Home > In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)

In the Arms of the Elite (Rich Boys of Burberry Prep #4)
Author: C.M. Stunich

My graduation gown—and my heart—are in tatters.

I can barely breathe as the uniformed officer nearest me grabs my elbow.

“Miss?” he asks, and I blink stupidly in his direction, still reeling from the shock. He … he went to get the car, I tell myself, hands shaking. I reach up with one and grab my cap off my head, the red and black Burberry Prep tassel smearing blood across the back of my hand.

“She’s in shock.” Someone else is talking, but I’m not sure who. All I can think is: will he live? I’m pretty sure I already know the answer to that question, but I don’t want to believe it. I can’t. I just can’t. Hands haul me to my feet, and I can hear voices talking around me, but all I care about is getting to the hospital.

“… just her, I’m afraid, but we’ll take good care of her,” the officer says, and then I’m shuffling over to a police cruiser. I shake my head to clear it and look back at the boys, the ones who are still by my side. Someone … seems to be missing, but then I remind myself again that he just went to get the car.

I’m sorry, I’m sure I make no sense. I just … I’m in shock right now.

“Where are we going?” I ask as the officer opens the back door for me.

“We can get you to the hospital with the sirens,” the man says, and I nod because that makes sense, even to my addled brain.

“We’ll be right behind you,” one of the guys holding onto me says, his grip tight but firm. “Right behind you.”

I’ve just taken the very last lick of my revenge, put the final nail in the coffin. I’ve made peace with the decision of which boy I should choose, and yet, I’ve never been so miserable. I’ve never hurt so much. How could this happen to me? It’s so much worse than what I suffered during first year. So, so, so much worse.

A cosmic joke.

A middle finger from the universe.

“You’ll be right behind me …” I breathe, and then I slip into the backseat of the cruiser. The red and blue of the sirens flickers across the faces of the crowd, including the boys I just left behind. I wish one of them were in here with me.

We take off down the road as I reach into my pocket for my phone. The thing is, there’s a hole in my pocket and my damn cell is missing. Of course it is.

Fuck.

The nearest hospital is … God, it’s like an hour from here, isn’t it? I almost throw up, leaning over and putting my head between my knees until I get control of my breathing. I’ll wait awhile, and then I’ll ask the officer to call the hospital for me.

Leaning my head against the cool glass of the window, I close my eyes against the trees as they whir by in a blur. The shock must really be getting to me because, I swear, I lose time there for a moment. When I open my eyes and sit up, I realize that we’re heading in the wrong direction.

“Isn’t the hospital due west from here?” I ask, looking around and realizing that we’re closer to the casino than we are the hospital. What the hell? The sirens aren’t on anymore either, which is weird.

“We’ll get you there, don’t worry,” the officer in the passenger seat says, but he doesn’t turn around to look at me. The longer we drive, the more concerned I get.

And then we pull into the casino parking lot, and my heart starts to beat so fast I feel like I might pass out.

“What are we doing here?” I choke out, looking around as we pull into the gravel parking lot, and the officers climb out. They don’t answer me as they open the back door, and then I’m dragged forcefully from the back seat and thrown unceremoniously to the gravel.

My hands skid across it, tiny rocks embedding themselves into my flesh as I look over my shoulder just in time to see the officers climb back in their car and take off.

They’ve left me here, at an abandoned casino in the middle of a Native American reservation. It’s bordered by national and state parks on all sides, just trees and nothing else for miles. I push up to my knees just as I hear the scuffle of feet on gravel, turning to look in the direction of the sound.

And there she is, Harper du Pont with John Hannibal and Gregory Van Horn on either side of her.

“Hello, Marnye Reed,” she says, her lips curving up into a smile. John has a baseball bat, and Greg is holding a coil of rope.

This isn’t good. This isn’t good at all.

I scramble to get to my feet, backing up as Harper strides forward like she owns the place.

“Infinity Club rules,” she says, smiling. “Your friends did a nice job of making sure we couldn’t hire out your punishment. Marnye Elizabeth Reed can only suffer at the hands of a student …” She trails off with a sigh, tossing some of her bloodred extensions over one shoulder. “And so suffer at the hands of a student, she shall.” Harper gestures at me with her chin, and Greg and John take off toward me.

