Authors: Ava May
Tags: #BBW, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Short Story, #Alpha Male, #Billionaire, #Provocative, #Adult, #Series, #Saga, #Collections, #Serial, #Erotic, #Secret Past, #Linked Lives, #Crumbling Relationship, #Ex-Boyfriend, #Office Rumors, #Inner Spirit, #Truth
WARNING: This eBook contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language. It may be considered offensive to some readers. This eBook is for sale to adults ONLY
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© Copyright 2015 by Ava May - All rights reserved.
In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
Respective authors own all copyrights not held by the publisher.
This is the third book of a 3-part series. Get Book 1 and 2 here:
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After the Dark
Billionaire in Love Book 3
This is the third book of a 3-part series. Get Book 1 and 2 here:
After the Dark
Life was tough without Jack. It had been a roller coaster of emotion and Scarlett was just about ready to get off. She was sitting on her parent's porch and looking out at the sun. The last time she had seen Jack, it had been raining. She still remembered the taste of the rain as it mingled with her tears when she ran away from him. His last words echoed in her mind, driving her crazy.
Why couldn't she stop thinking about him? What was it about him that had such a powerful, inexorable hold over her? Even now, when she knew that it was in her best interests to forget about him and move on, she still thought of him every day.
Things had seemed so perfect and then they'd all turned perfectly horrible. All she had wanted was to know about his secret past, but now that she knew what it was, she understood why he hadn't told her and she didn't know how she could be with him. Not after finding out that his wife was the other driver in the accident that killed her sister. It was a double-whammy and there were still so many questions, but she had turned and ran away, not wanting to face him. Since then, she'd been morose and hadn't dared try to call him. He didn't show up at work either, and to make matters worse, she had to listen to everyone gossip about the two of them.
At first, it had been just whispers, but it quickly turned to vicious snipes. Every meeting was uncomfortable, and once again her ideas were ignored. She only had one ally in that office—Mandy—and most of the time Scarlett shut herself away in her own office as though she were a besieged queen isolating herself in her castle.
“I brought you some juice,” her mother, Janice, said, taking a seat beside Scarlett on the porch. The two of them stared out at the empty road in front of them. Usually, it was alive with the sounds of children playing, but on this particular weekend, it was oddly quiet. Scarlett took the glass in her hand and sipped the sweet orange juice. She was thirstier than she realized, and soon enough, the glass was half-empty. When she set the glass down on the table, she let out a soft burp, and both of them laughed.
“It'll be okay, you know. We're a strong family. We can get through anything. I know that it seems hard right now, but as long as you keep your head down and do your job to the best of your ability, you will shine through and nobody will be able to say that you aren't there on your own merit.”
Scarlett had only told her parents part of the story. They knew she had become involved with Jack Keyes, the CEO of the company she worked for, and that people at work suspected there was some fooling around going on and were now spreading rumors to that effect, suggesting that she only got the job because she was Jack's playmate. She didn't tell them the other secret though, because they'd been through too much already and Scarlett didn't want to dredge up the past and make them go through any more trauma. Lisa's death had been a horrible tragedy for all of them and it had taken them a long time to get back to anything resembling a normal, functional family, and Scarlett wasn't about to tear that all down.
“I just feel like I made a mistake. I think you and Dad were right.”
“We do know what we're talking about... most of the time,” Janice said with a knowing smile. She placed a comforting hand on Scarlett's shoulder. “But I'm not entirely sure what you mean.”
Scarlett gulped and took a deep breath. “I thought that if I made something of myself in my career, then I'd be set for life. But I spent so much time trying to get this promotion, and now that it's here, I don't know what to do with myself. I have nothing to aim for and work is so hard at the moment. Even if I was doing well, I wouldn't be able to get another promotion for a couple of years. I feel like I've made a big miscalculation...”
“I don't think that's true. You saw what you wanted and you went for it with all your heart. I think that's admirable, and it's one thing I've always liked about you. When you want something, you go for it with everything you have, no matter what, and nothing can stand in your way. It is hard when these people are saying all these awful things about you...”
