Chapter One :Chapter 1

A bolt of lightning illuminated the twisted metal and shattered glass.

Elodie screamed, the sound swallowed by the deafening screech of tires and the shattering of her world.


Another flash.

Cold rain stung her face, the metallic tang of blood filling her nostrils.

She struggled to open her eyes, catching a horrifying glimpse of her parents, their bodies still, faces contorted in pain.

A whimper escaped her lips, a fragile sound lost in the chaos.

Another flash.

Rough hands pulling her, dragging her from the wreckage.

The world spun, a kaleidoscope of pain and fear.

Then, silence.

The sterile smell of disinfectant replaced the metallic tang.

Muffled voices, a woman’s worried tone, the word ‘concussion’ echoing in the vast emptiness.

Then, a deep, booming voice, her uncle’s, promising to take care of the family, a promise that felt as cold and hollow as the hospital room. ‘You focus on Elodie, we’ll handle the funerals and keep an eye on the company. Raymond and Madeline are gone now, Gabriel, you must look after your sister.’

Elodie’s heart hammered against her ribs, a frantic drumbeat of fear and confusion.

She wanted to scream, to deny his words, but her body remained paralysed, trapped in the limbo between sleep and wakefulness.


Elodie’s eyes snapped open, the dark room coming into sharp focus.

The memory of the nightmare flooded back, vivid and terrifying, yet with a new clarity she hadn’t possessed before.

Uncle Cyrus’ words, the way he’d said them, the strange glint in his eyes – it all felt wrong.

A seed of doubt had been planted, a suspicion that refused to be silenced.

Elodie threw back the covers and grabbed her phone before it vibrated off the nightstand.

She had been jolted awake by the sharp buzz of an unknown number.

It was just past 4 am, the digital clock on her nightstand mocking her futile attempt at sleep.

With a sigh, she clicked on the text, already bracing herself for the familiar sight.

As expected, the message contained a single image: Dashiell, fresh out of the shower, a towel precariously clinging to his sculpted physique. Water droplets glistened on his bronzed skin, tracing lazy paths down the defined lines of his back. A masterpiece of masculine allure, his silhouette exuded both strength and vulnerability.

There was no text accompanying the image, but the message was clear. Dashiell, hers in name only, was flaunting his infidelity, a cruel game that had stretched for weeks.

Elodie deleted the photo, the anger churning in her gut like a hungry beast.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, this ever-present reminder of her husband’s betrayal and the crumbling foundation of their marriage.

The nightmares, once a nightly occurrence, had become less frequent, haunting her sleep only a couple of times a week. But the memory of that fateful car crash, the icy grip of fear, the crushing loss of her parents – these lingered, etched into the very fabric of her being.

With renewed determination, Elodie jumped out of bed.

Sleep was a luxury she couldn’t afford, not with the confrontation looming ahead.

The five cars parked in the garage, each a symbol of their opulent life, were of no use to her.

Elodie didn’t have the keys to any, a testament to her husband’s careful control.

Undeterred, she pulled on her clothes, the silence of the massive house amplifying the turmoil within her.

It was a long walk to the edge of the gated community, the chilly morning air stinging her face.

A solitary taxi, a beacon of hope in the predawn darkness, finally appeared.

The ride to The Sapphire Suites was a blur of conflicting emotions.

Anger, hurt, and a steely resolve battled within her. Elodie knew what she had to do.

The anonymous sender, a silent accomplice in her misery, had provided the final piece of the puzzle.

They’d tipped her off about Dashiell’s whereabouts – the luxurious presidential suite, a haven for his illicit trysts.

Entering the opulent lobby, Elodie bypassed the bewildered receptionist, her eyes fixed on the bank of elevators.

The private kitchen featured in one of the texts confirmed her suspicions. They were in the penthouse.

With trembling fingers, she pressed the button, the gilded cage carrying her closer to the inevitable confrontation. The doors opened, revealing a plush hallway leading to a large, double oak door.

It was time.

Elodie took a deep breath and knocked, the sound echoing in the quiet corridor.

A moment of silence passed, broken only by the pounding of her heart.

Finally, the door snicked open, revealing a surprised Dashiell. ‘Can’t you see the Do Not Disturb sign? We don’t want—’

His initial frown quickly morphed into confusion at the sight of his wife. ‘What are you doing here?’ he demanded.

‘Your girlfriend invited me,’ Elodie replied, her voice laced with icy calm.

She tried to peer past him, but his broad frame blocked the view.

A saccharine voice chimed in from within the room. ‘Elodie? Oh dear, we didn’t mean for you to find out this way. It’s just that—’

Elodie cut her short. ‘Oh please, Selene. Spare me the fake apologies. You wouldn’t have sent me all those texts if you didn’t want me to know.’

Dashiell shifted uncomfortably, his face a mask of annoyance. ‘What texts?’

Elodie stepped past him, taking in the luxurious suite with a sardonic smile.

The king-sized bed, the scattered rose petals, the lingering scent of sex – it all painted a vivid picture of their betrayal.

She looked up at Dashiell, her gaze unwavering. ‘I want a divorce.’

The words hung heavy in the air, shattering the fragile illusion of their marriage.

Elodie felt a surge of relief, a sense of closure washing over her like a cleansing wave.

The game was over.

It was time to reclaim her life.

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