"I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns this storyline offered. It’s a fast paced story and very easy to read. Even though I had day to day commitments all I wanted to do was continue reading until the end- a sign of a wonderful book." lil maso, Goodreads
Published: March 27th, 2020
The crown is mine. Revenge was dealt. But at what cost? I've destroyed those who have wronged me, but lost a piece of myself along the way. The boy I love, hates me and I hate him. We've both done things that can't be forgiven and as much as the connection between us burns, I'm not sure it's enough to fix what we broke. I'm a broken queen, in a tainted kingdom and maybe I got what I deserved...
In the weeks up to the night I delivered my revenge, I pictured Sophia’s face many times, imagining my glee and satisfaction as she fell from grace. And the reality is so much better. Her shock, her humiliation, her pain—it’s so raw I can almost touch it. Tears roll down her face as her father demands an explanation, his stance rigid as he struggles to control his rage. Red stains Sophia’s cheeks as she searches the sea of people whispering and staring, reveling in her downfall.
He’s old enough to be her father. What a slut. How disgusting. Deserves everything she gets. Our queen isn’t so saintly after all. Can you believe she cheated on Ashton with his own stepfather?
I all but sense her discomfort from across the room, and when our eyes lock, silent realization dawns on her face.
She knows this is my doing, my revenge for what she did to me.
Visibly paling, Sophia’s glassy eyes widen as the color over her cheeks creeps over her entire face. Smiling, I cross my arms, mouthing my final parting words, “Game over, bitch.”
Turning on my heel, I saunter away without a backward glance as her screams vibrate through the air, threatening retribution, but her words are empty. Hollow. Powerless. There is no coming back for Sophia. Her crown is mine. And as much as watching her demise excites me, I know this will be a fleeting victory.
Because as much as I wanted this, as much as I craved to see Sophia ruined on her knees, the pleasure doesn’t outweigh the pain. Below my sinful smile and arrogant swagger, there’s a broken girl, mourning the loss of the boy she loved and regretting his mother being collateral damage.
And yet I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t change a thing. I was pushed down this road and I took the only option available to me. It might hurt to accept what I’ve done to Ashton, but he threw the first stone. We are both as guilty as each other.
War is messy, unpredictable, and even if you win, there’s a price to pay. So, shallow or not, I’m going to enjoy my triumph. Because if life has taught me anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever, and sooner or later, my enemies will rise again.
“Rose!” my mother hisses, rushing toward me as I exit the school hall. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“I was enjoying the show,” I reply mildly, ignoring the fact she’s frantic.
“Have you completely lost your mind?” she all but growls, the sound more vibration than words. “Do you want to get caught?”
Glancing as we walk, I internally roll my eyes. “I think fleeing the scene like a madwoman would be more condemning, Mother. So I suggest you take a breath and relax.”
She does, but she’s concerned nonetheless. There’s an edge to her gaze; she thinks I’m slightly unhinged, and maybe I am. After all, there’s nothing but an empty ache inside of me. I’m hollow, and my interaction with Ashton tonight has only made it worse.
There was a part of me hoping the hole inside me would heal after the elite got what they deserved. Or at least soothed some of the bitterness coursing through my veins, but honestly, it hasn’t. The second I turned away from Sophia, all I could picture was Ash’s expression as the video played. The hurt and betrayal in his cinnamon-dusted eyes, and as much as I hate myself for putting those emotions there, I hate him more for pushing me to the point of losing all my morals.
“The car should be waiting out front for us,” my mother murmurs. “I’d rather not hang around for any longer than we need too.”
“Did you see Arthur or Grayson?” I ask. I’ve been so focused on Ashton and his mom to notice the Bishop men in the room.
“Yes. Arthur slipped out the second the video started. He was long gone before it finished and realization hit the room.”
Joy spurs to life as my lips lift into a smile. I wish I’d seen his face. Maybe it makes me evil for finding happiness from other people’s suffering, but really… Arthur Bishop had it coming.
“And Grayson?” I prod.
“He stuck around a little longer. Followed his father out before Arthur’s poor wife fled in tears.”
A twinge of regret slices my heart, but the muscle is so battered and bruised, the pain doesn’t register for long.
Pushing into the cool night, we come to a stop, finding a small crowd has gathered. Parents and students mill around outside the school watching the spectacle that is the Bishop-Cole family showdown. Some students have their phones out, recording the act, and soon enough, it will be up online for the world to see. Their chatter and whispers buzz around my head, making me dizzy.
Can you believe this? He’s a self-righteous prick. Hope they lock him up. Never thought it would last; she is from Brooklyn. I bet he gets away with it. She was the same age as his son, wasn’t she?
The excitement, the thrill everyone is getting from seeing someone else’s pain makes me sick. I did this… and yet I don’t enjoy it as much as I should.
“Let’s go,” my mother whispers, taking my hand and dragging me through the crowd toward the lines of waiting vehicles ready to collect their people. But as she tugs me along, I can’t tear my attention away from Ashton and his family.
Summer’s crying as she screams at Arthur. Ashton is seemingly torn between calming his mother or giving in to his rage. While Grayson watches from the sidelines almost as if he’s a spectator and not a member of the family at all.
It’s Arthur though who holds all my focus as he straightens to his full height, his dark gaze hardening and lips thinning as he looks Summer up and down. “Get a hold of yourself, woman,” he grinds out. “Surely you weren’t delusional enough to believe I’d actually love someone from Brooklyn?”
Arthur’s words are the spark to ignite the bomb, and as Summer’s voice dies in her throat, Ashton becomes fueled by his anger. Lunging forward, Ashton balls his fist, aiming for his stepfather’s face, and before anyone has a chance to stop him, he’s knocking the man to the ground.
It’s Grayson who eventually peels Ashton off, nearly receiving a blow of his own for the trouble.
“Enough,” Grayson bellows, ducking as Ashton flies again. “He’s got what he deserves. Now leave it, Ashton.”
Heaving, Ashton glares, his temper not the least abated, but he doesn’t attempt to fight again.
“We are leaving, Rose,” my mother snaps, pulling harder on my hand as we find our way out of the crowd, and as I crane my neck, looking back, I get one final glimpse of Arthur Bishop, pulling himself up off the street, readjusting his tie, and climbing into his car as if he’s not the one in the wrong.
My mother pushes me into our vehicle and as our driver pulls away, my last view is of Grayson as he’s left on the street, his father disappearing into the night without him, and Ashton and his mother, jumping into a hailed cab. And as I take in Grayson’s face, regret consumes me. He deserved this as much as the rest of them; after all, Grayson was the puppet master, and yet when I’d pictured his defeat, he’d looked angry not lost.
It was never supposed to be this chaotic. This complicated.
I was never supposed to care.
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About the author:
Rachel M. Raithby started her writing career in 2013 and hasn’t looked back.
She draws her inspiration from the many places she has lived and traveled, as well as from her love of the paranormal and thriller movies.
She can often be found hiding out with a good book or writing more fast-paced and thrilling stories where love always conquers all.