Second Chances (Dreams Come True, #2) - Emma Nichols Page 0,1

his hands on the desk. “The servants will still be there, of course.”

“And I’ll be there.” Uncle Luc could scarcely contain his excitement.

“You don’t have to. I have the servants.” I swallowed hard, trying to imagine sharing my home with this man, a complete stranger. After all, he’d never been welcome there before. It seemed wrong for him to be there now.

“Of course I do. I’m your guardian.” He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled.

In response, I blinked a few times. The frustration was building. If I didn’t get away from here, I’d lose my temper for sure. Looking down at my hands, I spoke as quietly and controlled as I could. “Is this true, Mr. Lefevre? Does he have to live with me? Can’t Mathilde watch over me? She has my whole life.” Then I blew out a breath, trying to keep my mood in check.

“I’m afraid he must stay with you until you turn eighteen.” The frown above his brow deepened.

Sitting up abruptly I, snapped. “That’s all well and good, but then how do I get him out?”

My question was met with silence from the lawyer and laughter from my uncle. Four years later, I had my answer. On my eighteenth birthday, after three years, eight months, twelve days, sixteen hours and several minutes of sharing the mansion, I moved out. Uncle Luc was going nowhere.

During that time, the place had fallen into disrepair. Part of it was my fault. I’d never truly learned how to control my temper, as evidenced by the broken furniture and relics. Ah, but my uncle had been a significant contributor. He’d cut the staff in half, keeping on only one maid, not Mathilde, and the chef. The grounds were overgrown because he fired the gardener and pocketed the money meant as his salary. Of course, he let the driver go first, no doubt afraid I would take off. Routine maintenance was ignored. What had once been a magnificent mansion now had taken on the look of abandoned architecture.

If I’d have run off and married then, I might’ve been able to rescue myself from the hell I’d endured. Unfortunately, there were no prospects as far as I was concerned. Truth be told, it had little to do with how particular I was and more to do with my damaged psyche. Years of being called a spoiled little beast and being reminded of how hideous I looked had truly taken a toll. I hid it well enough from my friends, but in the back of my mind it was always there, gnawing at me. Uncle Luc had become the voice in my head. In my mind echoed his most hateful words: who could ever love a monster like you?

Chapter One

Sebastian

Rubbing my temples, I sighed. This was a phone call I didn’t want to make. Picking up my cell, I called my long time friend and waited for him to answer.

“So, Gabriel, any chance Isabella has some photos she’d like to display in the gallery?” I leaned back in my chair and gazed out the window onto St. Catherine Street.

A chuckle wafted through the phone. “Well, hello to you, too, Sebastian. I’ll have to ask. I guess you were impressed with her show last week.”

“As much as I hate to admit it, I had to be. You know this is a mutually beneficial arrangement, right? She helps me, I help grow her.” I tapped the end of the pen on my desk calendar while he spoke. “I have a list of collectors right now who would snatch up anything she placed here.”

There was a sigh. “Sebastian, you must know money is not an issue here.”

“Not for you, but I know Isabella.” I paused a moment, already regretting my words. I didn’t know Isabella, not really. She’d taken a few trips with our group. I’d seen her with Gabriel a few times. None of this meant I really knew her at all. Still, I shared what I understood to be true. “She likes to have her own money, earn her own way. It’s a very admirable quality. I’d love to help her grow.”

“I’ll talk to her. You know I will. Right now, however, she’s working on a photo shoot. Something new.”

“Really. Something I could get…exclusively?” I sat up in my chair and wheeled closer to study the gallery schedule.

“I’ll have her call you. I have a meeting in fifteen minutes I must prepare for. Good talking to you!”

“You too. Bye.”

Before I could get too