Chapter Two

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My mother warned me, or at the very least she tried to. She did so by showing me the most recent pictures of Royal, which just happened to be from the juvenile detention center that he was placed in for illegal underground fighting. The entire reason he was being sent to live with us in the first damn place.

"I want you to understand how dangerous he is, Noelle. He's fighting kids for money. Clearly his mother isn't taking very good care of him and that's why he's being sent here." My mother's words sent a shudder of fear down my spine. If she was taking this seriously then I should be too, right? It wasn't everyday she talked to me about shit like this or even cared much for my well-being. As long as I played along in her perfect little life, maintaining good grades and making her look good in front of her and Dad's rich friends, she all but left me alone.

"I understand, Mom, I'll stay away from him," I mumbled, lying through my teeth. I couldn't take my eyes off the photo of him no matter how hard I tried. All I could see was a misunderstood boy, with the potential for so much more.

His eyes were dark and bleak. The contours of his face in the lighting made him look darker, more sinister than he really was, I was sure. He had dark brown hair that was spiked in a million different directions, the kind of hair that said he did nothing in the morning to tame it. God to be those hands, those fingers. I could feel my cheeks growing pink and a heat creeping up my neck.

"I doubt he will do anything to hurt you, but the fact that he fights in the underground arenas all but says he will do anything for some money. Besides, his mother Olivia is certain that he just needs a little bit of time with his father. I'm not convinced in the least bit, though. He left them for a reason." My mother was preparing her tea in our over the top kitchen. Mark, Royal's father wasn't biologically my dad, but he'd been married to my mom since she was pregnant with me, and he treated me like I was his own flesh and blood. He gave me the things I needed for a better life and was the father to me that mine never was or even tried to be. He treated my mom right and was an all-around great guy which was all I could ever ask for.

"Maybe it's true?" I shrugged, trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. My mom had always been a negative nelly, always believing the bad in people before she even bothered to hear the good that they might have done.

"Don't be so naïve, Noelle." She scolded me like I was a small child. I wanted to roll my eyes at her but didn't. I knew better than that. I didn't have the time in my day for that lecture again. My mom was all about money and popularity, uncaring to those of lesser stature than her. In my eyes, she would be forever ungrateful. Just another unhappy, rich snob.

I couldn't help myself, I had to sneak another peek. My eyes drifted back down to the photo she had placed in front of me as I ate my breakfast. Royal. I said the name in my head letting it roll around and simmer in my mind for a few minutes.

It was a name that reminded me of royalty, of a person who considered themselves above others, though he didn't look the part at all.

He oozed sex appeal and charm,,that coupled with the pale blue eyes and the darkness of his skin made him more appealing to the eye. Then there was the fact he was smirking in his photo, which was all but saying fuck you to the correctional officer in front of him. Still, I wanted to reach through the photo and shake the shit out of him. He was a bad boy; it was written all over his face, and I was curious.

"When is he coming?" I blurted the question out. I wanted to meet him; to be the first to question him and bring to light all of his discretions. I wanted to rip him apart and piece him back together. To figure out everything there was to know about him, and to dissect the sad look in his eyes. Something in that photo made me want to know him. It made me want to know why he would endanger himself and those he loved most.

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