping and coughing. I’m exhausted from fighting him. It’s hard to tread water with my soaking wet jeans and t-shirt dragging me down.

He rises next to me, just out of reach of my flailing arms.

“You—you FUCK!” I shout, trying to hit him.

“How do you like having your air cut off?” he says, glaring at me.

“I’m going to feed you every fucking strawberry in the state!” I shriek at him, still choking on pool water.

“Yeah, you try that. And next time I’ll tie a fucking piano to your legs before I throw you in the pool.”

He swims to the other side and climbs out before I’ve even made it to the edge.

I wait until he’s gone to pull myself out of the pool, sopping and shivering.

To think I was going to apologize to him.

Well, I learned my lesson.

Callum doesn’t know who he’s playing with. He thought I messed up his house before? Well, I live here now. I’ll see everything he does, hear everything. And I’ll use what I learn to destroy him.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode