The Marks That Bind Us - Book cover

The Marks That Bind Us

Vivienne Wren

Age Rating


After Ava Mayweather is rescued by a strikingly handsome, but arrogant stranger, he offers her the job of her dreams at his billion-dollar company. Cyrus Brentstone is cold, cynical and aggressive — everything Ava is trying to avoid in men. So why does she keep getting drawn to him? And why does he seem to do everything within his power to keep her from dating other men?

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58 Chapters

1: Chapter 1


“Can he really do that? It’s Christmas for crying out loud! And we haven’t seen each other in ages!”

I readjusted my grip on the large cardboard box of Christmas ornaments I was carrying.

“I’m sure there’s got to be some kind of rule against denying PTO around holidays. You stuck to the minimum notice, right?”

It was getting late; streetlights were illuminating the street around me, and most shops were closing. The street was completely empty, besides me and the occasional passing car.

It had been dark outside for hours, and people knew better than to go out in the freezing November air.

My breath formed fleeting little clouds in front of me. My fingers were turning white and stiffening up, since I wasn’t wearing any gloves.

“Listen, we’ll talk about this later.”

I put down the box of ornaments, grabbed my phone from where it was wedged between my ear and shoulder, hung it up, and rolled my neck to relieve my cramped muscles.

I took a deep breath through my nose, bent down, and picked up the box again. I hadn’t even taken five steps before I heard the faint noise of wet cardboard ripping.

The box caved in, and dozens of ornaments fell through its now open bottom, scattering far and wide around me.

“Are you kidding me?!” I yelled into the sky.

As if to mock me, it started snowing. I took another deep breath and looked around me to assess the damage.

Luckily, the ornaments were all plastic, so none of them were broken, but they’d spread across the sidewalk and spilled far into the road. There had to be at least a hundred and fifty of them.

I held up what was left of the box. There was no way to save it. I’d have to figure out a different way to carry them all.

I decided to take off my coat—luckily, I’d been wearing a longer one—to turn into a makeshift knapsack and try to salvage as many of them as I could.

I was just laying it out when I heard a car pull up. It came to a stop right beside me, since my ornaments were blocking its way.

I put my hands up apologetically as I ran out to kick the ornaments out of their way. I heard the car door open and shut behind me.

A kind-looking man had gotten out, wearing an actual chauffeur’s uniform, even the hat and gloves. I regarded him for a second before noticing he’d started picking up my ornaments.

“So sorry. I’m such a klutz. If you could just drop them on my coat over there, that’d be great. I’ll clear the road for you.” I was still frantically kicking the ornaments toward the curb.

“Put them in the trunk,” I heard a low, almost raspy voice call out.

I looked up to see that one of the back windows had opened a little. I couldn’t make out the person through the tinted glass.

“On the coat is fine,” I said.

“In the trunk, please, Miles,” I heard the voice say again as the window rolled further down.

Slowly, the figure came into view, and my breath caught in my throat as his features were revealed.

The man was breathtaking. He looked a bit older than me, maybe in his mid-thirties. He had light brown slightly tousled hair and angular features.

His ice-blue eyes and low-set dark brows made him look almost angry. His eyes caught mine, and I felt my heart flutter.

“What’s your name,” he said. It sounded more like a statement than a question.

“A-Ava,” I stammered.

“Get in the car.”

My brows knit together in confusion. Had this stranger really just commanded me to get into his car?

“That’s okay, I’m good.” I resumed picking up my ornaments.

“It wasn’t a question. Get in the car, Ava.”

I stared at him. “Yeah, I’m not going to do that.” I took a little step back so that I was out of reach, just in case this weirdo got any ideas.

“What’s your plan? You thought you could carry all these ornaments in, what, your coat? Plus, aren’t you freezing?”

The words had barely left his mouth, but I was suddenly hyperaware of the cold that had settled into me.

Having taken off my coat, I was now dressed in just a satin button-down shirt dress over a pair of sheer black tights and a light knit cardigan. My boots were soaked by the snow that was now rapidly falling.

“I’m fine.”

“Just get in the car before you succumb to hypothermia and the next vehicle you get into is an ambulance.”

I looked at my coat spread out on the street, covered in snow and ornaments.

“You don’t actually think I’m going to get into a complete stranger’s car, do you? I’ll take hypothermia over a potential serial killer any day, thanks.”

The man shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He rolled his window back up.

I stood there for a second, contemplating my options. I looked over at my coat again defeatedly.

“I really think it’s best if we give you a ride, miss.” The driver dumped two arms full of snowy ornaments into the trunk of the car.

He looked nice enough, and the fact that this man even had a driver had to mean something good, right? Serial killers didn’t usually get chauffeured around in town cars.

I walked over to my coat and folded it into that knapsack I was planning on using. The barely twenty ornaments that were inside already almost came spilling out, so all hundred and fifty of them would never have fit anyway.

I cradled the snowy bundle in my arms and dumped them into the trunk, then reluctantly walked over to the back door on the passenger’s side.

The driver, Miles, rushed over to open the door for me before I had the chance to do it myself. “Good choice,” he said and winked, making me somehow feel assured and suspicious at the same time.

I tried getting into the car gracefully, but my legs had gotten so stiff from standing around in the cold that I must’ve looked like a mannequin entering the vehicle.

Before the driver had the chance to close the door behind me, I shot out my hand, catching it.

“There’s no child lock on these doors, is there?”

The driver let out a hearty laugh. “No, you’re free to exit the vehicle whenever you please.” Then he closed the door, confining me in the back seat with the smug stranger.

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