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Brutal Prince: Chapter 13


Living with the Griffins is strange, to say the least.

The only person who seems happy to have me there is Nessa. We weren’t exactly friends at school, but we were cordial enough, from a distance. We know some of the same people, so now we can talk about all the weird shit they got up to since graduation.

I think Nessa likes having me there because I’m the only person who doesn’t behave like an Ambition Bot. I’m willing to actually talk at breakfast, not just work and eat in silence. Plus, we’re both taking classes at Loyola, so we can ride to school together in Nessa’s Jeep.

Nessa is a genuinely kind person, something you don’t see a lot of in the world. Plenty of people act nice, but it’s just manners. Nessa gives away all her pocket money to homeless people, every single day. She never talks shit about anybody, even people who totally deserve it, like her siblings and her most vapid friends. She listens when people talk—I mean, really listens. She’s more interested in you than in herself.

I don’t know how a bunch of sociopaths managed to raise a girl like that. Actually, it’s kind of tragic, because the Griffins look at her kindness as a failing, like some mild disability. They joke about how soft she is, how innocent.

I know Callum cares about her, but she’s like a pet to him, not an equal.

Nessa welcomes me with open arms, glad to have another sister. Especially one that’s slightly less of an asshole than Riona.

I don’t know shit about having a sister. All I know is what I see in movies: braiding each other’s hair, stealing each other’s clothes, sometimes hating each other, sometimes crying on each other’s shoulders. I don’t know if I could do any of those things without feeling idiotic.

But I’m glad to have Nessa as a friend. There’s a peacefulness to her personality that helps smooth down some of my rough edges.

Actually, I spend more time with her than I do with my new husband. Callum is working insanely long hours in the lead up to the election, and I’m usually already asleep in our shared bed by the time he comes in.

Maybe it’s on purpose. We haven’t hooked up again since our official “consummation” of the wedding.

That took me by surprise. I barged into the shower because I was cold and tired of waiting, and I wanted to show him that he couldn’t intimidate me, not by half-drowning me, and certainly not with a little nudity.

I didn’t expect him to kiss me. And I definitely didn’t expect him to touch me that way . . .

Here’s the problem. I like sex. A lot. And I’m used to getting it pretty frequently.

So, unless I’m going to start cheating on my brand-new husband, which is a really bad idea for a variety of reasons, then there’s only one place to get my fix.

And it’s not exactly like I have to grin and bear it. Callum is hot. He’s cold, and arrogant, and a total control freak—he’s already chewed me out five times this week for leaving clothes on the floor and spattering the mirror while I’m brushing my teeth, and not making the bed when I get up an hour after him. But none of those things change the fact that the man is genetically blessed. His face, his body, and that cock . . . none of it is hard to look at.

And he’s got some skills, too. He doesn’t fuck like a robot. He can be gentle, he can be rough, and above all, he’s extremely perceptive. He reads me like a book.

So I wouldn’t mind exploring this whole married sex thing a little further. But he’s been too busy—or avoiding me.

Of course, when he does finally need my help, he asks in the most obnoxious way possible, which is not asking at all.

He corners me in the kitchen, where I’m trying to toast a bagel. The Griffins’ toaster keeps popping it back up again, because it probably hasn’t been used in ten years since I’m the only one in this house familiar with the concept of carbs.

“I have a fundraiser tonight,” Callum says. “Be ready at seven.”

“Sorry,” I say, jamming down the lever on the toaster and holding it in place, “I’ve already got plans.”

“Doing what?”

Lord of the Rings marathon. All three movies, extended version. I won’t be finished until tomorrow around noon.”

The toaster makes an angry clicking sound, but I hold the lever in place, determined to brown my bagel even if it makes the machine explode.

“Very funny,” Callum says, narrowing his pale blue eyes at me. “Seven o’clock, and make sure you’re not late. I expect proper hair and makeup. I’ve already laid a dress out on the bed.”

I let the bagel pop up, nicely browned at last. I start spreading a nice thick layer of cream cheese, glomming on even more when I see Callum’s expression of disgust.

“Do you have my lines ready for me, too?” I ask him. “Maybe you should just hang a placard around my neck, with whatever you expect me to say.”

I take a huge bite of my bagel, enjoying it all the more because I know Callum probably hasn’t let himself eat one in years.

