The Initiation (Filthy Rich Americans #1)- Nikki Sloane

ONE

RAIN STREAKED ACROSS THE WINDOW, blurring the view of the landscape out the back seat of the car as it hurried my sister Emily and me past the front gate. The drive leading up to the Hale estate was long, straight, and lined with tall, manicured hedges. It was a tunnel of green. The only escape was the impressive fountain at the end where the driveway circled, and the historic stone mansion loomed beyond.

I clutched the book in my lap tighter, my fingers tensing on the edges of the hardcover, making the dust jacket crinkle against the skirt of my dress. The sound drew my sister’s attention, and she shot me one of her famous disapproving looks. It was the same one my father had wilted under earlier this evening when he’d suggested Emily find something more appropriate to wear.

Her cocktail dress was as black as the limo we were traveling in. The fabric plunged deep down her chest, flaunting her impressive cleavage. The flouncy skirt was cut short in the front, teasing well above her knees, and hemmed longer in the back. It showed off her legs and the precariously tall heels she wore. Her lips were stained a vivid red. She had blue undertones in her pale skin, so it looked terrific on her.

In theory, that same lip color would work on me. My sister was only fifteen months older than I was, and although we weren’t twins, people often asked if we were. Except we were easier to tell apart these days. On a whim, I’d dyed my hair an unnatural shade of deep green during spring break. It had faded since the last time I’d had it colored, but the hue was still there.

As I’d discovered with the hair color, I could pull off bold colors like Emily. We had the same sable hair and crystal blue eyes, but in stark contrast to her, tonight I wore a white dress with lace cap sleeves. It was fitting. I was the weird, virginal loner, and she was the confident, sexy bombshell.

We looked nothing alike on the inside.

She was friendly, quick-witted, and a pleaser. She had a knack for putting people at ease.

I had the ability to make everyone uncomfortable with my awkward bluntness but had learned not to care what others thought. My sister was the darling of the social scene, and she was destined to be the queen of Cape Hill—one of the wealthiest villages in Massachusetts. It had bay views, sprawling estates, and private golf courses, and each year the housing market climbed closer to matching the Hamptons.

My destiny, however, was to be left alone. I could do whatever I wanted, which suited me just fine. I’d never have to fulfill obligations or handle the family duties. I’d been given my mother’s maiden name as my first name to appease my rich grandparents. That was the only responsibility I had to carry.

“Marist.” Emily placed her hand on my wrist and eyed the new Greek mythology book in my lap. “If that doesn’t fit in your purse, don’t take it inside. You can’t show up to a party with a book to read—and definitely not to Royce’s party.”

Because Royce Hale was a modern-day Gatsby. He’d thrown ragers nearly every weekend when he’d been in high school. I was several years behind him, but they’d still talked about it at our elite prep school, long after he’d gone off to Harvard.

I stared at Emily as the car promenaded around the fountain. When it pulled to a stop, my sister’s dangling earrings swayed and glinted in the fading sunlight.

“It