Emerald: Rare Gems Series - Billionaire Wolf Shapeshifter Romance

BOOK: Emerald: Rare Gems Series - Billionaire Wolf Shapeshifter Romance
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

World Castle Publishing, LLC

Pensacola, Florida

Copyright © Kathi S. Barton 2015

Hardback ISBN: 9781629893136

Print ISBN: 9781629893143

eBook ISBN: 9781629893150

First Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC, August 7, 2015

http://www.worldcastlepublishing.com

Licensing Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.

Cover: Karen Fuller

Editor: Eric Johnston

Editor: Maxine Bringenberg

 

Chapter 1

 

“If you taught her better, we’d not be having this problem.”

Emerald looked at the paper in front of her and counted to ten. It was that or hit the asshole in front of her. She hated parent/teacher conferences almost as much as she did balancing her checkbook. Smiling, she looked up at him.

“Mr. Basel, I’ve sent home numerous notes about Shayla’s reading issues. She is behind all the other children by fifteen percent. She is to read a chapter a night, and–”

“I don’t have time to do your job. And if she has homework to do, then tell her to do it. I’m not taking the fall for your incompetence. If she fails, then I’m going to come in here and kick your ass.” He leaned back in his seat as if to say, “What are you going to do now,” and Emerald had to count to twenty this time. “If you can’t do your job, then maybe they should find someone that can.”

“You’re absolutely right. You can do it.” She stood up and so did he. But the difference was, he looked panicky and she was not. “The school board will expect you to be here at seven, even though classes don’t start until nine. You have to do your own room clean-up at night…budget cuts, you know…and then there is the bathroom. It would be better for you if you clean it the night before you leave. The stains are as hard to—”

“What the fuck are you talking about? This is your job.” She shook her head and started stuffing things into her bag. “You’re not going anywhere. This is your job. And I’m not gonna take it.”

“You’ll have to. As I see it, you’ve just fired me.” She stuffed another book in her bag and looked around for anything else she might be able to take. Everything in here was basically hers. The school she was working for this summer had no money and very little resources. “There is the matter of supplies. I’ll take all that is mine, so you’ll need to pick up some chalk, erasers, and some pens. I’ll leave you the paper. I can’t use that anyway.”

“Now see here.” She moved toward the door, only to be blocked by him. “You can’t just pick up and leave. You have to teach them kids. My daughter will try…what do you mean, this stuff is all yours? My taxes pay for this stuff.”

“No, it does not. You voted down the tax levy for the school, and that is the reason you can’t keep full-time teachers, especially in the summer. The little money you pay in taxes is for the upkeep of this place, which, I must say, isn’t working out too well. There is nothing left for the classrooms, much less for the teachers. I purchase the toilet paper they use, paper towels we need, and any other things that you might not send along with your child.” She glanced down at the sheet in front of her. “Oh, sorry, you didn’t pay your fees, which means that everything your daughter is getting to use—tissues, notebooks and pencils, and paper for art time—is coming out of my pocket.”

“No, that ain’t right.” She just stared at him and then stepped around him. “I pay my taxes. That should pay enough.

“Well, it doesn’t.” She moved into the hall and found nine more parents in line to talk to her. And for the most part, none that she really had to speak to about their kids. “I’m sorry, but Mr. Basel will be taking over for me. He just fired me.”

“Fired you?” Everyone turned to the man coming out of her classroom, and one lady continued, “You fired her? How the…do you have any idea how much she’s helped my son? He’s reading now when no one else could get him to do that before. What the hell do you think is gonna happen to him now?”

“I didn’t fire her. It was just a misunderstanding. Come on back, Ms. Erickson, and I’ll talk to you about my little girl. Perhaps she can…I’ll make sure she reads two chapters a night to catch up.” She turned to look at him. “Please? I’ve had a rough couple of days. I lost my job. I’m raising her on my own.”

“I don’t need this crap, Mr. Basel. I’m a good teacher.” Several of the other parents nodded and glared at him. “I’m here because this district is out of money. My time here is mine. The little bit of money I’m making to help your student get ready for the new school year is less than half what I make elsewhere.”