“If you could refrain from cursing every third word, that would be a start,” he says, his fingers twitching involuntarily. I’m pretty sure he’s dying to snatch the bagel out of my mouth. He’s holding back because he doesn’t want to antagonize me before the fundraiser.

“I’ll damn well try, sweetheart,” I say around a mouthful of bagel.

He glares at me and stalks off, leaving me alone in the kitchen. Well, not totally alone—I still have plenty of snacks.

I make a bowl of popcorn so I can at least start The Fellowship of the Ring.

As I head toward the theater room, I see Riona coming from the opposite direction, carrying a stack of folders. She looks flustered and stressed, as per usual. I don’t know why she’s always knocking herself out trying to impress these people—it’s pretty clear that her parents see Callum as the star of the family, and her as a supporting character at best. Yet the more they push her to the side, the harder she fights for them to notice her. Watching it bums me out.

Not that I have much sympathy. Riona was a grade-A bitch at school. Queen of the mean girls. The only reason I didn’t get more shit from her is because I was younger and therefore beneath her notice.

That’s pretty much how she acts having to live in the same house with me. So I can’t resist poking at her now and then.

“You wanna join me?” I ask her, holding up the popcorn bowl. “I’m about to watch Lord of the Rings. Ever seen it? There’re some characters I think you might really identify with.”

Specifically, the ones that eat human flesh and are born out of muddy egg sacs.

Riona gives a dramatic sigh, annoyed that I’m even talking to her.

“No,” she says. “I don’t want to watch a movie at three o’clock in the afternoon, because I’m not a fucking child. I have work to do.”

“Right,” I say, nodding my head. “I forgot that you’re the secretary for your whole family. Really important stuff.”

“I’m a lawyer,” Riona says with icy dignity.

“Oh.” I give a fake grimace. “Sorry about that. Well don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody.”

Riona shifts the heavy folders against one hip, cocking her head to the side so she can look me up and down with that patented mean-girl stare.

“That’s right,” she says softly. “Everything is a joke to you. You get traded like a baseball card and you don’t care, right? You don’t care that your family abandoned you. That they sold you to us.”

That puts a sick little knot in my stomach, but I’m not going to let Riona see it. I force myself to keep smiling and even pop a piece of popcorn into my mouth. It feels as dry as cardboard against my tongue.

“At least I’m a Topps Mickey Mantle,” I tell her. “I doubt you’d be an ‘86 Jose Canseco.”

Riona stares at me, shaking her head.

“You are so fucking weird,” she says.

Eh . . . that’s probably true.

She shoves past me, hurrying down the hallway.

I head into the theater, settling down in my favorite seat in the middle row.

Riona’s a bitch. Her opinion means less than nothing to me.

But it keeps bothering at me, all the same. I can’t even pay attention to the dulcet tones of Sir Ian McKellen, my favorite old-man crush.

The truth is, I do feel abandoned. I miss my father. I miss my brothers. I miss my own house, which was old and shabby and stuffed with ancient furniture, but I knew every bit of it. It was safe and comfortable, with memories attached to every surface.

I eat my popcorn without tasting any of it, until I can finally lose myself in the fantasy world of elves and dwarves and good-hearted Hobbits.

Around 6:30 p.m., I figure I should start getting ready. I shut the movie off and head upstairs to see what monstrosity Callum has laid out on the bed for me.

Sure enough, when I unzip the garment bag, I see a tight, silver-beaded dress that looks stiff and dowdy and fucking awful. Right as I’m wrinkling my nose at it, Callum comes into the room, already dressed in a spotless tux, his dark hair combed back and still damp from his shower.

“Why aren’t you dressed?” he says angrily. “We’re supposed to be leaving in twenty-five minutes. Jesus Christ, you haven’t even done your hair yet.”

“I’m not wearing this,” I tell him flatly.

“Yes, you are.” He scowls at me. “Put it on. Immediately.”

“Did you steal this out of Imogen’s closet?”

No,” he snarls. “I bought it specifically for you.”

“Good. Then you can return it.”

“Not until after you wear it tonight.”

“Not happening,” I tell him with a toss of my head.

“Get in the shower,” he barks. “We’re going to be late.”

I walk toward the shower, moving deliberately slowly just to annoy him. I don’t need more than half an hour to get ready; I’m not a fucking pageant queen.

Still, I’m tempted to stand under the warm water forever just to let him stew. I’m definitely not wearing that dress—I can wear the yellow one that I wore to the engagement party. Though Callum will probably pop a blood vessel at the idea of a person wearing the same outfit two entire times.

