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Envy (Sins of Seven #6)
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Seven Sins had nothing for me anymore.
It’s time to right the wrongs of the past.
I’d always envied my brother. We were always at war.
*A dark romance standalone. This story may contain triggers for certain readers.*
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“Love does not envy.”
Six years ago
The rain trickling from the sky offers a light dusting of silvery jewels that settles on the black coats and umbrellas surrounding the grave. I can’t drag my eyes away from the grass, shimmering with each of the glassy drops. Colors contrast around each other. Black from the mourners and green blades of grass beneath our feet, along with the murky gray of the sky and the dark brown of the earth that will soon cover the coffin. Bright red roses sit in a vase awaiting their final resting place atop the wood and metal casket.
The sounds of sniffling from the mourners and soft prayers from the priest echo through the fog. I reflect on the last moment I saw my father alive and I’m reminded of him smiling at me, telling me he loved me.
My eyes travel over each person, taking them in. Every face in the crowd is one I’ve seen at the house since I was old enough to be allowed into the living room when we had visitors. I recall the instances I met them. Family dinners. Charity functions. Even my junior and high school graduations. They’re all here to say goodbye to the man they no longer serve. A man who no longer pays their salaries or furnishes them with gifts so expensive they’ll never have to work again if they sold those priceless offerings.
But none of them know who he truly was. They didn’t see the ruthless man I grew up with. He taught me everything about being vigilant with strangers. People didn’t like him; they feared him, and that’s why they’re here today. Some to say goodbye, others to be thankful he spared their lives. I don’t blame them for the anger they feel. What hurts the most is now I’m alone. The Calloway name that was worn proudly by my sister and me will soon be forgotten. When my sister died at the tender age of sixteen, Daddy made sure I didn’t feel alone by spending as much time with me as he could. He showed me how the organization worked, what he influenced, and who he ruled over.
When I think about Meredith, I recall her like she’s standing beside me. But she’s no longer here. Closing my eyes, I picture her, imagining how she’d be dressed for our father’s funeral. Her dress would be the color of a raven’s feathers with her hair matching the sleek silky material. Dark lines would be penciled in beneath her silver eyes. They’re beautiful, yet unnaturally gray, so much so that they appear the same color as the metal of the coffin. Even though we’re twins, I’m the complete opposite.
My white hair hangs down my back in waves the color of snow. The green in my eyes is almost luminous. Perhaps even matching the freshly cut grass we’re standing on. When I’m angry, it darkens to the color of the oak trees behind the Calloway mansion.
“Help the young lady as she grieves, Father. In the midst of the sadness, ensure her belief and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of earthly sins, and the resurrection to the life everlasting. Amen,” Pastor Micheli murmurs as he throws a handful of the dirt onto my father’s lowering coffin into his final resting place.
Somehow, I doubt God would even look my way. The sins of Victor Ernest Calloway are too dark and far too violent for him to ever find forgiveness. I know this because I’ve seen what he can do, what he has done.
People start moving slowly, each one taking a rose from the vase, releasing it into the hole my father will now lie in forever. I don’t cry. Tears don’t even threaten my eyes as I watch each scarlet bud fall.
All I see is darkness.
I no longer allow any other emotion into my chest, into my life. Once the mourners have finished, I step forward alone. An ache in my chest appears so acute it steals my breath. I’m no longer part of a family. At least, not one I remembered as a child.
Seventeen years old and an orphan.
My eyes don’t blink as I take a handful of dirt and allow it to hit the wood with a thud. The hand that settles on my shoulder reminds me of what I have to do. When I turn to him, he offers me a gentle smile. As violent as he is handsome, the man I’ve known almost all my life is here for me. A touch that seems to tell me don’t worry, you’ll be okay. Hazel eyes pierce me; they look right through me. Like they always have.
No words are spoken as he leads me away. My head is bowed, allowing my long hair to fall like a curtain around my face. I don’t want people to sympathize with me. I don’t need their words of commiseration. My heart has hardened. Rock solid in its cage.