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Authors: Abby Reynolds

And The Beat Goes On

BOOK: And The Beat Goes On
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This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.

 

Fallen Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And The Beat Goes On

Cover Design provided by
Dinoman Designs

Editing Services provided by Final-Edits.com

Copyright © 2014 by Abby Reynolds

All Rights Reserved

ISBN-13: 978-1494480585

ISBN-10:
1494480581

Chapter One


Jeremy Clearwater

“How was the honeymoon?” I leaned back in my chair and looked out the window. My office was on the top floor of the building. Bookshelves covered both walls, but the books in place were ones I’d never read. The designer added all of that. Then I fucked her.

“It was so amazing,” Prudence said. “I loved Hawaii. I didn’t want to leave.”

“It’s a beautiful place.” I nodded even though she couldn’t see me.

The rain was coming down hard. The weather here was always abysmal. It’s one of the things I liked about California. Even though the land desperately needed rain, I didn’t care for it.

“Have you been?”

“Yes. Once.”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “That business trip you had a few years ago.”

“Wow. You do listen to me after all.”

“You know I listen to you.” I knew she was rolling her eyes even though I couldn’t see her.

“Don’t do that.”

“What?”

“You just rolled your eyes.”

“What? How did you know?”

Bingo.
“You’re a brat. And brats will always be brats.”

“If I’m a brat, why did you call
and ask about my honeymoon?”

“Because I still love you even though you’re annoying as hell.”

“How sweet,” she said sarcastically.

We sat on the phone in silence. I distantly heard a TV in the background. It was evening there, so she and Cash probably just had dinner.

“Have you talked to Mom and Dad?” she asked.

“No.”

“Are you going to?”

“I don’t have any desire to speak to either of them,” I said simply.

“They aren’t my favorite people in the world…”

I couldn’t stand either one of them. After coming from humble beginnings and having a serious problem hidden in the dark, I was empathetic toward people and their mistakes. I wasn’t any better. But I was sick of the way my parents treated Prudence. It was inexcusable.

“I miss you,” she said quietly.

I missed her too. I was always the less emotional of the two of us. She’d break down into tears every time we said goodbye. But I did love her very much even if I wasn’t so open about it. “I miss you too.”

“I can’t believe I can’t come home for a year…”

“It’ll pass by quickly.”

“Please come visit me.”

“I will. Don’t worry.”

She breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you. Cash is everything I’m ever going to need for the rest of my life, but…he isn’t you.”

“I know. He could never replace me.”

“No.”

“I’ll make it work, okay?”

“Okay.”

I looked at the clock. “Pru, I need to get to work. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay,” she said sadly.

“Bye.”

“I love you,” she said quickly.

She said it way too much. Ever since she moved, she said it every time we got off the phone. She was clearly having separation issues. At twisted as it sounded, I didn’t just see her as a sister. She was like a child to me. I felt the constant need to hold her hand and check on her. But now she had Cash and I was obsolete. Gradually, I was pulling away from her. But she was making that as difficult as possible. “I love you too, Pru.” I hung up so I wouldn’t have to hear the emotion in her voice. I was usually calm and quiet, but she did elicit deep feelings in me. But now wasn’t the time or the place. I was one of the wealthiest bachelors in London. And I couldn’t afford to seem weak.

Billy, my assistant, spoke over the intercom. “Dr. Yang is here to see you, sir.”

I refused to hire a female assistant because I knew what would happen. It would get messy and I didn’t have the time to deal with a woman I couldn’t get away from. A male was safe. “Send him in.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dr. Yang was a professor at my alma mater. He was my course advisor for my bachelor’s and master’s. Ironically, everyone pinned my success on my education. Nope. Education had nothing to do with it. I’m not saying
a college degree isn’t useful and important, but it’s unnecessary. My ability to be a ruthless businessman didn’t come from hitting the books or my exceptional marks. It came from observing others and gaining experience. The degrees just gave me credibility.

As soon as Dr. Yang walked through the door, I adopted my fake façade and greeted him warmly.

“Hello, Dr. Yang. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” I shook his head and directed him to the seat across my desk.

He sat down and eyed my office. It was bigger than the average house, with a multiple seating areas, floor to ceiling windows, and furniture that was more expensive than a car. I didn’t care about any of that. But you always had to establish authority through wealth. And there was no question that I was very blessed in terms of money. Dr. Yang finally looked at me. “Mr. Clearwater, you’ve come a long way.”

