Paper Princess Page 55

“Jesus, you stupid bitch. Just close your eyes and enjoy it.”

His voice isn’t nice anymore. It’s cold and annoyed. He yanks at the bottom of my shirt. I bat at his hands but my movements lack coordination and he’s got my top off before I can protest.

“How’s it going over there?” I hear Hugh say. His voice is close. Very close.

“She’s just rolling. I gave her some molly. She thought I pricked her with a dart.” Daniel sounds delighted with his trick. I try to swing out a fist but my arm is too heavy.

Hugh pauses. “Dude…You think you should be doing that with Ella Royal? I thought we were going to stick with out-of-towners after the thing with Savannah’s cousin. No good to shit where you eat.”

Daniel snorts. “The Royals can’t stand her. She’s not going to say anything. She’s trash. Trumped-up nobody made me work for a week.”

He cups my face and it feels so good. I wish Reed was here and that it was his hand.

I moan his name.

“What’d she say?”

Daniel laughs. “I think this chick banged both Easton and Reed.” He roughly fondles my boobs and the contact draws another groan from me.

“Shit, she’s horny,” Hugh gloats. “Awesome. Can I have her when you’re done?”

“Sure. Let me do my thing and then she’s all yours.”

“How loose do you think she is? Heard she’s had a lot of action.”

“Don’t know yet. Can’t get her damn legs open.” He pushes me down onto a chair and thrusts a knee between my legs.

“Why not give her a little coke? That’ll wake her up.”

“Yeah, good idea.”

The pressure disappears as Daniel gets up and stalks over to the counter. I watch with alarm as he rummages through a drawer.

“Where does Farris keep that shit…I thought it was here…Oh, maybe the fridge.”

I hear muffled voices from outside the pool house. “Ella…seen her…Daniel…pool…”

“Reed.” I force myself to get to my feet. “Reed.” I stumble past the two girls who are busy kissing each other.

“Hey, hold up.” Daniel slams a drawer shut and races over to me, slapping his hand on the door before I can pull it open. “Where you going?”

“I need to leave,” I insist and grab for the doorknob.

“No you don’t. Come back here.”

We fight for the door. Daniel has something sharp and shiny in his hand. “Hugh. A hand please,” he calls.

I pound on the door. “Reed! Reed!”

Daniel curses and Hugh yanks me away, but they’re too late. The door bursts open and Reed appears. His blue eyes immediately become enraged when he spots the three of us.

I lurch toward him. Daniel, in his surprise, lets me go and I fall on the floor.

“What the fuck is going on?” Reed growls.

“Shit, man, she’s trashed,” Daniel says with a hasty laugh. “I had to bring her here so she wouldn’t embarrass herself.”

“No, no,” I protest, trying to sit up but it’s all a muddle. I can’t find the words to explain myself. I can only look up at Reed in despair. He’ll hate me now. He’ll really believe I’m a slut. All the fight drains out of me. I’m done.

More people arrive and five sets of big feet line up before my eyes. The number of people here to witness my humiliation grows. I drop my head to the tiled floor hoping that it opens up and swallows me whole.

“You have two options.” Reed starts speaking. His voice is strong and calm, as if he’s giving a morning address to the student body. “You can either apologize and tell the truth, and only one of us will beat your face in. Or you lie and we all take turns making your body into a science project. Choose your words carefully.”

Is he talking to me? I think he might be. I raise my head to protest that I did nothing wrong, but when I look up I see a wall of Royal bodies. All of the brothers are there. Every single one of them, including Gideon. Their arms are crossed and their faces are thunderous. But none of them are looking at me.

I peer over my shoulder where Daniel is, his hands at his sides and a syringe dangling between his fingers.

He clears his throat. “Reed, I didn’t do anything—”

“Guess you’ve made your choice.”

“A really stupid one, too,” I hear Easton mutter.

Dismissing Daniel from his gaze, Reed leans down and lifts me into his arms. He folds me against his chest, one arm holding my bottom, the other wrapped tightly around my shoulders. This guy has been my enemy, the source of so much emotional pain. But right now, I cling to him as if he holds the only comfort I will ever find in this world.

* * *

Inside the Range Rover, I begin to cry. “Reed, something is wrong with me.”

“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He lays a cool hand on my leg and the sensation is mind-blowing.

“I need you to touch me.” I try to drag his hand upward.

He groans. His grip tightens on my leg, just for a second, but then he pulls away.

“No,” I protest. “That feels good.”

“Daniel shot you up with ecstasy, Ella. You’re in a drug-induced state of horniness and I’m not taking advantage of you.”

“But—” I argue, reaching for him.

“No,” he barks back. “Now, please. For the love of God, will you please be quiet and let me drive.”

I scuttle back, but the prickling sensation on my skin doesn’t stop. I rub my legs together to ease some of the ache and I find that helps a little. I’d rather have the touch be from Reed, but my own hands are providing relief and so I take it. I run my hands over my thighs, down my calves. My skin feels like it’s alive and I reach under Reed’s borrowed shirt to massage away the ache.

“Jesus, Ella, please. You’re killing me here.”

Embarrassed, I try to stop. “I’m sorry,” I apologize in a small voice. “I don’t know what’s happening.”

“Let’s just get you home.” He sounds exhausted.

The rest of the car ride is agonizing. It takes all my mental energy to keep from touching myself.

Reed whips the car down the lane and then jumps out of the Rover before the engine dies down. He jerks open the door and I tumble out into his arms. We both moan—me in relief, and him in frustration.

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