Fifty Shades of Grey Can't Hold A Candle to This Book
Dreams Come True
“She’s not ready for both of us, brother.”
His breath tickled the back of my neck, sending every nerve ending in my body throbbing with heat.
I strained against the silk bed sheets, heart hammering. But the more I struggled, the tighter they wrapped around me.
I was trapped.
And… maybe a part of me wanted to be here–stuck between the two men whose hard bodies pressed up against either side of me. Whose faces I could never see.
Part of me yearned for this place, the bed of the faceless twins who I visited every night in my nightmares.
In my fantasies, too.
“Who are you? What do you want with me?” My voice was a hoarse whisper.
The other brother reached out in the dark, fingers gently caressing my cheekbone, my jawline…
“You’re too young to know the truth, Madeline,” he said.
“It would break you.”
A soft gasp escaped my lips.
“And we cannot allow that, little mouse,” said his brother. “For when we break you…”
“We will do it slowly.”
“Wake up, be-otch!”
I woke with a start–blinking a few times to see the sun shining through the large window of my dorm room. The smell of the fresh mountain air wafted in through the window.
My roommate Zayda burst into the room, her auburn eyes bright with excitement, curls bouncing with every step. In her arms was a stack of wrapped boxes.
I wiped a bead of sweat from my forehead, trying to put the dream out of my head.
“What’s that?” I asked with a yawn.
“It says it’s for you, birthday girl!” Zayda plopped the boxes on the foot of my bed. “Eighteen! And on Prom night, no less!” she wiggled her eyebrows at me suggestively.
I rolled my eyes–and then her words sank in.
“Oh. Shit.” I groaned. “I forgot it was my birthday.”
“Are you kidding!? Maddie, how do you forget your own birthday? I swear, your head is always in the clouds…”
How could I possibly remember it? I thought bitterly.
“Oh, Mads, shit…I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking,” Zayda said, catching her blunder and shifting uncomfortably.
She bit her lip–and then her eyebrows lifted.
“Did I mention that I brought you coffee?”
She held out a cup, and I quickly snatched it from her.
“You’re an angel.”
“And you overslept,” she scolded. “We’re supposed to be at Thea’s in twenty minutes to start getting ready for the dance.”
Right. Senior Prom.
I sighed and swung my legs over the side of the bed, then crossed the room to the window that overlooked campus, sipping my coffee.
Graceful Springs Academy was in one of the prettiest places in the world, with miles and miles of towering pines and a looming mountain in the distance.
I still couldn’t believe that this place was my home–or that I’d only been here for a year.
Because the Academy, the last year of my life… it was the only thing that I could fully remember.
It was like my life hadn’t existed before I found myself on the steps of Graceful Springs last year.
It was a boarding school for the children of the elite, the wealthy families living in nearby Requiem City.
And somehow, through the good graces of a mysterious benefactor, a girl like me from the slums of the infamous city had landed a full-ride scholarship.
And I had no idea how–or why.
I’d seen the school doctor numerous times, but he could never find anything wrong with me.
As far as they could tell, I was just an orphan with nothing to my name–nothing, except for…
I reached a hand over my shoulder, running my fingers over the top of the tattoo inked there.
The one I’d arrived with, but had no memory of getting.
And just for a moment, I swear I felt it pulse…
“Earth to Maddie! Are you going to open this, or am I going to have to do it for you?” Zayda’s voice cut through my thoughts.
I spun around to eye the stack of boxes sitting on my bed with suspicion.
“Are you sure that’s for me?”
“It has your name on it,” she replied, waving a tiny card at me.
I grabbed it from her and read the card, frowning.
Happy birthday, Madeline.
There was no signature.
I unwrapped the biggest box.
Inside was a glittering green sequin dress that looked like the most expensive thing I’d ever seen.
The intense gasp that came from beside me only validated that thought.
“Holy shit,” I mouthed, though I couldn’t actually make a sound.
I traced the sequins, realizing with a pang of disappointment that the dress was strapless.
I can’t wear this, I thought. Everyone would see my ink…
In the smaller boxes were a gold, gem-encrusted tiara and matching necklace and earrings.
Extravagant didn’t even begin to describe what I was looking at.
Who could have possibly sent me such a beautiful—and expensive as hell—gift?
“Girl, do you have a secret sugar daddy or something?!” Zayda exclaimed.
“No,” I murmured. “I mean, I don’t think so…”
Is this from the same person who paid for my tuition?
“This was a terrible idea,” I whispered to Zayda as we walked arm-in-arm with Thea up the steps of the castle.
