- Author: Piper Lennox
Book online «Lost King Piper Lennox (ready player one ebook .TXT) 📖». Author Piper Lennox
A Durham Boys Novel
Copyright © 2021 by Piper Lennox
All rights reserved.
Cover Photographer: Furious Fotog
Model: Jonny Reid
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For Freeman, forever
How can I trust anyone else
When I can barely trust myself
I am who I am
You know I'll bend the truth
I'll break it, too.…
“I Am Who I Am,” The Cab feat. Eloquent
Also by Piper Lennox
About the Author
Seven Years Ago
“Ruby, sweetheart, you still haven’t finished these windows? Mr. Greaves is due home any minute.”
Mom clucked at what little progress I’d made on the massive windows in her client’s home office. I was only a third of the way finished. If she were handling it, the inside and outside would be sparkling like diamonds by now.
Craning my neck to the ceiling, I surveyed the glass I’d yet to reach. There weren’t even fingerprints on it. Why the hell were we doing this?
“Here,” she sighed, taking the supplies from me. “I’ll do it. You go empty the mop water.” As I left, dragging my hands along the leather-bound books in the shelves, she called, “Don’t forget, it goes—”
“In the drain in the poolhouse,” I finished, my snark getting lost in the echo. All her clients’ houses echoed, no matter how many imported rugs and handcrafted tapestries they filled them with.
Mrs. Greaves hated the scent of cleansers, dust, mop water, grime—anything that wasn’t $200 an ounce from some European perfumery, really—so we weren’t allowed to dump our buckets down any drains in the main house. Two years ago, I tried. They weren’t due at the house for a week; I picked the bathroom in the game room downstairs, where I knew the woman never stepped foot.
When Mrs. Greaves found out, she threatened to fire my mother. Only extensive groveling on my part reversed the tide.
“Told you she has a sensitive nose,” Mom said as we drove home that evening.
Sensitive nose, my ass. More like motion-sensitive cameras, sprinkled all over that house.
Now, as I wheeled the mop buckets from the Tuscan-style kitchen the Greaves never cooked in, out through the side door they never used, I gave a pointed stare to the camera nestled in the fake bird’s nest overhead. I considered flipping it off, but didn’t. For Mom’s sake.
The poolhouse was at the back of the property. Stone paths rattled the buckets all the way there, sloshing filthy black water on my jeans.
“Ruby! What did I tell you about all that heavy lifting, huh?”
I looked up from wringing the water out of my cuffs to find Ronan, the gardener, giving me a fake look of disapproval.
Like my mother, Ronan employed his children. Cill, the oldest, was transplanting some dahlias that Mrs. Greaves would probably make him move again, assuming they even survived this round.
Callum, two years older than me, blushed when our eyes met, and smiled down at his wheelbarrow of mulch until I looked back at their father.
“Really, Ro, I’ve got it. It’s not that heavy.”
“Ah,” he nodded, taking my hands off the bucket handles and turning them upward, “but look at this! Such pretty skin, all pruny and dirty now. Let us dump the buckets.” He held up his hands and waggled his own fingers at me. “Callouses are waterproof, you know.”
With a smile, I rolled my eyes and let him take one. Callum stabilized his wheelbarrow and rushed to grab the other, turning red again when I thanked him by name.
While they dumped the buckets in the poolhouse shower, I climbed past bags of fertilizer to stand on the overlook. The wind pulling through the bay cleared every molecule of bleach and fake-lemon cleaner from my nose.
“Looks like the kids are starting early,” Ronan said. “Hope they know what they’re doing. That bonfire looks pretty high.”
“They’re probably high,” Callum muttered, and I turned to laugh at him. We all ragged on the owners. They made it so easy. Especially the kids.
“Look at that one.” He pointed to a girl way down the shore, breaking away from the bonfire crowd to spin in the ankle-deep water like a top, arms outstretched in the sun. “She’s definitely high.”
“Don’t act like you never smoke.” I elbowed him and fought my urge to tell him her name. Paige was always like that, truthfully: free-spirited and silly. My friend-crush intensified every time I saw her. I’d never spoken to her, but she seemed impossibly kind.
Vivi and Cate, however, were not. I’d run into them enough times during cleanups to know they inherited their mother’s pageant looks and their father’s cruel mind. Tripping me on their staircase, spewing insults, and crumbling food on the floors I’d just cleaned were standard.
Also at the bonfire were the Peyton triplets, the Hasler cousins, the Engles’ daughter (riding the highs of some boarding school sex scandal that got two teachers fired, if rumors were to be believed), and almost every other summer kid that swooped