The Pact - Book cover

The Pact

Jessica Morel

Chapter 2


“Business partner?” I ask, glaring at the Italian opposite me. So far, all he has done is flirt with me, call me a slut, and now he is ruining my reunion with Leo.

“Chris is the CEO of the New York contingent,” Leo explains, and Chris smirks at me.

“It is nice to meet you officially, Frankie.” Still holding my hand, Mr. De Luca lifts the back of my hand to his lips.

He presses a gentle kiss against my skin, and there is no fighting the blush that takes over my face. I do my best to school my expression as I wrench my hand from his grasp.

“You too, Mr. De Luca,” I say with a polite smile cuddling further into Leo’s side.

Mr. De Luca looks between Leo and me in disgust before his lips once again tug up into a smirk.

“Please, call me Chris.”

“Okay, well, can we get going?” Leo asks, taking my hand in his. He holds my duffle in his other hand, and the three of us walk out of Heathrow Airport and slide into the awaiting limo.

“You are really going all out, QB. I didn’t need such fancy treatment,” I say as the limo starts to move.

“This is me now, Cheer,” Leo says with a smirk on his face, similar to Christian’s.

“Not the sweet, carefree QB from Jackson anymore, huh?”

“Not quite.” Leo laughs. “But I’ll always be that guy with you, Frankie. We will always have Mississippi, Cheer.”

Leo and Christian begin discussing business. Meetings, accounts, HR problems etc., and I tune out, turning my attention back to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

It isn’t until Leo’s phone rings and I feel Christian’s eyes burrowing into my skull that I look up again.

“Good book?” Christian asks.


“Maybe I should read it,” Christian mulls, and I struggle between trying to ignore him and being completely and utterly surprised that someone hasn’t already read it.


“I said maybe I should read it.”

“I heard you. What kind of moron hasn’t read Harry Potter?”

“Be careful who you are calling a moron, kitten,” Christian growls, his voice too low for Leo to hear.

“Seriously, though! It is a classic! There is no possible excuse you could have for not reading Harry Potter.”

“Now you have started it.” Leo laughs as he hangs up his phone. “If there is one thing Frankie is passionate about, it is her books, especially Harry Potter. How many times have you read it, Cheer?”

“Fifty, at least.”

“I think you need to find a better way to spend your time,” Christian comments. “What is it you do, anyway?”

“She’s an actress,” Leo says proudly before I can answer, and Christian raises an eyebrow in question.

Aspiring actress. I mainly write,” I clarify.

“Nonsense! She has been on Broadway,” Leo says, and I don’t have the heart to correct him.

Technically, yes, I have been on Broadway. However, I have never made it into an actual cast. That doesn’t mean I’m not performing; I’m just not performing where Leo thinks I am.

“I’ll have to see your next play,” Christian says, and the way he looks at me, I know he has me all figured out.

I avert my gaze, instead looking out at my surroundings. I notice that we are leaving the city center.

“I thought you had an apartment in the city.”

“I do, but I also have a home a little further out where I thought we would be more comfortable for the summer.”


“I think he means me,” Christian offers.

“You’re staying for the whole summer.”

“Don’t sound too disappointed,” he mutters.

“There is actually something I need to tell you,” Leo starts. “Ask you both, actually.”

“What is it, Leo?” I ask, suddenly worried.

“Nothing bad, I promise. In fact, it is great. I want you both to be my best man.”

“Best man?” I furrow my brows.

“Okay, well, in your case, best woman, but I want you both to stand up with me when I get married.”

“Married?” Christian and I question at the same time.

“I’m getting married,” Leo says with a grin.

“Since when?” I ask somewhat bluntly.

“Since I met the girl of my dreams.”

I school my expression, trying not to double over in pain.

The girl of his dreams? ~Well, shit.~

How can I compete with that?

I bite my tongue to stop myself from crying. I dig my fingernails into my palm to distract myself.

Leo starts to ramble about Elizabeth—or Beth, as he calls her. I manage to nod and smile, all the while dying inside.

“So, I know this screws up our pact,” Leo says with a laugh as the limo pulls to a stop outside a mansion four times the size a house should actually be.

“Pact?” Christian questions.

“Francesca and I made a pact when we were what, like sixteen?”

“Seventeen,” I correct, vividly picturing the day of our first and only kiss.

“We said that if we weren’t married by the time we were thirty, we’d marry each other.”

Only two years short...

Leo steps out of the limo first, and I try my best to collect myself.

“You love him.”

I narrow my eyes at Christian.

“You don’t know what you are talking about.”

“I think I do, kitten. I think you have loved him your whole life. I would guess that at some point, he loved you back, but he was too stupid to do anything about it.”

“Shut up,” I mumble as a lone tear escapes and slides down my cheek.

I gasp as Christian’s thumb presses gently against my cheek, stopping the path of my tear.

“He isn’t worth it, Francesca. You deserve to be loved unconditionally, not be someone’s second choice because of some stupid pact.”

“Sure, thanks. That means a lot coming from the guy who sees me as a slut.” I roll my eyes, pushing past him out of the limo.

I stop short when I see Leo locking lips with an elegant-looking brunette. She has long dark-brown hair that is in a neat bun on top of her head.

She is wearing a yellow sundress and light cardigan, which shows off her perfect porcelain English skin.

The happy couple finally break apart, and the brunette, whom I’m assuming is Elizabeth, looks over at me with her eyes wide.

