Home > Empire High Betrayal

Empire High Betrayal
Author: Ivy Smoak


Chapter 1


Saturday

Nunca.

With each step I took, the more determined I became. I couldn’t let Isabella win. Not like this. Not ever. Someone needed to stand up to her. And that someone was going to be me.

I tried to ignore the cold autumn air biting at my skin. I tried to ignore the rough pavement on my bare feet. I tried to keep my head held high.

But when Isabella’s limo sped off, splashing water all over me, my shoulders crumpled forward and my tears started to fall again.

Who was I kidding? I’d been given plenty of chances to stand up to Isabella, and all I had ever done was cower. Just because I was half Pruitt didn’t mean I could play the same evil games as her. Isabella would always have the upper hand. She’d always win.

Stop it. My mom raised me to believe in myself. To believe that people could get through hard times. Then why isn’t she here with me? Why’d she have to die?

My tears wouldn’t stop. For some reason crying brought up all the memories. My last moments holding my mom’s hand in her hospital bed. The image morphed in my head, and instead of my mom in a hospital bed it was my uncle.

What the hell was I fighting for when I’d already lost everything?

I swallowed hard. Matt. Kennedy. Myself. I was fighting for myself. I wiped away the stubborn tears off my cheeks. I was fighting for my freaking self.

I was still standing after everything that I’d been through. And I’d keep standing through this too. I just needed to figure out what to do next. I was naked in the middle of the city with no money.

Shit. What was I supposed to do all night? The bus station that Isabella had mentioned wasn’t a bad option. If I could sneak into the terminal in my skivvies without being seen, then maybe I could hide in the bathroom all night. It would be warm and relatively safe. The only people that hung out in bus station terminals at night were homeless. And that was me. I’d fit right in. And I’d have plenty of time to figure out how I could make sure Kennedy was safe without alerting Isabella that I hadn’t left town.

I opened up the soggy map that Isabella had dropped at my feet. You horrible witch. It was a map of the city, but she’d crossed out tons of landmarks to make it harder to figure out where I was. I didn’t see a single bus station listed either. And even if there had been one, it would have been hard to decipher because across the map in big bolded letters, she’d written SORRY NOT SORRY.

What is wrong with her? I turned the map in my hands, trying to find something that made sense. She’d said 10 blocks, right? I scanned the map again, squinting in the dark. There was no bus station listed that I could make out. Unless it was one of the things she’d crossed out. And I didn’t even know where the hell I was, so I had no idea which direction to start walking. Knowing Isabella, she probably dropped me in the middle of nowhere.

I heard a crashing noise behind me and spun around. “Hello?” I pulled the map in front of me, even though I was more worried about being murdered than showing off my underwear.

There was no response.

A bus station was fairly safe. An abandoned parking lot surrounded by rundown industrial buildings? Not so much. Another crashing noise made me turn around again. There was nothing there. But I’d heard it. I backed away slowly and tripped over something. Whatever it was sliced into my skin as I fell onto the hard pavement.

Damn it. I looked down at the line of blood on my ankle. I was naked and bleeding and now I had tetanus. I heard another loud noise and tried not to cry out. If there was someone out there, I didn’t want them to know where I was. I’d already called hello like an idiot. I stayed low and crawled away from the spot. Staying low was good. That was a thing, I was pretty sure. Or was it serpentining? Ow. My left knee just nicked something too.

I looked down and something glinted in the moonlight. Peeking out the top of my bra was the keycard that James had given me. Oh thank God. It felt like a miracle. How had I forgotten about the keycard? James being an asshole was the best thing that had ever happened to me! Now I had somewhere to go that was safe. I could head back to the hotel.

How long had we been driving since leaving homecoming? Twenty minutes maybe? In New York traffic that was like…just a few miles, right? I could get back to the hotel and ask James for help. As far as I was concerned, he owed me. I could swear him to secrecy so he wouldn’t tell Isabella I was still in New York. It was the perfect plan.

I didn’t know where I was, but I’d recognize something eventually. I just needed to start moving. And I needed to get as far away from here as possible.

I looked behind me to make sure I couldn’t see anyone. The coast was clear. I pushed myself up and started running as fast as I could. Luckily for me, I’d been training for my mile run in gym class. If I could just figure out how to get back to the hotel, everything would be fine. And maybe if I ran fast enough, I wouldn’t get arrested for public indecency.

 

***

 

I ducked into an alley a few buildings away from the hotel. New York was nothing like Delaware. Apparently a girl running through the city in a makeshift dress made out of a soggy map in the middle of October wasn’t such a strange sight. The lack of shoes and blood didn’t phase them either. For the most part, everyone just ignored me. A few people laughed and rolled their eyes like I was the new crazy lady in town. A few men whistled at me, which made me increase my pace. But mostly, I was ignored. Or maybe they’d called the cops on me and I was just gone before they’d arrived. All I knew was that if I’d run around like this back home, I would have been arrested for sure. I’d be sitting in a jail cell…safely. Crap, was that a better plan than sneaking into the hotel? At least I’d be safe and warm in jail. But I’d be in jail…

I tightened the map around my naked body as I peered around the corner at the hotel. I just needed to think this through. I couldn’t run into anyone from the dance or they might alert Isabella. But as I tried to come up with a plan on how to get in, my mind felt as frozen as the rest of me. I shivered as I stared at the front entrance. Trying to get a cop to notice me and lock me up was looking like a pretty good choice as I stared at the ornate doors.

The doors. There were more entrances to the hotel than just the main lobby. The first time I’d been to this hotel, I’d gone around to the staff entrance. I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t thought of it before. Probably because I was exhausted and cold and minutes away from just curling up to cry myself to sleep in a dumpster. Stop. I was not dumpster diving tonight. I was going to go to James’ room and demand he let me stay there for the night. Just until I knew for sure Kennedy was home safe. It was a great plan.

I tried to stand up a little straighter and the map slipped out of my hands. Oops. I pulled it back around me as I made my way out onto the sidewalk. I walked as fast as I could up to the hotel and then made a quick left down the side alley.

I almost started crying when I saw the door propped open. The last time I’d been in the kitchen it had been hot. They were probably excited to have the frigid autumn breeze coming in. I ducked inside. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see anyone. There’d only be a few stragglers on cleaning duty this late. I looked around for an apron or a chef jacket or something to cover myself better. But there was nothing in sight. My map dress would have to do.

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