That was an understatement. “I’m very grateful for what I have.”

“But it came through hard work. It wasn’t handed to you.”

Definitely not. “I suppose. Can I get you some water? Tea? And we always have the stronger stuff hanging around.” I winked at him.

He smiled. “Earl Grey.”

I hit the intercom and gave Billy the order. Then I turned back to my old professor. “And what do I owe the pleasure?”

He adjusted his glasses then cleared his throat. It was interesting to see him be intimidated by me. In my classes, he always seemed so confident. But now I was the teacher and he was the student. Wrinkles wer
e more prevalent on his face than they were just a few years ago. “I actually came here with a proposal. I hope you’ll be interested.”

I knew where this was going. It all came down to the same thing over and over.
As an alumni, Cambridge asked for donations every year. And every year, I was extremely generous. I needed a tax write off anyway. But I’m surprised they wanted more. “We shall see.” I was always vague in my responses. Being a businessman wasn’t much different than playing poker. You were constantly manipulating everyone around you, or you were being manipulated yourself.

“Well, it’s common knowledge that you’ve become one of the most successful students at the university. My students ask me questions about you on a daily basis.”

What’s your point?

“The university would be thrilled if you taught a business course for the semester.”

What? I’m not a teacher.

“Of course, we’d generously pay you. And the class would only meet once a week. So, it wouldn’t take up too much of your time.”

I had no interest in doing that.
“I appreciate the fine offer, but I’m going to have to decline. I simply don’t have the time. Thank you for your visit, Dr. Yang.” I stood up so I could let him out.

His eyes darkened and he fidgeted in his seat. He didn’t get up. “Is there something I could do
to change your mind?”

“I’m sorry, professor. It’s just not the best time.”

“But it would be great publicity for you.”

Do I look like I need publicity? Why wouldn’t he drop it?
“I’m sure it would be but—”

“Jeremy, please.”
             
Jeremy? It’s Mr. Clearwater. And did he just interrupt me?
This guy had no idea who he was dealing with. Perhaps I needed to remind him.

He squirmed in his seat and couldn’t sit still. His authoritative attitude was gone. I couldn’t believe I used to look up to this man. “I—I had some trouble at the university.”

Oh. Now everything was coming together.
I returned to my seat. “Tell me.”

“My research didn’t do as well
as I hoped. My assistant had a problem with the data and we lost everything. And the university decided to promote one professor to the head of the department and let the other one go. The decision was based off the quality and credibility of the research. Mr. Clearwater, as a student of my courses, you know I’m an exceptional teacher.”

I couldn’t deny that.

“And I’m a year away from my pension.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“In order to keep my position, I said I would get you to teach for the semester. The offer was much better than a research paper because it would make the university look incredible. And I already said you agreed…”

Ugh.

“Mr. Clearwater…please. My wife is sick and my two kids are in college. I need to finish my last year.”

“I thought professors were impossible to fire?”

“Not anymore.”

I really didn’t want to do this.

Dr. Yang kept pleading with his eyes.
What the hell do I do?
I didn’t owe this guy anything, and I had a million other things to do besides teaching a classroom full of failures. But when I thought about this old man being let go without a pension…the guilt settled on me. “Okay.”

He breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you so much. Thank you.”

“Let’s get one thing straight.”

Dr. Yang stared at me.

“Never call me Jeremy again.”

Chapter Two


Athena Riley

Heather dragged me to a party that night. It was a Sunday and classes started the following morning, but everyone wanted to celebrate their last day of summer. I actually
enjoyed school. It was the one place where I could escape the truth of my life.

Heather wore a short dress with her tits pushed together. Whatever the occasion, I liked to dress casual. It was just too much time and effort to try and look nice.

I wore shorts and a slim fit t-shirt. My yellow Vans gave me some color. My brown hair had always been thick and wavy. I straightened it and managed it as much as possible. Everyone complimented my hair, but I didn’t care for it. There was just too damn much of it.

When we arrived at the house, it was crowded with people. Cars lined the sidewalk, and music blared from the house. It looked like a frat party. Thankfully, all my friends would be there. If they weren’t, I would have no interest in partying. Getting drunk and making out with a stranger just didn’t seem like fun. Not to me, at least.

Heather and I walked through the house until we saw our group of friends. Richard and Tony were playing beer pong while everyone watched. I greeted my friends and grabbed my beer.

Kylie was already drunk. “When will my four years be over?”

