Miss High Maintenance - Book cover

Miss High Maintenance

S.S. Sahoo

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2.3k
Chapter
15
Age Rating
18+

Summary

Blonde bombshell Amelia Knight looks like just another spoiled socialite on the New York party scene. But underneath the hard-partying, risk-taking veneer, she's unbelievably brilliant and ambitious. Enter Ethan Reid. Academically gifted, with a high-profile career in psychiatry, Ethan sees through Amelia's shell to the wildfire beneath. And something about her adventurous nature draws him to her like a moth to a flame. But will their magnetic attraction draw them together or blow up their lives?

Age Rating: 18+

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Tiger Princess, On The Prowl

Amelia

You never could tell how different living in different parts of the world could be.

Not until you stood in a mulberry silk dressing gown by the window of a sprawling penthouse apartment, the blue Hudson separating your city from the swill of New Jersey.

Of course, there was nothing wrong with New Jersey.

It just wasn’t New York.

I sighed and wrapped my housecoat tighter around me. The chilly morning showed wisps of redolent icy-blue fog escaping into the living room through the open bay window, spanning the entire northern wall of my home.

A whimsy glass-sided recess protruded from my favorite space, and to everyone who graced the pavement downstairs, it looked like a queen’s podium. I could imagine waving down at them.

But I didn’t want to risk getting an everything bagel or a venti latte thrown at my pretty face.

A smile on my face, I recalled the time I was all of nine-years-old, and I’d donated every last cent of the pocket money I’d collected in an entire year to a little raggedy girl outside St. Bishop’s church.

She’d had eyes of the purest cornflower blue. She’d be beautiful if poverty weren’t so apparent on her face. When I came home, mom asked me where my pocket money was.

“I spent it all, mama, I’m sorry!” I’d pleaded. And of course, dad had heard me. Oh, he’d been furious. I had to go a month without any pocket money. When mom tried to help me out, I hugged her ferociously, saying only one thing.

Mom waited until dad was out of the room before turning stern eyes at me. I could almost hear the sound of the world’s tiniest violin spelling doomsday in the background. But then, she’d just known.

“You helped someone on the roads, didn’t you?”

I’d nodded. And she’d kissed me and said. “I’m proud of you, but maybe if you donate in part, and invest the rest, you’ll have more money to help others!”

That was my first lesson in finance, and by the end, my head hurt, so much so that I’d raised my hands and squealed like a little annoyed hen.

“When I’m old enough, I’ll rob a bank and feed all the world’s hungry. You watch me, mommy!”

I was always getting in trouble back then, but those closest to me thought it was endearing and funny. And I still intended to feed every hungry person I’d encounter.

Ace had been dubious when I told him I wanted to move out of the family home, which he was now sharing with his to-be wife, Veronica. But I’ve always felt three volatile personalities under one roof spelled inevitable doom.

Plus, I intended to be the mistress of my own casa. There was no room for another woman to dominate where I was present.

And, in this beautiful space accentuated with soft tones of peach and lime, sea green and pepper gray, I was as nature intended me to be—a ruler in my domain.

Something stuck into my otherwise contented heart like a thorn in a chest.

I sighed at the open invitation upon the table, a heavy frown on my sharp features. It was an invite I wanted to avoid at all costs, but Veronica had categorically told me I had to attend.

Michaela Andrews was no friend of mine.

She was a spoiled brat—and, I get it, all of us are—but she was one of those brats—the kind who came with zero intellect, big boobs, and ridiculously tilting hips that left little to the imagination.

She was always talking in this saccharine voice, making me want to pound my head into fine powder.

The only reason I didn’t do that was, well, the world would never get a second Amelia Knight.

A lilting tone from my custom iPhone, redone in gold and a sprinkling of amethyst for good measure, drew my attention.

Smiling, I answered, relief flooding my chest. “Hey, Klarisse, how is everything?”

Klarisse Renmann was my best friend from my days at Harvard.

I never imagined leaving New York, but the moment I got the opportunity to study business psychology, I knew it was time to peregrinate. New York could wait for me—and she did.