“I didn’t know that.” She didn’t say anything. It was so tempting to go home…to simply say fuck it and lay on the deck chair by the pool at home. But Mr. Basel continued before she could make good on her wants. “We didn’t know a lot of stuff about this place. Did you all know she has to clean the bathrooms and pay for all her own chalk?”

Several of the parents looked shocked. Others were pulling out their wallets. Emerald felt stupid. She should never have said any of those things to him. It was just…it was true, but wrong to whine to him. Emerald refused the money that was pushed at her.

“I’m sorry, too. I should never have said those things.” One of the parents asked if she really had to clean the bathrooms, and she nodded. “The custodian was let go due to budget cuts. We either do it or it doesn’t get done. But that doesn’t mean that I should have said that to him. I’m not having such a good day either.”

“But that’s not right.” Emerald couldn’t have agreed more. “You should have some help. Where is the help? I thought the schools had previsions for this sort of stuff. Volunteers and stuff.”

“Very few signed up for it. Did you volunteer to help me out this summer?” No one would look at her. “I’m sure that a paper was sent home. If even one of you came in one hour a week to help out, so much more would be done. Someone could sit and have a child read to them for that hour and it would help. Helping on projects, art, or other things would help out. But no one, not a single parent, signed up to come in at all.”

“We can’t just leave our jobs to come here and not get paid.” Mr. Basel turned away when she looked at him. “I guess we could make a little time. Even if I had to, you know, leave early. But I don’t have a job right now, so…well, maybe I can come in and help out.”

“And I would love it.” He nodded. “There is only so much we can do for these kids on our own. You have to do some of it at home. Have them read to you while you’re making dinner. Have them read the labels at the store, tell you the prices of things. Even have them tell you what time it is. All of these things take very little time out of your equally busy days.”

Emerald went back into her classroom and sat down. She wouldn’t leave the district in a bind like this. After about twenty minutes of sitting there alone, she figured that they’d all gone home. She was putting her things back on the desk when the parents, all of them, came into her room. Emerald wanted to sob, they all looked so upset with her.

“I’m terribly sorry. You have every right to be upset with me. I should never have said those things to you, nor should I have threatened to quit. I’m so sorry.” Mr. Basel shook his head. “If you call the board in the morning, they’ll tell you that I’ve given my notice. This was—”

“Christ, don’t do that.” She stepped back when he shouted at her. “I mean, please don’t do that. We were…well, I was wrong to talk to you that way. We’ve been talking and it seems that none of us have been all that helpful to you at all. None of the teachers, as a matter of fact.”

She sat down when he did. The rest followed. “I’m not even a part of this district, but I’m sure there are a lot of them like this one. On the verge of closing down.”

“We got that. Some of us…Charlie here is gonna come in after he gets off work in the morning and clean up the rooms. Millie is going to make sure that the bathroom is clean on her way home from her job.” Emerald started to speak, but he cut her off by standing up again. “Now you listen here. We already have this worked out and you’re gonna do what we say for a change. Mark there is going to work on the school yard stuff. He said he noticed that some of them swings are in poor shape. He’ll get some of his buddies to help you out. Here.”

He shoved an envelope at her, and she was afraid it was cash, but it was written on and she read down the list. They were coming in and this was the schedule. Tears pooled in her eyes, and Emerald had to wipe them twice before she could look at them.

“This will help so much.” Two of the women nodded and told her they’d bring in snacks when they came in too. “I don’t know what to say.”

Mr. Basel laughed and looked around the room before speaking. “That would be the first time since I met her. She ain’t done nothing but jabber on since I came in tonight.”

Embarrassed, she smiled at him. “I’m really sorry about that. I’ve had a rough day as well. Seems some students have taken it into their head to be artists in my classroom.”

She got up and let the map that was at least fifty years old slide up on the roller. She was so embarrassed to let them see what the “artists” thought of her naked, but it was there and they all had a right to know. She turned to look at them when no one said anything.

“I don’t know who did it. It’s paint, so I have to have someone come in and take care of it for me. I’m not able to…well, I’ve been trying to deal with this, and it might have gotten the better of me.” She pulled the map back down. “I have been conducting interviews about it, and no one knows a thing.”