“Awful, true things.”
“Well, yes, but that's another matter entirely and I will have to have a word with you about that when you're feeling up to it,” her mother said in a tone of voice which Scarlett knew to be leading to a lecture. She was astounded at how even though she was a grown woman her parents could still find ways to make her feel like a child.
“But these things are like a storm. You have to ride them out, even though I know that's easier said than done. Eventually something new will capture their attention. These people are just people with empty lives and they have to fill them up with rumors and gossip about other people. As long as you hold your head up high and show them that it doesn't affect you, then they'll grow tired and move on to something else.”
Scarlett nodded, but she didn't think it was going to be that easy. Especially not where Sam was concerned, for it felt like he had placed a target on her back and he was gunning for her.
“I guess I just thought that once I got this promotion, I'd be set up for the rest of my career, but instead it feels like I'm back to being an intern where I have to fight for the right to work there. I should be past all that. I hate all the office politics.”
“But that's not the main reason why you're upset. Are you sure you don't want to call him?”
Scarlett groaned and began to tap her fingers on the table. She chewed her lip and took another long gulp of her drink.
“No, definitely not. It just ended. It sucks, but there's nothing I can do about it. It was one of those things that burned brightly for a moment and then fizzled out. I just thought that it was going to be something I'd been searching for. I had that feeling, you know? The one that you don't get too often.”
“Oh I know that feeling, all right.”
“Do you and Dad still have it? I mean, does it stay with you throughout your life?”
“For the most part. As you get older, it comes and goes, and things happen that try and shake you off course, but by that time, you've built a solid foundation and you can weather the storm together. It's not always easy, and goodness knows there are times when I've wanted to kill your father, but at the end of the day, he was the man I chose. And after all this time, I'd still choose him over anyone else.”
The words were sweet and Scarlett wished that she could find a love like that. She had been so close with Jack... so close that it was painful.
“Tell me again about how you met,” Scarlett said softly.
“Oh you don't want to hear that old yarn again,” her mother scoffed.
“No, please,” Scarlett pleaded. It was a pleasant story and reminded her that sometimes you could meet the love of your life in an entirely random way. But just as her mother began the story (and whenever she told it, her eyes glowed with happiness, which was a sight Scarlett loved to see), a car pulled up and Matt got out.
Scarlett groaned. Seeing her ex was the last thing she needed right now, and she didn't even have the energy to be angry at him.
“Sit there, dear. I'll get rid of him,” Janice said, and rose to meet Matt.
“Hey, Mrs. Parker. I just want to talk to Scarlett.”
“Well, that's nice, Matthew, but she's made it quite clear that she doesn't want to talk to you. I appreciate that you still have feelings for her, but this is no way to go about it. I think it would be best if you just got in your car and got on with your life.”
“Thank you, Janice, but do you mind giving me and Scarlett a private moment? I'd just like to speak to her. Unless, Scarlett, you'd like your mother to hear about the last phone call we had. How is Jack by the way?” His words had a vicious tone to them, and a dark look flickered in his eyes. At first, Matt had merely been an annoyance, but now, Scarlett was becoming scared of him. He was obsessed, and she didn't want her mother finding out the intimate details of how she slept with Jack on the boat, and how Jack had told Matt that he was going to fuck her again and again.
Scarlett rose from her seat.
“Matt. Please just leave me alone. I'm not in the mood for this. It's not funny any more. Just... just go and live your life. I'm not going to be a part of it.”
“That's where you're wrong. We're destined to be together and all it takes is for you to see it. You need to see the truth, Scarlett. Nothing worth having comes easy and you're right, I'm tired too. I'm tired of fighting with you. Let's just put it to rest and go somewhere to talk, maybe to that café by the old movie house where we had our first date. You remember that, don't you? You couldn't resist having a muffin even though it was all crumbly and sticky, and I told you you looked beautiful anyway. You did look beautiful, Scarlett, and you always will. I just want another chance.”
“You don't get it, Matt. You're not fighting with me; you're fighting against me. I don't know what version of this you have in your head,s but it's not reality. I don't even know how you knew I was here. Have you been following me?”
