Corrupted by Innocence - Book cover

Corrupted by Innocence

Niccolite Slater

Chapter 1


I place a small rose on the gravestone at my feet, my fingers traveling across the engraved writing paying tribute to some poor soul that lost their life in a horrific accident I could hardly remember.

Two hundred years is a long time to live and the memories fade over time—the good and the bad ones.

Still, a little smile slides across my face as I bow my head to the precious dead soul before me, wishing them a safe passing into the afterlife or whatever lies beyond this terrible world, not that I would know what that might be.

Dusk beckons on the horizon, rushing my peaceful moments among the dead as I move on to the next gravestone and the next, doling out the same care as all the others.

Each one receives a rose, the color of crimson, and a small bow to wish their safe passage to an afterlife, if it exists.

I do not profess to be innocent, even though that is the persona I have adopted. The lives lost, the gravestones surrounding me, are pitiful yet necessary.

Victims of greed and power, each one died mercilessly at my hand for their disrespect and dismissal of my worth.

Innocent, I am not, as each one of these poor souls had come to realize moments before their deaths as I wielded my lethal justice with a smile on my face.

My footsteps glide along the wet earth, each step drawing me closer to the newest gravestone.

A deep sigh leaves me as I kneel before it, my hands trembling as I lay my last rose by her resting place, a sob racketing through my body at the memories of the woman who rests here.

My love, I miss you.

My lips tremble from the ache in my chest, the horrors that befell her at my hand as I read the tombstone in silence.

Morgan L. Smith, my dearest love, you have my heart and my soul. I shall cherish you forever. May you rest in peace.

I reread the words a few times, anger bristling within at the fake emotions I used to construct this tombstone.

Morgan had been my entire life for nearly three years. I woke up to her, I came home to her, and I made love to her in ways that would make grown men blush.

And in all those years, Morgan accepted me for who I was in my entirety.

Until she didn’t.

She begged me to stop doling out justice, telling me that I couldn’t be the jury, judge, and executioner—but she didn’t understand. I would not be disrespected by the likes of a race that I had outlived two times over.

Morgan thought she was doing the right thing, she truly did, but I could not accept her constant disapproval.

And when she asked me to turn myself in?

I lost it.

I do not regret it and I will not apologize for my actions. She might have meant everything to me at a time, but no one stands in my way. I am the only one who can choose my fate.

Which is why I have a new target, one that I will ruin so good he will bow to me willingly when I am done.

A sinister grin replaces the small smile on my face and my eyes flash with delight at the tombstone directly next to Morgan’s. The slate is blank, the hole yet to be dug; it is awaiting its host.

Xavier Knight, here I come.


I resist the urge to growl at my dad as I fold my arms tightly across my chest, the thick bands of my tattoos stretching across my bare arms. I’ve fucked up one too many times and now the entire PR team has descended on my ass to make things right.

Unfortunately, Dad’s way of making things right is through marriage.

Yeah, fuck that.

“Xavier! This is important.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” I wave off my dad, trying not to think about the freedom I’m losing by agreeing to this shit.

Two hours ago, I was at a club downtown, drinking my life away without a care in the world. I might be an heir to Knight Enterprises, but with no responsibilities and every dime at my disposal, I couldn’t have found a luckier position to be in.

Unfortunately, all that ends tonight, after the club was busted for being part of an underground drug ring.

It would have been fine except the public knows that it’s one of my favorite hangs and now, everyone’s wondering if I’ve been hyped up on drugs since the club’s recent launch.

For your information, I haven’t touched any of the stuff. Alcohol is enough fun for me.

Seven headshots are slid across the table by my dad’s PR assistant who is younger than me by nearly two years, a tight smile on his lips as if to apologize for the task he is forced to do.

I scowl at him, not having any better reaction, and lean forward to stare at women that look like they’ve walked out of the pages of a magazine.

Knowing my dad, they probably have. I do, however, appreciate that none of the PR team tried to give me these women’s full life stories because, let’s be honest, I don’t care. Looks are everything in my book.

Well, looks and obedience.

Each one has some sort of bimbo personality jumping right off the page—big hair, an obscene amount of cleavage, and striking eyes.

I immediately discard the redhead, nothing against gingers but I know her from a previous…one night stand and she’s kind of a bitch. I don’t even remember her name, but I know that she was adequate, but had desperation reeking from her pores.

Dad mentioned that we had to make this marriage thing look real for at least a year or two, with enough contingency plans should I fuck up.

And oh, I was definitely going to fuck up.

Headshot number two reminded me of my mom and I can’t think of anything I want less than to stare at someone all day who looks like Mom. I toss that one aside as well.

Headshots number three and number four have to be twins. They have different hairstyles, and number three is blonde whereas number four is a brunette.

I grin at the thought of choosing one and getting both. Everyone seems eager to jump into bed with me and I know that if I get them to dress the same, I could have both in my bed.

Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what this marriage is supposed to do and if I still want to inherit something, I will have to give up my publicly wild whims.

Headshot number five looks promising but there’s a fight in her eyes I don’t like. She won’t submit. She’s likely to headbutt every command I give her, and she looks like she has a good head on her shoulders.

In a parallel universe, if I was a better man, I’d choose her in a heartbeat. She’s definitely wife-material.

I just…don’t want a wife.

Headshot number six is gorgeous. My dick fills in my pants at the mere sight of her and I scoot a little farther under the desk to hide my arousal. Her bright, playful green eyes are staring back at me in a way that makes me want to find her, bend her over, and take her on the spot regardless of who’s watching.

But that also means, she’ll probably catch my feelings and I can’t have that. As soon as the agreement is over, I’m cutting all ties, giving the wife a payout, and jumping right back into the life I’m being robbed of.

No, she won’t work either.

That’s when I see headshot number seven and I immediately make up my mind. She’s not gorgeous like the others, but the innocence radiating off her, that petite smile on her lips that’s barely there, the tinge of fear in her expression? It’s everything I need.

She looks so pure.

So ready to be ruined.

So ready to be mine.

I tap headshot number seven with a seedy grin. “This one. I want her.”

It’s like some sick, twisted game of The Bachelor and I fucking love it.

Marriage might not be so bad after all.

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