Twisted Love: Chapter 16


“It’ll beover in a few months.” I leaned back in my chair and rolled my whiskey glass in my hands, watching dust mites dance in the air before me.

“Hmmm.” My uncle rubbed his jaw, his eyes sharp as he examined me through the screen. I’d turned the guest room into my home office, as I preferred to work from home on the days I didn’t have to be in the office. Fewer tiresome interactions that way. “You don’t seem excited for someone who’s been working toward this since you were ten.”

“Excitement is overrated. All I care about is that it’ll be done.”

Despite my words, my chest pinched, because my uncle was right. I should feel excited. Vengeance was so close I could taste it, but instead of sweet relief, it coated my tongue with bitterness and turned my stomach sour.

What came after vengeance?

Every other purpose I could have paled in comparison to the force that had driven me all these years. It’d held me together while I shattered on the inside. It’d revived me as I lay bleeding, comatose in a pool of guilt and horror. It’d created the chessboard on which I’d painstakingly lined up all the pieces one by one, year over year until the moment came for me to topple the king.

I didn’t fear much, but I feared what would happen after I lost my purpose.

“Speaking of done…” I set my glass on the table. “I assume you signed the papers for the Gruppmann deal today.”

Ivan smiled. “Congratulations. You’re one step closer to world domination.”

Me. Because Archer Group had always been mine.

I’d funded its inception with my money, and the company had flourished under my guidance over the years. My father had started his own successful construction company after immigrating to the U.S., and it’d been his dream to see me take it over one day. The company had collapsed in the wake of his death—I’d been too young to prevent its demise—but I’d built upon his legacy and created something new. Something bigger.

All my parents had wanted was for me to grow up happy and successful. While the “happy” part may be a reach, I could damn well work on the “successful” part.

After my uncle and I wrapped up our weekly check-in, I opened my burner laptop and pulled up the encrypted folder where I kept all the documents detailing my enemy’s finances, business dealings—both legal and illegal—and upcoming contracts. I’d chipped away at his empire over the years, slow enough that he thought he was just going through a long string of shitty luck. Now I needed just one more piece of evidence before I felled him for good.

I stared at the screen, the numbers blurring before my eyes as I envisioned my endgame. The prospect didn’t excite me as much as it used to.

At least I’d taken satisfaction in the fall of Liam Brooks. A few well-placed calls, and he’d been fired and blacklisted from every company that mattered in the northeastern United States. A few whispers in the right ears, and he’d landed on D.C. society’s blacklist. Honestly, I’d just sped up his inevitable fall from grace—according to the information my people dug up, Liam had picked up a nasty drug habit and several DUIs since graduating. It was only a matter of time before he fucked up at his job or pissed off the wrong people on his own.

He was a man who’d had everything handed to him on a silver platter, and he threw it away for a temporary high. Excuse me while I cry a nonexistent river.

Then again, he’d cheated on Ava, so he clearly lacked the good-judgment gene.

My phone pinged with a social media notification. I despised social media, but it was the world’s biggest goldmine of information. It was amazing how much personal information people shared online with little to no regard for who might be watching.

I tapped on the notification so it would go away and accidentally clicked into the app, where a shaky video of two people arguing auto-played. I was about to exit when I paused. Looked closer.


The video was still playing when I left and sped toward Madeline’s house.


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