The beginning is when you decide how the finale will be.
For some people, the ending is a mystery and the greatest discovery of all.
Not for me.
I’d already decided the end before I’d even started. It’s all in folders, tucked in neat boxes and waiting to be unleashed on the world.
Like Pandora’s box.
I’ve come so far. I dreamt of this — or rather had nightmares about it. This scenario has existed in every night terror, in every sleep paralysis where he sat on my chest like a fucking grim reaper.
He stole my breath, my life, my damn existence.
And now, I’ll steal his.
My name is Teal Van Doren, and I’m a thief.
The type who’s not interested in pieces of jewellery or goods, but the type who’s after lives.
At the sound of the soft voice from my right, I lift my head from my phone, shifting my focus from the article about Napoleon’s war tactics.
My foster sister, Elsa, watches me with a slight furrow between her brows. Her golden blonde hair is tucked into a long ponytail that covers her slender back. The look in her electric blue eyes is filled with concern and…something else I can’t identify.
The only reason I figured out the concern is because of the twisting of her lips, the furrow of her brows, and the way she’s clutching the strap of her backpack. It’s some sort of a tell with her, which makes it easier to figure out her emotions.
At least this one. Usually, she maintains a resting bitch face that’s hard to decipher.
Or it’s probably because I’m bad at this human interaction business.
Some are born for peopling; I was born for anything that doesn’t include that.
Elsa is the definition of angelic beauty with her pale skin and slim figure. However, I’ve never once felt non-existent beside her, even with my short black hair in a blunt lob and my generally grim makeup. When people started calling me adorable with snow-like beauty in my youth, I smothered it.
What others find beautiful escapes me, so when I first met her, I thought she was the bitch heiress to Dad’s fortune. She proved me wrong by the way she acts — like right now.
As if she took lessons from my brother, she always makes sure I’m not too lost in my head.
We’re walking to the first class of the day. The grand hall of Royal Elite School, or RES, nearly swallows us. It’s one of those schools the privileged have direct access to, the type of school the greatest names in the UK attend, Dad included. The feeling that I’m continuing in Dad’s footsteps is one of the reasons why I tolerated the idea of leaving Birmingham to come all the way to London.
The one who’ll soon go down.
Other than that, nothing interests me here. Not the high towers, the prestigious education, or the students with millions in their trust funds.
They look at me like I’m a freak, and I don’t acknowledge them at all.
Because I was never interested in fitting in.
You can’t covet something you never actually wanted or even thought about.
I have my world, and no one is welcome in.
Sometimes, like now, their faces blur until their features blend into each other, leaving stark lines behind.
Wrenching my attention from them, I focus on Elsa. “Yes?”
“I heard about your deal with Dad.” She retrieves a bar of dark chocolate.
I don’t hesitate when I take it from her and have a bite, savouring the rich taste. Elsa acts like an older sister even though she’s only a few weeks older than me.
“You don’t have to do that, Teal.” Her voice softens.
“Don’t have to do what?” I steal another look at the Napoleon article.
“You know.” She clutches me by the elbow of my uniform’s jacket, which is my cue to pay attention.
“It’s not rocket science, Elsa. Dad needs help, so I stepped up.”
She traps her lower lip under her teeth, and I’m not sure if it’s some sort of seduction tactic or her way of reining something in. I’ve seen her do that with her boyfriend, and I still can’t figure it out.
I’ll go with the need to suppress something because I doubt she’d want to seduce me. That would be, eh, awkward, especially since I’m almost certain she’s kind of figured out who my crush is.
“Dad would never make you do something you don’t want, Teal. Remember how he acted when I refused the arranged marriage?”
That’s because you’re his biological daughter and his pride.