When I step out of the shower, I see that he picked up the clothes I left in a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor. Nice.

I wrap a big, fluffy towel around myself—say what you will about the Griffins, at least they have excellent taste in linens—then I stroll into the closet to find my dress.

Instead, I see that my entire side of the closet has been completely cleared out. Empty hangers dangle at odd angles—some of them still swaying from the wild stripping that occurred here.

I pull open the drawers—empty too. He’s taken every last stitch of my clothing, down to my underwear.

When I turn around, Callum’s broad shoulders are filling the doorway, arms crossed over his chest and smirk on his handsome face.

“Guess it’s the dress or nothing,” he says.

“I pick nothing, then,” I reply, dropping the towel in a puddle around my feet and folding my arms across my chest in imitation of his.

“Understand this,” Callum says quietly. “You’re coming to that dinner tonight, even if I have to throw you over my shoulder and carry you like a caveman. You can be wearing the dress when I do that, or I swear to god, Aida, I will haul you there naked and make you sit in your seat in front of everyone. Don’t fucking test me.”

“That’ll embarrass you more than me,” I snap, but I can feel the color rising in my cheeks. Callum’s eyes look wilder than I’ve ever seen them. I actually think he’s serious. That’s how determined he is to bend me to his will over this stupid dress.

The seconds tick by between us. Seconds that are making us later and later for this fundraiser, but Callum isn’t budging out of the doorway. This is the hill he’s choosing to die on: that ugly beaded dress.

“Fine!” I bark at last. “I’ll put the stupid dress on.”

The smirk on his face makes me want to take it back immediately. Or else punch him in the eye. If I have to go to the dinner in that lame-ass dress, then he can go there with a nice fucking shiner.

I’m so mad I’m almost shaking. I step into the stiff, scratchy dress and stand there while Callum zips up the back. It feels like he’s lacing a corset. I have to suck in my tummy and then, once it’s zipped, I can’t let it out again. Which makes me kind of regret all that popcorn I ate.

“Where did you hide my underwear?” I demand.

I feel Callum’s fingers pause at the top of the zipper.

“You don’t need any underwear,” he says.

That fucker. He’s getting off on this! I knew it!

Sure enough, when I turn around there’s a hungry look on his face, like he wants to rip the dress right off me again. But he won’t do that. He’s going to savor watching me walk around in it all night. Knowing that he’s making me do it. Knowing that I’m not wearing any panties underneath.

I’m so infuriated I could scream. Especially once he holds up the shoes he expects me to wear.

“How am I even going to get those on?” I shout. “I can’t sit down in this fucking straightjacket.”

Callum rolls his eyes.

Then he does something that surprises me.

He gets down on his knee in front of me, placing my hand on his shoulder for balance. He lifts my foot and slides the stiletto onto it, like he’s Prince Charming and I’m Cinderella. His hands are surprisingly gentle as his fingers touch the arch of my foot. He buckles the strap, then puts the other shoe on my opposite foot.

When he stands up again, we’re close to each other, so much that I have to tilt my head to look up at him.

“There,” he says gruffly. “I’ll send Marta up to help you get ready.”

Marta is a catch-all personal assistant to the family, and she also happens to be good with hair and makeup, so she frequently helps Riona and Nessa get ready for events. Imogen does her paint job herself, or else goes to a salon.

“Whatever,” I say.

Callum heads downstairs to find Marta, and I start hobbling back to the bathroom on the sky-high heels.

I don’t know if it’s the lack of underwear or something else, but I can feel an uncomfortable wetness between my legs. Every step I take in that tight dress is making my pussy lips rub together. I’m warm and throbbing, and I keep thinking about that look of arousal on Callum’s face. How stern he was when he ordered me to put on the dress.

What the fuck is happening to me?

It must just be the fact that I haven’t gotten laid in over a week.

Because there’s no way that I could be turned on by Callum ordering me around. That’s crazy. I fucking hate being bossed around.

“Aida?” a voice says behind me.

I yelp and spin around.

It’s just Marta, holding her makeup bag. She’s about thirty years old, with big brown eyes, dark bangs, and a soft voice.

“Callum said you needed a little help getting ready?”

“Right. Yes,” I stammer.

“Take a seat,” she says, pulling a chair up in front of the mirror. “We’ll have you ready in no time.”


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