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C3 Two

One week earlier

Damon placed the papers on his desk and leaned back, feeling a mix of intrigue and bewilderment. When he had received the phone call yesterday, he had initially thought it was some sort of prank. Could a father truly be serious about offering his child in exchange for money? However, as he delved into the files concerning Sara Monroe, he began to realize that her father, Douglas, was deadly serious about this proposition.

Douglas was willing to trade his own daughter for cash. Normally, Damon wouldn't spare such a despicable man a second thought. His time was far too valuable to waste on poor business decisions. But curiosity had taken hold of him, a dangerous thing indeed. He couldn't help but wonder: What was in it for Sara? Was she willingly going along with her father's plan? How far was she willing to go?

He glanced at Sara's photograph, which he had picked up from his desk numerous times already. She was not just attractive; she was strikingly beautiful. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in the photo, and her deep brown, almost black eyes seemed to harbor hidden secrets. Her nose had a slight bend to it, suggesting it had been broken once but had healed gracefully, giving her a softer appearance. Her high cheekbones and oval face completed her captivating features. It had been a while since he had been genuinely intrigued by a woman, but Sara Monroe had captured his full attention.

A week ago, he had posted an advertisement, seeking a new public relations representative. He had made sure to target only select listings, avoiding the general public's applications. He wanted only the best for his team.

The call from Douglas Monroe had not been the call he had expected. Annoyed, Damon picked up his phone and dialed Douglas's direct line.

"Douglas Monroe."

"This is Damon Weatherfield. I've considered your proposal, and I've decided to accept it." Damon kept his response brief, not offering any further information.

"That's great, Damon. Why don't you come by my home tomorrow, and we can sign the papers?" Douglas replied, his voice filled with excitement.

Damon's disgust grew even more pronounced. "It's Mr. Weatherfield, and I have conditions," he warned, eliciting a moment of silence from the other end of the line.

"What are your conditions?" Douglas finally inquired, choosing not to address the familiarity issue.

"Is your daughter aware of our... arrangement?"

"I've informed her that it's time she got a job. She's had an easy life for too long. It's time she learned to fend for herself in the real world," Douglas replied, avoiding a direct response to the question.

So, she was a pampered heiress, Damon deduced. He considered just letting it go and moving on, but for some reason, he couldn't. There were a couple of reasons for that. One was the people Sara was connected to, and the other, well, he had yet to unravel.

"Will she cause any trouble?"

"Not at all, Mr. Weatherfield. My daughter has been taught to behave," Douglas assured with an unsettling laugh that sent a shiver down Damon's spine. Even though he wasn't in the same room as Douglas, the man exuded a kind of malevolence that was hard to ignore. People like him would eventually face their downfall. That was why Damon was confident in his plans to fulfill the promise he had made to his mother.

His supposed family was cut from the same cloth as Douglas Monroe—greedy individuals unafraid to trample others to achieve their goals. They would also meet their reckoning.

"Very well, I'll meet you at your residence, but not until next week. My attorney will have the necessary paperwork prepared." Damon ended the call without further ado. The less he engaged with the slimy man, the easier it would be to go through with the unholy deal.

Pushing these thoughts aside, he picked up the second stack of paperwork on his desk, and this time, a genuine smile graced his face. The time had come. Finally, he had the means to begin his mission of exacting vengeance on those who had taken his parents' lives. It was long overdue.

Damon's lips curved upward, a semblance of a smile that might pass as genuine to the outside world. It might even be considered a smile, at least as much as he was capable of. He watched as Sara walked away, feeling a mixture of impatience and intrigue.

Ever since making the deal with her father, he had delved into studying her, ensuring he wanted to hire this spoiled heiress. The more he learned, the more his curiosity was piqued, and he grew impatient to finalize the deal.

He considered going after her, but Damon was not one to act impulsively, at least not with most people. His expression softened as he thought of his only friend, Trinity. His one impulsive act had been to propose marriage to her, and he would have followed through if she had said yes. Fortunately, Drew, the father of Trinity's baby, had returned to her life, eager to do the right thing and deeply in love with her. Damon might not believe in fairy-tale love, but he couldn't deny that Trinity and Drew were genuinely in love. The way they looked at each other was almost disconcerting.

Damon pushed thoughts of Trinity from his mind. He couldn't afford to be distracted if he intended to execute his plans. He had never disclosed his past to anyone, not even Trinity. He steeled his determination. He had made a promise to his mother, a vow he intended to fulfill. He had made that promise before Trinity had found him many years ago, before she had rescued him from the darkness of his life.

