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Tattered Tiara (The Bancrofts Book 2)

Tattered Tiara (The Bancrofts Book 2)

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Beware There Is A Rapist On Campus! A series of rapes were happening on the Mount Faith University Campus. Natasha Rowe and her new partner, Tony Beaker, were working overtime to find out who the perpetrator of the crime could be. Their case was not helped when reigning beauty queen, Deidra Durkheim, the senator's daughter, reported that she, too, was raped by her reluctant fiancé, Micah Bancroft.
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Chapter One

The rain could be hypnotic, Micah thought as he stared through his room window at the patterns it made on the glass. He was supposed to go to a family reunion in two hours, where his father would announce, the not-so-secret secret, that Taj Jackson was his son.
All the family was going to be there. He hated family gatherings, but a trickle of happiness reminded him that he was no longer the eldest son and standard-bearer for his father.
He stretched. He could always remind his father that Taj was his eldest son whenever he spouted his nonsense about him not striving for higher education.
Micah laughed softly. He liked Taj and was happy that he was already accomplished in academia. He had been his father's sole challenger for the presidency. That should quiet the old man for a bit.
Thank God for Taj! Micah thought feelingly because the whole school system and pursuing of degrees was like a prison to him. For the first time since grade school days, when he brought home a 'D' in Mathematics, he was feeling a sense of ease.
He was the black sheep of the family; the one who didn't want to conform to what his father termed decency.
He was the one who wore dreadlocks; the one who preferred strumming on his guitar and singing than reading boring textbooks.
He was the one who had unacceptable friends who rode fast bikes and did wheelies in the streets. He was the one who couldn't sit still in church; who thought formal clothes were chafing. He was the one who laughed at his father when he started to pontificate in his pompous voice. He was the one—that Bancroft kid—who would amount to nothing, and he was fine with that.
A long time ago, when his parent's bellowing and cajoling had mattered, he had gotten a business degree—just for them, but he found no joy in it. His heart was with the land. He wanted to farm and to play music on his little guitar.
The rain slowed in its intensity, and the droplets on his window got sparser. He could hear the weeping willows that led up to his driveway, mournfully pick up their song, and then he heard a knocking.
Nobody visited him up here in the old house on the outskirts of Malvern, especially since the community thought it was haunted. Not even his mother, and she was the only family member that seemed to still care about his welfare.
He felt so secure in his reclusive nest that he didn't even have a peephole in the heavy oak door at the front of the three-bedroom house. It was a little drive to the top of the hill where the house was perched, and usually, he could easily see and hear whatever was making its way toward the house, long before it reached the house.
He dragged on an undershirt and cracked the front windows to see who was at the door.
He saw her car first, a late model red Mazda with her name on the license plate. It was Deidra, his forced fiancée.
How did she find out where he lived? He had not wanted her to find out.
He glanced at her as she stood there in a yellow raincoat; her long curly hair was dripping wet, and she looked as if she was shivering. She knocked on the door again, and he wondered if he should let her in. He didn't want to be in close confines with Deidra. She was a man-eater.
She had gotten it into her head that she wanted him and had forced her father, the wealthy senator and benefactor to Mount Faith University to help her make a wedding happen. Her father, Edward Durkheim, had contacted his father and the two had come to a medieval conclusion that Micah Bancroft would be a suitable partner for Deidra.
He glanced at her again. She had entered a beauty contest a few months ago and won. She deserved it, he thought grudgingly. Even though her father had sponsored the event, there was no denying that Deidra was, hands down, the prettiest woman on these hills with her dark brown chocolate eyes, her snub nose, her generous red lips, and her lean shapely curves which she endeavored to show to all and sundry in tight, short outfits. He wondered what was under her yellow raincoat and then stopped himself. At only nineteen, Deidra was a petulant teenager who needed to grow up. Why she was fixated on him, he didn't know.
He closed his hand over the doorknob. A war was raging in his head. Don't let her in your house. Don't let that sexy teenager who was running on hormones and who threw herself at you at every turn anywhere in your home.
He pictured her generous breasts, which were usually outlined in her too tight blouses; her perky firm butt, which was perfectly shaped in her short-shorts; her tiny waist, which he could span with both hands, and her creamy caramel legs, which went on forever.
He didn't want to lust after Deidra or like her, but she made it hard on a man. His hands slowly curved around the door handle and he smoothly released the latch.
He swung the door open and Deidra, who was turning to go, turned her big brown eyes on him.
"I want you," she said simply. No hello. No preamble. She knew what she wanted. She walked toward him; her red lips were trembling slightly.
