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Black Contract by Charlotte Byrd (1)

Chapter 1 - Ellie

I don’t want to look at my phone. I want to be mad at him. I don’t want to hear what he has to say.

But I can’t stop myself.

The texts just keep coming in. I can’t resist.

I know what he’s going to say. Yet, I have to see it myself.

In print.

I’m really sorry.

I need to talk to you.

Please.

I refuse to reply, but my phone keeps going off.

I know you’re not asleep yet because your light is on.

Can I please come up?


My heart skips a beat. He’s downstairs. Shit. The feeling that surges through my body is hard to explain. It’s some combination of dread and excitement. What is he doing here? Why isn’t he still with that blonde? A hundred other questions rush through my mind as I try to decide what to do.


No. I’m going to bed, I text back.


Ellie, please. I have to talk to you. I need you.


I need you. What does that mean? I wonder. I’m tempted to say no again, but I know that I won’t be able to sleep a wink if I do.


You have five minutes, I text and climb out of bed.

I walk down the cold parquet floor barefoot, regretting the fact that I didn’t put on a pair of socks.

When I buzz him in, I unlock the front door and head back to my room to look for a pair of slippers.

“Hey,” Aiden whispers, startling me. He’s leaning on the doorframe to my room, looking as handsome and brooding as ever.

“How did you get here so fast?” I ask as he tries to catch his breath.

“The elevator was taking too long so I ran up the stairs.”

“Four floors?”

He shrugs. “It probably would’ve been faster to just go wait, but I couldn’t keep my legs still.”

I smile at the thought of this.

“Listen, Ellie, the reason I wanted to come up is to tell you…” his voice drops off. I wait for him to continue, but he doesn’t.

“Yes?”

“Just seeing you again at the club…it just made me realize what a horrible mistake I made.”

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“It was so stupid of me to break our engagement. I hate to say that I didn’t mean it, but I actually didn’t. I was just going through a lot with getting fired and then that article came out. I wasn’t thinking. I was totally lost.”

I nod and look away. I understand and sympathize with what he was going through, but that doesn’t change all the hurt that he caused me.

“It’s okay, I guess,” I say after a moment. It’s definitely not okay, but there isn’t much to say in situations like these, is there?

“No, it’s not. I was an asshole. And I was wrong. And I’m here to apologize to you. I know that you probably can’t forgive me immediately, but I just need you to know that.”

I nod.

“There’s something else, too.”

I wait for him to elaborate.

“Do you think there’s any chance that you could take me back?” he asks, taking a step toward me.

“What?” I take a step back.

“I love you, Ellie. I should have never said any of those things. I didn’t mean a word of it. I want you back, Ellie.”

Tears of frustration and anger start to well up somewhere in the back of my throat, but I refuse to let him see them. I swallow hard and clench my fists.

“What are you doing, Aiden?”

“What do you mean?”

“You think I’m an idiot? A fool or something?”

“No, not at all!”

“Yes, you do,” I say. “We don’t know each other well, but I never thought that you were this cruel and heartless.”

“What are you talking about?” Aiden shakes his head.

“I saw you!” My voice breaks a little. He stares at me, dumbfounded.

“You need to leave,” I say after a moment. “If you refuse to admit it then I just can’t deal with it. You’re not the person I thought you were.”

“Ellie, seriously, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I stare at him. How can he just lie to me like this? So effortlessly. Maybe I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did.

“I need you to leave,” I say after a moment.

“Ellie, please. Can you just tell me what you’re talking about?”

I finally lose it. “I’m talking about tonight. I saw you with that blonde with the long legs. She was all over you.”

“What?” Aiden asks with a perplexed look on his face. “Oh, Annie? You mean the girl I walked into the club with?”

I nod and cross my arms across my chest. I don’t have time for this charade.

“That’s Annie. She’s my friend, John’s, fiancée. I’ve known her for years.”

This is not the direction that I had expected this conversation to go.

“Why was she all over you like that?”

“She wasn’t. I was really upset tonight. It was their idea to take me out. She was just hugging me to make me feel better. John was right there.”

I still don’t fully believe him, but I also know that Aiden is either telling the truth or the biggest sociopath ever.

“Listen, I can tell that you don’t believe me. Let me show you,” he says, taking out his phone. He flips to Facebook and shows me pictures of Annie and John, the happy couple since high school. I didn’t see John there, but that was definitely Annie who had her arm around Aiden.

“If you want, I can call them right now. Or just call John and ask them where we were tonight.”

I don’t really want him to do that because I know it will make me look like the most insecure girl ever, and yet I do. When I don’t reply right away, Aiden dials John’s number. Without really explaining why, he tells him that he’s on speakerphone and asks him where he and Annie were today.

“Um, are you okay, Aiden?”

“Yes. Just please answer, okay.”

“Okay…we were with you, at the club in Chelsea. That is until you ran out on us.”

“Yeah, why did you do that, Aiden?” Annie pipes in. “You know we were only going there to cheer you up. It’s not exactly our scene.”

After joking around for a few minutes, Aiden hangs up the phone and looks at me.

“Okay, I guess she is who you say she is,” I say.

“I would never lie to you, Ellie. Maybe I should’ve back then after dinner with your parents, but I couldn’t lie to you then either. I love you.”

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