“When four years is over,” I said like a smartass.

She was too
far gone to notice the insult.

Heather was already on her second drink. How did that happen? And I saw her eyeing some guy in the corner. I had a feeling I was going to get ditched.

“He’s cute,” she said.

There were two of them and both equally attractive. “Which one?”

“Either,” she said. “I’ll go for the one on the left. You take the one on the right.”

Hooking up with a guy at a party was not my thing.
No thanks. “I want to watch the game.” I eyed the ball as it bounced off the table and hit the floor. It wasn’t interesting at all.

Heather rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I’m hooking up with someone tonight. My vagina is practically frozen.”

“Didn’t you sleep with Thomas last weekend?” I loved Heather, but she could be a serious slut.

She shook her head. “That was, like, a week ago.”

Oh really? That long.
“My mistake,” I said with a laugh.

She turned to me and adjust
ed her top. Her back was to the two guys. “Everything look alright?”

I examined her makeup, her teeth, and her cleavage. “You’re all set.”

She winked. “I hope I don’t see you for the rest of the night.”

“Be safe,” I warned.

“Never.” She approached the two men and leaned against the wall. Both men immediately turned to her, lust in their eyes. Only Heather had the confidence to walk up to a guy and just start flirting. That wasn’t me.

I mingled with my friends for an hour. They asked if I wanted to play, but I rejected the offer. I was fine where I was. When I saw Heather walk out with a man’s arm around her shoulders, I knew I wouldn’t see her for the rest of the night.

And I was getting tired. I decided to call it a night. All my friends were party animals, but I was a homebody. There was no shame in that.

As I
headed out, someone crossed my path. “Hey, Athena.”

It was Jasper.
Ugh.

He looked at my bright shoes. “Those are cute.” He gave me that big grin
I was accustomed to. His blond hair was shorter than it normally was. He must have just gotten it cut. And his blue eyes were bright like the sea.

“Thanks.” I looked down at my feet. “They were on sale.”

“They look adorable on you.”

Was he flirting with me?

Jasper sipped his drink then placed the cup on the wood of the railing. We stood outside on the porch. With the exception of a few lurkers, everyone was inside the house.

“How are you?” he asked.

“I’m well. You?”

“Can’t complain.”

That was Jasper. He was always short.

“Excited for school?”

“Yeah. But I like school.”

His eyes shined bright. “You were always a nerd—a sexy nerd.”

Okay. He’s definitely flirting with me.
“Have a good night.” I turned to the stairs and headed down.

Jasper came behind me. “You’re leaving already?” He looked at his watch. “It’s not even ten.”

“Well, I have laundry and other boring things to attend to.”

“Then stay. I’m not boring.” He stepped closer to me.

Automatically, I stepped back. “What classes are you taking this semester?” I tried to clear the tension.

“Econ,
business law, and some other classes I can’t recall.”

“I’m taking Business Ownership by the famous Clearwater.”

“You got in?” he asked incredulously. “I’m still trying. I’m number one on the waitlist.”

I shrugged. “It’s good to be a senior.”

“When he tells you how to become a millionaire, pass it along.”

I stepped back. “I will.”

He came around me and blocked my way. “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“I have a date with my laundry.”

“Have a date with me.”

Okay. Now I was cornered. Jasper was…complicated
. Last semester, I had the biggest crush on him. He’s smart, compassionate, generous, everything I wanted in another person. The fact he was beautiful only helped. And when he finally asked me out, I was thrilled.

We went out to dinner then got ice cream. We immediately clicked and everything was fine. I hadn’t dated anyone since my last serious boyfriend, and when I was with Jasper everything felt right. But…then it went downhill. He wanted to get between my legs and I said no.

Then he never called me again.

The next weekend he went out with a girl in my class. One look at her told me she was a slut. And all my guy friends had already snogged her and did worse. I put the pieces together pretty quickly.

Jasper didn’t cheat on me. We went on a date once then he acted like I didn’t exist. But I was hurt. I liked him a lot and thought he felt the same. I’m not a goody-too-shoes. I would have slept with Jasper eventually.

But not on the first date.

“I really should get going.” I stepped away and avoided his comment.

“Wait.”

I kept walking. “Sorry, I’m in a hurry.”

“Athena!”

He was probably drunk and wouldn’t remember any of this the following morning. And if he did, he would know what rejection felt like. But that’s karma, baby.

BOOK: And The Beat Goes On
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