“Ladies, you look stunning,” Charles says as I join them in the foyer.
My sperm donor’s words may be kind, but his body language and the accusatory glare he’s flashing his wife are anything but. I wonder if he knows about Madeline’s affair with Kingston’s dad. It would certainly explain his sudden shift in attitude toward her.
Madeline looks nervous, but Peyton seems oblivious as she beams at the compliment.
Meanwhile, I’m fighting nausea as I mutter, “Thanks.”
After spending four nights at Kingston’s house, Charles sent his driver, Frank, to collect me. Despite my boyfriend’s vehement protests—I’m still getting used to calling him that—I got into the car. Knowing Peyton is scheming against me simultaneously freaks me out and pisses me off, but after watching Mr. Davenport’s not-so-subtle threat, warning her to stay away from me, I feel slightly appeased, as messed up as that sounds. Peyton may be a conniving bitch, but I do think she has enough self-preservation to hold off on fucking with me for the time being.
Kingston was right about my father’s expectations regarding Thanksgiving. When I returned to the mansion, I was promptly given a lecture about propriety and playing nice. He informed me that although I’m eighteen now, I’m still living under his roof, and he’s paying my tuition; therefore, I follow his rules.
When I asked him to be more specific, he said, “Quite frankly, I don’t care where you sleep at night, or if you’re fucking the entire polo team, as long as you’re doing it behind closed doors and they come from good stock. But certain obligations come with being a Callahan. There will be times when you will be required to attend a gathering as a member of this family. And when that happens, you will look like a Callahan lady and act like a Callahan lady. In layman’s terms, whatever you would normally do, do the opposite.”
As I was mentally flipping him off, I made a note to legally change my name back as soon as possible. You’d think my own father would make an effort to get to know me, but that clearly isn’t a priority for this man. Like I’d ever sleep with some douche who played polo. It was no surprise Madeline had a cocktail dress and a team of stylists waiting to get their hands on me to fulfill that whole look-like-a-Callahan part. What was unexpected, however, is how sexy the dress is.
Madeline chose a form-fitting sleeveless mermaid-cut gown with a plunging back. Strategically placed black lace appliques set over a nude liner make it look like I could expose the goods at any given point in time. The dress is gorgeous and, based on the designer, likely expensive. Still, I would assume it’s far too provocative for a holiday dinner. Given my father’s reaction when he first saw me, I’d wager he hadn’t seen it before now, and he’s less than pleased with Madeline for selecting it.
Considering both Peyton and Madeline’s dresses are much more conservative, I can’t help but question my stepmonster’s motives, given Kingston’s suspicions about some of the guests. I can’t lie, though, and say the thought of Kingston seeing me in this dress isn’t thrilling. It’s a double-edged sword, really; I’d love to have my boyfriend’s eyes on me, but not any of the sick bastards who may be in attendance tonight. The other major downfall is there’s no way I’ll be able to gorge on mashed potatoes in this thing, and I really fucking love mashed potatoes.
Charles looks at his diamond-encrusted watch. “We should get going. Frank is waiting out front.” His blue eyes turn toward me. “Jasmine, I trust your date will be here at any moment?”
I don’t miss Madeline or Peyton’s scowls when he refers to Kingston as my date.
“He texted me right before I came downstairs. He should be here in just a few.”
He nods. “Very well. We’ll see you there.”
Peyton flashes a wicked glare in my direction as she walks away. I’m trying really hard not to look at her differently, but that’s easier said than done after seeing the video of her with Mr. Davenport. The way he slapped her across the face, how he forcefully shoved his dick down her throat, the fact that it clearly wasn’t the first time either of those things had happened, I’m seeing her in a different light. Dare I say I actually feel sorry for her?
Don’t get me wrong; I still think she’s a massive cunt who should take the fall for her actions. But no woman should be beaten or violated, no matter the circumstances. I have to keep reminding myself that Peyton doesn’t live by the same code, and she doesn’t deserve my empathy. After all, she sent some guy to beat and violate me, not once, but twice, without any qualms.
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