Home > Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(15)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(15)
Author: J.D. Hollyfield

It is. It has to. I shake off the doubt and moral battle in my head. “It is. Just last time we were this close, we were doing some pretty heavy shit, not talking lesson plans. Speaking of, wanna explain why you disappeared?”

Crimson creeps into her cheeks. “I thought…I was saving us both the awkward small talk in the morning,” she answers, fiddling with her fingers.

“Maybe we could have chatted theology, then I wouldn’t be so far behind.”

Her mouth parts, and I admire her plump lips.

“Mason, I…I…that night was a—”

“Don’t say it. We both know it wasn’t a mistake. Let’s not degrade what we had. But I get it. You and I, not happenin’. Student and professor. That’s all. Cool?”

The last part’s a lie. The buzzing around us, the pull that tells me we’re far from over. She nods, feeding into my bullshit, or at least shutting down the topic, and I allow her to finish going over the rest of the syllabus. I sit back and listen, her face lit with excitement as she talks. Time seems to get away from us both, and the janitor peeking his head in alerts us to how much we lost track of time.

“Wow, how embarrassing. Why’d you just let me babble for the last hour?”

“You obviously love what you teach.”

She shrugs off my compliment. We both stand, and she gathers her notes and hands them to me. “Or love to bore people to death. Most students use my hour to sleep or catch up on Netflix shows.” She grabs her tote bag and slides into her jacket.

“Those people are fucking assholes,” I reply, wanting to snap the necks of anyone who disrespects her.

“Ah, well…that’s college for ya,” she replies. I grab my bag, and together, we walk out of the classroom. Heading outside, I notice the sun’s already long gone.

“So, theology, huh?”

“Nerd alert, right?” She laughs at herself but continues. “I practically grew up playing in my dad’s office. He had a huge library with tons of books. While most of the kids my age were at parties, building up their reputations and cool factor, I was at home nose deep into history books. Spent two years abroad for college studying religion, Greek theologies, you know, Plato. I almost stayed and taught in Europe, but my mom cried and threw the world’s biggest guilt trip, so I came home. Worked super hard and got myself a teaching job here on my own. Despite my family’s connections to the university.”

“So, you’re from New Orleans?”

She smiles and nods. “Yep. Born and raised. My family’s here. Everyone, actually. Doesn’t seem many of us have gone too far outside of New Orleans. What’s your story? Must be pretty smart yourself to land at such a great school.” Stiffness ripples up my back, my posture stone still. I falter in my step, catching her attention. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. It’s really none of my—”

“Scholarship,” I say, my tone blank.

“Oh, well that’s great. The university is really philanthropic that way.”

Satanic, more like it. “Yeah, you can say that.” We continue to walk down the building steps. “So, is St. Augustine a family legacy? You have brothers or sisters who also work here? You said family connections.”

“Oh no! But family yes! Dean Griffin, he’s my uncle actually!” She smiles as I falter in my step. I catch myself before hitting the bottom step. “You okay there?” she asks, unaware of what that information truly means to me.

“Yeah. George Griffin is your uncle?” I ask the words sour on my tongue.

“Yeah! Have you had the pleasure of meeting him yet? Such an intelligent man. And my aunt, Lillian. My dad’s sister. She runs the Counseling department. She’s so sweet and helpful. If you ever need anything, I could always introduce you. She’d be more than willing to help you out.”

I’m dizzy.



Her fucking niece?

“Are you sure you’re okay? You kinda don’t look all right.”

I’m far from all right. “Yeah…um, I gotta go. Thanks for the help. I’ll see you in class.” I turn the opposite direction and storm off without another word.

It’s dark on campus, the only lighting coming from the dimly lit street lights. The wind is stronger than normal, casting a spell of leaves to blow across the empty parking lot. Empty but one car. I lurk behind the huge cypress tree, biding my time until I attack. It’s later than normal for her to still be at work, but it’s perfect for me. Dark, abandoned. No one will hear her scream.

