Chapter Twenty-Seven: Birthright

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"G, huh?" Jo purred, peering over my shoulder. "Who's that?"

Oh, shit.

"No idea," I lied, but not as smoothly as I had hoped.

Jo's lightly freckled face lit up with a toothy grin. "Bullshit!"

My cheeks heated up, and I began sputtering. "I-I really don't know. Honest."

I had always been a pretty decent liar; I'd lied to myself constantly growing up.

This will be my last foster home.

I can finally unpack that black garbage bag and settle in.

These people will love me enough to keep me.

But this time was different, something was throwing me off. Maybe it was my impending departure on Saturday?

Or maybe... maybe it was something else? Something that would be excruciating if I examined it too closely?

Like turning my back on the first place that has ever felt like home.

"Yeah, okay," Jo's sarcastic tone pulled me back to reality. "Well, if you're not gonna tell me who this G dude is, will you at least let me see the dress? The anticipation's killing me!"

I laughed at her eagerness, and slowly pulled down the zipper.

A Royal blue bodice with glittery specs twinkled in the glow of our shared bedside lamp. Further down, the top tapered into a V that led to a poofy, Royal blue skirt.

"Woah," I breathed as Jo let out an astonished whistle.

"It's like something out of a fairy tale." She whispered, awed.

"Right?" I agreed, adding, "there's no way I can accept this. It's too much."

She looked at me as if I were speaking in tongues. "Are you nuts?! Do you know how many chicks would kill for a dress like this?"

I zipped the bag up and tossed it on my bed. "It's just so extra! And it looks super expensive. What if I accidentally spill punch on it? Or ripped it trying to dance?"

These were excuses, and pretty poor ones at that. Jo knew it. But I couldn't tell her the truth, not when Duke could pluck the information from her head if he took a notion to.

"Besides, I'm not even sure I'll go." I was surprised by how disappointed I sounded.

Jo gaped at me, but a sudden knock at the door stopped her from saying anything.

"Jo," a girl's muffled voice called from the other side. "It's time for our meeting."

"Coming!" Jo replied, before whispering to me, "we'll talk about this later."

She rushed out after that, and I flopped back on my bed with a sigh. Thank God for extracurricular activities.

I began nodding off again when another knock sounded at the door.

"Miss Ridley," Lucius said, "Dean Lachlan has requested your presence."

Fuck.

I'd completely forgotten about mine and the Dean's dinner plans. And our "raincheck".

Heaving myself out of bed, I opened the door to see Lucius looking as stoic as always.

"Did you know there was going to be a ball on Saturday?" I whispered, closing the door behind me.

"Not until a few moments ago." He replied, leading me away from the girls dorm section. "It is inconsequential. On second thought..." he paused to rub the stubble on his chin. "We may be able to use this ball to our advantage."

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