Cruel Prince(Royal Hearts Academy #1) - A. Jade



Four years earlier…

“We won’t let them get away with this.”

My little sister’s eyes were glassy when she finally looked at me. “There’s nothing we can do, Jace. They already won. Liam’s gone.” Another tear rolled down her cheek. I’d never seen her cry so much in my fourteen years. “Just like Mom.”

“She’s right,” my brother, Cole, whispered. “Maybe we can convince Dad to move somewhere else.”

His signature smirk was gone, and his hazel eyes were about as lifeless as Liam’s were when I found him in a closet three days ago.

My chest squeezed. It hurt to look at him.

You’d never know it by their personalities, but Cole and Liam were identical twins. And right now it only served as another reminder of how fucked up everything had become.

My family was falling apart bit by bit. And my father was too wrapped up in work and his own grief to do anything about it.

It didn’t mean I couldn’t.

I failed Liam—my little brother and best friend—but I wouldn’t fail the siblings I had left.

I wouldn’t let this town or the people in it destroy my family.

My mother once told me that as the oldest, it was my job to look out for the others. Be the person they could depend on. Show them how to navigate life so it would be a little easier for them.

But the only way I could do that was to turn all the pain I felt off, and let the rage simmering deep down in my soul rise to the surface.

My mother and little brother weren’t coming back…no matter how many tears we shed or how often we begged God to undo the unthinkable.

God stopped listening a long time ago.

My father checked out the moment his wife took her last breath.

I was all they had left.

Which meant there was no longer room in my heart for sorrow or grief. Those emotions were wasted on the dead…I had to take care of the living.

Anger was a far superior driving force. It helped mask all the guilt I was harboring.

I stood up. “We’re not leaving.”

Confusion marred their expressions.

Cole opened his mouth to speak, but I shook my head. He’d have his time after I was done. What I had to say was important.

“Us leaving town is what they want.”

Royal Manor was full of rich pricks who would rather get rid of the problem than acknowledging their own.

Fuck that.

Liam died because a bunch of assholes at our school thought it was fun to bully a kid with anxiety and a stutter.

And I wasn’t there to protect him like I should have been. Because of her.

“They messed with the wrong family.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “I think it’s time for us to give them a taste of their own medicine. Fuck with everyone the way they fucked with Liam.” Determination flowed through me, so strong I nearly choked on it. “And we don’t stop until every last one of them fears us.”

Bianca wiped her tears with her sleeve. “Until they pay.”

Cole’s smirk was back. “Until we run this town and make everyone our bitch.”

* * *

Until we avenged the brother we lost.

Chapter 1



* * *

Hope you had a good flight. Uncle Wayne and I should be back from Paris tomorrow morning. There’s food in the fridge and your bedroom is all set for you to move in. Oakley can show you where everything is. Can’t wait to see you.

* * *

Love and kisses,

Aunt Crystal

* * *

PS: I’m going to get a key made for you, but until I do, you can use the spare key under the mat.

* * *

Annoyance sets in as I stare at the hot pink Post-it stuck to the front door. A simple text message disclosing where the spare key was hidden would have been fine.

And a whole lot safer.

Not that Royal Manor is a dangerous town, far from it.

In fact, the low crime rate and good school district were the main reasons my parents wanted to raise me here.

And if it wasn’t for my mom passing away when I was eight and my father snagging himself a new wife who wanted to move to an even ritzier town on the west coast when I turned fourteen…

Nope, not going down that road today. Wondering what my life would have been like if my mom was still alive and wishing things had turned out differently doesn’t change the past.

With a heavy sigh, I rearrange my luggage on the porch and fish the key out from under