Crowd of Lies (Kingsley Academy Book 2), page 8
I exhale, crossing my arms over my chest. “What do you want, Kai?”
“I have class,” I bite out.
“Like you care about class,” he retorts. “I want to know what you have on my dad.”
My stomach sinks. It didn’t occur to me that this was why he’d pulled me aside. I’d assumed this would be something to do with us, but I guess that had been wishful thinking.
“Why, so you can destroy it?”
He crosses his arms, taking a step forward. “No, Ivy. I just want to know the truth. I want to find him. I’m not the bad guy here. I didn’t know about any of this until that day in your hospital room.”
I snort. “He’s your father. Don’t tell me you didn’t know what he was like.”
He raises his eyebrow at me, taking another step closer. “I told you what my father was like. I’ve never been anything but openly honest with you, even when I was prick and treated you so poorly.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I lie. It does matter. “He’s gone. What we do have is worthless until he’s captured.”
He steps closer, growling, and pins me against the wall using his hands and body. A small gasp passes through my lips. I freeze on the spot, squeezing my eyes shut like it will somehow shut him out. It doesn’t, and the pain of having him so close only increases when he leans in, breathing onto my neck. Goose-bumps break out over my skin when a feather-light touch of his lips whispers along my skin.
It all hurts, and as I try to build those walls back up, to force down my emotions, I realise it doesn’t matter. It’s Kaiden. He’ll always find a way to break them down or stir them up, and I can’t let him. I can’t let him in again.
“It does fucking matter. You won’t even answer my calls. I’ve been trying to find out where you’ve been staying for weeks. I needed to see if you were okay.” He sighs, shaking his head. “I’ve been trying to find my dad, to find out if he was the one who ran you off the road. You aren’t the only one who needs answers.”
I open my eyes and push him back, anger pumping through my veins. “News flash: not everything is about you. When I wanted answers, you didn’t give them to me. You just had me running in circles.” I push him further away, blowing the hair out of my face. "And please, don’t act dumb. It doesn’t suit you, Kai. You know it was your dad who ran me off the road. You also know, deep down, that I wasn’t lying in that hospital room. This didn’t happen to you, it happened to me. My mum died, and I then I was here, fighting a new fight, surviving in an entire new world. I fucking had no one, Kai, and just when I thought I had you and the twins, I found out it was all a lie. My life was turned upside down. So I’m sorry if I didn’t stop to answer the fucking phone to the son of who caused it all.”
“Is that how you see me? As his son?”
I sigh, already knowing my answer. “No, because I’m not you. I’m not holding your dad’s sins over you. I’m holding your own over you. You lied to me. I don’t trust you didn’t know about it all.”
“I didn’t fucking know about it,” he snaps.
“I guess I’ll never know,” I tell him, leaving him to stew on those words as I head for the door. I reach it, twisting the lock to open it. I pause with my hand on the door handle, looking at him over my shoulder. “I didn’t come here to wreck your world, Kaiden. I didn’t come here for any of this. I came for a new start, a chance to forget the life I had growing up, and maybe a chance of not becoming my mum and the bitter woman she had become. This mess… I wasn’t the one who started it. It was men in suits who let power go to their heads. Don’t let that be you.”
I leave him standing there, not saying another word as I leave the toilets. Lucca is standing outside, leaning against the wall opposite me. I roll my eyes. “I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you were worried about.”
“Ivy,” he starts.
“Don’t,” I warm him, and walk in the direction Selina pointed me in earlier, groaning over the fact I’ll have to make a late entrance.
A tall, slender girl with honey-coloured hair steps out of another hallway, nearly bumping into me. Her forest green eyes lock on mine, and she smiles.
“Please tell me you’re the new girl.” She grins, and I see a flash of a tongue piercing. I also notice a colourful tattoo peeking out of the collar of her shirt.
I roll my eyes. “Is there a bulletin board with notice of my arrival?”
Her laugh is musical, husky. “Nope. You’ve just been a hot topic of conversation around here. Don’t worry, they’ll get bored in a few days. Most don’t even care. It’s only the girls who want to get into Danielle’s clique that do.”
“Because she’s such a role model,” I announce dryly.
She laughs again. “I’m going to like having you here. It’s about time some of these snobs had the brooms ripped out of their arses.”
I arch my eyebrow. “Aren’t you rich?”
She shrugs. “Touché. Yes, my parents have money. But they aren’t like other parents. I’ve worked for what I’ve got. I’m not a spoilt princess. I don’t let status or popularity define me.”
I grin at that. “You mean you didn’t get a pony as a child?” I tease.
“Nah, I did get a Savannah cat.”
“Aren’t they really large house cats?”
“They are big. It freaked my neighbour out, who happened to be Danielle. I had a snake before that, but once I lost it after sneaking it into her house, I knew I needed a pet that would come back. And I love cats.”
I grin, picturing Danielle freaking out over a snake. I look at the door to the classroom I’m in and inwardly groan.
“This is me. It was nice chatting to you.”
“This is my stop too. No one fucking told me they changed classrooms. I’m Clarissa, by the way, but call me Clary.”
