Ashley Palmer stepped out of the shower in a robe and walked into her sprawling master suite. It was perched on the fifty-first floor of Malory Towers, the tallest building in Norwich city. The room had designer club chairs and sofas upholstered in cocktail tables; a stylish credenza and tripod floor lamp stood beside an anthracite side table.
A side of the room faced east and was made entirely of Saint-Gobain glass. Custom-made rugs covered the floor space. The extravagance did not bring Ashley any delight. Nor did being the wife of Jake Grayson, Chairman, and CEO of Grayson Entertainment, the largest television production company in the state.
An expansive mirror covered the wall near the changing room. Ashley examined herself in the mirror. A natural strawberry blonde, her hair used to be the cause of envy. She went for a jog every morning and worked out in the gym in the evening, without fail. Saturdays were spent doing Bikram Yoga, while she reserved Sundays for Mixed Martial Arts, both under the supervision of personal instructors from the most reputed schools.
Her body was taut, sinewy, and slender with a firm bust. But her face. She hated her face. It was hideous.
Ashley used to be beautiful. Something very tragic happened to her three years back. A group of masked men attacked her on the day of her engagement. People found her unconscious on the pavement the next day, the skin of her face peeled, and her body bruised and bleeding. She recovered, but her face did not.
Multiple plastic surgeries had only made matters worse. The scars were everywhere- her forehead, her cheeks, her chin, her lips, her nose; even her earlobes were affected.
”Ashley? That ghoul! Shell scare away children! ”
”God knows how the ugly whore seduced Jake. ”
Her marriage to Jake was a sham. It was a front for the corporate merger of Grayson Communications and Palmer Industries Inc.- Ashleys father, Arthur Palmers company. They were the hottest couple in town before the tragic incident. After her disfigurement, people assumed Jake would dump her. However, the marriage was followed through because of the merger.
After seeing her repulsive face in social gatherings, their acquaintances thought Ashley had married Jake through deceit or trickery. Nobody shied away from assassinating her character. But Ashley had become immune to such derisive opinions.
The brutal attack on her was not the end of it. Her troubles had just begun. On the day of their engagement, Tessa Grayson, Jakes eighteen-year-old sister, was found dead with her throat slit. The shocking fact was that police forensics found Tessas blood on Ashleys clothes. The evidence also indicated that she was murdered the previous day in the afternoon.
Witnesses reported that Tessa was supposed to meet Ashley for lunch at that time. The police grilled the latter for hours, but Ashley had no information to give. She was confused by the events and had no memory of how they came about. The last thing she remembered was being abducted by a few masked men who drugged her and threw her
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