Rule by Eve Newton
Standing in the luxurious bathroom of Christopher Trilling's mansion, the ornate gold fixtures glinting in the soft light, my breath catches as a sudden commotion erupts outside the door. Panicking, I glance at my reflection in the mirror and smooth down my dress, my heart pounding wildly in my chest.
Caitlin looks fierce and determined, her eyes blazing with accusation as she tightens the cuffs on my wrists.
"You’ve got it all wrong!" I grit out, my hands shaking. This can't be happening. Not again.
"Save it," Caitlin snaps, gripping my arm tightly. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
As she reads me my rights, I’m falling into shock, but try to rally my anger. Beth is going to go down for this come hell or high water. I won’t let her frame me for this asshole’s murder. I resist the urge to glance down at Fields. Dead at my feet.
"Wait! You've got it all wrong," I insist desperately, unable to stop the frantic panic welling up. But Caitlin doesn't listen; she's too focused on winning this round. Her triumphant glare is enough for me to know she will do everything in her power to make sure I’m sent to prison and away from Max.
“Please, I didn't do anything!" I protest as Caitlin drags me out of the bathroom and into the bustling party, humiliation descending rapidly as all eyes turn to me. I’m ruined. Completely ruined. No one will ever use my agency again after this. The mansion is a swirl of colorful gowns and tailored suits, the air thick with expensive perfume and the clink of champagne glasses. Ignoring my pleas, Caitlin forces me to walk through the crowd, my face burning with humiliation.
“Scarlet!” Adam’s frantic voice causes me to turn my head.
“Get Tristan!” I shout back.
“Yes!” he exclaims and scrambles back into the bathroom.
Caitlin growls and grips my arm tighter, bruising my upper arm.
"Stop it! I'm innocent!" I cry out again, tears streaming down my cheeks when I realize I’m all alone and this isn’t going to go away as quickly as I hoped. My heart aches, knowing that this accusation could destroy everything I've worked for, all the relationships I've built. And yet, all I notice when I’m dragged through the mansion is how beautiful the party looks - glittering chandeliers casting golden light across the room, even as my world crumbles around me.
"Quiet!" Caitlin snarls, her grip on my arm tightening painfully. As we pass through the throng of people, I see horrified faces staring at me, and I know they're judging me, assuming I'm guilty without question. I feel a rush of anger toward them and toward that little bitch, Beth. I hope my guys find her and make her pay.
"Look, there's been a mistake!" I insist, desperation lacing my voice. "I didn't kill Fields! It was Beth!"
"Save your breath," Caitlin says coldly, her lips curled into a sneer. "You'll need it for your trial."
As we reach the grand entrance of the mansion, I glance back at the party, my heart aching with the knowledge that my life will never be the same again. The flash of camera phones capturing my disgrace feels like a physical blow, further cementing my desperation to clear my name and reclaim my innocence.
"Please, just listen to me," I beg one last time, but Caitlin remains unyielding, her face set in stone as she leads me away from the life I once knew.
My face burning with humiliation, I'm led through the opulent entrance hall of the mansion towards the front door. Trilling, his eyes narrowed in fury, follows closely behind us.
"What is this?" he snarls, his voice laced with disgust.
Caitlin nods curtly as we reach the entrance. “This woman is under arrest for murder,” she spits out. "But rest assured, Mr. Trilling, she will be dealt with accordingly," she adds coldly. Her professional demeanor only fuels my desperation to escape this nightmare.
"Please, I didn't do anything," I plead, my voice cracking under the weight of my helplessness. But neither Caitlin nor Trilling pays any heed to my protestations.
"Scarlet!" Trilling barks, his icy gaze piercing through me.
Meeting his eyes, I shake my head but Caitlin shoves me roughly out the door and down the steps, where a police car waits ominously, its engine already purring in anticipation. The chill of the night air does little to soothe the heat radiating from my cheeks.
"Come on, you've caused enough trouble for one night," Caitlin snaps, pushing me towards the backseat of the car. She opens the door and nudges me inside with a firm shove. Scooting onto the seat, I wince as the handcuffs bite into my wrists.
"Shouldn't we wait for Tristan?" I ask, my voice barely audible above the pounding of my heart. If Tristan or Max, even, were here, they could help me, I think desperately. They could tell these people that I didn't kill Fields. Or at the very least, I wouldn’t be alone.
"Your 'friends' can't save you now," Caitlin answers, her tone dripping with disdain. She slams the door shut, leaving me alone with my terror. Inside, my heart races, fear coursing through my veins like ice water. At this moment, I'm acutely aware of the vulnerability that comes with being at the mercy of others. The helplessness is crushing, suffocating, and something I was desperate to never feel.
"Please, you have to believe me," I whisper, but Caitlin ignores me, climbing into the driver's seat and revving the engine. Within seconds, we're speeding away from Trilling's mansion, leaving behind a life I fear I'll never get back.
As the flashing lights of the police car cut through the darkness, I wonder how everything went so wrong. What lies ahead for me? And will anyone be able to save me from this nightmare?
“Tristan, where are you?” Glancing back over my shoulder, I don’t see anyone following me this time. I’m all alone, and I have to pull it together.
My thoughts race as I sit in the back of the police car, handcuffed and helpless. Fear and desperation claw at my insides, gnawing away at any semblance of hope. The only thing that keeps me from drowning in despair is the belief that sooner or later, my men will come to my rescue, especially Tristan. If anyone can save me, it's him.
The police car continues to speed through the city streets, carrying me further away from the people I love. My heart pounds wildly, fear threatening to consume me. What if they can't save me? What if I'm trapped behind bars for the rest of my life for a crime I didn't commit?
"Focus, Scarlet," I murmur, trying to regain control over my spiraling thoughts. I need to be strong, not just for myself but for them too. They'll fight for me, and I owe it to them to fight as well.
"Tristan won't let you down," I whisper, clinging to that thought like a lifeline. "He's never let you down before."
But as the distance between us grows, so does the seed of doubt in my mind. Can Tristan and the others really save me from this? And if they can't, what will become of me?