Book cover of “Beneath Your Touch“ by Helen Smith

Beneath Your Touch

  • Genre: Romance
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Language: English
  • Author: Helen Smith
Blake Sinclair is forced back into a world of spotlight when her brother meets his untimely death. She soon learns that being the CEO of one of the leading companies in the world comes with more than just a title. Her existence becomes a game of life and death. Liam Foster is hired to keep her safe, but the two soon find themselves tangled in a web... 

Chapter 1. Home

The car made a swift turn and began driving toward my family’s estate. David Kushner’s Daylight hummed softly from my air pods.

The song suited my mood as what was supposed to be my home came into view.

Home… I couldn’t bring myself to call it that. Too many memories that I didn’t want to awaken, but as the house became visible, it was hard not to.

I would give anything not to be here, but life had other plans for me. The last time I was here, it was during my mother’s burial.

And now I was here to bury another.

The airport’s cab came to a stop in front of the mansion. I took a deep breath before stepping out into the world I had run from.

Within seconds, the driver brought out my luggage, which was just a small suitcase.

“Here you go, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

Not that I was expecting any welcome party, but my heart still tugged at the reminder that even though I had grown up in this very place, I still had no one.

Suddenly, the doors opened, and a woman with dark hair packed in a bun came running toward me. A smile made its way to my face as her warmth enclosed me.

She pushed me back and accessed me, touching my hair and face. “Oh my dear, I have missed you. Look at you, all grown and even more beautiful.”

“I’ve missed you too, Petula.”

Her face relaxed, yet her eyes bore my grief, too. “I’m glad you are back despite the circumstances.”

I swallowed; the grief in her voice was unmistakable. Petula has been our housekeeper for as long as I can remember. None of us even saw her as a staff, she was family. And she had helped raise me and Dan.

Petula’s eyes met my luggage, and immediately, she snapped her neck back to the door. “My goodness! You expect the young mistress to carry her luggage. What sort of incompetent fools are you?”

Classic Petula.

I shot a look of pity at the poor maids as they struggled to find their sense of bearing amid Petula’s harsh tongue. One of them grabbed my luggage, while the other was confused about what to do.

They had to be new and probably already regretted their stay here.

Petula nogged me gently. “Come, I had your old room prepared for you. Welcome home, Blake.”

Again, I cringed at the mention of home.

True to her words, my old room had been cleaned perfectly. It looked just as it had years ago. Clothes, shoes, and makeup kits were all intact. Reminders of a sixteen-year-old girl who had grown into a woman.

I crashed as soon as I hit the bed. My body was beyond exhausted. Traveling from one continent to another was as stressful as it sounded.

Distant memories clouded my mind as the world went dark.

I must have slept for hours because when I awoke, the sunny sky had been replaced by twinkling stars. I picked up my still-intact suitcase and pulled out a change of clothes. I couldn’t bring myself to unpack.

After all, I would be leaving after tomorrow’s burial. I felt another sense of loneliness engulf me.

I just wanted to get everything over with and return to my normal life.

After a round of a nice bath, I surrendered to my grumbling stomach and made my way out of the room. Despite the number of years I had been gone, I still remembered every inch of the house.

The smell of good dishes greeted me as I neared the dining hall. My stomach grumbled louder as I found myself almost running towards food.

However, everything came to a stop, including my legs, as I saw him seated at the head of the table.

Robert Sinclair.

Ten years was indeed a long time as father had aged since the last time we spoke.

Occasionally, I had seen his pictures in the papers. Even continents apart, my family’s name was still known. He looked older than the last time I stumbled on his picture and name in a newspaper headline.

But grief could do that to you. The man might be the worst excuse of a human, but he had lost his son, not just any child. His golden child and the heir to the Sinclair empire.

He and my brother had the perfect father-and-son relationship. While I had none with my father and barely any with my now-dead brother.

Petula’s cherry voice interrupted my thoughts. “There you are, Blake. I just sent someone to wake you up. Poor child, you were exhausted, and you slept off without breakfast. Come here, I had the cook prepare varieties for you so you may choose what you wish.”

I completed my steps to the table and pulled out a seat as far away from my father as I could. Despite Petula’s attempt to lighten the mood, the tension in the air was so thick. One thing my father and I had in common was stubbornness.

That stubbornness was playing at the moment as neither of us refused to acknowledge the other first.

Grief must have softened my father as I heard his grunted acknowledgment.

“Blake.”

“Father.”

Petula feigned a cough. “Here. Put more food on your plate. I want you to eat to your fullest.”

“Thank you, Petula.”

The only sound after that was that of forks making contact with fine wares.

“So tell me all about your life over there. What’s it like? Is it very different from here? What do you do?”

I eyed Petula as she rambled. She knew the answers to all those questions as she frequently kept in contact with me throughout the years.

Her eyes pleaded that I reply.

Letting out a silent sigh, I began speaking.

“It’s beautiful and feels different from the world I know here.”

Petula’s eyes widened at my last remark. She sent daggers of glare to me.

Apart from aging, her attitude remained the same from my childhood. Memories of Petula sending her famous glare at me and Dan whenever we misbehaved at our family’s frequent social gatherings flashed through my mind.

After these years, I already knew what she would tell me if she could magically speak in my head.

“Not tonight, Blake, not tonight.”

And so I heeded the unsaid words.

“I’ve got a great job as an accountant.”

My father snorted, “In a low-life company.”

I ignored him. “It’s not, but I love my job, and I certainly love my life and the town I live in.”

The tension was getting thicker and ready to snap at any moment.

Dear Lord, help me. Just a day, I reminded myself. Just a day, and it would be over.

Petula made another attempt, “Any love interest?”

Before I could utter a word, I heard my father’s snap remark.

“How can there be with an attitude like hers.”

I snapped. “Even with an attitude like yours, you got married and had kids.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me that way in my house?”

I heard Petula gasp at my father’s raised voice.

“A house that also belonged to my mother. But don’t worry, I will be leaving as soon as I pay my last respects to my brother. Then you would not have to bother about seeing my face again in your lifetime or grave.”

I jerked out of my seat and tossed the napkin on the table. Ignoring the horrified face of Petula, who looked like she was about to break down in tears, I began stomping off.

“Then you might as well leave now because there is no funeral tomorrow.”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I could hear Petula caution my father. “Mr. Robert.”

I spun around.

“What?”

“Dan was buried two days ago.”

Silence.

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