Bang (Black Lotus #1) - - E.K. Blair

E.K. Blair - Black Lotus #1 - Bang

Bang (Black Lotus #1)
E.K. Blair

Preface

THEY SAY WHEN you take revenge against another you lose your innocence. But I’m not innocent. I haven’t been for a very long time. My innocence was stolen from me. Taken was the life I was supposed to have. The soul I was born with. The ruby heart embedded in a life full of hopes and dreams. Gone. Vanished. I never even had a choice. I mourn that life. Mourn the what-ifs. But I’m done. I’m ready to take back what was always meant to be mine. Vengeance is what I seek to reclaim what was viciously ripped from me. So now? Now I plot. Now I take control. Now I don my crown of hatred.

Chapter one

“HONEY, ARE YOU almost ready?” my husband’s voice calls from the other room.

I look at my reflection in the mirror as I slide in my pearl earring, whispering to myself, “Yes.”

Straightening my posture and smoothing the slick fabric of my dress, I run my fingers through my long, red hair. A blanket of carmine. Loose waves falling over my bare shoulders. The coolness of the midnight blue silk that clings to the slight curves of my small frame. The stoic good wife. My husband, the beacon of my admiration, or so it seems.

“Stunning.”

My eyes shift in the mirror to Bennett as he strolls into my closet and towards the island dresser where I stand. He drags my hair to the side, exposing my neck for his lips to land.

“Mmm,” I hum at his touch before turning in his arms to adjust his black bowtie.

His eyes are pinned on me as I focus on his neck, and when I flick my attention up, he gives me a soft smile. I return it. He’s striking with his strong bone structure, square jaw, and chestnut hair with the faint flecks of silver. A sign of his thirty-four years and his influential status. A mogul. Owner of the world’s largest steel company. He is power. And I the recipient.

“Baldwin is ready with the car,” he says before kissing my forehead.

I grab my purse and Bennett helps me with my coat before we take the elevator down. As we walk through the lobby of The Legacy, my home for the past three years, Bennett keeps his hand on the crest of my back, guiding me out into the night’s bite of winter.

“Mr. Vanderwal,” Baldwin, our driver and good friend to my husband for years, greets with a nod before turning his attention to me, “Mrs.”

“Good evening,” I say as I slip my hand in his, and he helps me into the back seat of the Land Rover.

Bennett slides in after me and takes my hand in his lap when Baldwin shuts the door and then hops in the front seat. ‘Metamorphosis’ by Glass, Bennett’s favorite, swallows the silence and fills the car. Lifting my free hand up, I place it on the ice-cold window, feeling the dampness and chill as it seeps into my skin.

“I love the snow,” I murmur, more to myself than to my husband, but he responds anyway.

“You say that every winter.”

Turning to look at him and then down at our linked hands, I release a soft hum before he shifts and says, “So Richard said he stopped by this hotel the other day and mentioned that it would be a good location to hold our New Year’s Eve party this year.”

“What’s the name?”

“Lotus.”

“Interesting,” I note before asking, “This is McKinnon’s new hotel, right?”

“His son’s, actually. I’ve yet to meet him.”

“Hmm.”

Giving my hand a light squeeze, he questions, “What’s that look for?”

“McKinnon can be, well . . .”

“An ass?”

I smile and agree, “Yes. I just never knew he had any children, that’s all.”

Driving through the Saturday evening traffic in the loop of Chicago, we finally pull up to the newly built boutique hotel that will cater to the city’s elite. We tend to find ourselves at a monotonous number of events such as this. With Bennett’s status, not only in this city, but worldwide, his presence is of an accord that is sought after for publicity and other reasons. But Bennett has found himself in several business dealings with Calum McKinnon over the years, so tonight’s event wasn’t one that we could skip out on.

When Baldwin opens the door and helps me down, I right myself and adjust my long dress before being led through the glass doors and inside the lobby of Lotus. While Bennett