Tyrone could admit he didn’t see the hit coming any more than Peyton did, “You dumb b***h!” Cleo roared trying to kill her stepmother. It took his men to drag her off Peyton, but she kept trying to get back to her.
And when Peyton sat up, bleeding from God knows where, she slurred in pain, “I had no choice!”
Seeing Cleo trembling against his men, Tyrone felt horrible for her. But even more so when Peyton kept trying to lie and couldn’t.
“You have no idea how hard it’s been to take care of both you girls after your daddy died-.” The slap was perfect, it sounded perfect and the way Peyton’s head whipped to the side, it landed perfectly.
“Don’t come at me with that weak bullshit!” Cleo yelled even angrier now. “You bartered my parents' home to feed your pathetic addictions. That is the only reason this happened.” Tyrone nodded in agreement, “That is true.”
Peyton wanted to shout at Tyrone how he wasn’t helping. But she knew better.
Because while he seemed nice, there was really nothing nice about this businessman in front of her. Looking at her stepdaughter, Peyton tried to clean her face and look presentable again as she hissed, “Just calm down! I have a plan if you’d just wait-.”
Tyrone would have loved to hear her grand plan, because he was sure it was idiotic. But Cleo didn’t need to hear it because she already knew it. Slamming her hands on the table she sneered, “You seriously think f*****g some random guy is going to get you lucky? Again? You could f**k a thousand men! But there’s no way in hell you’d make enough to cover what you’ve done.”
Peyton’s nose flared as she refused to now meet Tyrone’s eyes. Her daughter, Harley he thinks her name was, had come in all grins and excited to meet him. Thinking he was into her type, she’d tried to flirt, but now she looked just as sick as her mama.
Head bowed as she picked at her halter sweater, Hailey was stone silent. Cleo sniffled and Tyrone watched her slowly pull away from his men and apologize to them for her outburst. To which one just handed her his pocket scarf sweetly.
Looking at Tyrone, Cleo whispered tiredly, “Um, obviously she can’t pay you back. And I’m still in school, so do you just want us to go or-.” Tyrone hummed as he admitted, “Them? Yes, they can go. You? No. I want to talk to you more.”
Cleo looked at Tyrone confused, “Huh?”
Tyrone sent Peyton and Harley a dark look, “You two can stand out in the backyard and get some fresh air.”
Peyton immediately stood as Hailey looked at Tyrone offended, “Why do you want to talk to her?” Tyrone was about to just end this now, but Peyton grabbed her daughter and dragged her out. His men following so the two wouldn’t grow bold and try to run away.
When they were gone, Tyrone looked at Cleo interested as she whispered, “What do you want to talk to me about?” Smiling, Tyrone shrugged as he sat back, “The truth.”
Looking at him confused, Tyrone elaborated for her, “You’ve been deprived of it. And it’s obvious there’s no love lost between you and your stepmother. So let me be frank.” Cleo’s heart pounded as she looked at Tyrone in fear, “Your stepmother put everything in her name on the table at one of my clubs. And she thought sleeping with the manager there, would get her off the hook,”
Cleo’s mind flashed to the seedy guy who had looked nothing like Peyton’s usual boy toys. “Sorry to be the barrier of bad news darling, but she’s not. She’s got to pay some way.” Cleo blew out a deep breath, “Like you said, there’s no love lost between me and Peyton. I honestly could care less if she gets hit by a moving semi right now.”
Looking around, Cleo lamented, “But this was NOT her house to barter. It’s my parents, my dad’s, he didn’t leave her the house. He wouldn’t have.”
Tyrone pointed at her, “True he did not, he left it for you. Another reason why I needed you here, I had no intentions of making arrangements or exceptions.” Cleo winced in pain, “So you want me to sign over the house my daddy left me. For a b***h he idiotically married, I’ve never liked, and has treated me like dirt for eight years? Yeah, no. Just shoot her in the foot or carve up her face.”
Laughing a little, Tyrone chuckled out, “Jesus do you think I’m a mobster or something?” Cleo c****d an eyebrow confused now, “I don’t know! You come in here in a suit and s**t like you going to a funeral. I assumed you were a thug or a boss!”
Shrugging a shoulder, Tyrone confessed, “Thug? Never. Boss? Always.” Cleo actually smiled at him a little and Tyrone seemed to be drawn to that smile. Cleo sighed warily as she rubbed her eyes. Tyrone looked at her closely, “You’re tired.”
Cleo shrugged, “I’m fine.” That was a lie, she was exhausted. And now, she was defeated.
She’d lost the last thing her father had given her, all because of Peyton. The home he’d bought to make sure she always had a home.
Now it was gone, and so was the last of the strings holding her s**t together. “So do you need me to sign something?” She asked playing with her raggedy phone. Picking it up, Tyrone looked at the cheap piece of crap and asked, “What’s with the trap phone baby? You gotta another upstairs?”
