Home > Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(8)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)(8)
Author: J.D. Hollyfield

“I love you, Mason.”

More words that gut me deeper. How can she still love me? I let her down. I always promised her I’d keep her safe and look what’s happened. I don’t know what she’s endured, but the threats Lillian left me to ponder, I doubt are good. I need to know, but I can’t find the right words to ask.

“Where have you been? I’ve tried…I’ve looked…” She can’t finish her own sentence. Her choked sobs steal the words from her, and we both squeeze tighter to one another. The pain from that night seems fresh all over again. The torment of them ripping her away from me. Her desperate pleas. My failed struggle to save her. Save us.

I don’t know what to say to her. I want to tell her the truth. About everything. But Lillian’s message is loud and clear. “I got into trouble right after they split us up. I’ve been in jail since.”

She fights out of my hold, her eyes swollen from her tears, but wide with shock. “Jail? Why—what did you do?”

Nothing is what I want to tell her. I chose not to help Lillian sooner. “I got into a bad fight.” Which isn’t a complete lie. Choking Lillian close to death isn’t far from the truth. “I tried to find you, but I was restricted where I was. They didn’t allow me to talk to anyone. Well…except one person.”

When I see the look of fear in her eyes, I know she knows who I’m talking about.


“Lillian Griffin,” is all she says. I want to cry all over again. What did Lillian do to my sister? “She knew where you were, didn’t she?” I nod, and bring my hands away from her shoulders, allowing us some distance. She turns away from me, wrapping her arms around her thin waist. “She lied, you know. I never—”

“Don’t even finish that sentence,” I growl, taking a step closer. “I never thought for a fucking second you did anything wrong.” She turns around, hope in her eyes. I continue. “She’s a lying bitch. She set you up. She set us both up.” Her lower lip starts to quiver, and I eliminate the few steps separating us and engulf her back into my arms. “I don’t know where to begin. How to start to explain how sorry I am. I don’t know what you’ve been through, and I don’t know how to ask you to tell me. But we’re both here now. And things are going to be okay.”

Her chest rises and falls, taking a deep breath. “Why us, Mason? What did we ever do to her?”

“I don’t know. But I’m gonna figure it out.” I pull back and catch her eyes, the same grey color as my own. “I need you to stay away from her though, okay?”

She breaks away, trying to give herself distance, but I grab her arm, stopping her. “I’m serious, Evelyn. She’s the fucking devil.”

She whips around to face me. “Don’t you think I know that?” Guilt stabs me in the heart at her words. “I’ve tried to run from her. But she finds me every time. And now, I’m here. She’s my counselor, Mason. She has all control over my schooling. She’d always tell me I’d be thankful for being such a good little whore because one day…” she fades off, and the look in her eyes gut me. She loses herself in a memory before coming back to me. “And now I get it. It must have been you she was talking about. I’ve been good. I’ve listened. Because I thought…just maybe it would be…” She breaks down. My arms are around her as her knees buckle. I take us both to the ground as her body convulses in deep, gut-wrenching sobs. My heart breaks open in a million pieces, and I pray for time to take us back. If I knew, I could have gotten us out of that house.

“If I could take everything back I would. Fuck, I would. I’m so fucking sorry,” I cry into her hair, soaking her soft curls. “I never stopped thinking about you. If I could’ve done something, I would have. But I was stuck. I had no way…”

She fights out of my hold, bringing her warm hands to cup my cheeks. “Oh, Mason, I know you would have. The whole time, I was dying for you. I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t know what they had done to you. If Lillian had her claws in you as well…I couldn’t imagine what they had done. Was it bad? Were you hurt?”

My body begins to throb all over again.

The horrific pain.

The vivid memory of my ribs snapping from a steel boot, a fist, cracking of a metal rod. Remembering the darkness due to my swollen eyes. The lack of food for days. The solitude for months upon months.

I squeeze my eyes shut, needing the images to go away.

“Hey, it’s okay now. We’re together.”

I open my eyes. She looks back like she’s the one saving me. Still, behind the torment, I see innocence. Kindness. “I…I need to ask where you’ve been.”