Micah stiffened at the doorway. His control was slipping. She unbuttoned her raincoat and slowly floated toward him—naked. Her firm body had no blemish or mark. He drunk her in and then swallowed convulsively.
"Deidra," he said softly. "Don't."
Deidra's eyes filled with tears. "But why not? We are supposed to get married soon. I love you."
Micah stood like a sentry at his door. There was no way he could let her into his house. It would result in nothing but the carnal. His heart was saying do it. She is right. You can even marry her to appease your conscience. His head was shouting, no! This is all wrong.
"We are not getting married," Micah said firmly, "and I don't want you."
The lie hung in the air. She jerked back as if she was slapped. She grabbed the raincoat and slipped it back on.
"You are mean and cold-hearted, and a prude, and gay! And you will pay!" She almost slid on the gravel in her fast retreat. She grabbed the car door and swung it open.
"If it's the last thing I do, I'll make you pay!"
Micah stood at his front door, frozen. He had done the right thing in sending her away.
Deidra jumped into her car, a horrendous rage gripping her as she drove down the unpaved driveway of Micah Bancroft's house. She glanced in the rearview mirror and gasped. Her mascara was running; her mind forgot Micah for a minute and his refusal of her, and she hoped against hope that no one would see her so ragged and unkempt, with mascara running down her cheeks.
When she finally reached the main road she contemplated going home, which was three miles away, or going over to Mount Faith University, which was almost ten miles away—she did have a class now.
Just then, she remembered that, except for the raincoat she had on, she was naked. She decided to go home. Her father had bought her a house in Mount Faith because she had insisted that she did not want to live on dorm like a commoner. She was, after all, a queen, a beauty queen. He had readily agreed, as he did with anything she suggested.
She had just four more weeks with the title of Miss St. Elizabeth and then she would enter the Miss Jamaica competition. It was going to be a breeze for her. She had no doubt she would win. She was beautiful, and her father was a well-respected senator, and the organizers were cognizant of that.
Why on earth couldn't Micah Bancroft appreciate that she was beautiful?
She didn't even know why she liked him. After all, he was not the sort of guy she usually went for. She liked her men rugged, thickly muscled, and extremely handsome. Not too handsome though, she didn't want too much competition in the looks department.
But her traitorous heart had seen Micah Bancroft, with his leanly muscled almost gangly self, sitting nonchalantly at the front of the student business center her second day at the school two years ago, and just like that, her skin had caught fire.
She hadn't even known that his father was 'the Ryan Bancroft,' vice president of the school at the time, or that he was the first son. He had been in a rugged jeans with a tam perched precariously on his dreadlocks, and the graphic on his black t-shirt read 'take me or leave me, I don't care.'
He hadn't even looked at her when she had walked up to him, slowly and sinuously stretching her 5 ft 11-inch frame for best advantage. He had asked her if "something was wrong with her back."
She had sullenly said "no." He had shrugged and said, "Okay because I know a good chiropractor."
Subtle clues didn't work with Micah and blatant in your face offerings of her body did not work either.
She sighed; overwhelmed with the thought that Micah didn't like her, and the feeling that she had a defect.
There were two cars parked in her driveway when she drove up. Her stepbrother and his darn friends again, Deidra thought churlishly. She barely tolerated James, and she hated his friends. They were immature and insane. They watched copious amounts of cartoons and giggled like little pre-schoolers at the antics of the animated things on the screen.
She had only agreed to her stepsister, Charlene, staying there, since she was finishing up the thesis for her master’s degree in agriculture, but her father had begged her to allow James to live there as well. He was the son of his third wife, with whom he was still on good terms.
Her father was on good terms with all his ex-wives. He somehow managed to convince them that breaking up with him was their fault and all five of them seemed to have believed it. Deidra had seen so many women come and go from Senator Edward Durkheim's life that she had taken to warning them on her first meeting with them. That usually resulted in her having a standoff with them and their offspring when they married her father. All of his exes lasted about two years. Her own mother, Tabitha, lasted the longest, a grand total of six years. She was never a wife because she preferred to be a mistress. She survived three wives and Edward's brief battle with impotence. She was now living in the Bahamas with her latest gentleman, a doctor. She had found motherhood tedious and had sent Deidra to live with her father when she was four, but Tabitha and Deidra were relatively close, in a girlfriend sort of way.
Deidra got out of the car thinking that she would call her tonight. She needed to vent about what happened today. Her mother would understand and would advise accordingly. She usually gave her good man related advice.
She heard music blaring as she approached the front door. The rain was drizzling, and she felt damp and uncomfortable. Usually, she would head for the shower, but she yanked the front door open and stood in the foyer—her anger coming back in a torrent.
