Authors: J. S. Cooper,Helen Cooper
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Coming of Age, #Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College
After The Ex Games
J. S. Cooper & Helen Cooper
This book should be read after The Ex Games and The Private Club series!
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This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2014 by J. S. Cooper and Helen Cooper
First off, I want to thank all the readers who have fallen in love with Brandon Hastings and Greyson Twining. These characters really came to life because of your love for them and I hope you enjoy this book.
Secondly, I want to thank Laura D for reminding me to write from the heart. Your feedback and support is always so helpful and I never would have written The Ex Games without your words.
Thirdly, I have to thank Katrina and Tanya for reading chapter by chapter and giving me the confidence to keep writing the series.
Fourthly, I’d like to thank my proofreader Mickey for always being supportive of my writing, even when I’m late with the book.
Fifthly, I’d love to thank all of my J. S. Cooper Indie Agents for providing me with love, support and feedback with every book I release.
And last, but not least, I have to thank God for all of his blessings. I love writing and I’m blessed to have readers that enjoy the words I put to paper.
Table of Contents
The games people play can be heartbreaking and devastating. When it comes to love, the truth can make you or break you. And sometimes it can do both. Sometimes the truth is all we need to set us free. I wasn’t out for revenge. I was searching for the truth. Only the truth can destroy lives. I have the power to destroy as I’ve been destroyed. Only I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do. All I know is that I want to make him pay. He will pay for what he has done to me. One way or another, he will pay. I will be the undoing of him.
"Brandon, I'm telling you that you need to step in." Her voice was urgent as she spoke to me. "She's in danger and it's your fault. If you don't do anything, I don't know what will happen." She hung up before I could say anything else, and I ran my hands through my hair as I thought about what she had said. My heart was racing, and I could feel the cold sweat of fear building up in my temple. It had been a long time since I’d spoken to Patsy, and I wasn’t happy to be hearing from her now.
I should have known that my happily ever after wasn't going to be that easy. One would think that waiting seven years for the love of my life to come back to me would mean that our eventual reunion would be nothing but smooth sailing for the rest of our lives. However, nothing was ever smooth or simple for me.
I stared at the phone in my hand for a few seconds before putting it into my pocket. I had no idea how I was going to break the news to Katie. Our wedding was supposed to be in one month, but if Katie found out the truth, I wasn't sure if the wedding would still go forward at all. I’d wanted to marry her right away, but now I wondered if I was going to get to marry her at all.
I wasn’t sure if Katie could take any more secrets. Not right now. Not with all the revelations that had come forward recently. I knew she was still pretty upset about the incident in the bar. Even I knew that it had been slightly out of line, but I hadn’t been able to stop myself. Every fiber of my being had wanted to show that bartender that Katie was mine
—all mine—and no one was going to get in my way. I wasn’t going to let my past stop me from living out the future I had planned. I didn’t care what I had to do. If Greyson Twining thought he had heard the last of me, he was in for a rude awakening—old school friend or not.
and I had gone through boarding school and college together. We were both the sons of prominent businessmen and we’d both rebelled against the status quo of our environments and what had been expected of us. We had decided to start the club when we were seniors in high school, though we’d actually started it when we were freshmen in college.
“We should start a secret club.”
Greyson had been intense as he’d stared at me in the dorm we’d shared. “It will be exclusive and private and we can do whatever we want when we want.”
“Isn’t exclusive basically the same thing as private?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“We need to create the rules.” He ignored my comment, his blue eyes alive with excitement. “First rule is that no one joins without both of us consenting.”
“Our club,” he muttered, exasperated. “We can call it the private club.”
“That’s the name?”
“Yeah. It’s brilliant.” He grinned at me. “It’s perfect. We can talk about it in public and no one will ever know.”
“Sounds stupid.” I rolled my eyes and jumped up off of my bed. “I’m going to the hall to grab a slice of pizza.”
“We can have women.” Greyson grabbed a pen. “Special women.”
“Special women?” I stared at him. “What does that mean?”
“You know. Women who don’t ask questions.”
“No, I really don’t.” I leaned against the door and stared at my best friend clinically.
Greyson Twining was most probably the most popular boy I’d ever known. He had been the guy all the girls in our coed boarding school wanted, and he was already attracting a lot of girls in college. With his golden-blond hair and sky-blue eyes, he was the picture-perfect All-American boy. And he knew it. He charmed students and teachers alike, yet he never seemed happy. Everything came to him so easily.
“When we start Harvard in the fall, we’re going to need something to set us
apart from all the usual idiots,” he said with a vivid light in his eyes.
“We are the usual idiots.” I ran my hands through my hair. “We’re handsome, white, and rich. We’re the men
who run the world.”
“Let’s run a different world.” His face was serious. “Let’s start our own club.”
“Fine. Whatever.” I shrugged at him nonchalantly. “Do you want a slice of pizza? I’m starved.”
“I’m too busy to eat.” He wrote furiously. “I need to plan this carefully.”
“What’s there to plan?”
“You won’t be huffing and puffing when I have the hottest women in the world pleasuring you.”
“Hookers?” I blanched. “No thanks.”
