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2.27% Midnight Surrender / Chapter 1: 1 Collided (A Veil of Thorns)

Chapter 1: 1 Collided (A Veil of Thorns)

In the once-thriving town of Brookhaven, a modest family resided in a white house, located in a quiet neighborhood. The town had seen better days, with many of its residents now struggling to make ends meet. Daisy's life had become a relentless stream of troubles, leaving her desperate for an escape.

"Daisy, you're dreaming again," whispered Helena, gently nudging her daughter. "The fire's dying, and dinner won't cook itself."

Jolted back to reality, Daisy looked around the cozy kitchen, her vivid daydream of a carefree life dissipating like mist.

Daisy's daydreams were her escape from the harsh reality of her life. She often found herself lost in a world where she and her mother, Helena, could leave behind the coldness of her father and the cruelty of her stepmother. In her dreams, she found hope in the prospect of marrying a kind and wealthy husband who would care for her and her mother.

She envisioned a life of comfort and elegance, not because she coveted riches, but because she was hungry for vengeance. Daisy knew that the best revenge would be to live the fine life her stepsisters could only dream of, leaving them envious and bitter, while her father would come to regret his mistreatment, realizing too late the valuable bond he had lost.

Daisy knew this was very unlikely to happen, but a girl could dream, right?

She went ahead, to make dinner for the family and then went to sweep the floor as her stepmother had demanded, all while her stepsisters, Lila and Cassandra, rested outside on the large swing on the porch.

As Daisy was sweeping, her stepmother approached her, a hint of disdain in her voice. "Daisy, be a dear and serve tea to your stepsisters and me. We're quite parched."

Daisy clenched her jaw, feeling her frustration grow as she nodded silently. How could her father be with this woman?

Her father, Thomas, was a tall, stout man with a thick beard and a cold demeanor. He had once been a caring husband and father, but ever since his business began to fail, he had become distant and aloof. In an attempt to restore his family's financial stability, he'd divorced her mother and married Katherine, a woman from a wealthy family, who seemed to have a heart full of love but who, over time, revealed her true, manipulative nature. Daisy knew her mother only accepted this for her, and her father used her as an excuse to keep her mother around.

Once Daisy served her stepfamily tea, they sent her to do another task, and then another and another, and it was too late when she smelled the scent of burnt food.

"Daisy!" She heard Katherine's angry voice calling from downstairs.

Daisy raced to the kitchen, her heart sinking as she saw the charred remains of dinner, ruined beyond repair. Katherine stood there, her face red with fury.

"You foolish girl!" Katherine screeched. "You've wasted perfectly good food, and don't think I don't know how much it costs! I'm the one paying for it, after all! Is this how you repay my generosity?"

Daisy bit her lip, holding back from snapping at her. Katherine's "generosity" had come at a high price, making Daisy and her mother virtual servants in their own home.

Her mother Helena came to her defense. "Katherine, it was an accident. It happens. Daisy has been working hard all day. I will make us a quick dinner."

Katherine whipped around, her eyes narrowing. "Helena, do you have any idea how much we are struggling financially? I've taken you both in and provided for you and just because I do so, you think you can use the money any way you like? By wasting the food I work so hard to put on the table?" She shook her head, her voice dripping with contempt. "You and your daughter contribute nothing to this family, and you still have the audacity to defend her incompetence."

Daisy could endure many things, but seeing this woman yell at her mother day in and day out was what made her heart burn and darken.

Helena held her ground. "My daughter and I might not bring in any money, but we do take care of this home and make sure the food you bring in is cooked and served."

"Oh!" Katherine crossed her arms over her chest. "Where is the cooked food? Or do you mean that you will serve us burned wasted food?"

"Since we are struggling financially, then it wouldn't hurt to eat burned food once in a while."

Katherine slapped Helena across the face. "You ungrateful…"

Daisy went completely still for a moment as the slap echoed in the hall. She couldn't believe her eyes, and then, slowly, gradually, she felt her body shake, anger boiling over and making her control snap.

"Don't touch my mother!" She yelled, taking long strides toward Katherine, and only God knew what she would do to the cruel woman.

But before she could do anything, her stepsisters jumped in, one of them grabbing her by the hair and pulling her back.

Daisy cried out in pain, her hands instinctively reaching for her hair to free herself from Lila's grip.

"Let go of me!" Daisy screamed, her voice shaking with rage. Her attempts to break free only caused Lila to pull harder, making her wince, and then she pushed her to the floor.

As Daisy fell, chest first, she felt a rage like no other. She got up and without warning threw herself on Lila, straddling her, she slapped her on the face. Lila yelped and covered her face while Katherine gasped. Before she could hit her again, Cassandra came, and grabbed the arm of her dress, almost tearing it in an attempt to pull her away, but that didn't stop Daisy. She would give Lila the few slaps she deserved first.

Lila fought back, and Cassandra joined, but Daisy was so angry, she didn't know where she got the strength from. She ignored being hit and only cared about hitting them back harder. They rolled on top of each other, crawled, pulled each other's hair, and clawed. Both Helena and Katherine tried to stop them, but to no avail.

As Daisy thought she might just pull all of their hair out, the front door flew open, and Thomas stormed into the house, the thunder of his heavy footsteps announcing his arrival. His face was red with anger, his eyes wide with shock at the scene before him.

"What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed, his voice filling the room and momentarily silencing the chaos.

At the sound of their father's voice, his daughters stopped, getting off each other.

Thomas glared at the women, his gaze shifting from his wife and daughters to Helena and Daisy. "Katherine, explain yourself," he demanded, his voice cold and stern.

Katherine's eyes glinted with malice. "Your daughter," she said, pointing an accusing finger at Daisy, "has ruined the dinner, and when I confronted her about her incompetence, Helena decided it was time to defend her."

Thomas turned to face Helena and Daisy, his eyes narrowing. "Is this true?"

Helena hesitated, her voice barely above a whisper. "It was an accident, Thomas. Daisy has been working hard all day."

Thomas's expression darkened. "Accident or not, you both need to remember your place in this household. Katherine has provided for us all, and we must show gratitude for her sacrifices."

Daisy's anger and disappointment at her father's words made her choke on her own tears. She got up and ran away.

"Daisy!" She heard her father's stern voice. "Daisy! Come here!"

Daisy's heart pounded in her chest as she sprinted through the backyard, her tears streaming down her cheeks and blurring her vision. Her breath came in short, ragged gasps as she stumbled into the woods, desperate to escape the pain and humiliation that swelled within her.

The cool air stung her flushed face, and the branches of the trees reached out like skeletal fingers, grazing her arms and legs. With each step, her grief and frustration intensified, fueling her flight deeper into the shadows.

She felt betrayed and abandoned, her father's words echoing in her ears like a cruel taunt. The man who had once loved and protected her had now turned his back on her, leaving her at the mercy of Katherine and her vile daughters. Her heart ached at the thought of her mother, who had endured so much for her sake. But enough was enough! She couldn't endure this anymore.

In her haze of tears and pain, Daisy did not notice the figure that suddenly appeared before her, shrouded in shadows.

She collided with the stranger, and her hand instinctively reached out to steady herself, making contact with the cold, unnaturally smooth skin of his arm. A jolt of electricity seemed to pass between them, and Daisy gasped, her tears momentarily forgotten.

She looked up, and she forgot to breathe as well.

Lord Blackthorne!

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