Home > In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)(2)

In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)(2)
Author: C.M. Stunich

Miranda shrugs and grins.

“Briana Chow was selling them cheap at the end of the year, and I grabbed some for the whole crew, just in case we wanted to go out.”

“Briana was selling fake IDs?” I ask, crinkling up my brow and trying to understand why a person as rich as her would even bother going through the trouble. Miranda waves my question away.

“Yep. And they're good quality, too. Her mom owns a publishing house and a printing shop, and they have all sorts of fun machines in the factory.” Miranda grabs a cluster of grapes from the bowl on the table and pops one juicy purple orb into her mouth. “Did you know her dad's into organized crime? I mean, that's the rumor anyway. I bet they use the printing press to forge all sorts of documents.”

“You're totally getting sidetracked,” I say, padding over to the table to get some grapes for myself. “And you know I don't drink. Although I guess it might be fun to go out and dance …”

“The boys should be back soon, and we can start our college partying early. Well, you, me, Andrew and your many boyfriends. Lizzie is not invited.”

I cringe slightly, my mind going right back to Tristan's room, and Lizzie's bright amber eyes, the determined set of her face. “All I care about is you, Tristan. I love you.” My stomach feels sour all of a sudden, and I have to clamp a hand over it to calm the rumbling.

Maybe I shouldn't have told Miranda about Lizzie's confession? Then again, I hate secrets. They're like splinters. If you just pull them out right away, the pain is minimal. Leave them buried and they get infected. Leave them long enough and you have to cut the skin to stop the pain. No thank you.

“Is there really nothing else going on between you and Lizzie that I should know about?” I ask, but Miranda's already breezing past me, grabbing my hand and dragging me back into the bedroom. She bends over to dig around in her bag and flashes me the lacy panties she's got on. I look away and wait for her to stand up and spin, fanning out several fake driver's licenses.

Reaching out, I take them into my hand and go through them quickly. There's mine, Miranda's, Andrew's, and one for each of my boyfriends.

My boyfriends.

Plural.

My heart flutters, and I tuck the cluster of plastic cards to my chest.

Even though it's been a week since we left Vanderbilt Manor, my mind is still roiling with all of the craziness that happened there. The least of which is that you and Tristan almost had unprotected sex … My cheeks flush red as Miranda moves over to the closet and pulls out a pair of expensive designer dresses, tossing them onto the bed.

“You're not going to answer my question about Lizzie, are you?”

“There's nothing left for me to say.” She turns back around and watches me with those disturbingly beautiful eyes of hers. “I've already said my piece: the girl is a snake in the grass. Get a fucking lawnmower, Marnye.” Miranda huffs, and then reaches up to shake out her glorious blond hair. “She knows you're in love with Tristan—”

“I never said love,” I choke out, but Miranda ignores me.

“She knows you're head over heels for that asshole, and yet here she comes with a love confession several years too late? If you want my opinion, she's a vulture picking at the carrion of a relationship long past its expiration date. Bet she's a spy for the Harpies.”

“She …” I start, but then I have no idea what else to say. There hasn't been a single text from Lizzie since, but I'm not surprised. Windsor's the only one who's been able to text me, and even then, it was one, short cryptic message. Everything's okay. We're all okay. Miss you. “If she really does love him, it's better she says it now. I mean, if he wants to be with her then …” My voice trails off, and my stomach twists into the shape of an infinity symbol. Obviously, I can't see it, but that's what it feels like. Ugh.

“He does not want to be with her,” Miranda says, lifting up the two dresses and then holding one over me, and then the other. She switches back and forth a few times, and then shakes her head, returning both to the closet. “He's seriously obsessed with you. They all are. Still, I'm #TeamCreed, sooo …”

I move past her and grab one of the dresses from the closet.

It's the black one Tristan gave me during first year, the one I was supposed to wear to the graduation gala. Even though I've had it all this time, I've never worn it. I didn't want to upset anybody. But since none of the guys are here …

“I know this place that does live salsa music and dancing,” I tell Miranda, and she grins. Maybe if I spend the evening dancing, I can sweat out some of this angst and worry?

Maybe.

We finish getting ready, and I let Miranda do my hair and makeup before we slip out and take off in my rose-gold Maserati to dance the night away.

What I don't expect is to see Isabella Carmichael inside the same nightclub.