Laughing breathlessly, Cleo mindlessly admitted, “No unfortunately not. Peyton just doesn’t let me have nice things. Says it’ll make me feel like I’m better than I am.” It wasn’t until she saw the death grip on her phone Tyrone now had she realized her mistake.
“I mean it’s fine though I don’t need anything-.” But Tyrone threw her phone and it shattered against the refrigerator. “What the hell!” Cleo started to get up and try to see if it’d still work.
But Tyrone grabbed her hand and ordered, “Take me to your room.” Cleo snatched from him, “Um no, we just met, and you just destroyed my s**t. The hell is wrong with you?” Tyrone couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled out.
“No, I want to see your bedroom. And I'll buy you another one.” Cleo didn’t know how to respond to either of those statements. So she walked upstairs and showed him the awful canary yellow room.
It was a decent-sized room. But the mattress was awful having never been replaced since she was a child.
And with her stuff piled up on the 1 dresser, no tv, no laptop, it had nothing showing life. There were no pictures, no art, no anything and it honestly embarrassed Cleo when she realized how basic it was.
Tyrone looked around annoyed with this. It was clicking for him how Cleo was being treated, and it bothered his soul. “Your father, did he not have family?” Cleo nodded slowly, “Yes, my grandparents live in Shady Oaks Retirement home now. And my aunt lives in Delaware with her husband and four kids.”
So no one in her corner, no one saw her living like this?
“And your mother? Her family?” Cleo winced in pain, “My mama was killed when I was five. My grandmother died of heart problems when I was thirteen. And my grandfather is still alive, but he’s really old now. He barely leaves his house and, I can’t go over to see-.” Stopping, Cleo turned away from Tyrone fast.
Why did she kept telling him personal things about herself? Things she hadn’t even told her ex-boyfriend? Cleo didn’t know.
But Tyrone felt his blood boiling and his stomach was hurting from this now. Looking Cleo over, Tyrone could see why Peyton didn’t want her happy. Cleo was a beautiful black young woman, with plump full lips, and dark chocolate skin.
Tyrone couldn’t help but think she was just his type. Down to the curvy but slim body type, and up to the sweet smile she gave him sometimes. He wanted to see one at full blown capacity, he was sure it’d knock him on his ass.
But it was her hair that he liked the most. The small coils of perfection bouncing as she moved, were shoulder length.
He wanted to slid his fingers through those wild curls as he stroked deep inside her. Listen to her moan as he followed through with so much pleasure. But for now? Now he had to set the stage.
“Cleo?” Looking at him still confused as he stopped looking at her sparse closet, Tyrone admitted, “I don’t like this.” Cleo c****d her head to the side confused, “Huh? I mean I know it’s a small closet, there’s a bigger one in-.”
Tyrone tried not to laugh cuz he knew she wasn’t trying to be funny. “No baby girl,” breathing out trying to handle his annoyance, Tyrone confessed, “I don’t like that you’re seemingly Cinderella to those two. They treat you like dirt so you claim, and you don’t have anything in your room.”
Moving slowly to her, Tyrone admitted, “To be honest, had you not been here, I would have tossed both their asses out on the curb and put the house on the market.” Cleo’s eyes widened as he gently confessed to her, “But you were a surprise. One of the best ones I’ve ever gotten and I want to keep getting more surprises.”
Cleo coughed awkwardly feeling his eyes on her intimately, “And that means?” Tyrone shrugged, “You’re how old?” Cleo looked down, “Eighteen in two weeks.” Tyrone looked at her fighting the burning in his chest, “Good. Well then consider this house under new management.”
Peyton couldn’t believe it.
Tyrone had come down the stairs with Cleo following behind him looking shellshocked. At first, Peyton was for a second concerned. The last thing she wanted was for him to take advantage of her stepdaughter. It could lead to Cleo doing something dramatic.
Which she’d be blamed for.
But then Peyton saw how Tyrone was holding Cleo’s hand. How he addressed her with a kindness that made her skin prickle uncomfortably. Feeling lost and scared on what she could have told him, Peyton asked hurriedly, “So my debt is cleared-.”
Tyrone looked at Peyton annoyed, “No.” He barked harshly making her wince, “Don’t worry Peyton Gear,” he scoffed as he seemed to dismiss her, “Trust me you are far from clear. But not to worry, I’ll be in touch with you to know how YOU can pay me back.”
Peyton would have been excited if that had been a s****l innuendo. But no, Tyrone didn’t look at her or Hailey like that. Instead, he was only looking at Cleo as he slowly grabbed her hand and kissed the palm of it, “I’ll see you tomorrow beautiful.”
Cleo didn’t have a word to say back. Instead, she just nodded mute and rushed up the stairs after a soft goodbye. When she streaked up the stairs, Hailey came to stand beside her mother, “What’s happening? Do we have to leave?”
Tyrone looked the girl over as she looked him over, “What-?” Stalking to her and her mother, Tyrone hissed, “It seems you two like to live in luxury and have it all. All while she suffers and has nothing? That changes, starting now.”