I surprise them by running straight at and between them, taking off for the casino with my torn, black graduation gown billowing behind me. My wrist throbs from when I fell off the dais during the ceremony, and there’s blood dripping from my palm, both from the parking lot gravel, and from when I caught it on the edge of Ms. Felton’s chair.

There is no way in hell I’m letting the Infinity Club win, not when I’m so close. So freaking close.

I take off around the corner, and up the steps, through the back door …

Only to run into the rest of the Bluebloods.

And when I say Bluebloods, I mean the original Bluebloods, the ones from my list.

“Marnye,” Tristan says, turning around to look at me. He smiles, and my heart turns to ice and shatters in my chest.

I refuse to believe it. I refuse.

He looks me dead in the eye and says just one word.

“Run.”

I don’t hesitate for even half a second before I do.

You think you know how this story ends.

You don't.

You don't know anything just yet.

“She's the devil,” I whisper, sitting down hard on the edge of my bed. I'm wearing white footie pajamas with ducks on them, but don't judge: they were a gift from Charlie, and I didn't have the heart to tell him I was ten years too old for them.

“Who?” Miranda asks, pausing and turning to look at me, her luxurious white-blonde hair hanging over her shoulder. She strokes it gently with the brush, watching me with eyes the color of ice chips in a stormy sea. “Oh, you mean your sister? Don't worry too much about her. My brother's a dickhead, and I still manage to put up with him.”

I sigh and run my fingers through my hair, trying not to stress too much about the boys and their whereabouts. It's been almost a week since we left them at the Vanderbilt Manor and in the hands of the Infinity Club. If Windsor hadn't texted to let me know everyone was okay, I'd think they were all like, dead or something.

“Your brother's a kitten in a tiger suit,” I tell her, sitting up and dropping my hands to my lap. “That girl, Isabella Carmichael, she reminds me of Harper.”

Miranda shivers and sets the brush down, turning fully in the chair to face me, a slight smile working its way onto her full lips. She really is the female version of Creed, his feminine other half. Ugh, I miss Creed. I miss all the boys actually. And that scares me.

They're all dating me together because they feel bad, because they know they messed up, but I can't ask that of them forever. Eventually, I'll have to choose. It's not fair to them if I don't, right?

“She wasn't the warmest character, I'll give you that,” Miranda hedges, chewing on her lower lip. While I'm dressed in ridiculous flannel pj's, the Cabot twin is decked out in a short, pink satin nightie. I'll admit it: I'm a little jealous. “But I wouldn't worry about her. Her or Harper. I've got your back; we'll kick both their asses next year.”

She stands up and moves over to sit on the edge of the bed next to me, reaching out to put my face between her hands. I swear, she smells like strawberries and vanilla. It's comforting somehow.

“One year left, and we'll leave all these fuckers in the dust. Just one more year.”

“And then what?” I ask, feeling this strange pang inside my chest. When I first arrived at Burberry Preparatory Academy, I was excited for the years to come. Soon after, that excitement turned to dread. Then it became a mission of survival, a matter of principle.

Now … I can't imagine it all being over. I'm not ready for it to end. Not yet.

“Then Creed and I will follow you to Bornstead and bug the shit out of you for four more years! Maybe six or more if we go for a master's or a doctorate.” Miranda pauses as I raise both brows. I think my mouth's hanging slightly open.

“You're going to Bornstead?” I ask, trying not to get too excited. Nothing's final until, you know, it's final. But still. How could Miranda or Creed be denied? Their mother, Kathleen, went to Bornstead.

“Of course I am,” she replies, letting go of my face and standing up. “Not only is Bornstead my mother's alma mater, but my best friend is going there. That, and my twin is attached to my best friend's hip. Really, is there any other choice?” She stands up and opens my bedroom door, letting in the raucous rumble of my dad's snoring. “Let's go make midnight margaritas.”

“There's no alcohol in this house,” I murmur, but I follow after her anyway, the tight, angsty feeling in my chest twisting painfully. Miranda's going to Bornstead. So is Creed. And as far as I know, Zayd is, too. What if I end up picking someone else? What if I don't pick at all? What if breaks my heart in half and spills all my blood to the parched earth if I have to make that choice?

“We should get dressed and go out,” Miranda whispers as she systematically goes through the fridge and all the cabinets. “Go to a bar or something. I have fake IDs for us both in my bag.”

I cross my arms over my chest as she turns around and notices my raised brow and hard stare.

“Fake IDs, seriously?”

   
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