“Hey, my love. All good on this side. How is the queen’s castle?”

I rolled my eyes and let out another frustrated sigh. “It was all good until I woke up to a blasted invitation this morning. Remember Michaela Andrews?”

“The bimbo who used to bully you in school because she thought you’d grow up androgynous?”

“I mean, I think androgyny is beautiful. But it didn’t feel great when she kept pushing her huge-ass tits in my face and telling me she was better than me because of her bra size. What’s worse, it's her birthday today, and my family is forcing me to go.”

“What?” She sounded dismayed, a feeling which resonated with me. “Why?”

“Well, Michaela’s father is an investor in Knight’s Corp. That’s not the only thing, though. Ace believes in maintaining good relationships with the old money families in New York.”

“Didn’t you tell me Michaela’s dad made most of his wealth from tax evasion?”

“Oh, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Andrews group. But that’s none of my concern. How is Teddy?”

A burst of soft laughter sounded from the other end of the phone. “I called to tell you Teddy has been transferred to the Bronx Zoo and is dying to meet the girl who saved his life all those years ago!”

Teddy Knight. My dearest, most beautiful, golden Amur, striped with streaks of rich wheatish brown and built into six hundred pounds of pure muscle and hunting instinct.

He was amber, almost as if God had carved him from hardened sunlight.

I had saved him from a group of poachers on a trip to the far east of Russia, in a tiny little village where Amur tigers were revered by the locals and dearly loved for the nourishment they offered to the ecosystem.

The poachers, as it happened, were already on the run from the law, so when Klarisse and I reported them to the authorities, we saved not only baby Teddy, but also his brothers and sisters.

The mother, however, could not be rescued in time—and this was a sting I carried in my skin for as long as I’d known and loved him.

I’d spent two months around Teddy, learning more about his habitat and life, becoming the sum of his little world. And when we’d said goodbye to each other, I knew I was never going to get that kind of love back.

It didn’t matter. Such loves were meant to happen once in a lifetime, for they were too pure and too big to be replicated again and again.

“Babe?”

“I’m here. But I got to meet him. Klarisse, can I call you later?”

“Anytime.”

After hanging up, I prepared a cup of macchiato and sifted through contacts and names to get to Bronx Zoo’s management. Something was brewing in my mind.

I learned Teddy was as healthy and lively as ever, still the mischief-maker at four years old as he had been at two months.

The rest of the day was busier than I’d hoped. But it was the good kind of busy—you know, the one that sits like a warm shroud upon your shoulders on an otherwise cold day and makes you think, “Okay, I got this.”

A little past eight in the morning, the family limousine took me to the birthday venue.

Veronica was already present with my brother, Ace. She was gorgeous in a navy-blue dress, a string of pearls elongating her already long neck like a swan.

My brother looked like the doofus he always had been, but I had to admit age and responsibilities had made a man out of him. They made a good pair.

That was where the good part of the evening ended. Michaela had booked an entire barn and the surrounding lawns for her birthday.

Every inch of the space was done in hideously garish tangerines and bright neon pinks.

She wore a typical Chanel cocktail gown—dusty rose, exposing her ridiculously large bosom.

Satisfaction hit me with savage precision when two girls giggled beside me, each pointing to the apparent work she’d gotten.

“Those lips look worse than the duck pout trend we had going a couple of years back.” One smirked.

“Hush,” the other girl laughed and pulled her away. At around the same time, I heard the sound of a huge truck pulling down the alley, stopping right in front of the lawn’s gate.

My time to shine, bitch.

All eyes were now on me.

Michaela’s irises looked like the hearts of poison ivy, at once jealous and dark. I paid no heed. I lived for this kind of validation.

Stepping away, careful not to crease or wrinkle the golden zari work on my slinky Schiaparelli number, I walked down the lawn to where the truck was parked.

Guests blared horns from their indulgent Porsches, sleek BMWs and the odd Fortuner, but who the hell cared?

