Authors: Jessica Hawkins
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(NIGHT FEVER SERIAL 2.5)
It’s ten years earlier and the night that changed everything. When Beau Olivier signs a contract that will deliver the first millions of his future fortune, all he wants is to celebrate with a beautiful woman—and no strings attached.
He enters Cat Shoppe on the Sunset Strip looking for anyone, but when he sees the kitten-eared girl on the strip club’s main stage, he knows he won’t leave without
Midnight is an optional installment of the Night Fever Serial and can be read at any point
. It’s a short story with spoilers for the previous two books. Reader discretion is advised. 9,500 words.
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© 2015 JESSICA HAWKINS
Cover Design ©
Ten years earlier
Beau already knew the contract across the conference table backward and forward, but he couldn’t take his eyes off it. From upside-down, the empty line awaiting his signature glimmered—as if a spotlight from the heavens shone directly on it. In actuality, it was fluorescent glare from the office building’s overhead lights.
His palm sweat around the pen in his hand. This was it—his moment. After weeks of negotiation, he and the other men at the table had come to an agreement that would turn Beau from broke, wannabe entrepreneur to wealthy, established businessman.
A lawyer read the contract aloud. George Wright, founder of VenTech and soon-to-be owner of Beau’s revolutionary payment services website, sat in a chair opposite Beau. He glanced at Beau and then at his watch. “Is there much more?”
“We’re on the last page,” someone said.
Every seat was filled. Each side of the table had at least one lawyer and banker. Against common practice, Beau hadn’t brought a negotiator to any of their meetings. Getting people to concede to him was a skill he planned to use going forward, so instead, he’d spent hours in the library teaching himself the art of negotiation and deciphering the contract’s terms himself. Once, he’d even asked a pretty brunette to move down a spot so he could have more space.
To his left sat the best lawyer he could afford. Which was to say, a midlevel associate named Harold Grubman whose nickname was Harry Grubs—information he’d
to Beau when they’d met. But Beau had little choice, considering he was thousands of dollars in debt, and his credit cards were nearly maxed. Harold had taken a risk accepting Beau as a client, knowing if the deal fell through, Beau wouldn’t have anything to pay him with. The inverse was also true, though, and if today went as they both hoped, Beau had promised Grubman a cut that’d earn him more than his yearly salary. So, Grubs it was.
Nobody was talking anymore. They were all looking at Beau, most notably the George Wright, whose eyebrows were raised.
Beau loosened his tie a little, the lights beating down on him. He turned to Grubman, who nodded and said, “Sign.”
The lawyer flipped the packet around and slid it right in front of them. Beau blinked once and signed away the last decade of his life.
It’d taken Beau seven tries to get to this exact spot. In ten years, four of his ideas had been perfectly on target. So much so, that others had beaten him to the finish line in his final stages of securing investors. One company he’d started had been a total bust—and a lesson that desperation wasn’t the right motivator for him. Lastly, he’d been on the verge of selling a B2B website, only to have it fall through two days before it was finalized. He’d spent too much on that lawyer.
The ink of his signature hadn’t even dried before the contract was picked up, placed into a folder and whisked out the door by one of the lawyers. The transaction was complete—lucky number seven had sold. For most, the concept was boring—the payment services site he’d developed would transform the way online businesses accepted money over the web. But for Beau, it was fascinating. Internet companies were growing at an exponential rate, and in the right hands, every online shopping cart would have a checkout option that included Beau’s company.
company. Beau had considered growing it himself, but fascinating as it was, he was brimming with ideas. He was ready to move on, and VenTech was offering him over three times what the website was worth at this point. He’d signed it over to give it a better life—and so he could start the next thing. With the fortune he had now, there’d be no stopping him.
327 million dollars. Beau thought he might pass out. He set the pen down, wiping his hand on his pant leg.
Wright stood, glancing at the clock above Beau’s head. “It’s six o’clock now. The transfer has already been arranged, and the first payment will be deposited into your account at midnight. The rest will come soon after.” He reached out and shook Beau’s hand. “Good luck, kid. Maybe we’ll see you in here again.”
Beau and Grubman took the elevator down to the lobby, where they passed security and stepped out into the mild night. The Metro Local hissed as it pulled up to the curb a block over. Beau made a move to go after it, but he stopped himself.
“Never have to take the bus again, son.”
Beau looked back at Grubman, who was smiling for maybe the second time since they’d met. “Good,” Beau said. He hated the bus vehemently.
“So, what’re you going to do now?” Grubman asked.
“I have no idea,” Beau said. “Tomorrow, I start research on my next project, but…” He stuck his hands in his trouser pockets. “I hadn’t really thought about tonight.”
“If I were you, I’d take a damn break. Pick up my girl and waltz my ass into the ritziest joint in Beverly Hills for a juicy porterhouse. I’d liquor her up good, then go home and fuck her brains out. That’s a celebration for a rich man.”
Beau just stared at him. He’d barely seen a girl in months besides Brigitte. She was practically his sister and therefore didn’t count. That didn’t mean Beau didn’t think about girls, though—frequently. “I’m single.”