Thea wore the tightest, shortest black dress she could find, and she looked amazing in it.
Zayda donned a yellow two-piece gown that was absolutely stunning on her.
And as for me… Well, after my friends’ incessant nagging, I had tried on the new dress and jewelry.
The dress had fit me like a glove, the emerald green making my red hair shine like copper. It hung in loose curls down my back, half pulled-up to accentuate my diamonds.
“Stop fidgeting. You look SO stunning,” Zayda said, elbowing me.
“Like, I’m actually speechless,” Thea added–then frowned. “And jealous.”
“It’s just…” I grumbled, tugging on the sweater draped over my shoulders. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into wearing a strapless dress.”
“It was literally made for you,” Zayda protested.
“But now I’m stuck in this damn sweater all night,” I muttered.
“Orrr, you could just own the awesomeness that is your tat and let everyone see!” Thea said.
“Yeah, right…” I muttered.
It wasn’t that I thought it was ugly. It was…beautiful. In a weird way.
But I couldn’t imagine a version of me that would choose to have this–this–thing–branded on me for everyone to see.
It didn’t feel like mine.
But as we stepped into the ballroom and I caught sight of the luxurious decor–the crystal chandeliers, high ceilings, and ancient statues–my anxiety melted away.
Along either side of the room were floor-to-ceiling mirrors, making the ballroom look impossibly large. Endless.
“Holy shit,” Zayda said.
“Ditto,” Thea said with a gasp.
Students were gathering in front of the stage across the room, where our headmistress, an older woman with wispy grey hair and a stern face, stood watching us all.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” she said, tapping her mic once, twice…
“Quiet please, and allow me to introduce tonight’s benefactors.”
Whispers filled the ballroom, and everyone craned their necks to get a better look at the stage.
“Do you think it’s someone famous?” Zayda squealed. “Like, famous, famous?!”
“It’s gotta be, right?” Thea said. “Look at this place.”
I suddenly felt a sharp sting on my shoulder–right where my tattoo was.
What is going on with it today?
“One of Requiem City’s oldest and most esteemed founding families…” the headmistress droned on.
I barely heard her.
The ink on my back was starting to throb.
“Mads? What’s up?” Zayda whispered.
Before I could finish, the mark began to burn–filling my entire body with an unbearable yet somehow…intoxicating heat.
It was almost too much. And yet I wanted more…
“Mads?” Thea echoed.
“It…so…hot…” I panted, ripping the sweater from my shoulder to give the tattoo some air.
I heard several gasps and spun around to see the people behind me staring at my tattoo–then looking at me.
“Maddie,” Zayda said slowly. “Your tattoo… it’s… glowing.”
I rushed over to one of the mirror walls and glanced over my shoulder, mouth dropping open.
My eyes traced over the ink–the intricate illustration of two dragons, intertwined.
Their wings. Their scales. Their eyes…
But instead of its usual black ink, the mark was a glowing, bright orange.
In fact, it almost looked like it was…on fire.
“Oh fuck!” I hissed–turning back to my friends, heart drumming in my chest.
What was happening?
Was I dying?
“What in the hell is–”
“WITHOUT FURTHER ADO!” the headmistress’s voice boomed through the sound system.
The room was spinning.
My chest was going to explode.
“PLEASE WELCOME… LOCH AND HAEL DOBRZYCKA!”
And then, the ballroom fell completely silent.
What happened next could only be described as an out-of-body experience.
Like my body was being controlled by some invisible force, and my brain was just…frozen.
Feeling a sense of anticipation, of knowing, I swiveled to face the back of the ballroom, where gigantic double-doors were slowly opening.
I glanced down in shock, realizing that I was already walking toward them…
I couldn’t stop myself.
And I didn’t want to.
Was I dreaming again?
“Mads? What the hell are you…”
Two figures stepped from the shadows of the hallway outside, and into the grand ballroom.
Both were impossibly tall, with piercing emerald green eyes.
One with emerald green hair, too. The other’s, jet black.
Their eyes were fixed on me. And only me.
It all felt so obvious now–the powerful benefactor, well, benefactors who sent me here…
Who bought me this dress. Funded prom…
I did know them, after all, because they haunted my dreams.
But they weren’t really dreams, were they?
They were memories.
Memories of the infamous identical twin brothers who stood at the head of the oldest, most influential family in Requiem City…
And Hael Dobrzycka.
“Happy birthday, Madeline,” said Hael.
“And my, my,” Loch crooned. “How we’ve missed you.”