Elite (Empire High, #2)

Elite (Empire High, #2)

Ivy Smoak

Chapter 1





The words rolled around in my head as I stared at Isabella’s father. My father. This isn’t happening.

I turned in my seat and watched Mrs. Alcaraz and Matt getting smaller and smaller through the back window of the car. There was no way in hell I was going anywhere with this man. Whether he was blood or not, he’d never be my father. I’d never be a Pruitt. And this was kidnapping. I grabbed the door handle and pulled, but the door didn’t budge.

“Calm down and put your seatbelt on,” Mr. Pruitt said.

Screw you. “Let me out.” My voice came out shakier than I hoped it would.

He ignored me.

I tried the handle again and then banged on the glass. “Let me out!” I couldn’t even see Mrs. Alcaraz and Matt now. Let me out of here. I slammed my palms against the glass.

Mr. Pruitt put his phone down. But instead of saying anything, he just stared at me. His eyes felt like ice on my skin. The trail they made down my body made me shiver. “You look like her.”

I swallowed hard. “My mom?” For just a second, I didn’t want to flee. I wanted to ask him a million questions about my mom.

He frowned. “But you don’t look at all like me.” He squinted his eyes. “There’s a doctor waiting at the apartment. He’ll run a paternity test just to make sure. And other tests to ensure that you’re…clean.” He said clean the same way he’d said ethnic when referring to Mrs. Alcaraz being my guardian.

I didn’t even want to know what he meant by that. And it didn’t matter. I’d refuse any tests he wanted to perform. Mrs. Alcaraz was my legal guardian, not him. “What apartment?” I asked. Would Matt know where he was taking me? Matt knew the Pruitts. He could help sort this out. He would come get me. I hope.

Mr. Pruitt ignored my question, his eyes still scanning my face like I was a puzzle he couldn’t solve.

“Where you live?” I asked. It was a stupid question. Of course he was referring to his home. Some people in New York referred to their homes as apartments. Which didn’t sound at all homey to me. Despite the fact that it was a stupid question, I asked another equally stupid one. “With…Isabella?” Something constricted in my throat. This couldn’t be real. I couldn’t be related to her. Did he have a wife that was just as hateful as his daughter? Were there any more demon siblings I didn’t know about?

He eyed me coolly.

No, his home would most definitely not be homey. It couldn’t possibly be if someone who lived there had such a cold, hard stare. And he already had a perfectly hateful daughter to go home to, so he didn’t need me. “Look, I’m glad that you decided you wanted to get to know me,” I lied. He was sixteen years too late. “But…this isn’t the best time. It’s actually the worst possible time.” Mr. Pruitt knew that already. He’d taken me from my uncle’s funeral and didn’t seem to feel any remorse. I blinked away the tears threatening to escape my eyes. “I’d appreciate it if you’d let me out.”

He looked back down at his phone like the conversation was over. But then added, “My family doesn’t know about you. I need time to sort out this mess. So you’ll stay put until I say otherwise.”

So that’s what I was to him? A mess? That was fine, I didn’t want to be his anything. But if that was the case, why the hell wasn’t he letting me go? There was really only one logical reason. “I’ll save you the trouble,” I said. “I don’t want anything from you. I don’t need your money. Or your help. I swear I won’t even tell anyone that you’re my father, if that’s what you’re worried about. I just want to go home.” I tried to think of something else I could add so he’d get the point.

“Home to that dingy apartment with a woman who barely speaks English? I’m saving you.”

“I don’t need you to save me.”

The car pulled to a stop in front of a high rise that looked like any other newer building in the city. Tons of glass. Cold hard lines. If that was where Isabella lived, I didn’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole, let alone go inside. He couldn’t make me. He couldn’t do this.

“Your mother is dead,” Mr. Pruitt said. “So is your uncle. You have no money. No prospects. Nothing. You’ll thank me later. And in the meantime, you’ll stay here. I’ll be in touch shortly.”

One of the bodyguards opened my door.

I looked back at Mr. Pruitt who was focused on his phone again. “You’re not coming with me?” The thought of entering Isabella’s apartment without her father was more terrifying than entering it with him.

He ignored me as the bodyguard gripped my arm.

“You can’t just leave me here,” I said.

Before Mr. Pruitt could respond, the bodyguard hauled me out of the car. He slammed the door shut and the town car pulled back onto the busy city street.

I tried to yank my arm away from the bodyguard, but his grip tightened on my bicep.

“Let me go or I’ll scream at the top of my lungs,” I said.

He pulled me toward the building.

“Help!” I yelled.

A few passersby looked my way but then kept going.

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