Grubman’s face fell, and he actually shuddered. “You lucky son of a bitch,” he said. “Twenty-seven years old, and you just signed a lifelong deal for pussy. Blonde, brunette, redhead, black, white, Asian—any kind you want. You lucky son of a—”
“I get it.” Beau’s heart palpitated, and he implored it not to give out—not now that he’d arrived. It’d been ten months and twelve days since he’d last gotten laid. That was the toll 327 million dollars took. No small price to pay. If he thought a second too long about any kind of fucking, he’d have to hobble home with his hands covering his crotch.
“Well,” Grubman said, sweeping an arm, presenting Beau the world, “get on it, son. City of Angels is your oyster.” He shook his head with a forced chuckle. “Female population’d better watch out. There’s no more dangerous animal in the world than a man with new power.”
Beau nodded once at Grubman, glad to get rid of him once and for all. He held out his hand. “Thanks for all your help. I’ll put your check in the mail as soon as the money clears.”
“You better, don’t want me on your bad side. My profession is going after snakes. Feel free to tip too.” He laughed nervously, looking sidelong at Beau. “You know, you’re going to need a lawyer now more than ever. You already know you can trust me, and—well, trust me, that’s going to become an issue for you.”
People like Harold Grubman were necessary stops along his way to the top. Harry wasn’t the kind of man you carried through life if you didn’t have to, though. Beau stuck his hand back in his pocket and backed away. “I have your card.”
Beau walked around downtown until it was late. His heart was getting a workout today, thumping extra hard every time he thought of the ridiculous amount of money that would hit his bank account at midnight. It was like having the ticker of a newborn. He was experiencing a second birth, the life he was supposed to have.
He’d always had a plan—visualization was important. Beau looked up at some skyscrapers, rectangular lights popping on with the settling night. Important people were up there. For years, he’d seen himself working in the sky too. Next week, he’d start thinking about moving out of his apartment, preferably somewhere also above the city. During one of his foul moods a few months earlier, Brigitte had driven him through the Hollywood Hills to pick out their dream home. Admittedly, that simple act had eased the day’s frustrations, whatever they’d been. Maybe he would buy that house.
Beau stopped at a pay phone and took out his wallet. He carried a reserve of cash for emergencies. Tonight, he had two hundred dollars plus four credit cards that weren’t much good anymore. He gave himself one goal for the rest of the night—to give his wallet a good cleaning out before his fortune befell him. He wanted to start fresh.
Beau picked up the receiver, inserted fifty cents and dialed his mother.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hello?”
“Beau. Is that you?” She sucked in a quick breath. “How are you?”
Neither of them spoke a second. Beau didn’t really know how to start the conversation. “That deal I told you about—”
“I know. I remember. The meeting was today.”
“Yes.” He had her attention now. “It went through.” Beau glanced at his shoes. He’d polished them that afternoon, and they reflected the glow from the convenience store behind him. “Mom?”
“Is it like you said?” she asked, speaking fast. “For real? Because the women at the office don’t believe it, and they’re threatening to have me committed.”
“No—I mean, yes. It’s true. I’m a…” Beau stopped, his throat dry. He hadn’t ever said it aloud. Visualization was one thing, but he didn’t like to get ahead of himself. Now, it was just a fact. “I’m a multi-millionaire.”
She sighed loudly, as though she’d been holding her breath the entire call. “Well, how about that. I raised a multi-millionaire.”
Beau refrained from saying that
had raised a multi-millionaire. Brigitte may have motivated him in his occasional dark hours. Giving his mom a better life had certainly given him an extra push now and then. But nobody had done this for him but himself.
“Where are you living now?” he asked.
“I got an apartment in Venice Beach. Had to move out of my place over the summer. Rents keep rising, you know.”
“Venice?” he asked, frowning. “How long does it take you to get to work?”
He shut his eyes a brief second, more grateful than he’d been yet that day. He and his mom weren’t close anymore, not after she’d stolen Brigitte’s inheritance. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to take care of her until the day she passed—now that he was able. “You don’t have to worry about that anymore, Mom. You can go wherever you want.”
“I never liked it here.”
“Where then? Pick a place, anywhere in the world. Greece? Rome?”
She snorted. “You know who you sound like, don’t you? America’s my home. Never leaving this country.”
Beau didn’t know who she was referring to, just that it was one of two foreigners. It was likely his father, a Frenchman who’d loved his country a little too much and had ended up dying there in a car accident with his mistress. But it could’ve also been Brigitte, said mistress’s daughter, who’d given up her life in Paris to be closer to Beau, the only person she considered family.
He changed the subject. Bringing up either of them would mean a certain argument. “New York City is popular.”
“Too many people. I’m done with cities.”
“Think it over and let me know,” Beau said. “I have to call Brigitte.”
“Brigitte,” she said, accusing. “Now would be a good time to get rid of her, Beau. Before it’s too late.”
“We’ve been over this.” Beau studied the payphone’s crusty buttons. Brigitte’d been in his life ten years, during which they’d been cramped in various one-bedroom apartments around L.A., making it work. They were both broke. They didn’t like it, but neither of them complained about it. “She’s my sister.”
“Don’t say that to me. You know it gets me worked up. She’s the bastard child of some European hussy who—”
He sighed. “Let’s not do this. I’m sorry I—”
“Like mother like daughter, Beau, think about that. Her mom slept with your dad knowing he had us back home. The girl’s a leech, it’s in her blood, and she’s known from the start you were headed for success. That money’s for family only—”