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"Looks like it's just you and I in this hellhole, sweetheart."

Copyright © 2021 by Marzy Opal

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be distributed or reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the written permission from the author, except for the use of small excerpts in reviews. Unauthorized copying, distribution, reproduction, translation is an infringement of copyright and punishable by law.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places, events, organizations, businesses used in this book are a product of the author’s imagination or if real, used fictiously. Any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely coincidental.


August 7, 2012
6:37 p.m.

          Cade, 16

            The first time I saw Ella Ximena Cordova, she was perched on her stone balcony. Looking like a dark-haired princess, she perused the gardens with a bored look on her face, a joint neatly tucked between her fingers.

            Her reputation, like mine, preceded her. Beloved daughter and heiress to a small empire. St. Victoria’s co-captain of the cheerleading squad. South Side, Montardor’s resident good girl who lived to please others.

            Shiny. Expensive. 

The complete opposite of me.

            The Remington clan—my aunt Julia, Uncle Vance and their son Joshua—dragged my three-year-old sister Olivia and me to dinner with the Cordovas. They were long-time friends and business partners. Or something along those lines.

            Before we entered their house, I asked to be excused. “I’ll be a minute. I need a smoke.”

           “It’s ill-mannered to keep them waiting, Cade,” Aunt Julia said with a frown. To prove her point, she glanced at her Cartier watch and flicked her eyes my way, as if imploring me to understand. “We’re already late as it is.”

            What she really wanted to say was: Why haven’t you stopped smoking yet?

             I almost added that we wouldn’t have been late if Vance Remington hadn’t insisted on fucking Julia Havilland in the cigar lounge before we left. I was walking to the kitchen for a snack before dinner—how uncultured of me, I know—when I heard them going at it like frenzied animals. Unfortunately, I lost my appetite and learned that my new adoptive parents had a breeding kink. Thankfully, no one besides their butler caught me dry heaving outside the door. So, last I checked, being late was all on them. 

           Instead of saying that, I answered, “If I don’t smoke now, I’m going to be cranky when we get inside, and I’m sure you don’t want me to embarrass you in front of your friends.”

          Especially when it was the first time Olivia and I were being formally introduced to the Cordovas.  

          Aunt Julia gave her husband a concerned look, silently asking him to deal with me. It’d been two months since they officially adopted us. Paperwork that should have taken them months—hell, even years—to achieve in Canada, they did within days. Money was power and living with them had its perks (when I wasn’t hearing about their sexual activities), but it was clear we had a rulebook of bullshit etiquette to follow at home and in public. 

         One of them being the no-smoking rule.

         But it was the only way I could cope with everything. The stress. The nightmares. The aftermath of it all.

         Joshua, my new brother, crossed his arms and leaned languidly against their Mercedes. He sighed, as if anticipating what came next. AKA one of Vance’s lectures. 

         Sensing the tension, Olivia blinked at me with huge brown eyes. I ruffled her dark curls with a small smile. She didn’t say much in general, and she chose not to say anything right now. Wordlessly, she dropped my hand and crossed over to join the others in solidarity. Aunt Julia picked her up and my little Livvy laid her head on her shoulder.

         I was always the outcast. I was used to it.

        “No, we are not waiting a minute, let alone a second, for you.” Uncle Vance blew out a breath before cracking his neck. He was a tall, muscular, scary motherfucker, with dark hair and blue eyes like my own. And, while he had the ability to easily intimidate me, he rarely used it. “I asked you to stop smoking and you refuse to even try. I don’t care if you start to get irritable during dinner. We are going in now.”

         And what he really wanted to say was: Why are you so ungrateful? I’ve given you a roof over your head, food on the table, a stable home, and you refuse to follow my one crucial rule.

         My parental unit and siblings made their way to the front door, where the Cordovas’ staff stood to greet them. I walked in the opposite direction, already pulling a cig out of my pocket. “Sorry, Uncle Vance. What did you say? You’re cool with me smoking? Thanks.”

          I quickly stole to the side of the mansion and lit my cigarette, ignoring the chilling way Uncle Vance hollered my name. If I was going to socialize with randos and act like a fake prick (or whatever rich people did during dinner), then I needed to take the edge off.

          I just took my first drag and parked my ass on a garden bench, right next to fancy angel statues, when I spotted her standing on the balcony.

            Our gazes clashed from afar like a magnetic force beckoned us.

            For a moment, I felt a little breathless.

            She was beautiful, almost in a coy, dainty manner. Long black hair billowing softly, slender frame from years of cheerleading, and tanned skin all wrapped in a tempting red bow. 

            She tilted her head, eyeing me curiously. She brought her joint to her pouty lips and took a hit, frowning. Probably wondering why I was wearing jeans and a thick black sweater smack in the middle of ass-sweating August on the Canadian West Coast.

            While she was wearing a loose, criminally short, white dress that looked threads away from flying off her if the big bad wolf so much as blew in her direction.

            I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.

            We continued to watch each other as we smoked. Her, as a challenge. Me, as I tried to figure out where I’d seen her before.

There was something familiar about her. Yet it didn’t make sense. We ran in different circles, even if we were both from the South Side.

Oh, fuck. 

            It hit me as she leaned forward, bracing her forearms on the balcony railing and giving me the best view of her cleavage.

            This was the girl I’d sold a baggie of marijuana to in the back alley of MacGregor last week. She was in disguise then, with a hood that barely shielded her face. But I knew—I just knew it was her.

            Realization dawned upon her at the same time as me.

            Instead of freaking out and running inside to tell Daddy Cordova that one of the dinner guests was her drug dealer, she simply arched an eyebrow at me. A flirtatious grin played across her face.

            Utterly entranced by this girl, I hissed when ash from my cigarette tumbled onto my clenched fist. I thought I caught her chuckling, her tongue peeking out and wiping at her bottom lip.

           She quickly finished her joint, then threw me a saucy wink before disappearing inside. Making this moment feel like a secret rendezvous between two people who were never supposed to meet.

          Like an idiot, I stared at the place she vacated, my eyes conjuring her tight body and the air of confidence she left behind.

          A strange feeling moved inside my chest.

         This girl had shamelessly checked me out. But, above all, she was the first person in a long time to not stare at me with pity. Unlike so many of the people in my vicinity.

         And maybe that’s what put a smile on my face.

         She made me feel like a normal sixteen-year-old for the first time this summer, rather than a broken boy whose skin harboured more lacerations than she could count on her pretty fingers.

         There was a bounce in my step after I finished my cigarette and went to join my family on the front porch. Aunt Julia looked resigned, running her fingers through her blond locks, with Olivia in her embrace. Joshua seemed bored, and I entirely ignored Uncle Vance’s angry expression as we entered.

         Quiet excitement simmered in my gut at the prospect of seeing her again.

         I couldn’t have known then that Ella Ximena Cordova would be the first girl I’d ever love.

         Or that she’d be the first one to rip out my heart.

Want to read about Cade and Ella's love story?

Trapped With You—a new adult, second chance romance
with dark themes, lots of steam and a wild, ride-or-die
couple—can be found on Amazon!

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