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The Broken Puppet (The Elite King’s Club #2)
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“I thought I knew who I was, but I was wrong.”
The Silver Swan
I was lied to.
Riddle me this, Mads.
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To the girls who have been through hell but come out with its fire burning through their soul, its crimson bleeding from their heart, and the devil as their side bitch.
This one’s for you.
Straighten that crown.
MOMMY? I DUCKED BEHIND MY closed bedroom door.
As I peeked around the corner, my mom started raising her voice, stabbing her finger into the man standing in front of her. “No, this wasn’t part of the plan!”
The man smiled in a way that made me clutch my teddy, Puppie, tighter. “You don’t call the shots. She’s a Venari. You will have to run, and run fast if you don’t want this catching up with you.”
My mom clutched the locket on her chest. “She…,” my mother whispered, tears slipping down her cheeks. “She’s just a kid, Lucan. She… she—”
“Is the Silver Swan, Elizabeth. You must run. Now, before Hector finds out.”
My mom sucked in a breath just as I stepped backward, quietly running to my bed. Slipping under the covers, I wiggled into the warmth and clutched Puppie closer. It was my birth present from a close family friend, and I’d slept with her since. She had ballerina slippers, a loose dress, and her hands stuck up in the air when the puppet strings were attached. When my door finally cracked open, my eyes slammed shut as I began to scratch one of the button eyes on my teddy. The material was worn, and the puppet strings were now broken. I was seven though, so I should’ve been too old for Puppie to be sleeping in bed with me. But I know why the man was here.
He comes here every Friday.
I know what he does next.
Bleeding echoes reverberate around Madison’s bedroom as sobs wrack through her body. Clutching her knees up to her chest, she scrunches her eyes closed, attempting to block out the familiar memories that assault her every night. Like a murky walk down a cold, damp road, alone, unable to break free from the confinement of which she’s constricted to.
“This is part of who you are, Silver.”
Goose bumps break out over her flesh at the slithering invasion of that voice. And then everything changes, as if she’s watching herself from the outside as a different person.
“No!” Madison tossed and turned in his arms, attempting to break her wrists free from the tight grip strapped around her.
“Shhh, Silver, you’re not your own.”
“What?” Madison gasped, tears streaming down her cheeks. “What do you mean I’m not my own?” The hand that was around her wrists went to her loose ponytail, and he tugged it down slightly. “Please don’t. Not tonight,” Madison pleaded, her throat constricting through the pain, and the betrayal.
“You best get used to this, Silver. This is only the beginning of your life.”
“But I’m little.”
“This is better than being dead.” Then he gripped onto Madison’s pajama bottoms and tore them off, flicking them across the room. She closed her eyes and dreamed of a day, a better day, where her family secrets and ties weren’t coming into her bedroom every Friday night. Black Friday was what Madison called it. She feared it, despised it, and one day, she hoped to put a bullet between its eyes. The first time, he stole her virginity. And Madison knew the blood that trickled down her innocent thighs wouldn’t bleed without retribution.
“MADISON? ARE YOU SURE YOU want to leave?” Tatum asks, looking at me from over her arm, her hands resting on the steering wheel.
“Yes,” I answer, gazing out the window. “I can’t be around them right now, Tatum.”
She looks at me, pulling onto the highway. “Do you want to talk about what happened back there?”
I hit the radio, hoping to drown out her questions. Jason Derulo’s “Stupid Love” starts playing.
“So yup, that’s a no then,” Tatum mutters, taking her attention back to the road. I close my eyes and lose myself in the lyrics of the song. Fuck love. Fuck any feelings that resemble love, or show it. The one person who was supposed to love me unconditionally betrayed me too. What does that say? What, am I that unlovable? Or do so many people think I don’t deserve their truth? Both of which are shit, if I’m being honest. Which I am.
The song finishes and I turn the radio down, realizing it’s not Tatum’s fault.
“You don’t have to do this with me, Tate, but I can’t be here, with them, around all the lies.”
She sighs. “Madi, I’m not leaving you. I know our friendship moved fast, but… I’ve never had any friends before, and I’m a little…” Her face turns red before she looks back to me. “Lonely. So I’m not leaving you out here—alone.”
“But you do realize that you’ll have to ditch your credit cards?” I point out, watching her reaction.
Realization slips over briefly before a smile snaps back onto her face. “Yes, Madi. Consider them gone.”