Home > Pride (The Elite Seven #2)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)
Author: J.D. Hollyfield

the elite seven

Since 1942, The Elite Seven Society has created and guided influential leaders, molding the country into something better. This society was birthed by Malcom Benedict II, who wanted more for Americans. More wealth. More influence. More power. Some leaders have the skills, but not the influence, and that simply wasn’t fair according to Mr. Benedict. He invested his own money and time to construct a society that bred the best of the best, year after year.

But to be the best, you must be ruthless.

Good leaders make sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifices are hard, but the rewards are plentiful. Mr. Benedict made sure to indulge these leaders with their utmost desires. A devout Catholic himself, he designed a society that rewarded his leaders with the sins that were frowned upon. If they were giving up love and happiness and joy for the betterment of the country, they deserved something in its stead.

Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust.

Choosing leaders for this society takes intense focus. Only seven are to be selected, and the investment and time are showered upon the new seven chosen every four years. The university’s acting dean behaves as a liaison for the society, bringing the applicants to the predecessors so the selection may begin. The society members going out will bring forth a candidate the society votes on and approves.

After they are chosen, the initiates are given a token and an invitation to initiation. The initiation tests their character and ability to do what’s right for the betterment of the society. Once the initiates pass their test, they are discreetly branded with the mark of the society and groomed through challenges during the course of their elite education to breed them into the influential people they were meant to be.

Once in The Elite Seven, there is no getting out. The money and power are their reward. Should they choose to stray or break the rules, the society strips them of everything. Anything they once had will be removed. Opportunities will never arise. They will no longer have the support of the society. To this day, there have been no known occurrences of anyone from the society having to be banished. Every young man and woman aspire to be a part of the elite group whispered about amongst the privileged. Anyone who is anyone knows of the group and secretly hopes their son or daughter is selected, for good fortune is showered on the family for decades to come.

Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.

—John Scott

To all the demons inside my head. Thanks for the inspiration.

Mason

Seventeen years old…

“That shit’s tight. Your girl’s gonna flip, bro. I’d make her suck your dick for a whole month if I were you. Swallow too.”

I step outside into the sweltering Louisiana heat, my best friend, Micah, on my heels. The grimy door of the tattoo parlor screeches shut behind him, and I pull my shades over my eyes, bloodshot from the joint we just smoked.

“Fuck, she better. I didn’t do this for nothin’.” I laugh, blowing smoke up his ass. Mine and Dahlia’s relationship ain’t about that. She’s my world, my rock, my safe place—she’s who I turned to when life sucked ass and I needed something beautiful to push through the bad shit.

We met when we were still with the Keller family, our previous foster family, back in Covington. Dahlia and I had both just started our freshman year. She was smart, funny, and kept me clean—made me realize she’s the only drug I need. Then the beginning of sophomore year came around and our lives got turned upside down. My little sister and I were told our home for the last seven years was over. Just when we felt we were done being tossed around the broken ass foster system, we were once again spit back out. The Kellers, who had taken us in, were expecting a baby, and they needed the space for their own growing family. That or the government’s free money wasn’t good enough anymore.

I didn’t handle the news well and flew off the handle. I broke a bunch of shit in their house, then went out, got drunk as fuck, and crashed their car into a tree. Our assigned social services counselor said I was lucky they were so caring, because they let us leave without pressing charges, but how was that lucky? We were being thrown out of the fifth home since our parents died, yet again scared and unsure of our future. I didn’t give a fuck about getting in trouble, but my sister, Evelyn, did. She cried, worried they’d split us up. That was never going to fucking happen. So, I pulled my shit together and played the part. The next family would see two well-behaved kids and accept us as a package deal.

When we were uprooted, I was also torn from Dahlia. Her everyday smile, for the past year, that gave me a reason to be someone other than a fucking troubled kid in the system, was gone. I swore I’d do anything to keep us together. See her every damn day even if it meant walking the forty-seven miles that separated us.