This time it was directed at James. She couldn't live with him, not one moment longer. Her raincoat clung to her, hampering her rapid fury filled advance toward the den.
"James Hill!" she squealed at the top of her voice.
He was playing a video game with his friend Rory, and the stereo was turned up so high that the glass door leading to the patio was vibrating.
"James Hill!" she screamed again. Realizing that shouting was futile, she headed for the stereo and pushed the power button.
The music from the video game was suddenly the only thing in the house that could be heard after the cessation of music.
James looked up, frowning, and saw that it was Deidra. He shrugged insolently. "What?"
"Get out!" she screamed. Deidra didn't care that there was no space in the male dorm at this time of the year. Neither did she care that James' mother, Marcie, had personally asked her father to let him stay at the house. She had had it. He could live on the streets for all she cared. He already looked like a hoodlum with his slouching pants, oversized t-shirt, and scruffy beard.
"Get out of the house!" She stomped her foot, wincing at the after-effects of the stomp. "Get out of my life. You nasty, ugly slob!"
James looked at her askance. "All I did was play some music."
He and his friend Rory looked at each other and then at her as if they expected her to fly off the handle and explode.
"I don't want you here!" Deidra said bitterly. "I don't care that it's a four-bedroom house. I was fine living here alone until my father's ex-wives started begging him favors! Now go and pack!"
James stood up uncertainly. He had no idea what to do. Deidra threatened to kick him out of the house every other day, but the determined look in her eyes and the great sway that she had over her father was enough to unsettle him. Everyone knew that Deidra was the most important thing to her otherwise self-obsessed father. What Deidra said usually goes. James wondered if she was serious this time about kicking him out.
He wished that Charlene were around. Charlene usually knew how to handle Deidra when she erupted in one of her rages. He thought fast on his feet.
"I am so sorry Dee." He left the whine out of his voice. She usually got louder and angrier when he whined. "You said you were going to see your fiancé and I thought you wouldn't come back till much, much later."
"I hate men!" Deidra said, pacing up and down. "I hate all men!"
James looked at Rory in relief. He had found the real reason for the bad mood.
"But I thought you loved Micah," James said softly. "You said that there was nobody else in the world for you."
"Maybe I told you that because you were trying to sneak into my room to look at me, you little creep!" Deidra said looking back at him fiercely.
He bit his lip.
Rory was trying to stay as still as a statue, but James knew he wanted to laugh. He was the one who had egged James into spying on Deidra one evening when they were bored and saw that Deidra was heading to her room—it wouldn't have occurred to him otherwise. Deidra scared him a little, even though they were almost the same age.
He swung the conversation back to Micah Bancroft.
"You see, even I can't resist you, even though we were related for a little while, ten years ago. Something must be wrong with Micah."
"Something is wrong with him, yes!" Deidra said snorting. "Imagine, I offered him all of this," she said gesturing to her body, "and the idiot said no."
James shook his head. "He's gay."
"He's straight!" Deidra said snapping. "He just doesn't want me."
She flung herself into the settee and hung onto the edge, limp as if all the fight had gone out of her. "I hate him, yet I love him. If only I could make him pay for rejecting me…let him take notice of me, the dratted man."
"Well," James said helpfully. "You could make him pay if you want to."
"How?" Deidra snapped. "Go up to his haunted house and force myself on him. Do I look like I need to be that desperate?"
"No. Definitely not!" James exclaimed. "You could claim that he raped you and force his hand."
Deidra's head snapped up. "You sick son of a...never mind... I like Aunty Marcie, I won't call her names, but you..."
"Think about it," James said quickly. He sensed that his eviction from the house was imminent. "Go to his father and tell him that his son raped you. The first thing that the father will think of is damage control. After that, tell him that you will forget the whole thing if Micah marries you. I tell you, the man of your dreams will marry you so fast, you won't know what hit you."
"Are you trying to imply," Deidra growled, "that marrying me would be punishment for Micah? I want the man to love me, not hate my guts."
"Living with you day after day will break him down. He won't be able to resist you," James said slyly. He kicked Rory who was stifling his snickers behind his hand.
Deidra sat up straighter on the settee with a look of contemplation in her eye. "He wouldn't be able to, would he?"
A hint of vulnerability crossed her features.
She got up from the settee and gave James a warning look.
"If you and your little friend," she glanced at Rory witheringly, "ever say a word to anyone about this…you are out of here. You hear me?"
"Yes Sis," James said meekly.
"Don't you dare call me Sis!" Deidra snarled before she flounced off to her room.