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Heiress
Author: Ella Goode

 


CHAPTER 1

 

 

LEO

 

 

“There’s a fight on Thursday night. Do you want in?”

I look down at my boots where the toe is almost worn through and then back to the face of my best friend, Logan Davis. “No, but thanks.”

His mouth flattens out in disappointment or maybe disapproval. “It’s easy money.”

“Sol hates it. She might not let me in the apartment if I come home with another bloody nose and then what would I do? Crash at your place?” It’s a joke, but not really. Sol, my sister, does hate my fighting. The last time I taped up and entered the ring, she didn’t talk to me for a week. Plus, no one is crashing at Logan’s basement hellhole. It smells—and looks—like a ruined meth lab.

“Does your sister think her tuition money to NYU grows on trees?”

I shove the hard hat onto my head. “No. She thinks it comes from this job, and I’m not telling her differently.” I snatch my threadbare work gloves out of my back pocket and start toward the loading dock. About two steps away, another thought pops into my head, and I turn around. “If you and anyone else says differently, I’m gonna bash your head in.”

Logan rolls his eyes but tips an imaginary hat which I presume means he’s not going to say anything. I get back to work and try to ignore the little voice at the back of my head that tells me I’m an idiot for turning down a quick grand. A smart man with bills like mine would let a random guy in the subway slap him for a full hour for that kind of money.

“Watch out!” someone cries.

I look up to see a 50-ton steel beam headed my way. I drop to the floor of the scaffolding and slide off the edge. The beam hits the side of the shipping container with a giant boom and then swings back. Another guy drops beside me. I reach out and catch his hand. Ten gives me a grateful look as he scrambles to get his own grip.

A piece of metal drops from the sky, and I swing back out of the way. There are screams and horns blaring, loud cracks and screeches as metal bangs against metal. A shadow passes over my head, and without looking up, I know it’s not a cloud covering the sun. Down is my best option. I unhook my safety belt and release my hold on the side of the scaffolding. Fifteen feet down, I catch myself on the second tier of the metal support and then drop another story to the ground, rolling into a ball to soften the landing.

“Move it, Williams!”

I do as I’m told, and pop up and start running. Beside me is Ten. We sprint forward toward a foreman waving his arm, directing us away from the harbor and toward the parking lot. The warning came just in time because the entire scaffolding collapses behind us.

Ten and I reach safety, winded but unhurt.

“You okay?” I gasp out between breaths.

He nods, unable to form the words.

“Scared the shit out of me,” I half laugh to relieve some tension.

“Same,” he says.

We survey the disaster. A steel beam was being moved by an automated crane, but something must’ve gone wrong because it crashed into a container and then took the whole operation down. Dread prickles the hairs on my neck. The dock is ruined and will have to be rebuilt before any more receiving and unloading can be done. The last time there was an accident like this, I was out of work for six months.

A minute later, my foreman, Davy, confirms my worst fear. “Best go home, boys. This mess will need to be looked at by the insurance suits, and then I don’t know what will happen.”

“What about this week’s pay?” I don’t know why I’m asking since we don’t even get paid on days that it rains and we can’t work.

Davy gives me a sheepish shrug. “You know you’re an hourly worker, Williams. Can’t pay you if you’re not working.”

“I’m not working because of this shit. Not because I don’t want to. Let me clean up if I can’t do unloading work.”

“We’ll see, but no one’s touching anything until we figure out who is at fault.” He claps me on the shoulder. “Go home and enjoy the unexpected vacation.”

“I don’t want a vacation.” A vacation doesn’t pay the bills.

“Too bad.” He walks off, having delivered his shitty news.

Logan makes a snicking noise and flings an arm across my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it, man. Come over to my place tomorrow and hang with me and the boys. We’ll have a Halo tournament or something.”

“I can’t. I need to work. Thanks anyway.” I pull away and jog toward the bus stop before he can come up with more reasons why I should be happy about my forced period of unemployment.

Sol’s tuition payment is coming up, and so is rent and all the fucking utilities. I know what I’m going to have to do, and it pisses me off to be backed into this corner. The question is whether I’m up front with Sol or lie.

By the time I reach the apartment, I haven’t made up my mind. It’s nearing five, so Sol should be home by now. The music is on inside when I open the door. A girl spins into my arms, laughing. I catch her just as she’s about to whack me with an elbow.

Her pretty lips form a perfect circle. I blink once and then twice, trying to get rid of the filthy thoughts that spring to mind. This is Sol’s friend, Tinsley. She’s 19. She’s ungodly rich. All reasons why she’s off limits.

I push her away and scowl. “What the hell is going on here?”

A hurt look crosses Tinsley’s face, which I pretend not to see. “We’re making dinner.”

“It sounds like you’re trying to raise the dead.” I walk over to the speaker and yank the cord out of the wall. “I’ll eat later,” I say to Sol, whose happy face has turned dark. “I got shit to do.”

“Like what?” Sol yells. “I’m making dinner for you!”

Without answering, I walk into my bedroom and slam the door shut. Of all the people that have to be at my apartment on this crappy day, it’s Tinsley. I snort in unhappy amusement. What shit to do? Well, since Tinsley turned up, jacking off for one. I haven’t known a minute’s peace since Sol turned up with her. Why does my sister’s best friend have to be a woman I can’t have?

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

TINSLEY

 

 

“Maybe I should go.” I worry my bottom lip between my teeth. It was obvious by Leo’s reaction that he doesn’t want me here.

Since the very first day I met Leo, he’s had an utter dislike for me. I’m not sure why. Or what I did to bring out those feelings in him. I try to be nice, but I barely say a few words to him before he walks out of the room, not caring what I have to say.

I should be used to it by now. In the world I come from, what a woman says doesn’t matter. It goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes you’ll get a little pat on the head for an idea or suggestion but it’s never really considered. I don’t know why it burns when Leo does it to me, but it does.

I guess it doesn’t matter what circles you run in. Men are always jerks. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on him, though. It had been late, and I was hanging with Sol on the sofa watching movies. I'd planned to spend the night wanting to get away from home. He came in the door at one in the morning.

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