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"That baby in your womb can't be mine; you're just a prostitute who wants to find a way with me," he declares, dismissing her claims with a venomous sneer. Reeling from the brutality of her past and the harrowing reality of a r*p* that stole more than her security, Chelsea fights back tears. Her dreams of studying abroad are dimming, ensnared by the billionaire's ruthless terms: a contract marriage as his way out. But even in her darkest moments, Chelsea refuses to lose hope. She must navigate this cruel game of power and preservation, armed only with her resilience and a burning desire to reclaim her future.

Chapter 1

_Everything you want is on the other side of fear._ A lone mansion stood gloriously in the heart of Birmingham city, unperturbed by the city's late-night bustle. In one of the many rooms of the mansion, a man treaded a mill. The one who controlled most of the business flow in Birmingham and the country at large pushed himself to the limit as his lean muscles bulged with each move he made. Daryl's gym was one of the biggest rooms in his mansion. It was well-equipped as expected of one of the most famous bachelors in the city but over-equipped for one person. Daryl kept moving on the treadmill, exerting more energy with each step as he sweated buckets. His muscles burned, running out of their share of oxygen but he was lost in thought seemingly unaware of his body's protest. His mind wandered here and there unable to focus. He couldn't make sense of the day's events. He was trying to catch onto one thing but caught onto another. It all boiled down to one memory of his. A memory he wanted nothing to do with anymore. It had scarred him for life. " Open this door right now! " A burly man shouted as he banged loudly on the door of a house. " Ma'am open the door while we're still being nice" Another voice added in a sickly sweet tone and the banging continued. Ten-year-old Daryl woke up in shock, his heart pounding, because of the ceaseless banging on their door. His room was devoid of any light and so were other parts of the house except a few. Daryl quietly stood from his bed and with his hands felt his way to the door of his room, where a dim bulb lit the corridor. " Mum?" he called out softly."Mum? Where are you?" He repeated while walking into the kitchen. There he saw his mother scouring through the drawers in a frenzied manner, her hands trembling and feet unsteady. She turned around and noticed his presence behind her. She put her finger on her lips and motioned him to keep silent. Daryl obeyed as fear began to claw at his heart. Simultaneously the banging on the door seized. His mother grabbed him and pulled him deeper into a corner of the kitchen with her palm tightly clamped over his mouth. The sound of metal hitting against metal was heard from a part of the house and slowly the sound drew closer and closer to them. The darkness of the kitchen only made matters worse. Daryl was scared out of his wits and for a brief moment he wondered if his mother was too. He gripped her clothes tightly and his body trembled from head to toe. The sound didn't stop, it kept drawing closer to them till suddenly it paused, and his mother whirled around really fast and shoved him into a compartment he didn't know existed in the house. It all happened so fast that he didn't notice when or how she opened the compartment, not to mention the door being a seemingly normal mirror beside a tall fridge in the kitchen. Shutting the door, his mother turned her back to him holding a strange weapon in her hands. She paused, " Don't be afraid dear. No one can see or hear you from there, you'll be safe. " The last part sounded more like she was trying to reassure herself than him. Little Daryl couldn't comprehend what was going on. He could see his mother's retreating figure through the glass and he heard every single word she said but they were still too vague for a ten-year-old. He didn't know what was going on but had a gut feeling it was nothing good. A crippling fear consumed him as he started knocking on the glass. "No! No! Mom!! Mom!!! Let me out, please! Don't go!" He cried out, but it seemed she could hear him as she walked away. The space inside the compartment was narrow and the glass resilient. He felt suffocated and hit the glass harder in desperation. The sound of metal against metal was heard again echoing through the corridors and his mother stepped out, shutting the kitchen door. _" Nooo!!! Mom please!!" His voice came out in shrill cries as he scraped his fingers against the rough edges of the glass, drawing blood with tears streaming down his face. For the first time in his life, Daryl felt dead.__     A sharp pain brought Daryl back to reality. He fell from the treadmill and toppled over. He gasped, struggling to breathe properly. He placed his hand on a low marble table to support his weight as he tried to stand up. Slowly and unsteadily he made his way to the bathroom in the gym. Leaning over the sink he stared at his image in the mirror and he could hear her voice in his head, "Dirty! You're as dirty as that mother of yours."     He looked at the tap and had a strong urge to wash his hands and he didn't try to resist it. After washing up, he dressed leisurely in baggy grey trousers and a sweater. Hanging a short white towel over his neck, he stepped out to the balcony. Silently watching the city lights, the starless sky, and the gathering dark clouds, he felt a moment of peace. Whatever it was that nagged his mind he was going to find out in a few days. Till then, Daryl pushed his thoughts aside.After a while, it began to drizzle. It started as a light shower but the thick dark clouds betrayed its intention. A heavy downpour was on its way.   In another part of the city, a girl raced against time and the incoming downpour as she rushed in and out of a nearby store, with her brown leather handbag over her head as a makeshift umbrella. She hurriedly walked toward the bus stop but before she could make it rain began to pour down heavily. She brought her bag down and protected it with her body instead as she stood at the bus stop, waiting for a bus along with the handful of other people there. Eventually, a bus came to a stop, and she struggled to get on the bus with people pushing and shoving each other aside to enter the bus before it got full.        Chelsea sighed in relief. Her bag was soaked, and she was drenched and bruised from the shoves while struggling to get on the bus. It didn't help either that she ended up standing and holding onto one of the iron bars on the bus. The vehicle lurched and moved forward accelerating gradually. The rain got heavier with each passing minute. Chelsea could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. An elderly woman sitting by her side tapped her, " Miss? Are you related to Elena Willows?"    It took Chelsea a while to reply, " What?" She said, amused. "No, I'm not. I look a lot like her, don't I?"    "My word, you do. I..."    