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A modern-day romance. Billionaire Ace Brightly is the owner and CEO of Pure Fashion Industries, with a reputation for being cold and arrogant. Everyone tries their best to avoid him at all costs. Then enters Zurielle Summers. After a run-in, first meeting, she stands up to him and doesn't take his disrespect. She has no idea he is the CEO. She scolds him in front of his staff and their reactions are priceless. Thinking she is employed at his company, Ace makes it his mission to find out who she is and what sector she works in. Every time they run into each other it's a disaster
Watching a movie with my parents in our living room, my dad’s phone rings. With a concerned look on his face, he stares down at the screen.
‘Excuse me, girls. I need to take this call,’ he says, standing and leaving the room.
‘Should we pause it?’ I ask mum.
‘No, it’s fine, sweetie. Dad has seen this movie before,’ she answers. I return my focus to the film in front of me, and I’m startled when I hear Dad’s tone rise in anger, in the other room.
‘No! That was not part of the deal! You can’t have her. I’m not going over this again with you. She is not for sale! The deal is off. Don’t contact me again, and stay away from my daughter,’ he yells.
I look over at mum who is just as startled as I am about dad’s phone call. I stand and leave the room, and find dad sitting outside near the back door, on the back steps, with his head in his hands.
‘Dad, is everything okay?’ I ask.
‘Yes, darling. Everything is fine.’ He lets out a heavy sigh. ‘Okay, so maybe everything isn’t fine. There is something I need to talk to you about. You know my business has been going downhill, and we have been struggling financially to pay even the basic household bills,’ he says, and I cut him off before he can continue.
‘Dad, it’s fine. I understand. I have two years left of my degree, but mum has taught me everything at her work, in the last few years. I haven’t learnt anything new at uni. I’ll defer my studies for a year or two. I’m sure I can get a part time job at a cafe, to help with the bills or even reception, or admin work somewhere,’ I say. Dad shakes his head. ‘No, Zurielle. It’s more complicated than that. I was offered a large sum of money to help someone with something illegal,’ he says.
‘What kind of illegal work? Are you in some kind of trouble?’ I ask, concerned.
‘I shouldn’t have accepted the offer Zuri-bear. They got me involved in things I’m being blackmailed for. I owe them some money. If I don’t return it, he wants you—’ he mumbles.
‘Who is he? What are they blackmailing you for?’ I ask, looking across at his teary eyes.
‘It doesn’t matter Zuri-bear. You’re my only child. You’re only nineteen. You’re the sweetest, kindest, most beautiful daughter I could ever ask for. I would never hand you over to anyone,’ he says.
‘Does mum know about this?’ I ask.
‘No, I’m going to tell her everything tomorrow. And everything else you need to know. I’m going to return the money in the morning, then we can let mum know. Over my dead body. I would never let him have you!’ He says. I nod.
‘Zuri-bear?’ Dad says.
‘Yes, Dad?’ I answer.
‘No matter what happens, don’t let any man fool you or use you. Men are the worst, most brutal species to exist. They’re nothing but heartless, monstrous beasts.
They only want one thing. To fulfill their desires and their needs. They will use you for your body and throw you away like a toy. Most men won’t care or notice you, for your kind and gentle personality, or even care how intelligent you are. They will see only your beauty and you deserve more than that. You deserve true happiness and a man who loves you for all of you. I know you will make me proud one day. You’ll find a man who is deserving of you. Always remember this, Zuri-bear,’ he says, and tears roll down my face.
‘I will make you proud. I will be cautious. I won’t trust just anyone,’ I say, and he kisses me on the forehead and caresses my cheek with his thumb.
‘I’m already proud of you, Zuri-bear,’ he says, softly.
‘You missed the rest of the movie,’ Mum says, as she approaches us.
‘It’s okay. We can watch another movie tomorrow, if you like?’ I say.
‘Okay. But I’m choosing the next movie,’ she says, smiling. ‘Okay. As long as it’s not a cheesy, unrealistic, romance movie that would never happen in real life,’ I say, giggling, and Mum scoffs.
‘We’ll see. Anyway, it’s late, and I’m tired, so I’m going to sleep. Are you coming to bed, John?’ She asks, looking at Dad.
‘Of course. Good night Zuri-bear. I love you,’ he says, getting up, taking my mother’s hand, and leaving to go to their room.
I sit on the back steps, and look up at the stars and the moon. A shooting star goes by. I should make a wish!
‘I wish one day to find a man who loves me for me; my other half, my soulmate; a man in love with my personality, rather than my natural beauty, everyone strangely thinks I have,’ I say, smiling, and looking up at the stars.
Rue, my little shihtzu, comes running out the back-door, barking at the back fence.
‘Rue! Come here! There’s nothing there. Just a bunch of trees,’ I yell. Rue runs back toward me, I pick her up and make my way inside, to bed.
I wake up coughing, and to Rue barking. It must be the middle of the night. I rub my eyes, and notice smoke coming in under my bedroom door. Is that smoke? Why aren’t the fire alarms sounding?
