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Twice Marked by Lily Wilder

Twice Marked





After Mum took over Dad's struggling business, our finances took a hit. To save on expenses when I started university, she arranged for me to stay at a relative's place.

Supposedly, it was my second cousin's flat, but I didn't remember having such a relative.

The flat was a modest unit in Sydney's Inner West, a mix of old charm and modern hustle.

My cousin, Aiden Fox, was two years older than me. He had that classic Aussie surfer look, complete with sun-bleached hair and an easy smile that could disarm anyone.

"Hey there, cuz," he greeted, lifting my suitcase effortlessly. "I'm Aiden. Good to finally meet you."

"I'm Evelyn," I replied.

Aiden and I attended the same university. I was a Literature major, while he was in Environmental Science. His reputation preceded him—known for his charm and athleticism, Aiden was the university's golden boy. My friends from back home couldn't stop gushing about how lucky I was to live with him.

But luck wasn't the word I’d use. On my very first night, I saw him bring a woman back to the flat. I watched from the shadows as he led her into his room, the door clicking shut behind them.

This was going to be complicated.

I hesitated before opening the door to the kitchen, still unnerved by what I'd seen last night. As soon as I entered, I saw Aiden leaning casually against the opposite doorframe, his lips brushing against the ear of the woman with him. She had long, flowing blonde hair that cascaded down her back.

Aiden's eyes flicked up and locked onto mine, a smirk playing on his lips.

My hand trembled as I shut the door behind me, the image seared into my mind.

Everyone at the university thought Aiden was the perfect guy—top of his class, captain of the surf team, and apparently, every girl's dream boyfriend. But what I saw last night painted a very different picture.

The next morning, Aiden cornered me in the kitchen.

"Morning, Evelyn," he greeted, his voice smooth and casual. He wore a loose shirt and shorts, clearly indifferent to the mess of last night's escapade. "We need to talk."

"I won't say anything," I assured him, trying to sound calm.

He chuckled. "That’s not what I’m worried about." Aiden reached into his pocket and pulled out a credit card. "I was actually hoping you could help me out. Cook some meals for us? I'm sick of takeout. In return, I'll give you lifts to uni every day. It's not safe for a girl to be out alone."

I blinked, caught off guard. "Um, sure, I guess," I stammered.

"Great. "And don't skimp on the meat. I’m still growing."

He must have seen my modest stash of instant noodles and canned beans. The flat was a bit of a trek from campus, and I'd been getting up at dawn to save on travel costs.

With a wave, Aiden retreated to his room, leaving the credit card on the table. The door clicked shut behind him, leaving me in a whirlwind of confusion and curiosity.

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