The Heartbreaker Series
By Evan Grace
The Heartbreaker Series
Copyright © 2016 by Evan Grace.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: October 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
I sit in the blistering sun as graduates stroll across the stage, one by one. Beads of sweat roll down my heated skin. I wait for the end to give my valedictorian speech. The past four years have been some of the most intense years of my life. A full course load and summer school every year was what my life consisted of. In the end, it paid off, because I’m twenty-two and about to graduate with my master’s degree in social work.
I look out into the crowd and see my twin brother, Jordan, his latest boy toy, and my mom, who is waving like a loon. Even from here, I can see her smiling brightly at me. As discreetly as I can, I blow her a kiss. She catches it and slaps the kiss on my brother’s cheek.
When the last name is called, I turn my attention back to the podium, where Chancellor Jones says, “Now, I’d like to call up this year’s valedictorian, Jasmine Nichols.”
My knees wobble as I walk up to the podium. I shake hands with everyone who is standing. I can hear Mom’s excited screams and giggles, which causes my nerves to twist in my gut as I pull my notecards out and attempt to focus on not throwing up. Before beginning, I try to clear the dryness in my throat.
“My mother gave birth to my twin brother and me when she was eighteen years old. Life was perfect, until my mother acquired encephalitis not long after our birth. The detrimental damage was irreversible, but our grandparents stepped in. My beautiful mom, Marie, was never the same again.”
Tears start to cloud my vision and a lump forms in my throat. “Our lives may have been different, but we never lacked in love and affection.” I clear my throat as my voice cracks. “Tragedy struck our family once more when our grandparents passed away. With the death of our legal guardians, my brother and I being only seventeen, and our only parent not capable of raising us, our future was left in the hands of the state. At the time, the term social worker wasn’t something that gave me hope, but today, I can proudly say that it did just that.”
“Jill Swanson walked into our lives and promised to help keep our family together. Jill became a sort of savior that day and from then on, I vowed to give someone the amount of hope she gave me.”
I look out to the crowd and see Jill is finally here and has her arms around my mom, who is crying.
I was nervous when I talked to Mom about how we met Jill and told her I wanted to share that story. She thought it was a great idea.
“When it was time for college, we decided to place our mom in a group home with other adults with developmental disabilities so that we could continue our educations. Again, thanks to people like Jill, my mom goes to work every day. She goes on outings and lives a semi-independent life. I don’t think my brother, Jordan, and I would be where we are today without the help and support of Jill and others like her.”
“Today, I stand before you, Jill, and hope I’ve made you proud.” I look back at the other graduates. “No matter what life throws at you, never stop pursuing your dreams.”
A few words later, everyone throws their caps in the air.
After posing for pictures with classmates, I weave my way through the crowd in search of my family. I see a blonde flash running toward me. I open my arms as Mom launches herself at me.
It didn’t really hit home that our mom wasn’t like the others until it was time to start Kindergarten and it was our grandma who took us and came to all of our functions. Mom, Jordan, and I were raised more like siblings than anything else. When Jordan and I turned ten years old, Grandma and Grandpa finally told us everything.
Jordan handled it better than I did. I cried and ran into my room, wanting to hide from everyone. Mom crawled into bed with me and wrapped her arms around me. We stayed up until the late evening. Somewhere in my ten-year-old brain, I realized it didn’t matter that my mom is different than the others because she’s still my mom and I love her.
My mom squeezes me tight. “Oh, Jazzy, I’m so proud of you.” She lets go and starts clapping and bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.
“Thank you, Momma.”
I can’t help the wave of sadness that washes over me. I’ve seen the pictures and videos of when she was younger. She was a cheerleader, popular and loved by all of her classmates. She was a normal teenage girl who fell in love and got pregnant. My sperm donor, or
as I like to call him, and mom had gotten married, but after we were born and she changed, he couldn’t handle the pressure and split. Neither Jordan nor I have heard from him. That’s okay with me. I don’t know him and don’t want to know him. Honestly, I hope the asshole is miserable and alone.
