Vanquished (The Encounter #3)

Written By: Pamela Ann

Vanquished (The Encounter #3) by Pamela Ann



“Love” is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy”





- Robert A. Heinlein





Prologue


Isobel





It might seem silly if you think of it, but there’s nothing to laugh about if you end up dead, Isobel. Julien’s heavily accented voice resonated in my mind, a stark reminder of what I intended to embark upon.

Life threw me into a tailspin of profound love, loss, and immense hate, a darkness that embraced you until it choked the breath out of you. Then it showed me that it’s possible to find hope amidst the chaos.

I had realized that, for me to acquire true happiness—one that people sung praises about, one that gnawed at your soul and imbedded the kind of tranquility one could only attain with unconditional love—I must fight for it. I must endure the obstacles that came to test my endurance, my faith.

And I would do just that.

I knew Hugo desperately needed me to simply move on and pay heed to Julien’s warning, but I had come this far after irrevocably falling in love with all of my heart, and it was now asking me to give it all up without looking back, as if it never happened. Well, that was just unfathomable to me.

If I based my decision on Julien’s warning and Hugo’s swift rejection of me, I would never get to the truth. And since I had already come this far, there was no way I could turn back and live a life without Hugo in it.

It was all in or nothing, and I had to live and let live.





Chapter One


Isobel





It had been four, long days since that last night in Paris when I had last seen Hugo in the flesh, four days since I had made the vow not to give up on him. It was imperative I gathered my bearings before appearing before him and fighting for what was ours. That perspective might be deemed drastic, irrational even, but I simply couldn’t walk away from him. It was just too impossible to comprehend, even if my life could very well be at stake here. Nevertheless, my mind would forever remain unchanged, and time could only tell where my fate lay, dead or alive.

Earlier today, I had taken a leave of absence from my part-time job as a concierge at one of London’s prestigious establishments. I didn’t divulge much information, apart from it dealing with family and personal matters. My request coincided with my father’s previous call to the hotel, demanding to speak to me, but I had since told him off, that my work wasn’t a place for him to harass me, before hanging up on him, so the management team had somewhat of an idea of what my father truly was—an inebriated, soulless monster.

I had apologized profusely, but after my father’s tenth phone call, it seemed irrelevant to even try to explain Constantin Callas’s erratic behavior. Before I had heatedly cut the line off, he was complaining about my mother and how he wasn’t able to see her because of my aunt’s interference. Translation: he couldn’t get his hands on her to abuse her further because there was an audience in the background, making sure he wasn’t doing terrifying things to my mother like he normally would when incensed. He was on his last leg of hope, and it seemed he didn’t have any resources left to funnel his addiction.

Thinking about him and his wretched selfishness made me weary, praying for some enlightenment or some change coming from him that wouldn’t be a waste of time. Ultimately, however, I came to the conclusion that some monsters loved the way they were and had no desire to change. My father was one of them.

Exhausted from dwelling upon my father’s shortcomings and monstrosities, I was in my bedroom with my laptop on the bed, browsing through plane tickets, when I heard a steady knock on the door.

“Yeah?” I called out, wondering what Claire needed this time. She usually liked to borrow my things, but it had been more often than not lately, ever since she began seeing Noah, the man whom I worked with.

“It’s Damen, actually. May I come in?”

Upon hearing Damen’s familiar voice, I paused, holding my breath, glancing towards the door. Then I decided to shut my laptop and place it on top of my rustic side table.

“Yes, of course. Come in,” I hollered back just as I was composing myself for his impromptu visit.

He and I had been rather distant as of late. It was understandable since I had urged him to move on and told him seeing me would only make it much more difficult for him to see other women.

Damen entered my cozy sanctuary, dressed in his casual attire of jeans and a plain white shirt. “Iso …” he timidly greeted with half smile. “Am I interrupting you?”

For Damen to unexpectedly show up at my flat, it meant something was up. If he was intending for us to reconcile, well, he should know better.

“Not at all, Damen. It’s always good to see you; you already know that. But is there something I can help you with?” I matched his smile before protectively placing a pillow on my chest and hugging it tightly. “Is everything good with you?”

He seemed conflicted. “Me? Oh, yeah, all is well. As expected.” Instead of taking a spot on the bed, he remained standing at the foot of the bed as he inserted his hands in his pockets, fidgeting. “Well … I don’t know how to put this properly into words, but I almost ran into your father down the street on the way to my flat, and he seemed as if he’s been around the bend once again. He’s not hurting you again, is he, Iso? Because, if he dares to touch you again, I won’t be held responsible for what comes after.”