Bloody Heart (Brutal Birthright #4) - Sophie Lark Page 0,1

some deity—epic and vengeful.

“Explain,” he orders.

There’s no point in lying.

“I applied to school there.”

“Why did you do that?” he says coldly.

“I . . . I wanted to see if I’d get in.”

“What does it matter if you get in, since you’ll be attending Cambridge?”

That’s my father’s alma mater. Cambridge is responsible for his posh manners, his European connections, and the slight British accent of which he’s so proud.

My father, poor but brilliant, came to Cambridge on scholarship. He studied much more than economics—he studied the behavior and attitudes of his wealthy classmates. How they spoke, how they walked, how they dressed. And most of all, how they made money. He learned the language of international finance—hedge funds, leveraged capital, offshore tax-havens . . .

He always said Cambridge was the making of him. It was understood that I would go to school there, just like Serwa did before me.

“I just . . .” my hands twist helplessly in my lap. “I just like fashion . . .” I say lamely.

“That is not a serious area of study.”

“Yafeu . . .” Mama says softly.

He turns to look at her. My mother is the only person my father listens to. But I already know she won’t oppose him—not in something like this, where his opinion is already so rigidly set. She’s just reminding him to be gentle. While he shatters my dream.

“Please, Tata,” I say, trying to keep my voice steady. My father won’t listen if I become too emotional. I have to reason with him as best I can. “Some of the most prestigious designers in the country graduated from Parsons. Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford . . .”

My father steeples his hands together in front of him. He has long, elegant fingers with manicured nails.

He speaks slowly and clearly, like a judge laying down the law.

“When you were born, my parents said how unfortunate it was that I only had daughters. I disagreed. I told them that daughters will always be loyal to their parents. Daughters are obedient and wise. Daughters bring honor to their families. A son may become prideful and think he knows better than his father. A daughter would never make that mistake.”

My father puts his hand on my shoulder, looking into my eyes.

“You are a good daughter, Simone.”

We’re pulling up to the Drake Hotel. My father takes a clean handkerchief from his pocket. He passes it to me.

“Clean your face before you come inside,” he says.

I hadn’t realized that I was crying.

Mama rests her palm on my head for a moment, stroking my hair.

“See you inside, ma chérie,” she says.

Then they leave me alone in the backseat of the car.

Well, not really alone—our driver is sitting up front, patiently waiting for me to compose myself.

“Wilson?” I say in a strangled tone.

“Yes, Miss Solomon?”

“Could you give me a minute alone, possibly?”

“Of course,” he says. “Let me pull to the side.”

He pulls the town car up to the curb, out of the way of everyone else being dropped off at the front doors. Then he steps away from the vehicle, kindly leaving the engine running so I’ll still have air conditioning. I see him strike up a conversation with one of the other chauffeurs. They go around the corner of the hotel, probably to share a cigarette.

Once I’m alone, I give myself over to crying. For five solid minutes I wallow in my disappointment.

It’s so stupid. It’s not like I ever expected my parents to let me go to Parsons. It was just a fantasy that got me through my last year of school at Tremont and the endless soul-crushing exams that I knew I was expected to pass with top marks. And I did—every one of them. No doubt I’ll be receiving a similar acceptance letter from Cambridge any day now because I did apply there, as required.

I sent a portfolio of my designs to Parsons on a whim. I guess I thought it would be good to receive a rejection—to show me that my father was right, that my dream was a delusion that could never actually come to pass.

Then to hear I was accepted . . .

It’s a sweet kind of torture. Maybe worse than never knowing at all. It’s a bright, shimmering prize, put right within reach . . . then yanked away again.

I allow myself to be childish and miserable for that five minutes.

Then I take a deep breath and pull myself together.

My parents still expect me inside the grand ballroom of The