I wrap my arm around my mom’s slender shoulders and weave her through the crowd to where Jordan, his friend, and Jill are waiting for us. Jordan runs to me, picks me up, and twirls me around. He sets me back on the ground, but he doesn’t let go. He gives me a mischievous grin and leans in close to my ear.
“I’m so proud of you, Jazzy. You looked fucking gorgeous up there. You had mom bawling her eyes out. Tonight, Topher and I are taking you to this hot nightclub we heard about. It’s called Debauchery. Do you believe that shit?”
I don’t bother telling Jordan no. I know he’ll just keep pestering me, so I might as well go.
He finally lets go of me. I throw my arms around Jill. “I did it, Jill.”
“Sweetheart, I didn’t doubt you at all. I love you.” I feel a few tears leak out of my eyes and wipe them away before anyone can see. “I want to take you to lunch if you can get away. I know you still need to take your mom back and I don’t want to take away from your time with her. I just wanted to talk to you.”
Jordan comes over and touches my shoulder. “Go with Jill. I’ll take Mom back. You know how she gets.”
Mom sometimes throws tantrums when I take her back. She likes to call me names when she’s mad at me. It hurts, but I know she can’t help it. Whatever that infection did to her causes her to behave like a child. Most of the time, I shake it off, but there are times I cry.
Oh, I’ve cursed God, my father, and my grandparents for what’s happened to my mom. It’s sad that so much changed for her. She doesn’t remember being pregnant with us or being with our dad. She only remembers bits and pieces of her childhood.
When I was younger, I used to lie in bed and imagine what our lives would’ve been like had Mom not gotten sick. Then I’d feel guilty for even thinking about that.
Speaking of feeling guilty, Jordan is always on me to ‘live a little.’ He’s always telling me that I’m a prude and I’m the most boring twenty-two-year-old he knows. I can’t help it that I’ve always been the more responsible one. Someone had to be.
I hug Jordan, thank him, and then go to my mom.
“Momma, Jordan’s going to take you home, okay?” Except for my being five inches taller, Mom and I look a lot alike. We both have golden blonde hair. We have the same blue eyes and facial features. She’s so tiny.
“Yeah, okay,” she mutters.
“I love you and I’m so glad you came today. Can I come to your work for lunch Tuesday?” She loves it when Jordan and I have lunch with her. I wrap my arms around her.
I know this makes her happy when her smile grows wide and she wraps her arms around me. “Of course you can come. Will you bring me McDonald’s?” Ugh, she’s obsessed with that place.
“Yes, I will, but are you sure you don’t want Subway?”
Mom shakes her head and frowns at me. I kiss her cheek and tell her I’ll call her Monday night to confirm.
I loop my arm through Jill’s. We talk as we make our way to her car. “Sunday, I want you to come with me to my brother’s. He just moved here from California.”
“Brother? I didn’t know you had a brother.”
“He’s only half and is from Mom’s first marriage. Gabe lived with his dad growing up, but he recently bought a house here. He’s been bugging me to come see it, but I’ve been busy.” We reach Jill’s Mini Cooper and climb inside.
We pull up in front of a little steak house. The valet opens the door and helps me out. Jill meets me on the sidewalk. As we make our way inside, the smell surrounds me and my stomach starts to growl.
Once we are seated, Jill doesn’t waste any time. “I’ve talked to my boss and we want to offer you a job. Before you get all excited, you’ll be starting with one or two cases. We want you to get experience first. They’ll be easier cases, but no less rewarding. What do you think?”
I’m floored. I had a feeling Jill was going to do this. We’ve talked at great lengths about my plans after graduation. I don’t even need to think about her offer. “I want it. I will work so hard. I’ll make you proud.”
