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Once upon a time, Penelope Bridget Astor was deeply and completely in love with a boy who didn’t think of her as anything other than a bratty kid, who creepily followed him around.
And then as all good fairy tales go, he broke her heart.
He went on breaking it until there was barely anything left.
And the even sadder part, he didn’t know he was hurting Penelope at all because he had no idea she was so deeply in love with him.
So, she gave the tiny fragments to whoever wanted them and each time she wondered would this be the one who put her back together, who gave all of her heart back.
And each disastrous relationship ended the same way.
She just couldn’t commit herself.
Because the boy she once loved didn’t know he had her heart and that she was irreparably damaged for anyone else to love.
And now, many years later, she was in big trouble because her dumbass was too upset to check if she was at the right place or not.
Penelope was pretty-damn positive no fairy tale ended with her being held hostage inside a MC. That’s motorcycle club for those not in the know… which she was that person only five days ago.
Honestly, so much slang these men used and got butthurt if she dared question what something meant.
Excuse the hell out of her that she was clueless to this way of lifestyle.
She was brought up in country clubs, not warehouse type clubs that had more than sixty Harley Davidson bikes parked outside.
Or the kind of club where men drank hard liquor directly from the bottle at any time of the day, it didn’t even have to be five o’clock.
So yeah, Penelope was being held to ransom and since she’d burned her last bridge with her parents when she ran out of her wedding, they were unlikely to pay anything.
Even just to get to Colorado she’d used the last of her purse cash for a plane ticket and then a cab to the wrong MC.
That’s how she was in the predicament she was now.
How was she supposed to know there was more than one MC in the area?
Had she known the situation she’d land herself in by running out of her wedding at the last minute, she might have rethought marrying a man she didn’t love.
But at the time she thought it was divine intervention making her overhear Malachai Hunt talking to his bitch of a wife about his twin brother.
Five minutes later, she was shucking up her $19 thousand dollar lacy gown and jumping into an Uber outside of the church.
As hostage situations go, this wasn’t horrible.
She’d seen worse on TV.
She was being properly fed and could even get any snacks and drinks she wanted whenever she wanted them from the kitchen out back.
She had a huge TV and a vast collection of DVDs, plus Netflix to watch.
But it wasn’t ideal.
For one, she was a hostage, that’s never fun.
And for two, she was in someone else’s clothes and they were cutting off her circulation. She picked at the skintight jeans she’d practically had to remove ribs to get into them.
Roux Tucker … the daughter of the man who was detaining her, loaned her a stack of clothes, but Roux was taller and skinnier, more beautiful, not that it mattered when she tried to pull on the jeans, but still… she could hardly walk in them and she was sick of those odious guys staring at her butt.
If they called her sweet bottom once more, she might… she might… well, she was too scared to do anything other than think mean things.
That was the other unpleasant thing.
This MC was full and she meant overstuffed with undesirable men who all thought it was funny as hell to tease her with vulgarity and innocuous staring at her chest and ass.
She’d never been so verbally abused before with sexual harassment.
“Ignore them,” Roux shrugged, unbothered, “the more you complain, the more they do it.”
Penelope noticed not one of those guys ever hit on Roux or said anything offensive.
In fact, they treated her like they were all her father.
Roux explained it was because she was a MC princess and therefore was hands off to every man who walked through the door.
That had to suck for her dating life, Penelope mused.
The men there weren’t terrible looking, some were in fact quite handsome in a rough he chews glass and will kill you sort of a way.
“You don’t find none of them attractive?” She asked the girl sitting at her side in her biker boots and skinny jeans and ripped vintage shirt with the sleeves torn off.
Roux was a rock chick.
“God no.” She laughed. “They’re like my uncles, that would be seriously gross for me.”
In comparison to her new friend, Penelope was the complete opposite, looks wise.
With her mousy brown hair she had to dye to a darker shade every few weeks just to give it some life, otherwise it looked like burnt straw.
She was only an inch shorter than Roux, at 5’6, but she felt dumpy next to the other girl, mainly because Penelope had hips and an ass she just couldn’t get rid of no matter how much lettuce she ate or exercise classes she took.
The chunk just clung on for dear life.
She’d come to terms with her shape which was inherited from her granny.
She did love her green eyes, she received compliments on them all the time.
And her plump lips that were au natural.
She was terrified of needles so would never go for enhancements as her friends loved doing.
“What about the younger boys over here?”
“The prospects.” Roux filled in.
She was learning so many new things she didn’t even know existed.
A prospect was basically a modern day slave who was trying to initiate himself into the MC by doing a lot of crappy menial jobs.