“You let us take care of that too.” Millie Shaw stood up. “I got me an idea who might have done that, or at least the ring leader, and I’ll have a talk with his momma. You see that I don’t. Shameful the way kids act today.”

“You don’t have to do that.” She only nodded and sat back down. “I’m overwhelmed by this. I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve shown me tonight.”

It wouldn’t last though. Emerald wasn’t so naive that she thought they’d do as they said. It was summer after all. But when they left, they each said they’d help all they could and would talk to the other parents as well. Emerald nodded. Mr. Basel was the last to leave.

“Shayla will read tonight and every night. I promise you. She’s been slacking on her other grades too. Too much phone time, I’m thinking.” She said nothing, as she’d had to take his daughter’s phone from her several times these past two weeks. “With me out of a job, there won’t be a phone for her to play on anyway.”

“Call my brother-in-law, Josh Ewing. He’s looking for some laborers. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but perhaps they might have something for you.” He nodded and turned to look at her as he made his way to the door. “Thank you, Mr. Basel. You’ve made my night.”

“Shouldn’t have messed it up for you.” He nodded toward the map. “I’ll be in tomorrow to get that off the wall for you. I know a few tricks.”

She nodded and led him out of the building. The guard was there and locked up when she told him that she was finished for the night. Going back to get her things, she wondered if she’d have anyone next week to help out with everything. There were all kinds of things going on then, and she could really use the help. The testing for the state was all the board seemed to be focusing on anymore, and she was worried about the kids that were struggling.

~~~

Jul Whitney’s head was pounding, and he thought perhaps he might be having a nervous breakdown too. This was the day…hell, it was the week from hell, and he wasn’t sure how much more of it he could take. Glancing at his desk calendar, he groaned. It was only Tuesday. What the hell was he going to do with the rest of the week?

“You should know that there are five more men coming in today. And none of them are as qualified for the job as they think they are.” Jul glared at his assistant, Colby Bass. “I told you not to run an ad in the paper. You should have hired a firm to find someone to replace Mr. Williams if you really need to have a partner. This is not the way to go.”

Daniel Williams had been his partner up until nine months ago. But he’d decided that life, his life, was not what he wanted flashing before his eyes when he passed from this world to the next. It was boring, he’d told Jul, and he wanted something exciting.

He’d had a massive heart attack, and was lucky to have been visiting his daughter at the hospital when it had happened or he’d be dead. Now he was giving up the business, selling out, and going to retire to parts as yet unknown. And Jul was going to have to replace him.

“Why?” He looked at Colby. “Why are you even looking for someone to come in and take half of what you make? Unless you like giving away your money. Do you? But I know you can do this. You did it the entire time Mr. Williams was in the hospital, didn’t you?”

“That was different.” Colby asked him how. “Because I knew he was coming back to help out. Besides, what do I do for a vacation should I want one?”

“I wouldn’t know. The five years I’ve been here, you’ve never taken one. Nor have you taken any time off, so far as I can see.” Colby stood up and smiled at him. “You’re just simply a workaholic. And while that’s wonderful when you want to buy whatever you want because your bank account is bigger than the national debt, you can’t meet a woman and settle down if you work all the time.”

“You’re what, twenty-five, twenty-six? What do you know about settling down and having a woman?” Colby took out his phone and shuffled around on it before handing it to him. The woman there was beautiful, as were the three children, two boys and a little girl.

“I’m thirty-one. Been married to my high school sweetheart, Dawn, for the past twelve years, and we have three children as of now. Best thing that has ever happened to me.” He took back the phone and looked at the picture. “Yes, sir, the best thing that can happen to anyone.”

“I don’t think I’m cut out to be a husband for anyone. I’m too…set in my ways.” Colby nodded. “You know, you could have disagreed just a little. I mean, I am your boss, you know. But you’re right, I do work too much. And get me whatever information you have on me going solo on this business and I’ll look it over.”

BOOK: Emerald: Rare Gems Series - Billionaire Wolf Shapeshifter Romance
2.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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