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I am Lillian Anthony, the girl who lost everything at a blink of an eye and ended up at my worst nightmare. Being treated like I was some slave picked up by the road side. When I encountered a man who came with a resisting offer, I wanted to turn him down, but then again, what do I stand to lose? I could practically get everything I want, all I need is to marry Eric Sarton.

Chapter 1: BIRTHDAY

"Michael, wait up! Mum says we need to come home together."

"I know, Lily; that's why you need to keep up."

"I'm trying, but you are way too fast. And besides, why didn't Dad pick us up today?"

"That's because it's your birthday. Dad is helping Mum out at home; I'm sure of that."

"Are you sure, or is he just in another meeting?"

"I don't know, Lily, but Mum wants us to take the bus home."

"This birthday is going to stink if Dad isn't around."

"You invited your friends, right?"

"I am not like you, Michael. You have friends; you are smart and cool. But no one wants to be friends with a freak like me."

"That's not true, Lily, and you also need to quit saying things that are way above your age."

"Things way above my age? Michael, I will be turning eleven today; I am no longer a child. I don't see complaining about how I don't have friends being things above my age."

I sighed in frustration. Why does she have to be so smart? It has always been like this with Lily; that's why I love her so much. "I'm not saying you complaining about how school life is treating you is bad, but the way you talk at times makes me feel like I'm talking to my senior and not my junior."

"Fine, I will try to talk like my age next time."

Looking at Michael, I saw his lips form a smile before he extended his hand towards me. I took his hand immediately; he has been the best big brother so far. I wonder what I can do without him.

"Do you want me to carry you like I used to?" he asked, with a smile still on his face. I don't think Michael has ever looked at me without a smile on his face.

"What? Hell no, I am no longer seven or eight, and also, my friends at school are picking on me for it."

"Who cares, and they are not your friends? Friends don't pick on each other."

"You are right."

I carried her immediately, and she gave me permission to. We played as we went home.

"Hi, sweetie, happy birthday to you."

"Thanks, Mum." She pecked my cheek before taking my school bag away from me.

"How was your day at school, dear?"

"It was fine, Mum. Is Dad joining us for the birthday party?" I asked Mum after she distracted Lily with her favorite cookie and a milkshake.

"I don't know; he said he was going to be here, but as you know, he always never makes it."

"She really wants him here today; she said it doesn't feel like her birthday if Dad isn't around."

"You know how much Lily loves her father, but we will have to wait and see. Go, get ready, and come down for some snacks."

I wanted to invite a few of my friends, but none of them have the chance to show up, and besides, this is not really a big gathering; it's just a family party."

"I get it, Mum; you don't have to explain."

"Do you know if she invited any of her friends?"

"No, she said she doesn't have any friends yet."

"Don't worry too much; I am sure she will come around with time."

"I don't think so, Mum; I mean, most of her classmates are picking on her. I'm worried, Mum. I will be leaving high school for college very soon. How is she going to cope without me being there to look out for her?"

"I don't know, son; I just don't know."

Looking into my mum's sad eyes, I knew all these were also hard for her. Looking over at the dining table, Lily was still busy shoveling her cookies into her mouth.

"You want some cookies?" she asked when she noticed me staring at her.

"No, enjoy yourself," I replied to her, and she continued eating.

"Go get ready; we will wait for your dad a little more. Lily, come; I have a little gift for you upstairs."

Once Mum and Lily disappeared inside her room, I also went up to mine to get ready.

"Oh my God, it's a blue ball gown. Thanks, Mum." I hugged her tightly.

"I'm glad you love it, sweetie. Now go take your bath; let's get you ready."

I smiled at her and rushed inside the bathroom to take my bath. It didn't take much time before I was out of the bathroom. I got ready and waited for Mum to do my hair, which she did. Mum has always been good at styling my hair.

"There, you look like a princess."

"Thank you, Mum."

"I love you, sweetheart."

"I love you too, Mum."

"I have one last gift for you. Guess what it is?"

"A tiara, the one that will go with my dress."

"You were close, but it's a necklace. No matter what you do, you can never lose this necklace, okay?"

Looking at how serious she was when she told me never to lose the necklace, I knew that something was up.

"Mum, Mum!" I heard Michael calling before he barged into the room with panic visible on his face.

"What is it, Michael?"

He dragged Mum across the room and whispered something to her. Whatever it was they were talking about, they didn't want me to be part of it. What is going on? Mum left the room immediately in a rush.

"Michael, what's happening?"

"Nothing, Lily; Mum just got a call from work, that's all."

He was lying to me, and I knew it. Whenever Michael is lying, he avoids looking directly into my eyes. That's a habit he has formed without even noticing it. But I have also learned not to push things, especially when the other person doesn't feel like talking about it.

"Okay. Are you ready for the party?"

"Oh, about that, we need to give Mum and Dad some minutes to talk to their business partners."

"Dad is back." I saw the excitement in her eyes. How do I get to tell her that our lives are about to change, but not for the better? What do I tell her? Are Mum and Dad even okay?

"Yes, but he came with a few friends who came to discuss business. Mum wants us to stay up here until they are done with their talking."

"Okay, I can't wait to see Dad. How come you have not noticed my new gown and necklace? It's a gift from Mum," she said, with a smile covering her lips. I could see the reflection of myself in her blue eyes.

"They are beautiful; the necklace matches your eyes."

"Michael, you don't look happy. You look worried; what is happening?"

"It's nothing, Lily."

Something was definitely wrong, but what? Michael was pacing all around the room. A few minutes passed, and we heard a scream downstairs.

"What was that? Was that Mum?"

Instead of Michael answering, he dragged me into my wardrobe and told me to stay in there. That only confirmed my suspicions—something was wrong.

"Stay in here and don't come out no matter what you hear, okay?" Michael said, but I was scared.

"Michael, I'm scared. What is happening?"

"Nothing; I don't know, Lily. There are strange people downstairs, and they are... I don't know; just don't get out of here. I will come back for you."

Chapter 2: ALONE

He left, leaving me closed in the wardrobe. The space in here was too small; I was suffocating. I stayed there for what seemed like forever. When I couldn't take it anymore, I pushed the wardrobe open and climbed down. I opened the door and headed downstairs, walking as quietly as possible to avoid drawing attention to myself. With each step I took, I was trembling in fear.

I stood close to the stairs and watched as my parents were pushed to their knees. What is going on? There was a woman I had never seen before sitting right in front of Mum and Dad as they were being held down by two men. One of them I recognized—it was Uncle Phillip. He is my dad's best friend; why is he doing this to him?

"Are you not going to tell me where the key is?" the lady asked.

"I don't know what you are talking about. We don't have any keys," my dad replied.

"Do you really think I'm going to buy that? Either you provide the key or your wife will be my


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