Home > Watch Me (Phoenix #1)

Watch Me (Phoenix #1)
Author: Stacey Kennedy

Chapter 1

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Stacey Kennedy. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact Stacey Kennedy.

 

Stacey Kennedy

www.staceykennedy.com

 

Edited by Lexi Smail

Copy Edited by Monica Bogza

Cover Design by Regina Wamba

 

Manufactured in Canada

 

 

Content Warnings

 

 

Reference to sexual abuse, assault, date rape, suicide, emotional trauma.

 

 

For anyone who has ever been kicked down and was brave enough to get back up again.

 

 

Prologue

 

 

Zoey Parker’s limbs felt heavy as she tried to open her eyes. When they finally cooperated, she jolted upright. She was on a bed she didn’t recognize. Her dress was ripped, her breasts exposed. Between her legs, her underwear was gone. She frantically scanned the sheets, searching for signs that her virginity was still intact. She didn’t find blood on the bed or between her thighs.

A rush of heat stormed over her as her stomach flipped and skin crawled. Needing to rid herself of it all, she ran to the trash can in the corner of the room and threw up twice. After she emptied her stomach, she gulped down shallow breaths to stay calm. A quick survey of the room, and she found a sweater lying in a heap. She threw it on and was out the door a second later. The scent of beer hit her nose as she made her way down the staircase. Plastic cups littered the hallway and the stairs. Passed out bodies were everywhere, sleeping off the booze from the fraternity party the night before.

She didn’t think she’d drank that much. Three drinks, she remembered. The rest…the rest of the night was dark.

When she made it outside, she decided to walk instead of waiting for a Lyft. Each bare-footed step felt like it took a lifetime, and the world seemed so far away.

“Miss. Miss.”

Zoey blinked, finding a woman with a kind face pulling up next to her.

“Are you okay, honey?” the woman asked gently.

Her breath became stuck in her throat, the inside of her body wanting to flip itself on the outside just to repel the unwanted feelings. “No,” she whispered. “No, I don’t think I am.”

Zoey shook her head, pulling herself out of the memory. She still felt foggy two days later. Her skin still crawled whenever she thought about what might have happened. She wasn’t sure if it was a blessing or a curse that she had no recollection of that night. She didn’t feel like she knew anything anymore. Except that New York City no longer felt safe. She didn’t feel safe.

Laughter and voices carried across the warm breeze while she sat beneath a tree, trying to focus on writing her paper. In only a few months, she’d finish up at New York University and apply for veterinary college. All of her hard work would soon pay off. The long nights of studying, the lack of a social life, were all worth it. She missed her home in Sacramento, California, where her happily married parents lived. Once her schooling was finished, she’d go back home to her family and her high school friends. To get the life she was working so hard for. She tried to focus on that future and forget the pain from two nights ago.

When a shadow passed over her, it stole the warmth of the sun. Zoey glanced up, finding her two friends, Julie and Ava, standing above her. Both were in the same Biological Science course. On the first day of freshman year, they had all clicked. So much so that, eventually, they’d all rented an apartment together. Where Zoey considered herself more natural in style, Julie and Ava always had their makeup and hair done to perfection. She envied that about them as much as their outgoing personalities. But now, they both looked pale, eyes glassy. “What’s wrong?” Zoey asked, setting her laptop aside on the grass.

“I’m so sorry,” Ava said, pressing her hands to her chest.

An unexpected rush of heat washed over Zoey, sweat beading along her spine. “Sorry for what?” she asked, unsure she even wanted to know the answer.

“You don’t know, do you?” Julie asked, her shoulders dropping, her voice breaking. “You haven’t heard?”

On any given day around campus, there was some gossip running wild. Only this time, it felt personal. “Will someone tell me what’s happened?”

“She doesn’t know…” Ava breathed, her hand snapping out to hold Julie’s arm.

Every warm space in Zoey’s chest grew cold at the pity in their gazes. The world slowly dropped out from under her. “Please,” she barely whispered. “What don’t I know?”

Julie knelt next to her, placing a comforting hand on Zoey’s leg. “I wish I wasn’t the one to have to show you this.” She pulled her phone from her pocket and hit a few buttons before handing Zoey the cell phone and adding, “I’m so sorry, Zoey.”

One look at the screen, and Zoey’s body begged to collapse in on itself. The campus faded around her. The view was all too familiar. The black dress she’d worn with the strappy sandals. The lace bra.

Every footstep walking by her sounded like thunder to her ears. Every laugh or word spoken was too loud. Her focus narrowed on the rip of her dress, her bare breasts, her legs spread wide, and her vagina on display for all to see. But worse than the image was the message: A pretty piece from NYU. We destroyed her. Who wants her next?

Zoey’s hand trembled as the phone slipped from her hand. She looked into Ava’s and Julie’s slack expressions and wet, dull eyes before she heard the laughter and the voices. The fingers pointed her way. Some snickers and slurs. Slut. Whore. She recoiled, feeling each blow.

“Hey, sexy,” a deep voice suddenly said from her right. A handsome face filled her vision, cold arrogance gleaming in steely brown eyes. “Busy tonight?”

Zoey’s stomach roiled, and she fought against the chill stealing all the heat in her soul. She got up to run, to hide, to escape. But her legs gave out, the world disappearing around her as she threw up on his shoes.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

One year later…

 

 

The streets of midtown Manhattan were foggy from the rain earlier in the day. Rhys Harrington breathed in the heavy night air as he strode up the stone steps of the ultra-exclusive, upscale sex club, Phoenix, shortly after nine o’clock. In the 1920s, the historic building located on 5th Avenue was a gentleman’s cigar club. When Rhys bought the property and business ten years ago, he’d done so with another thought in mind. This corner piece of New York City, where anyone who stepped inside the doors left different than they came in, now housed fantasies and sexual delights.

Rhys wrapped his hand around the smooth golden handle and opened the heavy wooden door, entering the classy cigar lounge. Round tables were full of customers, enjoying a drink of fine bourbon and a cigar. Three bartenders dressed in tuxes served up drinks while waitresses and waiters tended to the customers at the tables. Rhys continued on, heading through the door at the back that led to his large office. His huge cherry-wood desk sat in the center, surrounded by bookcases and art he’d collected over the years. He moved to one of the bookcases, took off a book, and lifted the wood there. After he pressed his finger against the fingerprint reader, the bookcase began moving, revealing the hidden stairwell behind. He traveled down the staircase, surrounded by stone walls, as the cabinet sealed shut behind him.

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