“It doesn't take a lot to figure it out. Let's face it: all you do is work. You don't have any friends. Well, except for Jack.” When he spoke the other man's name, it was spat out as though the very word was poison on Matt's tongue. “That hurt me, you know. I don't know what cruel joke you were playing on me but it really hurt, Scarlett. But I'm willing to forgive you. Because that's how love works. We forgive each other. I forgive you and now you can forgive me.”
He continued walking forward and Janice placed herself in between him and her daughter, but his gaze was solely focused on Scarlett. Then the door swung open and Steve walked out.
“What's going on?” he asked sternly. He was a big man, and didn't appreciate his home or his family being harassed like this. He puffed out his chest and stepped out onto the porch, looking down on Matt.
“It's okay, Dad,” Scarlett said, worried that the situation was going to explode.
“Yes, Mr. Parker. Listen to your daughter. It's all going to be okay. All she has to do is agree to go for a coffee with me. One little coffee, that's not so much to ask, is it? Then everything will be all right and things can go back to normal.”
“My daughter doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to do. Now go away. I don't want you on my property. If you don't leave, I'll call the police.”
“Well, that's not really friendly, is it? I always thought we had a good rapport. I was like the son you never had. We can go back to that. We can all be a family again.” It was clear now that Matt had gone quite mad and there was a deranged look in his eyes. Scarlett glanced at her father who walked down the porch. Her heart was filled with worry.
“I asked you once. I'm not going to ask again. Get back in your car and leave, or the police will come and we'll slap a restraining order on you,” Steve said. Matt bristled and he shook on the spot. His arms hung rigidly by his side and his fists clenched into tight balls. Janice was still in between him and Scarlett, but Matt's eyes were solely focused on the object of his obsession. His lips quivered and snarled like a wild animal, and he continued to move forward.
“I. Just. Want. One. Conversation.”
Janice bravely stood in front of him but he pushed her out of the way, with more force than he perhaps realized. Janice went sprawling to the floor, hitting her head against the stairs. Scarlett called out and ran to her mother while Steve's anger boiled over. He let Scarlett attend to Janice while he walked up to Matt and accosted him. Matt turned with fury blazing in his eyes, determined not to be turned away from Scarlett, but Steve was defending is family and his home. Ever since Lisa had died, anger had been burning and festering inside him, but it had always been a tight ball, quaking in him. Now, with Matt's transgression, it was ready to be unleashed and he felt his blood boil within.
Scarlett had never seen her father in a fight, although she had heard the stories of his youth when he'd been in a few scuffles. Matt was a scrawny boy, and despite having youth on his side, he really stood no chance. Steve pushed Matt away. The younger man stumbled. As he regained his footing, he charged forward. Steve deflected his blow and returned with a right hook across Matt's face. Blood started dripping from his nose. Matt checked it and looked puzzled when he saw the dark scarlet stains on his finger, but it only served to make him more angry. He charged again, and this time it was only Steve's slow reflexes that allowed him to get a blow into the older man's gut. Breath wheezed out of him in a long breath.
Scarlett cradled her mother, who looked dazed, and watched the fight unfold. She feared for her father. A man of his age shouldn't have been fighting. But he quickly got the upper hand. He recovered from being winded and tripped Matt up to give him a few more moments to catch his breath. Matt scrambled to his feet and Steve parried the blows, returning hooks and uppercuts. Bruises swelled on Matt's face and it wasn't long before he was swaying groggily before him. One more punch and it would all be over. One more swing and Matt would fall to the floor, a crumpled, beaten, bloodied mess.
But the blow never came. Matt was there ready for the taking. Steve's arm wound back, ready to launch forward with all his weight behind it and send Matt running for the hills. But Scarlett saw her father pause. A terrible look came across his face, and then a small groan as he fell to the floor, clutching his chest. Matt looked at him, then Scarlett, and then he ran away like a coward. Scarlett barely registered the car roaring off into the distance. She scrambled over the ground to her father and checked his pulse. He was still breathing but he was convulsing and Scarlett feared for his life.