“Ivy,” I mutter back and let her walk through first. I step inside, hiding the fact my stomach is doing somersaults.
The teacher looks up from where he’s just about to hand out papers. “Take a seat, Miss Whitmore.”
He’s a lot younger than I thought a teacher here would be. He can’t be much older than us.
“Are you Miss Monroe?”
I nod, pulling the strap of my bag further up my shoulder. “Yes.”
“Take a seat. I’ll bring the class assignment booklet over to you.”
I take a seat nearest to the door, opting for a quick escape route rather than being furthest from the teacher.
I grab my laptop from my bag, knowing I’ll need it. Since Selina helped set up my school email account, I’ve been flooded with emails. One told me I’d need to bring my own laptop for today’s lesson.
It’s not long before the teacher makes his way over to me. “Morning, Miss Monroe. Welcome to Kingsley Academy. I’m Mr Wilson.”
I give him a brittle smile and lean in. “Please, can you call me Ivy?”
He smiles and nods. “Of course. I know you’ve missed some work but it won’t take long for you to catch up. I’ll email you a list of study materials to help you. I hear you didn’t have this lesson at your old school, so I’m not sure what level you are at. I don’t want you to feel behind or overwhelmed by all of the work, so I’ve taken the liberty of making this,” he explains, handing me a folder. “It will have step by step instructions to help you navigate this course. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. My email is on the first page, along with a list of students who partake in tutoring.”
“Thank you,” I tell him, feeling my cheeks heat a little.
“You’re welcome.” He smiles, tapping my desk. The door opens and a stormy-faced Kaiden steps inside.
My heart races as he scans the room, briefly pausing on me before taking the seat a few aisles across.
Anxiety swarms through me when Grant steps inside, looking worse for wear. We’ve never been friends, never been anything really, and although I’m st
“Open your laptops and begin the Excel report you started last week. For those who are joining us, you should have the start-up material in front of you.
Reaching for my laptop, I can feel the heated glare Grant is aiming at me. I look away, opening my laptop.
The screen comes to life, and the sound that echoes out the speakers has the blood draining from my face.
It’s my mum, pleading for her attackers to stop.
I look around the room with wide eyes, my body shaking when everyone gapes openly at me.
I slam my laptop shut, then grab my things and quickly shove them into my bag.
I have to get out of here.
Those words… Please don’t do this. They echo in my mind. The realisation of what I’m listening to hits me, and bile rises in my throat.
There is no lingering doubt inside of me. What surprises me is that I’m not at all shocked by the realization that my dad did this. I guess deep down my subconscious knew he had this in him. I was just too stubborn and hopeful to believe he didn’t. No one wants a rapist for a dad.
Anger fuels my veins as I think about everything I’ve done, everything I’ve said. I put an innocent girl through hell for no reason.
Every time I touched her against her will, every time I threatened or cornered her, I’d had to numb something inside of me, had to shut off a part of myself that made me human.
I’m no saint. In reality, I’m a prick who just hates most people, especially those who are fake and out to get what they can out of life without caring who they step on to get it. I can come across as curt, churlish and a hard-arse, but I’ve never once hurt a girl. I don’t abuse the power wealth has given me.
With Ivy, all that went out the window. My lust mixed with the hate I had for her, confused all of that.
But it never stopped the little boy inside of me from wanting revenge for what happened to my mum. Pathetic, immature? I don’t know. I didn’t care. All I wanted was to avenge my mum. But all along, it was Ivy’s mum who needed vengeance.
It wasn’t me, Grant or Ivy. It was Cara Monroe. And when I truly grasp everything that has happened, all I want to do is throw up.
A flicker of movement from the corner of my eye snaps me out of it, and I rush to grab my bag from the floor, chasing after Ivy as she escapes the room, her face ashen.
Another chair scrapes along the floor behind me, and I know it’s Grant. He’s been my best friend all my life, but without a doubt, I know that if he tries to harm Ivy, I’ll hurt him. He needs to be hit with the same reality I’ve just been hit with, because all our lives we were fed lie after lie. Maybe we wouldn’t have turned out be the arseholes we are or done the things we’ve done to let out our anger if those things hadn’t been an equation in our lives.
But they were. And now we have to deal with them.
I notice Ivy steer off to the right and rush into the girls bathroom we were in earlier. I follow her inside, finding her bent over the sink, breathing hard.
She looks up, wiping at the tears slipping down her cheeks. My chest tightens at the sight of her, and it takes everything inside of me not to go to her, not to comfort her.
She forces her expression to turn blank, but it’s no use. I can see the anguish written all over her face, and how she’s trying to conceal the pain she’s feeling.
She grabs the laptop off the side, holding it to her chest, like I’m about to rob her. If it wasn’t for the fact she has every right to behave this way, I would have scoffed.
“Play it,” I rasp out, not sounding like myself.
The sneer on her face has my dick twitching. I love it when she gets feisty. Even under these circumstances, she still has the power to make my body react.
“So you can destroy it?”
Grant slowly steps up beside me.
“I need to hear it,” he demands, breathing hard.