His focus returned to Sara as she walked away from the reception. She was just another piece of the puzzle in the grand design of his life, a means to the end he had practically been molded for. He could succeed without her, but why should he? He liked what he saw, and with such an enticing package on the table, he figured, why not?

She possessed a natural grace and beauty that could easily captivate a man. He wasn't concerned about getting too attached; love wasn't on his agenda. He had been there and done that. He should have heeded his mother's advice and never strayed from the path that led to justice for his parents.

His so-called family would pay. They would pay dearly.

Sara was nearly inconsequential—nearly. She just happened to have a best friend who was connected to the family he was on the verge of taking over. With her father so readily willing to trade his daughter, who was he to refuse?

The meeting with her father had been far from pleasant. The man was repulsive, but Damon believed he was doing Sara a favor by getting her out of there, not that she seemed in any hurry, based on what he had learned so far.

Damon's mind drifted back to his conversation with Douglas Monroe:

"Thank you for meeting with me, Mr. Weatherfield," Douglas said, clearly delighted to have Damon in his office. The man practically salivated as he awaited Damon's signature on the dotted line.

Damon remained silent, looming over the man. He wasn't there to befriend Douglas; he was there for a business transaction. Damon's ability to read people and detect weaknesses was what made him successful. He saw weakness, and he immediately went in for the kill, closing the deal. And he saw weakness in Douglas.

Damon owned thousands of properties worldwide and produced only the finest wines. He knew how to select the land, tend to the vines, and staff the properties to create wines that had even royalty eagerly awaiting each new vintage.

Damon seemed to have a Midas touch, with every venture he invested in, every dollar he made, multiplying exponentially. However, none of it was ever enough. None of it.

Only retribution could bring solace to his tormented soul.

"To be frank, Douglas," Damon emphasized the name, making it clear that while Douglas could not address Damon informally, Damon had no qualms about doing so to Douglas. It was a power move, signaling that he held the upper hand. "Initially, I wasn't inclined to accept your offer, but then I did some research... It made me change my mind. I'm intrigued as to why you'd effectively sell your own child."

Damon let the statement hang in the air, waiting to see if Douglas would provide more information.

"You placed an advertisement, and I just happened to have a solution. I'm seeking investors, so it seemed like a mutually beneficial arrangement. I'm a very private person, though, and the terms of our agreement must remain confidential," Douglas said, displaying a hint of the determination that had made him billions of dollars.

"I value my privacy as well, Douglas."

Douglas studied him in silence for a few moments. Damon could see the man weighing whether Damon was genuine or not. Although Damon was primarily known for his vineyards, he was also recognized worldwide as a shrewd investor. It was common knowledge that he never backed a losing company.

Damon knew he would most likely lose every penny he invested in Monroe Enterprises, but it didn't matter. This was not about making money; it was about exacting revenge, and he cared little about losing millions. It was inconsequential to him.

"Very well. It appears we are in agreement. Will you accept the offer?" Douglas finally asked, leaning back and trying to project an air of confidence, tinged with mild boredom. He wasn't quite pulling it off.

"I'm willing to invest ten million in your project," Damon stated, pausing to let his words sink in. "But only if your daughter is... cooperative."

Douglas waited for more information. Damon remained silent.

"How cooperative?" Douglas eventually inquired, his brow now glistening with sweat as he anxiously awaited Damon's response. It was clear that the man didn't think his daughter was worth ten million dollars. In reality, he was probably right. The only woman Damon could think of worth that much was already taken.

"Do you really want to know?" Damon taunted.

Still standing, Damon leaned over the desk, his knuckles lightly brushing its surface. He knew that intimidation was his most effective tactic.

"I can't make any guarantees about her attitude, but I'll ensure she works diligently," Douglas replied, perspiration now dripping from his forehead.

"I wouldn't be too concerned about her attitude. Based on everything I've learned about her, she appears to be quite... accommodating," Damon mocked.

He observed as Douglas paled but did not back down. The man was genuinely selling his daughter, even after Damon had given the impression that he wanted her for little more than a servant.

He wanted to turn and walk away, abandon the entire deal. However, the more he delved into this twisted family, the more he wanted to learn about Sara Monroe. Soon enough, he would have his answers.

Damon's icy eyes betrayed none of the emotions raging within him as he retrieved a pen from his breast pocket and signed the document. He then looked into the greedy eyes of his newest business partner. It was the first time he had signed a deal that made his stomach churn.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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