A Pound of Flesh (A Pound of Flesh #1)
Author:Sophie Jackson

A Pound of Flesh (A Pound of Flesh #1) by Sophie Jackson

 

 

 

For Mum. I am forever in your debt.

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

This book would never have existed without many people’s love, support, and encouragement.

 

Firstly, thank you to my family, especially my mum who, despite her eye-rolling at my ever-changing obsessions, became my own personal cheerleader during this whole process. From when it all went wrong and I thought this book was never going to happen to when it finally became right and I was neck deep in edits with the end seemingly so far away, she was always there calming me down, pulling me through, telling me that of course I could do it. You’re my hero and always will be. I love you.

 

Sally, Rhian, Babs, Irene, Nicki, Caro, Sash, and Lisa, the original PAW Princesses. Who would have thought it? Your continued support throughout this entire journey, from your patience with my tri-monthly (sometimes longer) chapter posts, our read-along Skype sessions, our Manchester meet-up to the announcement that PoF was going to be published, will forever be invaluable to me. You are all wonderful women and friends, and I am truly blessed to have you in my life.

 

To my amazing friends and my incredible online family: Steph, my workout queen, Kim, my lobster, Afiyah, my Minion twin, Lauren, my Stucky lover, Tara Sue Me, for your invaluable advice and support, J M Darhower for your inspiring words, Liv, Laura, Rose—I could go on and on. I am insanely lucky to say that there are too many of you to mention. Your unrivaled excitement made the hard parts of this so much more bearable and the good parts so damned enjoyable. To every reader, reviewer, blogger, manip maker, banner maker, to every voter of every fandom award, to every hugger, texter, caller, and tweeter, you are all of you awesome and my love for you is immeasurable. You are the reason this is happening. Thank you for accepting my crazy fixations and for having so much belief in this and in me. Thank you for putting up with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am proud and privileged to know each and every one of you. Lettuce spoon.

 

To my beautiful Pennsylvanian soul mate, Rachel. My original cherub. It seems like only yesterday that I sat down at your computer and wrote the prologue to PoF. Who knew, huh? We’ve come a long way, baby, and my love for you is still as strong as it was when you sent me that first online review. Your creative talents and your sunshine personality are so precious to me. You’re a truly wonderful friend, your family is beautiful, and I can’t wait to spend more laughter-filled summers with all of you.

 

To my superstar agent, Lorella Belli, the hardest working person in the literary world! What a journey it’s been. Never once did you let me get downhearted when things looked bleak, never once did you lose hope when I was ready to throw in the towel. You are the most inspiring of people. I am in awe of your faith and fight, and I know without either this book would still be just a dream. Thank you so much for everything you have done and continue to do for PoF and me. I am beyond grateful. And to my U.S. co-agent, Louise Fury. Your love for the characters of this story will forever make me smile. You rock. Thank you for being the most awesome of sidekicks.

 

To my fabulously fabulous editor, Micki Nuding, who’s put up with so much from me! You have the patience of a saint, woman. And to all the team at S & S and Gallery Books: Thank you for taking a chance on me and my story, and for making my dream a reality.

 

To Emily, for all of your work and enthusiasm, I thank you muchly.

 

Special thanks to Kate and Jo from Headline Eternal who not only have awesome taste in restaurants, but have also been amazingly patient with me, my technical ineptitude, and graciously answered the innumerable questions I’ve fired at them during this whole process. Thanks, ladies. You’re fab. And to the rest of the team at Headline Eternal, thank you for all your hard work and for giving me this opportunity. It means more than I can say.

 

And, finally, to you for getting to the end of this long-ass thank-you note. Here, have an Oreo and a Coke. You damned well deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

The pound of flesh which I demand of him

 

Is dearly bought; ’tis mine and I will have it.

 

—The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

 

The hurried sound of their feet on the sidewalk matched the frantic pace of her heart, while her father’s grip on her hand was almost painful. Her short nine-year-old legs struggled to match his strides, causing her to stumble, all but jogging to keep up. There was a tightness in his jaw she’d never seen before, and his eyes, usually so bright and carefree, were as dark and angry as the sky above them. Foolishly, she felt the sudden urge to burst into tears.