“Isn't she, like, fifteen?” I whisper to Miranda, feeling my heart pick up speed. I'm suddenly sweaty and nervous, standing there in a dress that costs more than a month of my father's salary. From across the room, Isabella's brown eyes latch onto mine, and she smiles.

It's not a very happy sort of smile.

“Um, maybe, if she's got a late birthday like we do,” Miranda starts, resting her tongue at the edge of her mouth. It's a move she does when she's getting ready to go off on someone. “Probably more like fourteen.”

“Marissa, right?” the girl asks, separating from her group of friends and pausing in front of me. She's tall and very pretty, but there's just something about her that puts me on edge. Maybe it's that layer of privilege and entitlement that I'm not vibing with?

“Marissa, right?” Miranda mimics, giving the girl a pair of raised brows. “Seriously? It’s fucking Marnye. You're talking to your sister here.”

“Half-sister,” Isabella says, turning a cool glare on Miranda. “Who the hell are you?”

Wow.

That escalated quickly.

“Miranda Cabot.” Miranda's lips curve up into a smile as Isabella blinks several times in surprise. “Maybe you've heard of me? If you're coming to Burberry Prep next year, you might want to treat your sister with a little more respect. She's an Idol, after all.”

“That's not what I hear,” Isabella says, her face neutral and impassive, but with the slightest underlying hint of menace. Damn. I waited fourteen years to meet this girl, and it looks like being sisters is sort of the last thing on her mind. “Harper du Pont, Becky Platter, and Ileana Taittinger are the Idols. You're … the boys' pet, as far as I can tell.”

Miranda steps forward like she's going to beat the girl up, but I put my hand out to stop her, putting a sad smile on my face that's built of crumpled wishes and selfish desires. I always wanted to meet my sister, longed for another family member besides Dad who'd love me the way Jennifer never did.

That's not going to happen here, and that's okay.

I've come a long way from the sad, lonely person I was in junior high.

“I am nobody's pet,” I tell her, my voice stern. I know when she looks at me, she can see it, too. And it's not because Miranda put cute, loose curls in my rose-gold hair. It's not the designer dress. It's not even the expensive necklace hanging between my breasts. It's all coming from the inside. “And I am a Blueblood. We don't tolerate bullying at Burberry Prep, not anymore. I won't put up with it.”

Isabella opens her mouth, closes it, huffs. Her brown eyes, as familiar as the ones in my reflection, close. When she opens them back up, they're burning with fire and humiliation. And then … she goes and does it, tosses her hair.

She executes the move flawlessly.

Damn it.

“Whatever. We're not at Burberry now though, are we?” Isabella turns to walk off, her dress just barely covering her ass. I'm not judging, it's just … sad. She's fourteen for crap's sake. Before she gets three feet from us, Isabella pauses and glances over her shoulder. If I didn't know better, I'd say she had Dad's nose. “No wonder Mom dumped you. What a disappointment.”

Isabella spins away in a flurry of brunette hair, rejoining her friends near the seating area by the bar. My mouth tightens into a thin line as I think about her sitting between my parents, about the tears in my dad's eyes that he never fully explained.

“You've wanted this for so long, Marnye-bear. I'm just happy the moment is finally here.”

Huh.

“Do you want me to beat her up for you?” Miranda asks, and I glance over to see she's positively fuming. I shake my head, and then tuck my fingers into the pockets of the sexy, little cocktail dress. Wow. I would never have expected Tristan Vanderbilt to pick out a dress with pockets on it, especially not the Tristan from two years ago.

“She's upset about something,” I say, pushing the hurt down as it tries to rear its ugly head inside of me. “And I think I might have some idea of what that is.”

Turning to Miranda, I pull out the fake driver's license with two fingers and force a grin. I'm not going to let Isabella Carmichael get to me, not even if she is the culmination and destruction of fourteen years of hopes and daydreams.

“Why don't you get yourself something fruity and alcoholic, and I'll be the DD?”

Miranda narrows her eyes at me, but nods anyway and grabs my hand, dragging me over to the bar.

Isabella stays as long as we do, right up until the club closes, and I swear, I can feel her eyes on my back the entire time.

It's not a comfortable feeling … almost like I've got a target between my shoulder blades.

I'm going to have to watch my new little sister very, very carefully, aren't I?

The next morning, I'm rudely awoken by the sound of a bus horn outside my window. Groaning, I pull a pillow over my head to quiet the noise. A few moments later, there's a knock on the door, and I'm forced to get up anyway.

   
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