The doors to the admissions building open, and my eyes capture her thin frame as she wrestles with her hair caught up in a gust of wind. She races to her car, searching in her pockets for her keys. I’m in the shadows, right behind her as she makes it to her fancy Mercedes. The key is pressed into the lock when I come up behind her, wrap my large hand around her neck, and slam her into the car. Lillian’s cry is loud and laced with fear.

“Take my wallet. I have money in there.” Her voice quivers, and it gives me much joy to hear the fear in her tone. She should be scared.

I pull back and whip her around to face me, bringing my hand back to her neck, and smash her up against her car, knocking the wind out of her. “What the fuck have you gotten me in to?” I growl low into her ear. Her hands shoot forward and slaps me in the chest.

“Goddammit, Mason, you scared me. Let me go.” She tries to wiggle free, but I only squeeze tighter.

“She’s your fucking niece? First your step-daughter, now your niece? How fucking sick and demented are you?” I squeeze harder, knowing if I don’t stop, I’ll choke the life out of her. Her hands squirm, trying to fight me off, but I’m lost in my hate for her. She’s gasping and losing strength in her own fight. With the last bit of energy she has left in her, she says the word.


I release her, and she almost drops to the ground, grabbing for her neck. “What kind of game you playing here? I ain’t ruining her life.”

“A game where I make the rules, not you,” she rasps, coughing and holding her bruised neck. “You’ve just made a huge mistake. You think you have any say in what happens here?”

I bend forward, my heated breath striking her pale cheek. “I’m not doing it.” I push off her and begin to walk away.

“You will. Because your sister’s safety depends on it.” My eyelids clamp shut at her words, and I falter in my step.

I turn back to face her. “Then I’m cashing in my fucking coin.” I’ll accept whatever my new task is, knowing it doesn’t involve Megan.

Lillian raises her chin to the sky and evil laughter spews from her lips. “The coin? You silly boy, you don’t get a coin. You’re the alpha. Pride. I didn’t choose you so you can tap out, pet. I chose you because you will finish the job, no matter the consequences.”

The tornado of rage swirling in my chest scares me. I take a step toward her, threatening to sacrifice everything, just to end her right here, right now. My sister’s face comes to mind and I rein in my fury. With a stifled breath I pull back and head in the direction of my car. But not without Lillian leaving me with a warning.

“Mason! Did you know, back in ancient Greece, how they condemned anyone who sinned? The punishment was gruesome. Would you care to know what the punishment for pride was? They’d tie them to a wheel and watch their arms and legs stretch until their bones cracked and limbs ripped.”

I don’t turn around and feed into her threat. But she still wins. She’s filled me full of promise of what’s to come if I don’t comply. She’ll hurt my sister. I pick up the pace until I know I’m out of sight and take my closed fists to the nearest tree, and punch after punch, I destroy the tree until my skin is torn, and my knuckles are bloody. I still haven’t caught my breath when my phone dings in my pocket. My adrenaline is already through the roof, but it still manages to step up a notch. Don’t let it be Evelyn. Thankfully, I find a text from God.

Gluttony: Need you at Lust’s place ASAP.

Me: On my way.

I shoot off my text and jump into my car. Tonight’s plan was to meet at Rhett’s at nine, but it couldn’t come at a better time. I need the release like a motherfucker.

I pull up to the address and knock a few times. When no one answers, I invite myself in and glare around annoyed, because I’m expecting some sort of huge ass party. Hitting the foyer, I spot Gluttony, Sloth, and Lust. “What’s going on?” I ask, eyeing each one of them.

Something ain’t right.

The door opens again, and I nod to the rest of the brothers.

“Oh fuck,” Sloth’s voice travels from the living room and all eyes gravitate to where he’s standing. All the pent-up fury with Lillian instantly dissipates as I stare down at a body on the floor, blood painting the rug around his head. Scanning the photo frames lining the walls, I realize the man on the floor is Rhett’s father.

“Okay,” God says, nodding his head, glowering between the body and Rhett.

Fuck. This ain’t good. I turn my focus on Rhett who’s shaking. His chin looks like it took a pretty good hit. “He do that to you?” I ask nodding toward the unmoving body.

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