Home > Claim (Violent Delights #1)

Claim (Violent Delights #1)
Author: Sienna Snow






“You are the lady with all the connections. I’m so glad we keep you around.” Farah Lance, a fellow model at my agency, slurred as she tried to lift a bottle of champagne to her fire engine red-stained lips and danced without toppling over.

Shaking my head, I leaned back on a plush sofa in the VIP section of the Stingers Lounge, an exclusive new hot spot near Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.

“Don’t you mean it’s a good thing she lets you tag along on her escapades at all the elite parties with all the celebrities she knows?” Christo, another of the models with us, asked.

“I say it’s a fair trade since I brought her into the group when she first came onto the scene.”

I took a healthy swallow of my sparkling water disguised as vodka with soda and stood. “Considering this was over eight years ago, we can call that debt paid in spades. According to my assessment, you owe me for all the times we’ve ended up on the society pages because of my invite-only experiences.”

“She’s got you there, Farah. That table incident got you that campaign for the denim line.”

“See. Chris proved my point.” Plucking an olive from a martini a server brought to our table, I popped it into my mouth.

I scooted around the two as they continued discussing what I owed to whom.

The Met Gala after-party bar incident had garnered Farah a lucrative contract. Whereas I’d dealt with weeks upon weeks of criticism from the press, the elite of Bishop’s Landing society, and most of all, my family, namely my parents. The sad part of the incident was that I’d never gotten on top of the bar. I’d held Farah’s hand as she climbed up so she wouldn’t fall, but someone caught a photo and posted it online. Therefore, everyone assumed I’d joined her for the antics.

Oh well. Maybe next time, I’d join Farah and give the gossip rags something real to report on.

Not a chance.

The idea of that appealed to me as much as scheduling a dental visit. Being a tabloid darling once upon a time helped me feel something. Now, it felt like another duty to fulfill as part of my to-do list.

Pick and wear the latest up-and-coming designer’s creation – check.

Score an invitation to the latest and greatest event in town – check.

Meet the right people – check.

Have photographs taken by the right media outlets – check.

Avoid falling into another tabloid-worthy scandal – the jury was still out on this one.

Number five on my list was something I tried to adhere to constantly. For the most part, I’d succeeded in my endeavors. The Farah incident occurred more than a year ago, which was a record in my book. But no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, trouble seemed to find me.

Or, as my mother would surely tell me, “Trouble follows the wicked, Sophia.”

And in her eyes, I was most definitely wicked and living a life of sin.

Strolling through the other patrons in the VIP section, I smiled at a few of the celebrities in-house that I passed and then made my way to the bar to refill my mocktail.

That’s when I heard, “God, look at that dress. By wearing it, she’s only reminding everyone here that she’s his whore.”

I stiffened, knowing the voice belonged to a catty bitch, who hated my guts. I’d called out her elite circle of friends for ganging up on a fifteen-year-old model who’d gotten a coveted spot in the lineup at a fashion show.

Bullies hated when someone, as vicious as they were, confronted them about their shitty behavior. However, since that day, this group had gone out of their way to poke at me if they were in the vicinity.

The best way to handle them was to pretend they didn’t exist.

I approached the bartender and leaned in. “Vodka soda, minus the vodka.”

“Coming up.” The guy grinned as I passed him a twenty.

And then they tried it again. “How many designers has she gone through? Five or six. Does she fuck all of them?”

“It’s not the designers she’s into. It’s the jewelers.”

“No, I heard she’s banging the lead singer of that band.”

“She’s such a TMZ wannabe. Always doing something to get attention. She should get on a table like Farah if she’s so desperate to get a contract.”

They all started laughing, and the last comment was so loud that I knew nearly every group around them had heard the words that had me clenching my jaw.

These assholes knew nothing about me, and to spread shit like that was aggravating. They had no clue what it was like being a Morelli, to have things like that get back to my family.

I’d dealt with this most of my adult life. Slut shaming someone, knowing that they’d been the one to do wrong, was the lowest of the low.

The damage, the pain, and as a whole what it does to a person’s life.

Turning, I stalked over to the group. I pushed past two large guys and got in the face of a tall blonde.

“Tabatha, did you say something about my love life?”

The shock in her gray eyes would have amused me if I wasn’t ready to punch her.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. We were discussing clothing.”

“Listen very carefully. If you don’t have the lady balls to admit the gossip you spread about people to their face, I suggest shutting the fuck up.”

She narrowed her eyes and glared at me. “What about you?”

“I own what I say. You are a lying asshole who can’t admit when you’re in the wrong. I—” I took a step toward her, ready to cause a tabloid-worthy scene for which I’d happily accept the consequence with my family.

That was when my gaze caught the silhouette of a man I’d know anywhere, and my stomach dropped, and bile threatened to rise in my throat.

I hated that bastard with every fiber of my being.

I’d barely stepped out of my childhood when he’d cost me more than I wanted to admit.

Why was he here?

I’d gone out of my way to ensure he wasn’t on the guest list.

Why wouldn’t he leave me alone?

He’d taken so much from me already.

I had to get out of here.

Keep it together, Sophia.

Gathering my thoughts, I focused on Tabatha and spoke without revealing my unease, “I don’t have time for you and your petty antics. You know damn well I’m not with anyone, and I have this dress because I bought it.”

“Not all of us have daddy’s money to pay our bills.”

“True. I’m fortunate. But my money paid for this ensemble, not my daddy’s. I work, or did you miss that I’m the face of three lucrative campaigns?”

Turning, I walked away as fast as my heels would allow without losing my balance.

I kept my gaze forward, not daring to risk seeing the smug satisfaction on the bastard’s face at seeing me leave a party because of him.

There was no point in going back to my table. Farah and Christo were used to me bailing, knowing I rarely stayed for a whole evening. They’d inform the rest of our crew.

I needed to add a number six to my list of to-dos: Avoid the asshole at all costs.

It was another thing I mostly accomplished. Because of him, I’d turned into this girl. I’d hardened myself. I built walls. I let others believe what they wanted about me. As a result, I’d lost the essence of Sophia Donatella Morelli.

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