Cover Design: Pink Ink Designs
Diego Lobos is every mother’s dream. He’s handsome, smart, athletic, and well-mannered. Diego attends an Ivy League college and manages to keep a near perfect GPA. Mothers want him as their future son-in-law. Girls swoon at the mere mention of his name. Guys want him to be on their team. Everyone wants to be friends with Diego Lobos.
He’s the guy everyone loves… And rightly so. But is he right for me? Can Diego fill the voids within me? Those vacant spaces that have been dark and empty for so long that I’d forgotten they existed until he stepped into my life… Diego is charismatic, charming, and genuine. He’s sexy without being an arrogant ass.
My birthday is in three days! Just three days! In three days, I will be fourteen! A lot’s happening for me this year. I’m entering ninth grade. The boys will finally notice me because I have an awesome rack. At least that’s what they say. I’ve heard them whisper it to each other. The morons forget to close their mouths and turn when I look their way. They’re too lost in my perky tits. But I don’t mind. This year I’ll be damned if they tease me about my freckles. This year I won’t be boyfriend-less. This is my year.
Daddy has another of his business functions tonight. I know we live in like a freaking mansion, but I don’t understand why he always throws his parties here. It makes Mother extra OCD and the staff mean as hell. But I’ll suffer through tonight because in a few nights Daddy is throwing me a party! The house will be filled with my friends and anyone else who wants to enviously join. I might throw them out. Or I might let them stay so they can tell all their friends how effin’ awesome my party was. Decisions… Decisions…
But first I must get through tonight. Daddy’s functions are so stuffy and rarely have kids my age in them. I prefer to be the only non-adult in the place. Usually when someone comes with their parents they’re absolute shitheads about everything. They act all stuck up like this is their place and they’re too good to even look my way. Humph. Don’t even care if one of them attends tonight. Can’t ruin my mojo. I’m in my happy place. Only three days!
Janet enters my room from the servant’s entrance. I scowl in disapproval. She knows that’s my pet peeve. They all still must knock like they would if they were entering Mother and Daddy’s room. Janet curls her lip. She doesn’t think much of me. I’ve never really done anything to sway her one way or another, but it does bother me some. Why do the servants of this place act so hostile? If I was a spoiled brat, I’d totally understand but I’m not. No really, I’m not. I try to do and get things without their assistance. I’m self-sufficient considering my parents globe trot without me all the time. I’m alone so often that I don’t even expect anything from anyone during Christmas.
“Your Father has provided you this dress to wear for the evening Miss Desirae. I trust you can get yourself ready before the main course.” She places a white dress on my bed then stalks out of the room as if it had been me who’d inconveniently summoned her. Seriously, what is it with these people? And since when does Daddy dictate what I wear to his parties? I have a specific section in my massive closet dedicated to clothes that are approved by Mother.
My eyes travel over the dress. It really surprises me to see something so simple yet sassy resting before me. The white dress and cute bow in the front scream innocence but the strapless top and short length whisper young woman. I’m not sure which role Daddy wants me to present more tonight. I need to balance both sides carefully until he communicates his expectations. Daddy always has an agenda. He’ll whisper the plan to Mother and she executes to a tee. I haven’t always liked what he’s instructed her to do but Mother always obliges and never complains which means I must do the same.
The white satin material softly kisses my skin as I shimmy into it. The sweetheart neckline makes my boobs pop out. I try pushing them back in, but the dress is too tight at the waist. The large bow only calls out more attention to my girls spilling out. I would’ve never picked something like this for myself. I know my limitations with my freckled skin and busty chest. I try not to cringe. I really do… but the dress barely covers my ass. Forget innocent. This is borderline trashy-cute. My foot taps nervously as I stare at the girl in the mirror. Am I really going to wear something like this out of this room?
I grab the house phone not caring if they whisper about me. The phone makes several clicking sounds before someone answers.
“Yes” Janet barks into the phone. Does she know it’s me calling? What if she’d answered the phone to Daddy or Mother like that? She wouldn’t be working here for long if that was the case!
“Did Daddy offer any alternatives? This dress is a bit short.” I hate the way my voice quivers a bit at the end, but the truth is that I feel immensely self-conscious in this dress. There will be grown men mingling with Daddy and Mother. I don’t like the way they stare at me sometimes. This dress will only make things worse.
“Your Father is already on his way up to see you” Janet haughtily replies, “I suggest you finalize whatever else you have left to do.” She doesn’t wait for my reply. She just hangs up on me.
My shoulders droop. Can I even sit in this dress without revealing too much thigh or cleavage? Mother is going to throw a fit! She hates it whenever someone else gets more attention than she does. I scurry into the bathroom tying my hair up into an elegant knot with loose tendrils falling onto my shoulders. Mother says men always love a woman with a few loose strands. It shows her quiet wild streak while screaming self-control.
Makeup takes a little longer to do. I begrudgingly apply concealer because Mother balks at my attempt with sheer foundation. The sheer foundation blends with my skin but still shows some of my freckles while the concealer makes me look like I have an entirely new face. I like my freckles but apparently no one in high society does.
