Home > Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(6)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(6)
Author: J.D. Hollyfield

“And you will be. You should be thankful I devoted so much time to you. But now that you’re past your prime, we’re gonna have to work around it.”

“How’s that?”

“Simple. You’re eighteen. Newest freshman attendee. Scholarship given by the university for disadvantaged kids.”

“I don’t understand. You can’t just—”

“You don’t need to understand anything but what I’m telling you. And what I’m telling you is you need to attend class and sit tight until I come calling.” She raises her hand to graze my cheek, but I slap it away.

“Where is my sister?”

“Oh, yes. Well, first, I need you to prove to me your worthiness. I need to trust you won’t just take off once I give you what you so desperately want. And even then, I’d be advised not to cross me.”

“Where the FUCK—?”

“Oh, hush. All this aggression. You’d be happy to know Evelyn has been given the same specialty treatment as you.”

My vision goes blind with rage. What did they do to her?

Lillian’s laugh has me spiraling. “Down, boy. She’s enrolled at St. Augustine as well. Set up with housing and a comfortable class schedule. I hear she wants to be a writer.”

A writer. My sister wants to become a writer? Pride fills my chest knowing she has goals. She aspires to be something. She hasn’t grown up into a fuck up like me.

“I’m warning you, try anything stupid and all this goes away. That also goes for spilling any of our arrangements to your sister. You will obey me. You will do everything I ask of you. I promise you, every move you make will affect your sister. Do I make myself clear?”

Oh, she’s making herself very clear. “All this obeying bullshit, you haven’t even told me what you want from me. How the hell do I know what rules I’m breaking?”

Her smile is what nightmares are made of. Hidden behind that sweet lie is hate and destruction. “You will soon enough. For now, here’s your housing information, phone, keys, and some cash to get yourself cleaned up. May I recommend some more appropriate attire?”

I take the items she hands me, and the side door reopens. “That’s it?” I ask.

“For now.”

I sit there, staring back at her.

“This is where you get out, Mason. Hurry along, I have a busy day.”

Crunching the items in my grip, I throw my leg out and exit the vehicle. The door shuts, and her henchman climbs back in and speeds off down the gravel road. I stand there confused, shocked, angrier than before. I jingle the set of keys in my hand when I notice the key fob. I press down on the worn off buttons to hear a beeping sound erupt from across the street where a line of cars are parked. I press it again, and the back lights to a vehicle light up.

“How nice. My ride’s here.”

St. Augustine College - New Orleans.

Three weeks later…


“Keep going?”

“Don’t ask me again. Finish it.”

Crow, the tattoo artist, shakes his head, his laugh gruff from the three packs of smokes he inhales a day. “You one bad ass motherfucker. But all right. Prah’ got another four hours on this side.”

I nod. My skin is on fire, but I welcome the pain. The last two weeks, I’ve sat in his chair while he covered both arms with ink. Everything on my body has meaning. Symbolization. Starting with the thorns suffocating the flower over my heart. The last two weeks have been hell but sitting in the chair with the buzzing of the needle permanently bleeding into my skin allows me to feel something other than guilt. Regret. Anxiousness. Lillian has yet to beckon me. She has yet to give me my sister. I’m starting to think she’s lying. Only dangling my desperation in front of me so I do what she wants. And right now, it’s play nice until she’s ready for me.

In the meantime, I’ve done what she asked. Attended my bullshit classes and laid low. Just as she promised, I was handed a scholarship, all expenses paid. And no one batted an eye at my GED or low-grade point average. Not a single person questioned my jail record or why I’d been locked up the past two years. I don’t know how the fuck she thinks I’m going to pull off a full schedule of college classes. She knows this isn’t where I belong; it’s just another thing she taunts me with. I don’t and won’t ever have the brains to attend a real university. I told her as much, but it’s no concern to her. Her instructions were simple. Just show up to class and she’ll take care of my grades.

