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Chapter 1 Stray Cat

"Good morning, young Mistress Amelia. Your breakfast is ready" I just slightly grasp the butler, Manuel's, greeting as I descend the massive stairway.

My thoughts are too preoccupied to notice him in his usual spot. The old man has been with me since I was brought to the enormous estate after my father's death. 

"Thank you, Manuel" I fondly smile before I walk to the massive dining area. 

As always, I took time to stare at the abundance in front of me. A feast fit for a queen. A queen. But I am far from being a queen. 

And most students in the University, where all heirs of affluent families are studying, have made sure to always remind me that no matter how lavish is my life, I am still a stray cat. 

Yes, I am a no-one. I have no clear lineage for their reference. I tell no one who I am but everyone could see my lavish life.

I am just a charity case for the famous and wealthiest family in the country. A subject of their compassion. Whilst my unclear origin, they treated me like one of them. I share their family's power despite people not realizing it. 

I've been living alone for almost six years and I should be used to it. Though I get well with the household staff, it's still a lot of difference to have a family. Which I do not have. 

Regardless of the abundance around me, I felt hollow. I have no one to share even the pettiest things I did in school or the victory I won. Only Manuel would send me off to school and welcomes me home at the end of the day. 

It's a routine. A routine that I'm starting to get tired of. But what choice do I have? None. 

As I eat, I could hear myself chewing my food. The entire mansion is too quiet, like always. Only the soft clinking of my silverware would occasionally break the silence. 

I'm used to eating alone and though it's lonely, I try to enjoy and appreciate all the efforts of Manuel and the rest of the staff to prepare my sumptuous meal. They are awesome. 

Though for me it's unnecessary, the mansion is situated in a massive but secluded private area where no commoner could enter. Its heavily guarded main gate is still a kilometer away. Making the entire estate fully hidden from the main road and curious eyes. 

Aside from the high-resolution CCTV cameras surrounding the entire estate, several security personnel were stationed at the main gate. While roving guards are everywhere to secure the vicinity of the mansion. 

I'm like a precious jewel afraid to be stolen from its owner. Indeed, a modern-day princess. I've been patient and it won't be long before I will be rewarded. In less than a year, I will be finished with my medical studies. My dream is starting to come true.

After my breakfast, I rushed to get my things upstairs and prepare to leave. I have an early class and surely my friends will be waiting for me. 

Stepping out in the garage, I look at the six limited edition, multi-million dollar vehicles to choose from. And I decided to use the newest one in my collection. The white Ferrari LaFerrari. 

A kilometer to the main gate is just a blink of an eye as I speed down the private road. And not long, I am among the pool of vehicles laboring the congested traffic of the city. 

Though I earned a lot of angry honking for my greedy spot on the road, I arrived at the university. I didn't stop until I reached my intended parking space. Yes, I have my own parking space. With my name.

Luxury cars are not an unusual scene in the university. Heirs of the most wealthy and affluent families in the country are a common view inside the campus but only me has the specific spot under my name. Though it raised a lot of brows, I'm too busy to care.  

They all could question my existence, and they will just be wasting their time. No matter what they do, they will discover nothing about me. And with their hopelessness,  those aristocrats and their heirs would oftentimes create uproar to drag me to the ground where they all wanted me to be.

The University is full of rumors about me like I am an illegitimate heir of some royalties abroad, hidden from the public eye. Some think I have a wealthy sugar daddy. Well, close but not close enough. 

It's been an issue among aristocratic students who have been looking down on me, which in the long run doesn't bother me anymore. 

"Oh, here's the queen pauper, Amelia Stepanov. How's your morning, your highness?" 

The instant I got out of the vehicle, Carla with her group who are chatting near my parking spot sneered while looking at me from head to toe. My avid fan early in the morning. I'm pissed seeing her heavily made-up face but I force a sweet smile for her. 

"I'm fine a while ago before I saw you. What brand of cake flour did you use in your face again, Carla?" I jeer back with the sweetest smile I could muster.

"Why you!" triggered and furious, she glares at me. If looks could kill, I will be lying on the ground, convulsing. Even her friends are all sharply staring at me. 

"You missed a spot around your neck. I could send you another sack of flour if you are short of it" I added with a wink. If they could spoil my early morning, so do I.

"Stray cat, bitch! One day your sugar daddy will dump you and I swear I will be the first person to kick you out of here. You are still a nobody! You have no right to be haughty around us, you are just a stray cat, loser" she angrily shrieks with all her might for other students to hear her, but I don't care. I'm used to it. 

Four years ago and the first time I learned of their disdain and experience their hostility is like a blazing dagger stabbed into my heart. It hurt like hell. But it's been long years have passed and my heart has hardened as a rock to mind all their insults. I learned to fight back and to get even. 

"Until then, I will graze this ground with my eminence. Bear with it" I smirk before turning away from the group. 

Aren't they tired of pestering me? I don't have time to indulge their qualms. 

I walk straight to the entrance of the building where I spotted Caleb and Cristy. My two closest friends. The two people who stood by my side all these years of being in the den of hyenas. 

Caleb Orlov, the son of the Secretary of Finance, and his mother's side of the family are very affluent with several chains of jewelry shops all over the country. 

Cristy Antonov is the daughter of the Health Ambassador while her father is one of the major stockholders of the university. Cape University is ranked number one among other universities in the country.

We have been a solid group since freshmen and no one dared to mess with us. Well of course, aside from me. 

Without a clear family connection, I've been occasionally subjected to bullying. But I am Amelia Stepanov, I will never give anyone the chance to bully me.