Before she could complete her sentence the bus skidded and careened across several lanes of traffic, making everyone on the bus move unsteadily from side to side. After a while of chaos and screaming, the driver regained control of the wheel and everything was calm once again.     The old lady put a hand on her chest, " Are you okay?" Chelsea asked in concern.   " Of course I am! My bones aren't as old as they look y'know" She replied with a smile.     Chelsea returned the smile, turning her attention to the window she heard a commotion in front. Someone was saying, "Driver! Move out of the way!!"  and someone else added, " Are you a drunkard?! Turn f*ck*ng left !!"Then a bright light assaulted her eyes through the window with car horns honking and passengers in the bus shouting, cursing, calling on God. Chelsea's heart leaped, but before she could make a sound their vehicle got slammed from the side and spun off the highway and down the hill in a deadly summersault. Everything happened so fast and her last thoughts were, " Is this death?" Chelsea woke up to the beeping sound of a life support machine, with her head buzzing and her vision blurred but she could vaguely identify the place she was as a hospital. There was so much noise around her. She felt her consciousness slipping gradually and for the third time, she found herself embracing the darkness. Chelsea didn't know how long this process kept repeating or how much time she had spent in the hospital, but she couldn't care less about the latter. No one was coming anyway, not her father, mother, or sister, and Chelsea herself had absolutely no way to pay the hospital bills which left her with only one option. For the umpteenth time, Chelsea was awake. This time she couldn't see or hear the beeping of the life support machine instead, she was placed on a drip. She sluggishly pulled the syringe from her hand and made to stand up but suddenly felt light-headed and weak. She placed a hand on her forehead and took a deep breath, biting down on her lip hard she readied herself to stand up and slowly made her way to the door in the hospital gown. It was late at night and for some reason, the hospital staff in the building weren't moving about as Chelsea thought they ought to. Sticking to the shadows, tripping and falling a couple of times due to weakness, she finally made it to the ground floor. The entrance wasn't an option so she went for the nearby window and slowly scaled it. Chelsea made it out of the hospital thanks to the ambulance that arrived right on time. She was weak, and sore all over, her head kept buzzing and her throat was patched. She would have loved to remain in that hospital until she fully recovered but alas, not everyone was so privileged. If she stayed, she would have remained there for good since every one of her relatives either saw her as a burden or a threat. The latter made Chelsea chuckle, the idea of the likes of her being a threat to anyone was laughable. In the dead of night, a lone figure swayed from side to side on the streets like a broken doll. Chelsea felt lost, confused, and consumed by the crippling need to drink water. Almost immediately, she saw two or three men open the door to a house, and hurriedly walked across a lawn to stop get to them before they shut the door, all she would ask of them was water to quench her thirst. She got to the door but the men weren't there anymore. They had gone inside already and the entrance was opened halfway giving Chelsea a way to slip in. "Moron!! How could you leave it open?" came an angry bellow. The voice belonged to a man and she could hear someone else muttering something as she quickly hid from sight. It seemed one of the two was coming back toward Chelsea's hiding spot to lock the door they had left open. After he left, she stepped out of hiding and quickly searched for a kitchen or any other place water could be but found nothing except one empty room after another. She bit her lip to keep herself from crying there and then. She could no longer take it, the thirst was unbearable and her movements since she left the hospital only made the splitting headache worse. She stopped in front of a door, and with her back leaning on it she stood still, too tired and worn out to think clearly or move a muscle. Immediately, She heard footsteps coming her way and hurriedly entered the room behind her, closing the door as silently as she could. " I can't believe we accepted this job." one of the men said. " What? Why not? You scared of a pretty boy or something?" the other replied. " I ain't scared of no one man, but you know them don't you? These rich snakes." " Quit worrying 'bout sh*t and c'mon let's get outta here. Our job's done." with that Chelsea didn't hear their voices again. It seemed they left the house. She felt someone's presence behind her and her fingertips turned cold. Slowly she turned around, only to be pinned to the spot she stood by a taller shadow of a man. Unable to see the face of the strange clearly, she tried to push the door open and escape but it was locked. Chelsea tried harder, desperately shouting for help and hitting the door with what little strength she had left but it was all in vain. She felt his hot breath on her neck and made to push him away, instead, she was thrown like a light sack onto the bed she hadn't noticed was there. The rough impact made her yelp in pain with her voice now hoarse and barely audible. Her head throbbed but she ignored all of it and rolled onto the floor before the man could get on her, bruising her shoulder in the process. With amazing speed, the man dragged her by the leg toward himself, and she managed to get hold of a small vase and hit him over the head with it. The man groaned and moved back a little. From his voice, Chelsea could tell it was a young man that tormented her. She tried to stand up but couldn't get far before her body betrayed her and she fell to the bed devoid of any form of strength and her consciousness slowly slipping. She felt the man easily holding her hands up and having his way as silent tears streamed down her face before she blacked out completely.

Chapter 2

At the break of dawn, Chelsea woke up groggily, feeling sore all over. Her head still ached like she'd been hit over by a trailer, though she might have been considering she knew nothing of how what exactly caused the accident. She forced herself up and found no one else in the room. She hoped last night's event would turn out to be a delirious dream of hers due to her condition. She looked around the room, the broken vase, the blood from her shoulder injury, everything was the same as last night which further proved she wasn't delirious. A bitter feeling settled in her heart and her eyes stung. Holding back tears Chelsea pushed the feeling and thoughts aside, she had to get out of the house first. Steadily, she stood to her feet and made her way out of the room toward the house entrance. To her relief, the door wasn't locked. Moving from one dark alley to another there was only one thing on her mind, home. As much as it wouldn'


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