“I don’t trust you not to destroy it.”
It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her look vulnerable. She’s usually so closed off and sassy, not allowing anything to penetrate those walls. It’s like she deems sadness to be weakness, and therefore locks it down before people can see it and exploit it.
I see her though.
At first, I thought she was a tough bitch, dragged up in a rough area where all she knew was violence. But she’s so much more. She’s not just physically strong, but mentally strong too. However, I see through her ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude. It’s just an act. She does care about those around her, and I don’t think she chose to go with Nova because she wanted to get out of her living situation. After spending weeks getting to know her, I truly believe she just wanted a family, wanted the love she was neglected to be given as a child. She wanted what we all want; love, family and a home. The only difference is she was scared to want it, to reach for it.
“I can promise you right now that if I wanted that destroyed, it would already be in pieces around this bathroom. I want to help you, Ivy. If you don’t want me near you, send a copy to me, Nova, yourself and anyone else you can think of who will keep it safe.” My dad is still out there, and he’s already proved he will do whatever it takes to get his hands on that recording.
“And why would you tell me to do that?” she asks, eyeing us both warily. “I don’t trust you.”
“Play it,” Grant croaks, staring at the laptop like it’s going to spring to life.
The moment she gives in, she takes a resigned breath, yet she’s no less wary than what she was to begin with. I want to reassure her that she can trust me, but it will be a pointless plea to Ivy right now. I’ve never given her any indication that she can trust me, so why would she start now. It’s frustrating, and all I want to do is make this right between us.
Slowly, she places her laptop on the counter next to the sink and opens it up. It automatically plays, and the breath leaves my lungs in one fast whoosh.
A scream startles us, the sound loud as it echoes off the bathroom walls.
“Don’t do this. Please, don’t do this, Royce. I’m a virgin,” a woman I assume is Cara, begs.
“Good!” Dad sneers, his voice louder than hers, like he’s closer to the recorder.
“Please! Oh my god! Please, stop! Neil, make him stop!” I close my eyes, looking away as bile rises up my throat.
“No,” Neil states, sounding aroused. I take a deep breath, my hands clenched into fists. “Hurry up, Royce. I want to take my turn.”
Dad laughs. “Don’t worry, she’s still got a virgin arse.”
“That won’t get her pregnant, but I guess it will be fun to split her in two.”
“Please, no,” Cara screams.
Grant staggers backwards, shaking his head.
“I’m a monster,” he whispers, his gaze on the floor. He turns on his heels and leaves, slamming the door against the wall on his way out.
I want to go after him, to see if he’s okay, but there is no way I’m leaving Ivy right now. I pull my phone out of the inside pocket of my blazer and type a message to the twins, asking them to go find him and check if he’s all right.
The room fills with tension as I take a step towards Ivy. She takes another one back, just like earlier, and glances away from me.
And it doesn’t hurt any less to have her pull away from me now than it did the first time. I deserve everything, if not more.
What my father has done, what I have done… it can’t be forgotten, it can’t be forgiven.
“Please, stop it,” I plead, the sound of her mum’s pleas forever embedded in my brain.
She bows her head. “I don’t know how,” she admits.
I step over, pausing the soundtrack, and take in a deep breath. I connect with the school Wi-Fi and quickly open my email account.
“What’s your email address?”
I pause on the keys, closing my eyes. Every time I’m reminded of how little she’s experienced or had growing up, it tears my heart wide open.
I clear my throat, pulling myself together as I quickly log out and open one up for her. It won’t take much for someone with knowledge of computers to access her school email. It’s all on one system and monitored at the school. It takes a minute to set up, and it’s not long before I’m back on my account, adding Nova, Sam, and a few other trusted contacts to send it to.
Remembering the officer Ivy talked about when she was taken in, I ask, “Do you still have the contact information the policeman gave you at the station?”
Still in her own head, Ivy looks around the room like a cornered animal. I knew she would be shocked by the turn of events, probably still wary about me helping her.
I might be a dickhead to most people, but only to those who deserve it, and the quicker she gets that in her head, the better.
“Um, y-yes,” she mumbles, grabbing her bag. Pulling out her purse, she opens it up and pulls out a small card. She hands it to me, and the brush of our fingers causes a jolt to shoot through my system.
Knowing this needs to be dealt with, I enter in his email address, attaching the recording with a short message explaining the details and that we’ll be in touch soon.
Shutting the laptop, I hand it to her, and she’s taken aback by the gesture. I sigh. “I told you, I don’t want to destroy it. Believe it or not, this has been hard on all of us. I’m owning up to my mistakes, which is something I rarely do. I won’t even fake it to placate someone, Ivy.”
“But why?” she asks.
I shrug. “Because believe it or not, I do care about you. But even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t brush this under the rug. He’s got a lot to answer for. At first, I thought he cheated on Mum because he didn’t get what he wanted from her. She was broken, a mess, and I blamed your mum for it.”
“It wasn’t her fault,” she says, tucking her hair behind her ear. She sighs. “And who blamed her? They had to have said something for you to react the way you did to me when we first met, for you all to do the things you did to me.”