Catherine glared at her son. How dare he bring that girl into her house? She’d known immediately what Venus was. One of them. A single look at the girl’s leg revealed all of her secrets. That she’d almost kissed her son scared the hell out of her. The way Venus spoke, with such arrogance . . . She knew from experience that meant Venus came from royalty. Even worse. Michael had no idea what he’d become entangled in. 

“Michael, don’t ever bring that girl into my house again. Got it?” she hissed quietly, standing next to him.

“What’s your problem?” Michael asked.

“Well, for one thing, what happened to your shirt? I found it on the floor.” Catherine grabbed it from the nightstand and stuck a finger in the singed hole.

Michael grabbed it away from her. “None of your business.”

“It is my business! Look, there’s something you should know. About that girl. About your father—“

“I don’t care about my father.” He stomped out of his room.

“Michael!” Happy birthday, kid. I’m so sorry.

Catherine sat back on Michael’s bed, noticed her cigarette had burned out. Ashes rested on the toe of a shoe. Today of all days. She madeevery effort not to think about what the bullet hole meant. She sighed, closed her eyes. “Perhaps today’s the day to tell you who your real father is.”

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