It’s too soon. I fucked up, and she instantly shuts down on me. There’s an overcast of sadness in her eyes. She squirms from my hold and stands, making her way back to the window. “I don’t…I can’t talk about that.”

My heart sinks. My biggest fear was Lillian had been telling the truth. My biggest hope was she hadn’t been. I stand. “Evelyn—”

She turns. “Mason, please. In time, but not now. Okay?” Fuck, not now. I need to know. Lillian’s life will end tonight. Evelyn can live the rest of hers in peace knowing she’s dead, and I’ll live mine behind bars knowing my little sister no longer needs to be scared. But I just got her back. Causing her any more stress than I have is the last thing I want. I nod.

“Okay. But I need you to stay away from Lillian.”

“Well, I would agree, but that’s impossible. She demands I see her twice a week. For counseling sessions.”


“Heck if I know. To torture me. Mentally fuck with me. She made it clear, I miss one and I’ll regret it. She told me no one likes getting their toys taken away. I’d learn soon enough to play nice.”

That fucking cunt.

We’re all just toys to her.

My phone buzzes, and I reach for it, knowing who it’s going to be.

Cunt Griffin: Hope you’re enjoying playtime. But time’s up. Check your email.

“Who is that?” Evelyn asks, not missing the low rumble in my chest at the message.

“No one.” I shove my phone back in my pocket. “Listen, I know I just got here, but I gotta go do something. I’ll come back as soon as I’m done, okay?” Fear radiates across her face. “No, Mason, don’t leave me. Just please stay. I’m sorry. I’ll tell you what you want to know, but please!”

She’s back in my arms, and I hold her tight. “I don’t want to leave, but I have to. Believe me when I say I need to leave to be able to see you.”

“Is it her? What does she have on you?” she cries.

I look at her, and there’s no way I can deny her the truth. “You.” The word is simple and true. “She’s kept you from me. And now that I have you back, I’m not gonna do anything to jeopardize that. I can’t explain more, but know, in the end, we will be free of her, okay?”

“Mason, please. Don’t do anything that’ll land you back in jail. I can’t do this without you anymore, please.”

We stay embraced for some time until her dorm room opens and a girl walks in. I kiss the top of her head and we both pull away. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Take my number. Call if you need anything.” She nods, and I type my number into her phone. We say no more as I exit her room.

My mind runs rampant with disturbing scenarios. I should just kill Lillian now. Not waste another second. These years haven’t been good for my sister. She doesn’t have to confess her nightmarish past for me to know her suffering. I can see it in her eyes. And for this, Lillian needs to die.

I pop out of Evelyn’s dorm building, knocking shoulders with some frat asshole on my way out. He turns, giving me a threatening stare but backs down the minute he captures the murderous glare in mine. As I hustle to Lillian’s office, I check the email she sent me. The subject line says: The Elite Seven. Tonight, I’m to meet at an abandoned nunnery, toward the edge of town. As instructed, I’m to unite and bond with six other members. Six lives I will single handedly help destroy. My conscience doesn’t exist here. I will, take part in stripping them of their virtue to earn their rightful place in The Elite.

I despise the person she’s about to turn me into. But part of me agrees. Pride won’t stop me from doing the tasks doted on me. No one is above my sister. No one. I slow my pace, needing a new plan. I can’t risk anything happening to Evelyn. What if it’s not just her? What if by deleting Lillian, I’m only deleting a piece of the game? And I doubt she’s the only player in this. I need to bide my time wisely until I can figure out a better plan.

One that gives us a life out from under The Elite and Lillian Griffin.

I’m the first one to arrive as I pull my junk Impala up the driveaway of the abandoned nunnery. The wind is fierce tonight, and I fight through the gust of leaves and spitting rain to get inside. It’s dark, and the smell of musk and death thick in the air cause me to cough. Walking in farther, I flip a few switches. No power. I spot a bunch of candles displayed along the fire mantel in clusters throughout the main room and take my lighter to them, sparking a dim glow to the beat down room. When I get to the ones on the mantle, I see the scroll, just as her email stated.

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