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Beauty in the Broken
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Six years ago, Harold Dalton framed me for theft and sent me to jail to steal my diamond discovery. He gave his daughter to Jack Clarke in exchange for the excavation rights. Today, I’m walking free, and I’m coming for him with a vengeance. Six years of cruelty make beasts out of men. I’m going to take back what he stole from me, and more. I’m not interested in his properties or shares. I don’t want his small change. I want his biggest asset. Beautiful, mentally unstable, Angelina Dalton-Clarke.
Worth billions, she’s the wealthiest widow in the country, and also the craziest. Her self-harming tendencies had Jack declare her incompetent before he put a gun to his head and blew out his brains. Lina isn’t allowed to touch a cent of her riches. Her father manages her finances. He has all the signing power. As her husband, that ‘chore’ will fall to me. But if she thinks I only want her for her money, she’s sadly mistaken.
*This book is a stand-alone. No cliffhangers.
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Harold Dalton shoots up from behind his oversized desk so fast he almost stumbles over the wheel of his equally oversized chair. “What do you want?”
The coward is afraid. He should be. After all, he framed me and stole my diamond mine. He’s the reason I spent six innocent years in jail.
His fat chin quivers. He doesn’t take his eyes off me as I cross the floor. Taking my time to inspect the room, I make him sweat it out. The home office hasn’t changed, except for three more deer heads staring miserably from the wall.
“What do you want?” he repeats when I reach his desk.
“Ah. Whatever could I want?”
His fingers tremble as he splays them out on the desktop. The cocksucker is so arrogant he either forgot I got out yesterday or believed I left prison a defeated man. Any less of a self-assuming bastard would’ve put a dozen guards in front of his door today. His mistake.
A liver-spotted hand glides toward the drawer where he no doubt keeps a gun, but I’m faster and stronger. My grip on his wrist makes him whimper. I can almost smell the fear in the sweat that stains the armpits of his shirt. I’m not the twenty-two-year-old man who walked through this door in a threadbare shirt. I’m a man in an eighty-thousand-rand suit, a man with a vendetta.
Six years is a long time, long enough to soak in the juices of your vengeance until your heart is cooked in all that bitter acid. Six years of cruelty and torture make beasts out of men. Six years in the company of the hardest criminals and most notorious mobsters also make the right connections and a fortune.
“What do you want, Damian Hart?”
This time, there’s acceptance in the question, the kind only people with money can muster. Bribe money.
Letting go of his wrist, I take two pieces of paper from my inside jacket pocket and slide them over the desk. He unfolds the first, the proof of what he’s stolen, and pales as he reads. The second is an affidavit the corrupt judge signed right after I’d cut off his finger.
The papers flutter in his hands. “Name your price. Most of my money is tied up in investments, but I have property. My house in Camps Bay is worth ninety million. I can sign over the deed in less than twenty-four hours.”
Laughable. “Ninety million isn’t going to cut it. I’d say one thousand four hundred and fifty-five days and a diamond mine worth billions deserve a little more, don’t you think?”
“The mine belongs to investors. Only thirty percent is mine, and I can’t simply give it away. The board has to vote on a change of ownership.”
As if I wouldn’t know. “I’m not after your small change, Dalton. I want your biggest asset.”
The pastry layers of his face crease into a frown.
Turning the gilded photo frame strategically facing the visitor’s chair around, I push it slowly toward him.
His eyes widen as comprehension sets in. Not even the threat of my presence is enough to prevent the anger from erupting on his features.
“You must be bloody kidding me,” he hisses, crumpling the incriminating pieces of evidence in his fists.
Daughter of Harold Dalton. Widow of Jack Clarke. She inherited her late husband’s fortune. Worth billions, she’s the wealthiest widow in the country, and also the craziest. Her suicidal and self-harming tendencies had Clarke declare her incompetent and mentally unstable before he put a gun to his head and blew his brains out. Lina Dalton-Clarke isn’t allowed to touch a cent of her riches. Her father manages her finances. He has all the signing power. As her husband, that chore will fall to me.
“She’s mentally ill,” Dalton splutters.
“I read the reports.” It wasn’t difficult for a cellmate to hack into the medical files.
Dalton looks as if he’s about to have a heart attack. I wait until his face is purple, giving him time to live the beginning of his end, before I continue with my instructions.
“Send her to the library. I’d like to see my asset in person. Oh, and not a word about our discussion. I’d like to break the happy news to her myself.”
He stands frozen, staring at me with whatever sentiment is festering in his rotten chest. It’s only when I’m on the other side of the room that he jumps back to life, coming around the desk.
I hold up a hand. “I’ll show myself to the library.” Mockingly, I add, “I know the way.”
The helpless indignation on his face as I shut the door fills me with more joy than I’ve experienced in all those years his family stole from me.
I’m from a poor upbringing, but I’m not a complete commoner. I know the rules of the gentry, which is why I give it some time before going to the library. Who knows what state Ms. Dalton-Clarke is in? She may be lounging around in sloppy attire or sunbathing naked. Her hair may be a mess and her face scrubbed clean of make-up. She may need a few minutes to make herself presentable. I’m guessing most women, when faced with an enemy, would amass whatever power they can, even if said power is derived from six-inch heels and red lipstick. Any lesser appearance than the show she puts up for the world will put her at an unfair disadvantage for the surprise visit, and although I don’t give a shit about playing fair, I do believe in treating a woman like a lady when it matters. Telling her she’s going to become my wife definitely matters.