“There you are” Daddy stalks into my room without knocking. I smile politely at him glad that I’d put on the dress first and did my hair and makeup afterwards. This order only spells disaster but Daddy’s walked in on me, in only bra and panties, on one too many occasions. Now that I’m turning fourteen, I promised myself since I can’t lock the door that I would dress first no matter what. Daddy’s carelessly flung comment about me needing to work out more because I’m becoming too curvy and soft in unattractive parts not only hurt but I burned with humiliation for days afterwards. Why was he looking at me like that anyways?
“You appear presentable” he states in his businesslike tone. I inhale slowly, deeply; knowing tonight is all business and no fun. I won’t be able to get away early and go to sleep. Daddy will show me off like he does Mother and all his other worldly possessions.
“Thank you” I reply knowing he expects it, “Where would you like me this evening?”
“I want you to meet some special people tonight. I expect you to be on your best behavior and assist me with finalizing the contract. This is the one I’ve been working on for over a year. Your Mother’s tried to win him over, but she’s been unsuccessful in her endeavor. I expect you to shine like a diamond tonight.”
“Of course, Daddy” I smile. It hurts like hell to keep up the fake expression plastered on my face, but my night is only just beginning. Guess there is no other choice regarding my dress.
Daddy holds his arm out expecting me to loop mine into his like a perfect young lady would. I pull my shoulders back, straighten my spine, and hold my head high knowing that the moment we step down those stairs all eyes will be on us. Daddy expects perfection from me in all areas of my life; from academics, extracurricular activities, community service, and right down to the prized only-child role.
We’ve barely descended halfway down the stairs when my body wants to scream mutiny. I’ve learned to trust my instincts. My heart hammers violently against my ribcage, my fingers close into a fist against my thigh, but no one will see or notice these things. My gaze remains forward, my breathing even and under control. This indifference is what I’ve been taught all my life. I look around until I find the source of my unease; an older man with salt and pepper hair, light facial hair, and great taste in designer suits. If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, he’s wearing a Canali wool twill suit that puts almost every other gentleman’s attire to shame.
“Mr. Pearce” Daddy greets the intimidating man. People give this man a wide berth. His gaze alone can cause heart failure. “I’d like you to meet my daughter, Desirae.”
Although this isn’t the right moment, it’s nice to hear the slight tremble in Daddy’s voice. This man makes him nervous. Daddy mentioned he’d been trying to woo him for a while now but how much is at stake? Is Daddy at risk of losing something or does this man have that much to offer?
“Exquisite” Mr. Pearce replies. His eyes peruse every inch of my body. I stare at the floor unable to meet his gaze. This man sees too much. He paralyzes with just a look from his black eyes. I kid you not. The man’s eyes are all black, no iris color; all pupils.
“Does she meet your approval sir?” Daddy asks him. He shifts side-to-side while Mr. Pearce slowly walks around us. Why does Daddy care if I meet the man’s approval?
“And you’re absolutely certain she’s untouched?” His deadly voice makes my blood turn cold. I look at Daddy panicked at what they’re discussing. We’ve barely made it to the bottom of the stairs before this man pounced. Mother has everyone corralled in the main area but she’s watching for us from a distance. The one time I need her to make eye contact with me and she’s busy playing hostess to the other guests.
“The paperwork I provided you is legitimate. Hymen intact. Pure.” Daddy replies.
Bile shoots up my throat like an out of control roller coaster. I take small even breaths trying to appear unaffected. I can’t vomit in front of this man. I can’t pass out either! Hymen. I should know that word. Something niggles at the back of my mind, but I can’t quite place it. This conversation is important.
“If everything is as you say” Mr. Pearce steps closer. “Then the executed contract will be delivered to you first thing tomorrow morning and your application to Champion’s will be approved.”
“Thank you” Daddy breathes with relief. He pushes me toward Mr. Pearce. “Do everything he says. I expect your obedience and utter perfection.”
“If she’s worthwhile, I will make her a repeat and reward you with each satisfactory union.” Mr. Pearce adds. “Of course, that isn’t in our original agreement and I’ll decide what the form of payment will be each time afterwards… but I’m usually a good judge of the finer things.” He eyes my body from head to toe once again but doesn’t complete his sentence.
I see dots dance in front of my face before a painful pinch to my inner arm snaps me out of my fainting spell. “You will not pass out.” Daddy hisses in my ear.
Mr. Pearce escorts me to one of the guest rooms on the second level of a place I used to consider safe. Mother watches him take me away. I’m terrified and in shock while Mother appears angry and ousted.
“Don’t mind her” Mr. Pearce motions towards Mother “She’s upset more with herself than with you. She doesn’t have the stamina and drive like I know you will. She envies your youth and beauty. We’re going to have so much fun together.”
Each word flays me. They know exactly what’s going to happen, but they failed to let me in on the plan. Something bad is about to happen, with their consent. I numbly enter the room. I shouldn’t be in here alone with him, but my parents have allowed it. My mind screams to shut off. Be a good girl; be Daddy’s perfect girl…