In fact, I earned the nickname 'stray cat'. Fiesty as a cat but still a stray. And just like my existence in high society where connections are significant... I am still out of place despite my obvious wealth. 

Amelia Stepanov lacks connection and influence like the others. I am still an outcast of society, a fake diamond despite its blinding brightness. 

Came lunchtime and we had our fill at the frequently visited cafe near the university. 

We are already about to finish our meal when the news caught my attention. 

"Billionaire heir Alek Vasili Wright who was rumored to become CEO of Petrov Petroleum arrives in the country. As we all remember, Wright Group of Companies has become a major investor of Petrov Petroleum. The two leading powerful families have been in collaboration for several decades now. Is the presence of the twenty-eight-year-old heir of another powerful magnate mean something to Petrov Petroleum?" the anchor spoke as the footage of the arrival was flashed on the screen. 

"Wright and Petrov's families are leading the business world since I can remember. But Petrov Petroleum is a very conservative company. Since its establishment, only a Petrov could strictly govern the entire management. If the rumors were right, does this mean, they are opening their doors to allies? Will they allow someone to manage the company who is not a Petrov? A lot of questions have been surfacing that only Petrov Petroleum could fulfill"

"We are hoping to have an answer. We will try to acquire an interview with CEO Timothy Petrov soon" 

"In addition, the handsome bachelor was seen with the celebrity socialite Miss Sophia Saunters as they came out of the private hangar of the Petrov family"

"Curious eyes of the public are now focused on the handsome heir who arrives with the very beautiful and sophisticated Miss Saunters. As we all know, Alek Vasili Wright grew up in front of the public's curious eyes. Son of the famous international model and fashion designer, Alexzia Montes-Wright, Alek Vasili was known for his exceptional criterion for women. Alexzia Montes-Wright has set an unattainable standard for her sons"

"Does his appearance with the famous model mean something? Will the famous heir be settling down soon? Will this mean heartbreak for those who dreamed of having the elusive heart of the very handsome bachelor? A Wright heir rumored to be Petrov Petroleum's next CEO is one of the young billionaires equal to his brothers and any Petrov. Every woman's dream. His arrival in the country has raised a lot of speculation and we are hoping to have answers soon. Stay tuned for more updates, good afternoon" 

The report has ended but the photos of the heir's entourage flashed on the screen, which I earnestly watch.

"He is perfection...like his mother" 

"Very handsome and rich..." 

"That model is very lucky" 

"They looked good together" 

"They will have perfect children..."

Several murmurs reached my ears but I'm too focused on the screen where the face of the handsome man and the beautiful woman beside him is plastered. Indeed the two looked good together.

"Wow, my one great love is back" I heard Cristy whisper. She too is glued to the screen. 

"That bitch is not that beautiful, she is just wearing very thick makeup. I don't like how she looked at the camera. As if telling everyone Mr. Alek Vasili is hers. I can't let her" she continues to softly rant while I continue to quietly watch.

"I may not be as beautiful as she is...but Lia is. She pales with Amelia's beauty" she snickers, which tears my attention away from the screen. 

Incredulous by her ideas, I glare at her.

"What?" she asks while glaring back at me.

"Lia is more beautiful than her. Tell me I'm wrong, Caleb" she challenged.

Not wanting to start an argument, I roll my eyes at her. She could sometimes be extra. But her triumphant smile got me curious, too late to notice the pair of earnest eyes staring at me. Caleb stared at me like he just saw me for the first time.

"What?" I irritatedly ask, glaring at him. 

"Nothing...you are indeed very beautiful" Caleb mumbles as if realizing it for the first time. 

"Fuck you" I sneer, aghast by how they are making fun of me.

"Yes, I agree, Lia is far more beautiful than that woman" Caleb added his agreement after a while.

"Fuck you two" incredulous of my two friends, I glare at them both. 

What made me more exasperated is when Caleb just shrugged and smirks in response 

"See even Caleb agreed...you are really beautiful Amelia. Wait till Mr. Alek Vasili sees you, he will definitely throw that bitch away" Cristy seriously added while staring straight into my eyes. Trying to convince me. 

I have nothing to counter whenever the two are teaming up against me. And seeing how adamant she looks, I doubt she will easily let go of her crazy ideas. 

"I will find a way to introduce Mr. Alek Vasili Wright to you. My father has met him and is an associate of the Petrov. If the rumors are right, he will be the next CEO of Petrov Petroleum. He has the power all men have been vying for. Considering how conservative the Petrovs are, Mr. Vasili Wright must be close to them to have acquired the position no man had been allowed but a Petrov heir" she earnestly continues. Her eyes are even narrowing with whatever crosses her thoughts.

"I won't allow such a great man to be with that bitchy woman, I don't like her Amelia. So you must seduce him if you have a chance. It would be an eyesore seeing her beside the most powerful man in the country once he indeed took the CEO seat" I was startled when she grabbed me by the shoulder. Her words were clenched and her face looks deadly serious. 

Recovering from my initial shock, I incredulously glare at her. 

"You are crazy, Cristy" with nothing to counter, I just shook my head in resignation. 

My gaze returned to the screen and continue to watch the flashing photos, exhibiting Vasili Wright's magnificence. He becomes more handsome as he ages. 

He looks more imposing and intimidating. Even his smile is calculated. 

By then, the usual question bugging me for years crept into my mind. 

Does he still remember?

****ūüėŹ****

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Abugu Tim
getting interesting with suspense
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