I press my hand against the bandage covering the fresh ink over my heart—a red dahlia flower on my right pec, the color etched deep into my skin. No worry of it ever fading. I want her to know, just like the ink, my love runs deep and permanent. I’ll love her forever.

We make it to Micah’s car, and he tosses me his keys. “You drive. My back stings like a motherfucker.”

When we got placed in our newest home and school last year, Micah was the first—shit, the only—dude to befriend me. He came from a rich as fuck family but had a wild side and thirst to piss off his parents any chance he got, hence the large ass skull tatted on his back.

Swapping sides, I slide in, starting up the engine. The Porsche purrs to life, and I throw it into drive and whip through traffic. “You ever figure out what’s up with Evie?” Micah asks.

The mention of my little sister has my fingers gripping the Italian leather steering wheel harder. She’s been off for months now, and I can’t figure out why. Quiet. She’s pulled back from me. Something’s going on with her. I just don’t fucking know what.

“No, she won’t talk to me. Something’s up, though. After my weekend at Dahlia’s, I’m gonna force her to tell me. Don’t give a fuck how mad she gets.” I’ve always been patient with Evie. She’s been through a lot. Our parents dying. Being thrown into the foster care system when not a single living relative would take us. Family after temporary family letting us down when it came to care for us and our well-being. I’ve tried my best to shelter her from the hardships of the fucked-up world we live in, but I can’t always be around. Especially now, when my weekends need to be with Dahlia.

“Yeah, want nothing to do with that shit. Have fun,” Micah says, lighting up a cigarette. Those two can’t get along for the fucking life of them, and it’s getting old. Sometimes, I feel like I’m the goddamn parent breaking up two kids fighting over a toy.

“Either way, I’m not around to do anything about it ‘til Sunday. You still cool with driving me out to Covington, right?”

“Anything for you, bro. But I told you, just take the Porsche anytime. My dad won’t even notice it’s gone.”

No.

“I’ll just take the bus if you—”

“Stop acting too proud and fucking take the car. It’s me trying to do my best friend a favor. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Micah and I are so fucking similar, it gets freaky at times. But there’s always one thing that defines our differences: money. Him having endless amounts of it, and me, a fuck-up straight out of the dumps of temporary houses who grew up with nothing. We may both have torn jeans and band t-shirts on, but it doesn’t change our backgrounds.

“Take me or don’t. I’ll figure out how to get home Sunday.” Micah shrugs, letting it go. “I need to swing by the house. Gotta grab some things and let Evie know I’m leaving.”

He doesn’t fight me. He knows when to let things lie. I drive the rest of the way to the house, Dahlia on my mind. I hope she likes the tattoo. Tomorrow’s our two-year anniversary and I wanted to show her how much she means to me. I’m sure most pussy boyfriends give their girlfriends flowers and expensive dinners. Spend tons of money on dumb ass shit. Not me. Even at seventeen, I know how to show my love for someone, and not in the form of shit that dies.

I take a quick turn into the Griffins’ driveway, and my stomach drops at the sight of the police cars.

“Shit, what’d you do?”

“Fuck off. Nothing,” I joke, but my unease thickens. My first thought is something happened to my sister.

“Damn, then what’s the fuzz doing at your crib?”

I don’t respond. I park and jump out, jetting toward the front door already being propped open by an officer.

“Excuse me, son—”

“Where’s my sister?” I spit out, shoving past him and entering the modest house. I halt when I see my sister sitting on the white leather settee surrounded by another cop and Valery, our social services counselor. “What’s going on? You hurt?”

Evie shakes her head, tears cascading down her slender face, though her tortured eyes tell me otherwise. I turn to Lillian, our current guardian. “What happened? What the fuck’s wrong with her?”

Lillian takes a menacing step toward me when an officer uses himself as a blockade. “What’s wrong is your sister is a whore!” she yells, pointing her manicured nail at Evelyn. My sister starts to cry harder. “That’s right, cry, because you got caught, you bitch!” She turns to Valery. “I want her out tonight. Him too. They’re no longer welcome here.”

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