Both girls cast their gazes to the pool table across the room. Around it was three guys, probably around their age or a bit younger. Penelope was twenty-six but could never truly guess someone’s age just from looking at them, another of her flaws.
She wasn’t good at anything, no discernible skills to speak of.
It truly sucked being useless.
Only good for marriage and popping out babies and being seen on the arm of someone prestigious to order foie gras for him coming home after doing his secretary in the coat closet.
“My dad would have a shit fit if I messed around with a prospect. He’d kill the prospect, no questions asked.”
Penelope hadn’t seen much of Axel Tucker these past five days, not up close anyway. After the man in charge informed Penelope she was to be detained until the exchange, he’d handed her over to Roux and told his daughter to keep her quiet.
Charming. Now she truly was a thing.
And that was what she’d been running away from.
Becoming nothing, only known as someone’s wife. His trophy.
Oh, she knew alright. Ronnie didn’t love her, not really.
Their relationship was not something she could in all good conscience live with for the rest of her life. He didn’t love her and she certainly didn’t have those feelings for him.
Her circle of society were big on parties. Nothing like she’d seen in this MC for the last week, it was more for the reason of showing off. Who had a bigger, more expensive car this season. Who got the promotion. Who was jetting off to warmer climates.
If you didn’t have something to brag about in society, then you were a no one.
Penelope was a no one.
She wasn’t ugly, she got a lot of attention from boys growing up, but that was the start and end of her resume. Beauty pageant winner and nothing much else.
She sighed and pulled her lips around the black straw, drinking big gulps of the diet coke.
“Do you know who your dad is expecting to make an exchange for me?”
It wasn’t the first time she’d asked.
She felt pretty calm in spite of the state of affairs she’d gotten herself in.
On the plane ride to Denver, she rightly so garnered a lot of questionable looks sitting in the middle row of the plane in her wedding gown and uncomfortable heels.
But for the first time in … forever, she’d felt like she could breathe freedom.
For once in her life, Penelope planned for herself.
And look how that turned out.
“I don’t know. Your dad I presume.”
That made her tummy churn.
No way would her father pay money to get her back, not after what she’d done. He was the more insistent she go through with marrying Ronnie, after all he worked for her dad in his hedge fund company.
“You might want to stay in my room tonight, there’s a big party. Things tend to get loud and out of hand.”
More out of hand than she’d seen already?
Penelope didn’t think these kinds of places existed, where men openly had sex for anyone to watch or consume vast amounts of alcohol, not to mention smoking drugs. That first night, distraught and a little hysterical, she’d frozen to the floor, with her eyes wide and tear filled, scared and alone, while the MC celebrated her capture…calling her a golden goose. And what she’d seen after that, Penelope didn’t think she’d ever unsee it.
Only with Roux grabbing her arm and dragging her off down a long hallway and into her room saved her from the lewd looks she was attracting.
Without a filter or care for her feelings, Roux snapped for her to stay the fuck out of the main room if she wanted to live.
“Aren’t you going to be around?” She turned worried eyes to see Roux shaking her head.
She didn’t know if the other girl liked her or not, other than the fact she made sure no one bothered her.
But for Penelope, she had some form of Stockholm syndrome attachment to the girl and felt safer when she was around.
“Nah, I have somewhere I need to go.”
“Maybe I could go with you.”
Roux laughed and lifted a shaped eyebrow.
God, Penelope would kill to have her brows threaded, it had been over two weeks. She was one of those unlucky women who resembled a yeti found in the wild if she didn’t maintain her facial hair. That meant waxing her upper lip too. She’d look like Elmer Fudd in a few weeks if she didn’t book an appointment with her waxing girl.
Only, she was no longer in Harrison, NY, with easy access to every hygienic self-care spa.
“You know you can’t.”
“I’ll be with you, what am I going to do, run off? I don’t know anyone here.”
“Not going to happen, Cinderella.”
Ugh, they’d all started calling her Cinderella that first day.
She supposed she was lucky that they didn’t make her clean out the chimneys.
“Fine, but if I get killed, then I hope you feel guilty.”
As a hostage, it wasn’t so bad, but Penelope was afraid once Axel Tucker knew her father would not be paying any ransom, he had no reason to let her live.
She’d heard them talking, they assumed Penelope was going to fetch them a lot of money.
She could have easily told them no one thought that much of her to pay any kind of money, let alone thousands.
Trying to be brave, she kept her mouth shut.
She didn’t even know if she could trust Roux, she was part of this MC, after all.
It had been a colossal mistake to come to Colorado in hopes of finding refuge with the only boy she’d ever known who made her heart hurt.
That was a lifetime ago, he probably didn’t even remember her.
Stupid impulsive decisions never lead to anywhere good.
Penelope found that out far too late.