My eyes flickered back and forth. Sweat beaded on my forehead and I felt the fluid suffuse my palms, a bastion of warm comfort in a moment of primal terror. A pungeant odour of something unpleasant permeated the air. I can see that it originated from the plump, ungracefully aging man stood infront of me. Damian.

My only desire at the moment was to sprint up the stairs but I was afraid of the unecessary commotion I would cause. Instead, I took slow steps back but it didn't do me any justice as I was immediately made to stop.

"Hold on. I came here to have a talk with you, Thalia." A sardonic smile spread across his thin lips and a chilly sensation surfaced within me. This couldn't be good.

"A glass of cold water please, Maria." His calm demeanour was in contrast to my more stressed one. His coat was slid off, his chunky physique coming into clearer view.

Mrs Briffen nodded and obediently shuffled into the kitchen. Her absence caused the tension to grow. Why was he here? What could he possibly want now?

"You know, it's not nice to play dirty." He began, folding the coat over his arm. "Especially when you're getting a lot of money in return. Are you numb to guilt?"

It was appalling how he had the nerve to question me this way. I did feel guilt, but it definitely wasn't directed towards him. More importantly, how did he find out that he was paying for nothing? Again?

Darren was the first person that popped up in my mind but I was proven wrong. "Kaylee told me about the two of you. You've still got him influenced, I see. Even after everything I've done." Of course it was her. My fists involuntarily clenched.

"Kaylee wasn't supposed to know about you, because you're about as important as a pesky fly wandering about this place."  His features suddenly turned stone hard and cold. "You're an item, an item I spent a fortune on. Funny bit is, this item doesn't seem to be working. And I'm quite pissed." He traced his fingers along the rim of a vase.

"I'll work and pay back every cent." I said, my voice suddenly finding strength. "Your son made a choice, and I had no influence over it. It's a matter of ethics."

I lost the courage I had when Damian's bulging eyes shot up to meet mine. They were yellow and had veins branching out to the pupils. Mrs Briffen returned with the glass of water and handed it over to him. He gulped down the cold liquid so quickly it looked as if he swallowed all the ice cubes in one swig.

"Ah." He let out before resuming our conversation. "I liked you better mute. You don't need to have an opinion. Opinions are for people who have atleast finished school." I felt tears collect at the back of my throat and I struggled to keep them there.

Damian handed the empty glass back to Mrs Briffen and cocked his head toward the kitchen, signalling her to leave before continuing his distasteful speech. "I'm going to be nice this one last time. So here's the deal. You're going to let my son fuck you," A gasp almost escaped my throat.

"Have it done this week, or your family will stop receiving money completely. I am aware that your mother is no longer able to work and if you were a good daughter, you'd take that into consideration when making decisions. I hope this is the last time I have this conversation with you." He tightened his tie.

"But what's the point? Your son is twenty now." I tried, my tone quivering.

"Of course you know about the family tradition." He grinned, it was as malicious as ever. "But it's not about the tradition anymore, my dear. It's about winning. And I always win."

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