Reigned(The Monroe Trilogy Book 3)

By: Cynthia Dane

Prologue



Marriage had been good to Damon Monroe thus far. Granted, it had only been a week since he took a wife down at the city hall, but it had been a fantastic week.

Alice was everything he had been searching for. Of course, she was beautiful. How could that not be the first thing he noticed about her the night they met? The similarities to that simple drawing that stole his breath years ago were uncanny.

But Alice Monroe – and how good it felt to call her that – was not a mere beauty who made her husband feel like he was in paradise every time they shared the same air. She was charming. Funny. Sharp as a tack, even if she didn’t give herself enough credit. So what if she didn’t have a business degree? Damon may have come from a world where everyone had at least a Master’s in Business, Economics, or Rhetoric, but he also knew the power of experience. He hadn’t hired the Clayborns to be his dual assistants because they had the paperwork and pedigree. He hired them because their combined résumé was at least five miles long.

Damon plucked a new frame from its box, careful to not smear his thumbprint all over the crystal façade. A recently printed photo was ready for placement: Alice at their wedding ceremony.

They both agreed that having a secret marriage at City Hall was not ideal for either of them. Damon had promised his bride that there would be a proper ceremony, complete with hundreds of guests and millions of dollars of trimmings, as soon as things settled down. There was no time to fuck around with guest lists and wedding planners when half the company was against him marrying Alice to begin with.

They can’t say shit now.

Damon placed the photograph next to the one of him and his mother. Alice had brought Damon together with his mother Julia, whether that was her intention or not. I thought my mother had abandoned me. What else was he supposed to think when she disappeared after the divorce, never to be heard from again? Damon had heard the occasional things here and there. That she had become a crazy hermit. That she had been in a terrible accident that scarred her face. Both of those things were true. What Damon hadn’t known, however, was that the reason Julia disappeared and became disfigured was because of the one man they shared.

Russell Monroe. Julia’s ex-husband and Damon’s father.

Every time he thought about the truth regarding his father, a red shade claimed the room.

He tried to kill my wife.

Damon had to be careful with the documents now in his hand. It would be too inconvenient to have new copies sent over because he tore them in an unrelated rage.

“Mr. Monroe,” came Alisha the receptionist’s voice on the intercom. “Your fa…”

The office door flung open. Damon turned around before he was forced to.

Never before had he seen his father this angry at him. Not that Damon was surprised, but that didn’t make it any less… strange. Oh, he had seen his father angry before. At investors. At business associates. At the stock market. 2008 was a hard year for all of us. At his own son? Damon had always been the model son to his father. He went to the right schools. He studied the right amount, and in the right fields. His internships were fostered between his father and a close friend who owned a company of a similar size and legacy. Damon Monroe had done everything right. Everything but marry the right woman.

Russell had not been privy to that particular information. Which was a part of Damon’s plan… the word had only begun to spread two days ago. Just the right amount of time for it to reach Russell in Beijing and for him to get on his plane as soon as possible.

“Tell me it’s a joke!” Tall and lean Russell Monroe was a freak of nature when he was in the midst of losing his mind. His charcoal suit crinkled with every erratic movement. His steel gray hair, peppered with the black it used to be, looked as if it had been pulled at the roots for the whole twenty-hour flight from Beijing. His visage, though… that was what unsettled Damon the most. Wide eyes. Frothing mouth. Fire burning within the amber people often mistook as being the source of Damon’s own eye color. Even I thought that until I looked into my mother’s eyes for the first time the other day.

“Good afternoon, Father.”

Damon knew it was coming. Since meeting his mother and opening his memory to events from so long ago, he knew his father was capable of it. Here it came now. Damon did not move or try to stop it. He wanted to feel his father’s fist clock him on the cheek. He wanted to experience the sting his mother had felt more than once. And I felt more than a few times as a child.

However, no amount of bracing could fully prepare him for the sheer amount of force behind his father’s right swing.

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