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Chapter 2 – Introductions Are In Order

  • It’s been a month since the incident with George Lucas. She had not seen Doug since he left Purple Spade, and Maxine was relieved that he did not put his threat into action.
  • Maxine stopped by the road next to Purple Spade and lit a cigarette. It has been her routine since she started working as a stripper.
  • She was about to flick the cigarette butt when a silver Chrysler Pacifica stopped next to her. Before she could react, a burly man jumped out, grabbed her arm, and covered her mouth.
  • She tried to fight back, but the man overpowered Maxine, and she lost consciousness. The man dragged her into the vehicle and drove off.
  • In a little apartment back at Grayson, Lottie received a call from Randy. The man was looking for her sister.
  • Worried sick, Lottie tried calling her, but to no avail. She tried to get in touch with Maxine until dawn, but her phone was still off.
  • Unbeknownst to her, the woman she was trying to call was still asleep. She was sitting on the cold floor and leaning on the equally freezing wall.
  • “Open it.”
  • It was Sean Hartmann, the most powerful man in Virginia. A billionaire CEO in charge of one of the largest corporations worldwide, the Hartmann Group.
  • Sean is one of the youngest CEOs and among the eligible bachelors globally. He took over his grandfather’s place as soon as he returned from studying in London.
  • The security guard hurriedly followed his command. He unlocked the cell to let the man in and introduced him to his brother’s murderer.
  • Still groggy, Maxine raised her head. Rubbing her eyes, she let them adjust to the light. Meanwhile, Sean sat on the bed in front of her, arms crossed over his chest.
  • He was scrutinizing the woman from head to toe. However, no matter how he looked at her, he couldn’t figure out how she killed his brother.
  • 'How could she be a murderer?'
  • “Who are you?” Maxine asked, placing a hand over her eyes to see the man perfectly.
  • “I’m your long lost husband.”
  • “Tss, in your dreams!”
  • Sean gave the guard a nod, and just like a robot, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up. The man sitting on the bed clenched his jaw. He didn’t like what the guard did, but he didn’t say anything.
  • “Introduce yourself!” The bellied man ordered.
  • “What?” Maxine shot her brows up. Then she turned to Sean, “I thought he said he was my husband. Then he’s supposed to know me, no?”
  • The guard gripped her arm tighter, and she felt pain, but he didn’t care. “Introduce yourself, or I’ll have you whipped 50 times!”
  • The woman stomped her, annoyed by the men’s stunts. She stood up straight, looked at Sean, and smirked.
  • “My name is Maxine Whinter. I’m 22 years old, and I live in Grayson. I have a sister and a mother waiting for me at home.”
  • Sean scowled. The woman was starting to annoy him. But instead of paying attention to her, he glared at the guard.
  • In a state of panic, the guard pulled Maxine close to him. His nostrils were flaring in frustration. “You’re not Maxine Whinter. Tell us your real name!”
  • Maxine looked at him, confused. She creased her forehead, unable to comprehend. “I’m Maxine Whinter! What are you saying? Do I have to show an identification card? My birth certificate?”
  • “That wasn’t the name your club manager gave us!” the guard yelled.
  • Maxine pressed her lips to a thin line, brows knitted. She was baffled by what was happening. After a while, she snapped her fingers.
  • “Oh! I get it!” She giggled, “If I’m not Maxine Whinter, then maybe I’m Sasha!”
  • The eyes of the rude guard twinkled. She just said the magic word. The exact name he wanted to hear. It was the name he gave to Sean Hartmann.
  • Even the authoritative man immediately stood up after hearing the name ‘Sasha.’. “Sasha,” Sean muttered before facing the woman. “I have a deal for you.”
  • Maxine smiled at him. She reached out for his tie and lightly pulled him closer, “What is it, husband?”
  • The guard pulled her away from Sean. She felt like a virus that could infect him. “Don’t touch him or else…” he warned.
  • She raised her hands and backed up. Leaning on the wall, she asked the man, “Fine! Fine! What deal was it? And by the way, where am I?”
  • “You’re at an asylum,” the guard responded.
  • Her pupils dilated. The guard was just next to him, but he looked so far, and the words he said seemed to have come from miles away.
  • All along, she thought she was in jail. Now she knows why it was so quiet, and she doesn’t have a jailmate.
  • “Why am I here?” she yelled. Her hands started shaking involuntarily, and tears welled in her eyes.
  • “Because that’s part of the deal,” Sean replied.
  • Maxine crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the man, holding back her tears. “Let me hear it,” she bravely asked.
  • “You owe me something, and you can only pay for it if you marry me,” the young Hartmann started.
  • “What is it?”
  • “Stop asking!” he yelled. “Can’t you let me finish?”
  • Maxine was startled when the man’s voice raised. To calm him down, she nodded so he could continue with what he was saying.
  • “You killed my brother,” Sean stated nonchalantly. But it froze her into place. “So, in return, I’ll have to take your mother and sister.”
  • Maxine’s tears started to act on their own. One by one, they ran down her cheeks. She had no idea who she killed and why her family was involved.
  • “That’s why you’re locked up here. And the key to going out is a marriage certificate. Marry me or stay here for as long as I want.”
  • “What kind of stupid deal was that?”
  • “You’re the one who’s stupid!” Sean snapped back. He clenched his jaws and balled his fist. But he eventually calmed down. “What you should be asking is, ‘Who was your brother?’, ‘Why did I kill him?’ Those should be your questions!”
  • Maxine clenched her fists. Right there and then, she wanted to smack the man’s face to knock some sense into him.
  • “Why would you want to marry your brother’s killer?” she asked, her voice breaking.
  • The man smiled and walked up to her. He touched her cheek with his thumb, but she didn’t let it linger.
  • “Because I want to avenge my brother's death. It’s as simple as that.” He told her, ignoring the weird feeling when he touched her.
  • “How can I be certain you won’t hurt my family?”
  • Sean started pacing back and forth with both hands in his pockets. “I’m not taking them as hostages,” he began. “In fact, I’ll give them a good life. You’re living in Grayson, you said? I’ll take them to my estate in Scottsville. The place has a nearby hospital, and I can hire a doctor to check on your mother. As for your sister, I can give her a job at one of our headquarters there. Isn’t that good?”
  • After saying all that, he stopped with his back facing the woman. Biting his inner cheek, he tried to process everything he said. ‘Why did I say those?’
  • Maxine raised her fist, acting like she was about to smack his head. But then she quickly withdrew and pretended to be wiping her tears when Sean turned to face her.
  • “What do you say?” the man asked.
  • She could not respond, as she had a hard time comprehending. With everything Sean said, it was not like he was giving her a choice. He just wanted her to go with his plan.
  • Maxine sniffed, stood up straight, and placed her hands on her side. She looked at the stranger who was exuding power and charisma and asked, “What are the rules in this marriage?”
  • Sean chuckled because he did not expect such a question. ‘Rules?’ He does not abide by the rules. To him, he was the rule.
  • However, just one look at the woman and his disposition changed. Suddenly, he was open to hearing and dealing with the rules the woman wanted for their marriage.
  • “We have to go. I have already wasted a lot of time here. We can talk about your rules on our way.”
  • When she entered the car, she closed its door with a bang. The man glanced at her before looking out the window. He couldn’t help but smile, ‘She's got a temper,’ he thought to himself.
  • Bored, she turned the other way, facing Sean. “Stop watching me! We’re not married yet,” she snapped when she caught the man eyeing her.
  • Sean chuckled and shook his head, “You wish!”