2015 Regan Ure
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This book is dedicated to my mom. Thank you for believing in me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I swung my fist toward my opponent’s face, but he ducked out of the way at the last moment. Sweat beaded my forehead. I raised my tightened fist, ready to deflect a blow as I stepped backward.
I didn’t watch his fists. I was taught to watch my opponent’s eyes to be able to anticipate their next move.
Too slow, Scarlett,” my opponent teased with a challenge. I would make him eat that comment soon.
For a few moments I watched him carefully, studying his eyes, which flickered to his right, betraying his next move. This time I had more than enough time to move out of the way and attack with a well-placed kick to his side. My kick wasn’t hard enough to incapacitate him, but I heard a grunt of pain.
Did that hurt?” I teased as I bounced lightly on my feet a safe distance away from him.
Instead of some cocky reply, he glared at me and I grinned.
His eyes narrowed as he planned his next line of attack and I watched him carefully as I anticipated his next move. Like before, his eyes flickered to the left and I ducked out of the way as his fist swung for my face. I stepped closer and landed a punch to his abdomen. The grimace on his face told me it had hurt.
Now who is the slow one?” I teased.
If you compared my five-foot-seven lean frame to my opponent’s six-foot muscular build, you would think I’d be at a disadvantage, but I wasn’t. At the age of sixteen, I’d started to develop heightened senses and, along with that, my physical strength had also increased.
The changes had been subtle at first and as time passed they’d become stronger and stronger.
I got in a few more hits before my opponent threw up his hands in defeat.
I’m done,” said Gary as he bent down and reached for a towel next to the gym mat. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with it.
You’re showing your age,” I teased as I reached for a bottle of water beside the gym mat we were sparring on and took a couple of gulps from it.
He glared at me because of the reference to his age. He was no spring chicken, but at the age of thirty-seven, he didn’t consider himself old. To my seventeen years, he wasn’t exactly young.
He’d been my father’s best friend and I’d known him my whole life. After my parents died when I was ten, Gary had become my legal guardian. To me, he’d been the unofficial uncle who had become my only family. He loved me like a daughter and I loved him like a father.
At the age of sixteen, I’d made the decision to get emancipated. Gary had understood my need for independence and my wish to control my own affairs. When I’d sat him down and explained to him what I wanted to do, he hadn’t been surprised. In fact, he’d supported the idea.
Although I was now considered an adult and able to make my own decisions, Gary had remained an important part of my life. He was family—the only family I had.
Come on, there are some boxes with your name on it,” said Gary as he turned to leave the gym. I followed him, wanting to do anything but unpack boxes. It was such a tedious task.
I don’t want to,” I whined like a five-year-old. He shot me a warning look and I glared back at him playfully.
The moving company unpacked everything, except your personal boxes,” he informed me as he left the gym and walked upstairs to the reception and the entrance of the house.
My house was quite big. I’d resorted to naming the lounges according to their use: game lounge, casual lounge, formal lounge and the upstairs lounge.
The house also had a gym with an indoor heated pool. It had its own tennis court and a huge landscaped garden. I had enough staff to run the house, though I rarely used the driver because I enjoyed driving.
Has my new car been delivered yet?” I asked as I followed him up the stairs to the first floor.
Not yet.” He turned to smile at me. I’d been driving him nuts, asking about the new car.
I returned his smile with a cheeky one.
Go unpack some of your boxes and I’ll see you downstairs for lunch in an hour,” he instructed as he turned to the left into the hallway to his bedroom.
See you in an hour,” I replied as I took a right and followed the hallway down past some of the guest bedrooms until I got to my bedroom, which was the main bedroom of the house. I opened the double doors.
I loved my new room. I’d hired someone to help me with the decorating and she’d really done a good job. I loved the colors purple and blue so my whole room, which was the size of two bedrooms, was decorated in those colors.
As I stepped into my room, I felt calmness settle over me.
The only things that stood out in my bedroom were the four boxes at the foot of my bed. It would take me forever to get through them all.
We’d just moved into the house a couple of weeks before. The movers had sorted through all the other boxes. Initially, I’d been left with ten personal boxes and I’d only managed to unpack six of them in the last two weeks.
I decided to shower before I punished myself with the task of unpacking the remaining boxes. Normally, I would have gotten the movers to do it but the fact that they contained my personal items made it hands-off to anyone but me.
As I walked into my adjoining bathroom, I stripped off my gym clothes and threw them into the laundry basket. I turned on the shower and adjusted the water temperature as I got in.
I closed my eyes and savored the feel of the water running down my body. I was stalling, but the boxes wouldn’t unpack themselves.
Once I’d finished showering, I got out, determined to finish the unpacking in the next hour.
I changed into a pair of jeans and a shirt before I walked over to the boxes. There was another reason I’d been putting it off. Inside these boxes were memories of my parents.
Although they’d been gone for seven years, it still hurt to think about them, and how much of my life they’d missed. I swallowed hard, trying to keep memories of my grief at bay.
I still remembered the last time I’d seen them alive. They’d planned an evening out, leaving me home with the babysitter.
My mom had kissed me goodnight as she’d tucked me into bed. I closed my eyes for a moment as I remembered her warm and loving smell. God, I missed her.
My father had stood in the doorway.
We’re going to be late,” he’d informed my mom as he’d walked into my room and stopped beside my bed.
Night, princess,” he’d whispered gently as he’d kissed my forehead. I could still feel his lips on my face.
The thickness in my throat grew. My dad had given me the nickname princess.
As I’d clutched my childhood teddy, Norman, I’d watched them leave. That had been the last time I’d seen them alive. They’d gone out that night and they’d never returned.
The truth was that they hadn’t just died, they’d been murdered. And now, seven years later, their murder was still unsolved. Initially, the coroner had ruled it an animal attack but later it had been changed to unknown.
At a young age, I’d learned that life wasn’t guaranteed and that anyone could be taken away at any moment. This had pushed me to live my life to the fullest. It had also made me fiercely independent, and my need for control had grown.
It was one of the reasons I trained so hard, to keep fit and to be able to protect myself. I didn’t want to meet with the same fate that my parents had.
It also made me keep people at a distance. By being standoffish and cold, I kept people from wanting to get closer to me and kept myself from getting hurt.
I let myself wallow in the memories of my parents and their deaths for a few more minutes. Then I took a deep breath and released it as I opened the first box.