I jump out of bed and open my door, only for thick smoke to fill my room. I can’t see past the smoke but I can hear fire burning things in the house. I get on all-fours and crawl towards my parents’ room, screaming out for them. ‘Mum! Dad! Fire!’ I yell.
I get to their room, only to find flames coming out from under their door. I’m hoping and praying they have climbed out their window. I have to get myself out. Rue has stopped barking.
‘Rue! Rue!’ I call out.
I hear sirens getting closer; the neighbours must have called the fire brigade, or my parents. I turn around on my hands and knees, and try to get back to my room to climb out my window, but it’s already up in flames. I’m struggling to breathe; I feel the heat of the fire starting to burn me. I crawl faster and almost reach the front door before blacking out.
I wake up to such brightness, I have to cover my eyes with my arm. I can hear beeping sounds, and lots of people talking, and walking around me.
I adjust my eyes, and squint up at the roof.
‘She is waking up,’ someone says. A few different footsteps hurry towards me.
‘Turn the light off,’ a lady says, and the room thankfully becomes darker, and I slowly sit up. My eyes are finally able to open fully. I look around, and take in my surroundings.
I’m in a hospital bed. There are two nurses and a doctor, standing at the foot of my bed, watching me in silence.
My head is aching, and I rub my forehead with my fingers.
‘Why am I here?’ I ask. The nurses give the doctor a solemn look, before looking at me.
‘Do you remember the house fire?’ The doctor asks. As soon as he mentions the fire, I have an instant flashback, remembering everything. I start panicking and cry, reliving it all. The doctor administers an injection into my arm to calm me down. I feel calm and groggy.
‘Miss Summers. I’m sorry you’ve experienced such a traumatic ordeal. You have been in a coma for the last six weeks; you weren’t breathing when the firemen found you just inside your front door. They found you just in time. They carried you out to the ambulance outside your house and performed CPR. We had to put you in an induced coma,’ he explains.
‘My mum and Dad must be so worried about me! Can you tell them I’ve woken? I’d like to see them straight away, please,’ I tell the doctor. His smile becomes a sombre line.
‘Miss Summers, I’m so sorry; your parents died that night,’ he says, and I burst into tears.
‘No! No, that can’t be true! You’re lying!’ I scream.
‘I’m sorry, Miss Summers. I wish I could tell you otherwise,’ he says, looking away sadly.
‘What about their funerals?’ I ask, crying. The doctor turns and opens a cupboard, where two urns sit.
‘Again, I’m so sorry, Miss Summers. No one knew how long you’d be in a coma for. They have been cremated as per their wish, in their wills,’ he explains. I become more and more upset.
‘We will give you some space to process all this, Miss Summers,’ he says, leaving the room.
‘Wait!’ I yell, and he stops and turns.
‘Yes?’ He asks.
‘What about my dog? Rue?’ I ask.
‘I’m not sure, but I can make some phone calls and find out whether Rue survived or not,’ he says, and I nod and watch them leave the room.
My mum and dad are dead; they’re gone! I’m never going to see them again. I wrap my arms around myself and cry, and rock myself, until I fall asleep.
When I wake up, it’s night outside. I reach for the call bell, and press the button. A different doctor from earlier enters the room.
‘Miss Summers. I’m Doctor Wells. The doctor you saw earlier has finished his shift, but he has a message to pass on to you. Unfortunately, your dog Rue didn’t make it. I’m so sorry, Miss Summers,’ she says.
I cry again. My little Rue is dead. My dad bought her for me for my sixteenth birthday.
‘We have told the police you’ve woken from your coma, but they won’t see you until tomorrow,’ Doctor Wells explains. I give her a look of confusion.
‘Why would the police need to see me?’ I ask. Doctor Wells instantly looks very uncomfortable.
‘Oh. I wasn’t aware you weren’t told, Miss Summers,’ she says.
‘Please, my name is Zurielle. Aware of what?’ I ask.
‘Zurielle. The fire was purposely lit; someone murdered your parents. Your parents had stab wounds all over their bodies. Their room was doused in petrol and set alight. The police are still trying to find out who did this, and why you weren’t stabbed to death,’ she says.
I jump out of bed and go into the adjoining bathroom where I vomit into the toilet. My parents were killed! Murdered! While they slept!
Over my dead body. I would never let him have you! Dad’s words resound over and over in my head, until I pass out on the bathroom floor. I wake up in the hospital bed, realising I was meant to survive the fire. Whoever killed my parents wants me!
The next morning, I pace back and forth in my hospital room, in my hospital gown. I need to know who the man who murdered my parents is. Is it someone I know? I think of all Dad’s work friends and associates. Damn it! He was going to tell me who it was the next day, before the fire happened.
No one really stands out as someone capable of murder. Dad only took me to work events with mum, if he absolutely had to. His associates and colleagues would always stare at me or attempt to flirt with me otherwise.
I ignored their advances, and pretended I didn’t hear them or notice them. I instead focused on listening to the speeches.
Dad would always thank me for being so graceful and attentive at work functions. He was proud I didn’t give any attention to the ‘hungry men’ or ‘beasts’, as he would call them. I assured him I was there for the function, and not the men. I wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with anyone anyway.
I’ve never had a romantic connectio
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