“Sweetheart, I have no doubt that you will. I’m proud of you already. Now, I do have one stipulation and this is non-negotiable. We don’t expect you to start for a couple of weeks and until then, I want you to have fun and relax. You’ve worked so hard and I want you to get out and live a little.”
“What is up with you and Jordan? He told me the same thing. I have fun, I do.” I know I’m full of shit, but I hope Jill doesn’t realize it.
“When’s the last time you went on a date?” Jill leans in and whispers, “The last time you’ve had sex?”
To be honest I can’t remember the last date I had or the last time I had sex. Our waiter brings our food, so I’m saved from answering her.
After our late lunch, Jill takes me back to my apartment. Before I get out of the car, I turn to her. “I promise you I’ll use these two weeks to go out and live a little.”
“That’s all I want for you, honey. I just don’t want you waking up one day filled with regret because you didn’t have fun.” I hug her tightly and make plans for her to pick me up on Sunday to meet her brother.
I go inside, throw my purse on the table in my little breakfast nook, and make my way back to my bedroom. There’s a garment bag and shoebox lying on my bed. I grab the card and open it.
To my baby sister, because yes, I am five minutes older than you. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of you. I’ve never seen someone more dedicated and determined to make it. You are my hero.
Please wear this outfit tonight because I think you’ll look beautiful in it and I am hoping it helps us get you laid. Haha! I mean it when I say I want you to cut loose tonight. Let me be responsible for you for a change. Don’t worry, I won’t let any skeezy guys take you home.
I smile as I open the lid. I hold up a pair of black tuxedo shorts and a burgundy, short-sleeved shirt that looks like it’s got a sweetheart neckline. As I look it over, I notice a thick black ribbon that looks like it’s to be tied around my neck. I lay it back in the box and then open the shoe box, revealing black wedge sandals. Thank God I’d had a photo shoot the weekend before because my spray-on tan is still noticeable.
I’ve been modeling since my freshman year of college, when Jordan introduced me to a photographer he knew. I don’t have the body of a normal model, but women with ‘real’ figures were starting to become popular. On a good day, I’m a size twelve and on a bad one, I’m a fourteen. It helps that I’m five-foot-ten, but, for most of my life, I always heard, “You could be a model if you lost weight” or “You’re so pretty. If only you were thinner…”
I’ll admit, at first I would crash diet and exercise to exhaustion, but that quickly stopped when Jordan found out and threw the biggest tantrum. Now I just choose to watch what I eat and try to exercise regularly. I still get frequent work, enough that it helped pay for college and I didn’t need to take another job.
I grab a bottle of water and drink it down as I head back to my bedroom to take a little catnap. I’m sure Jordan will try to keep me out all night.
I put the last of my makeup on and look over my work in the mirror. My cheeks now have a rosy glow. With the help of light taupes and browns, I gave my eyes a slightly smoky look. I used just a little mascara and a clear lip gloss. My blonde hair is pulled back on the sides with the rest falling in large, loose curls down my back.
In my robe, I head back across the hall to the bedroom. I peel my robe off. Then I moisturize and spritz a little perfume on. I slip on a matching black and white bra and panty set. Both are trimmed with lace.
I slide on the shorts and shirt. I tuck the shirt into the high-waisted shorts. After I put the shoes on, I step in front of the full-length mirror, tie the ribbon into a bow, and give myself a once over.
I’ll admit, my brother knows his stuff about fashion. I look at myself from all angles and like what I see. It’s amazing how slimming the outfit actually is.
I’m just putting the powder in my black clutch when I hear my front door open. “I’ll be right out. This outfit is amazing,” I yell out.
“I knew it would be. Hurry up. Topher’s in the car, waiting.” Jordan hustles down the hall. When he sees me, he claps in appreciation. “Oh my God, I’m going to be beating them off you tonight with a stick.” Jordan grabs my hand. “I wanted to warn you about this club. It’s kind of an anything goes place. You know, people getting frisky right out in the open. Just be careful. If you can’t find me, stick close to the bar.”