This was New York, and you couldn’t survive the city if you were paid heed to the feelings of anyone other than those closest to the heart.

“Is he here?” I asked the man standing at the back, fiddling with a huge set of keys. He nodded and opened the doors.

A resonant roar shook the entire road, traveling and echoing to the furthest corners of the Hudson. There, gleaming against the luminescent night’s shadows, was my golden boy.

“Teddy!” I couldn’t help the happy tears from falling. “My Teddy! Open the enclosure, please!”

“Are you sure about this?” The man still looked dubious.

I fixed my gaze on him, the blue in my eyes a quiet fire of chaos.

“Do I look unsure?”

“Fine, have it your way,” he muttered. He looked like one of those folks who’d had it with the tempers of wealthy New Yorkers and their ridiculous antics.

I didn’t blame him, but nothing was going to stop me—least of all, a zookeeper who didn’t know the bond I shared with the living being inside.

Another roar shook the gardens. I could feel the ground under me vibrate as the man reluctantly opened the transportation crates.

For one second, Teddy’s feline yellow eyes met the blue in mine. I saw so many things in them.

A life gone by.

A history.

Forests in twilight and pine needles with droplets of early morning dew.

The entire earth.

Then, there was only abundant love. He leaped at me. The crowd let out a collective outcry, and I heard Ace and Veronica screaming at me to get back.

Teddy and I were enclosed in the tiger version of a bear hug, his front paws over my shoulder as I laughed into his soft mane, each pealmore hysteric and maniacal than the last.

In another century, they’d have tried to take me to Salem.

Wouldn’t have helped, though. I’d still escape and paint the damn towns red.

After an age, or maybe a very long minute, I turned. Two more men helped me walk Teddy to the podium at the center of the lawn.

A low hush had fallen over the crowd. Every single pair of eyes was on me.

Michaela stood on the podium, her mouth open. I nudged the mic away and gave her a slight shove. She moved aside clumsily.

“I’m sorry about the unexpected surprise. Michaela and I talked a while back.” I winked at her as she continued to stare at me, stupefied.

“And we both agreed this would be a wonderful opportunity for me to teach you how valuable these big cats are to the world and why we must protect them from illegal hunting.”

The world had forgotten the existence of Michaela Andrews and her big tits.

“Indeed, without our Amurs and other tigers, the very heart of our ecosystems is bound to fail sooner rather than later.”

Every word I spoke, every caress I left on Teddy’s velvet-soft mane, and every purr he made in reciprocation were all they wanted. I didn’t even mind the angry glances of disapproval from Ace and Veronica.

They knew this was more than my love for the wild. This was a vendetta. This was me telling those who needed to hear but couldn’t be bothered to listen.

Once I was done, I didn’t stop for feedback. I’d see enough of it tomorrow. I walked Teddy back to the transportation crate and returned to the Bronx Zoo with him.

After our goodbyes and promises of coming back, I returned home to a long, dreamlessly sweet slumber.

I woke up to the sound of curtains being pulled aside, and Ace’s angry face glowering at me.

“Are you looking at this?” He was waving a newspaper at my face.

The headlines made me laugh out loud.

Tiger Princess, on the prowl.

Watch out, world, she’s here now.”

“You know Michaela was good for your company, right?” Ace scowled. “Stop laughing.”

“Who let you in, Ace?”

“The maid,” he huffed. “And now is not the time for pleasantries. Do you realize the extent of what’s happened?”

He handed me his phone. Facebook and Instagram were rife with memes, pointing to Michaela comically louring at me as I stole her thunder.

In one meme, a boy held a girl’s hand but stared at another lady walking in front of them.

The captions over the boy and the girl’s heads read “the audience” and “Michaela Andrews,” while the lady was “Socialite Amelia and her baby boy.”

“Isn’t this good for business too?” I asked him pointedly.

“Amelia.” He let out a tired groan. “You have to grow up.”

I shook my head and stretched my limbs like a cat turning to the sun. “No. I have to have a good time, Ace. And that’s what I’ll do.”

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