The housing was a fucking joke. It may have been in one of the nicest areas around campus, but don’t be fooled. It was all just a ruse. A ploy to toy with me. Inside the lavish apartment is dingy, used furniture. The couch is covered in rips and tears, and it reeks of vomit. The bed is in the same condition. I have a better chance of escaping bed bugs by sleeping on the floor. She wants me to remember I come from nothing. Same goes for the car. Broken down piece of shit. I’d rather sleep on the streets, but for now, she makes the rules. I stay here or else. I’ll hold my chin up, my pride high, because in the end, it’s all for her: Evelyn.

The sun peeking through the dingy shutters alerts me that I’ve been here all night. I look at the time to see it’s going on six in the morning. Crow is just finishing the final touches on the snake around my bicep when my phone buzzes in the back of my worn jeans pocket. Only one person has this number.

Which means I’m being beckoned.

Lillian sure had me at the edge of my seat, anticipating what she had in store for me. But today, now, is when I learn my fate. When I find out what I really signed up for. Agreeing to her terms was no different than signing my death warrant. I knew the day I did, it would be the last time I had control over myself.

Crow patches me up, and I’m out headed to campus. I’m sure my eyes are bloodshot, but they’ve been that way for weeks now. Sleep is something that hasn’t come easily to me in a long time.

I enter through the counselor’s office, and see her door, a shiny plaque with her name sprawled across it.

Lillian Griffin, MD

Head Master Counselor

I lean against the wall, thinking how messed up it is that someone as demented as her can have so much power in such a top school—

“Mason?” I bring my focus to the voice calling my name. “Oh my god, Mason, is that you?” Chastity Griffin. Lillian and George Griffin’s daughter. It’s been years since I’ve seen her. Two years to be exact. “What the heck happened to you? I came home from cheerleading camp and you and Evelyn were gone. Lillian told me you were placed in a different home.”

I’m sure she did. I bet she also left out what a sadistic bitch she is or how her father is a sick fuck who abuses girls. Looking at her now, I wonder if she even knows—if daddy dearest ever made his way into his own daughter’s room.

“Yeah. Fuckin’ foster system’s a joke,” I lie, saving her the truth. She still looks innocent and unaware of the demon living under the same roof. Curiosity begins to build behind those innocent eyes, and I know I need to wrap this up, before she starts asking questions I can’t answer—

“Weird though, Lillian never mentioned you went here. What are you, sophomore? Junior now?”

Fuck. Chastity knows how old I really am.



“No, actually first year. Took a break for a bit.” Actually, your cunt of a step-mother locked me up in a prison until I bowed down to play her little puppet, set out to ruin lives.

“Oh, well cool. Hey! That reminds me! I swore I saw Evie here too!”

My skin prickles at my sister’s name. “Where?” I ask, causing her to jump.


“Where did you see her?” I spit out. Lillian said she was here, but I’ve yet to find her. I went to the registrars’ office asking about her, but those assholes refused to give me any information. Student privacy policy my ass.

“I thought I saw her walking out of the student center. She looked good!” Her eyebrows raise in confusion. “Tell her I said hi and maybe we can do coffee sometime?”

I want to storm off and sit outside the student center in hopes to catch her. Shake Chastity with more questions. What was she wearing? Define good. Did she look like she had endured hell for the last two years? Instead, I rein in my emotions and nod, forcing my lips to curl into a slight smile. “Will do.”

That easy-going smile she always carried is back across her face. “Well, cool! I mean, how crazy for all of us to end up at the same school? Are you here to see Lillian?” she asks, unaware of how I truly ended up here.

“Yeah. She’s my counselor.” And the devil in disguise. The one person I dream about slitting their throat and watching her die slowly. The one who’s made it clear she holds all the cards, as well as the strings controlling my life.

“That’s great. It’s great to see you again. I hope we get to catch up on campus!” She goes in for a hug, which makes me uncomfortable, then disappears in Lillian’s office. A short time later, she and another male student exit, leaving the door open as Lillian waits for me to enter.


It’s now or never.

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