“Oh, my goodness!” She speaks, and her proper British accent is obvious. “You must be Francesca! Leo has told me so much about you.”

“Funny, I’ve heard nothing about you,” I murmur, glancing toward Leo, who looks at me sheepishly.

I’m taken aback when Elizabeth wraps her arms around me, pulling me into a hug.

“It is so great to meet you!” she gushes mid-hug.

Great, she is nice.

“Uh, you too,” I say finally once we are a proper distance apart.

“Beth, this is Chris,” Leo says, and Christian extends his hand.

“Elizabeth, a pleasure—oomph!” Christian is cut off as Elizabeth uses his hand to pull him into a hug. I can’t help but laugh at his obvious discomfort.

“Come in, both of you!” Elizabeth says, and I certainly don’t miss the massive diamond rock on her finger as she waves her hand, ushering us inside the mansion.

“Oh, my bag!” I stop in the doorway turning back to the limo.

“I got it, Cheer,” Leo says, stopping me. He kisses my cheek quickly before running back out to the limo.

When I enter the foyer, Elizabeth and Christian are talking to yet another gorgeous brunette.

What? Do they manufacture them here?

“I just don’t understand why Leo has been keeping you a secret,” the new woman says while batting her eyelashes. “It seems such a waste to have such a gorgeous European man holed up in New York.”

I walk toward the group, and the woman next to Beth narrows her eyes in my direction, her painted-red lips pursed.

“The maids’ entrance is around the back of the property,” she snaps. “I’m so sorry the help is not better trained, Christian.” Her face softens as she talks to Christian, resting a hand on his muscular arm.

“Evie! She isn’t the help. This is Frankie Barton, Leo’s best friend since kindergarten. Frankie, this is my sister, Evelyn Walker.”

“Frankie?” Evelyn scrunches her nose up in disgust. “That is an awfully masculine name.”

Evelyn looks me up and down, and I feel myself standing straighter. If there is one thing I hate, it is entitled spoiled brats judging me without knowing me.

“And you are awfully masculine, but you don’t see us complaining,” Leo says from behind us, and I laugh out loud. I laugh harder when I notice Beth trying not to crack a smile.

“How nice of you to invite your platinum plaything along, Leo,” Evelyn sneers.

“That’s enough, Evelyn,” Leo scolds.

“Is it? Have you announced your wedding to the bimbo?”

“We get it, I’m blonde!” I snap, rolling my eyes.

“Yes, actually. I asked Francesca and Chris to stand up with me at the altar.”

“How…progressive…I’m sure Daddy will love to pay for that wedding.”

“Well, it isn’t like he will be paying for yours anytime soon.” Leo smirks, and Evelyn looks about ready to snap.

“Leo, please,” Elizabeth says, placing a hand on his chest. “Why don’t you show Christian and Francesca to their rooms?”

Leo huffs as he heads toward the stairs, and Christian and I, for lack of a better idea, follow after him. I jog to catch up to him, and he slows down slightly when he senses me next to him.

“So, what is with you and resting bitch face?” I ask as we begin down a long hallway.

“She just rubs me the wrong way.”

“That was obvious,” Christian offers, joining us on the opposite side of Leo to me.

“Beth tolerates her, but she struts around here like she owns the place. It is my fucking house.

“Their father owns a few European newspapers, so both girls have grown up with money, but Beth isn’t materialistic in any way; she is a lawyer, pretty good one too.

“She happily wears an outfit more than once. She has her hair colored maybe once a year, and if it is possible, the girl actually hates to shop.”

“She sounds perfect,” I murmur.

“You two actually have a lot in common,” Leo says, and my heart breaks.

How nice to have a lot in common with the fiancée of the man I love.

“And Evelyn?” Christian pries, and I feel a slight twinge of jealousy, but I push it away quickly.

“Evelyn is the complete opposite. She isn’t happy unless she has a credit card in her hand. She has this obsession with looking rich more than being rich.

“I actually met her first, and she hung around like a bad smell. She has hated me since I chose Beth over her.

“Enough talk of the wicked Walker Witch. Here are your rooms. You can fight over which view you’d like.”

“You pick, Francesca,” Christian offers, and I’m a little shocked.

I step into the first room and gasp at the magnitude. The whole room is bigger than my Brooklyn apartment, although that is not difficult.

The whole thing is decorated in cream and blush pink. The furniture is extravagant and obviously expensive. Right in the center is a giant four-poster bed.

Off in one of the corners is a small lounge area complete with bookshelves and television.

I move toward the bay window in awe of the view in front of me. It looks out over the expansive property and the most stunning rose garden.

“Impressed?” Leo appears behind me.

“God, yes,” I say, turning to him with a grin. “This is amazing, Leo. A little different to how you used to live in Jackson.”

“I know, right? Mom and Dad refuse to move. I have offered to set them up somewhere bigger.”

“And what would they do with all the space? Don’t get me wrong, Leo, it is amazing, a dream really, but it is too much. No person needs this much space. There is such a thing as being too extravagant.”

I look over Leo’s shoulder to find Christian smiling at me, genuinely smiling.

His gaze locks with mine, and his smile is gone, instead replaced with a stoic expression.

“I’ll take this one.”

“You don’t want to see the other room?” Christian asks, slightly surprised.

“I don’t need to.” I smile at him, but he looks away. The guy is a complete mystery, so hot and cold.

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