“We would never have hookers at the private club.” He shook his head. “Like I said before
Greyson, why don’t you just do your calculus homework and forget about this?”
“Brandon, when are you going to understand that if you want to rule the world you have to dominate it
? And to dominate it, you have to be in charge. And if you want to be in charge, you have to change the rules.”
“I don’t want to rule the world.”
“You just want to fall in love and get married.” Greyson’s eyes narrowed at me. “You sound like a girl. Pussy.”
“You’re a pussy,
punkass who’s about to start the best private club in the world.” He lay back in his bed and his eyes sparkled. “And you are either in or you’re out. What’s it gonna be?”
We stared at each other for about five minutes
, and I knew what he was saying underneath it all. I was either a part of the private club or our friendship as we knew it was over.
“I’m in.” My voice was strong, even though I was unsure of what I was doing.
“Good. That’s what I thought you’d say.” He rolled over and pulled some money out of his pocket. “Get me a slice of pepperoni and a Coke. Also, tell Jane that she can come to the room at about nine p.m. I’ll be ready for her then.”
“I thought you were dating Lucia now.”
“Lucia was so last week.” He laughed then, a boyish, charismatic laugh, and I was reminded of why all the girls fell in love with him. This was the Greyson the world saw. They didn’t see the sometimes dark and sinister side of him. “And you know I don’t date. I fuck.”
“You’re so crude.”
“Stick with me, boy, and we’ll go far.” He handed me a twenty-dollar bill and casually flicked his fingers through his blond hair. “We’re about to turn eighteen, Brandon. This is our time to take control of our lives.”
“Trust me. This private club is going to change everything for us.” He grinned at me, and I couldn’t stop myself from grinning back. His excitement was contagious, and I felt a thrill of adrenaline run through my veins. “This is going to change our lives.”
And for once
, he’d been right. The private club had changed both of our lives, and now I needed to make sure that it didn’t ruin the rest of my life.
“Brandon, lunch is ready,” Katie’s voice called out to me from the kitchen, and my heart skipped a beat.
I still couldn’t believe that she was here with me. My Katie.
The love of my life and dreams. In fact, it still seemed like a dream—a beautiful, vivid dream. But the deep thudding of my heart was an agonizing reminder that the dream could easily turn into a nightmare.
“I’m coming.” I walked out of the study slowly, thinking about my options. “What’s for lunch?” I walked into the kitchen and gave Katie a kiss on the cheek.
“What do you want?” She grinned up at me and winked suggestively.
now. I thought you wanted to wait to have another baby until after we were married.” I laughed as she put her arms around my neck and pressed against me.
“Are you saying you don’t want to have sex again until we’re married
“Is that a trick question?” I kissed her lips softly and ran my fingers down her back. “I don’t want to go one day without making love to you, so unless you tell me we’re getting married tomorrow...” I pretended like I was joking, but there was nothing more that I wanted. I wanted that ring on her finger sooner rather
than later. A part of me hoped that if we were married by the time she found out the truth, it would be harder for her to leave me.
“I can’t plan a wedding in half a day.” She giggled. “Plus, I need to talk to Meg. She needs to know we’re getting married.”
“Oh?” My body froze. “How is she?”
“I’m not sure.” She looked up at me and frowned. “Remember she went to that interview at that private club? Well, she got offered the job but is on a
three-day probationary period. She gave me a quick call but said she can’t talk to me again until after the probationary period.”
“It just seems weird.” Katie pulled away from me and sighed. “I’m a bit worried actually. It’s not like her. I’ve never heard about a job like this. It just doesn’t sound right, does it?”
“I don’t know.” I cleared my throat and ran my hands through my hair.
“You said you knew the private club though, right?” She looked up at me with clear, wondering eyes. “Is the job legit?”
I stared at her for a few seconds, not knowing what to say. How could I tell her the truth without telling her my involvement with the club? I thought back to that day in high school and wished that I had said no to
Greyson. I wished that I had gone for the pizza and left the room and not cared about losing Greyson as a best friend. I didn’t know what to tell, Katie. How could I tell her that her best friend was in danger and it was all my fault—in more ways than one?
I leaned down and crushed my lips against hers, pulling her
tight to me, enjoying her squirming against me as I cupped her butt cheeks. She pushed her breasts against my chest and my fingers crept under her shirt. She moaned against my lips and I breathed a sigh of relief inside. I had bought myself a few hours. I kissed Katie, but my mind was on the previous phone call. I had no idea what I was going to do. If I told Katie about the private club, I didn’t know what she was going to do.
I’d never had a problem with jealousy until I
’d started dating Katie. I thought it was because I’d never been in love before and I’d never worried that I wasn’t good enough for someone before. There were so many reasons why it shouldn’t have worked with her, but it had. She’d fallen as deeply in love with me as I had with her. I hadn’t cared that Katie was eighteen. In fact, I’d been over the moon that she was legal. If she’d been seventeen, that would have been it. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have dated her if she had been seventeen. I hadn’t even cared that she’d lied about her age. I would have been a hypocrite if I’d cared. I’d lied about so many things myself.
thought that’s why I was so jealous and scared. No one would have believed that Brandon Hastings was a big wuss on the inside. Well, to be fair, I was only a wuss when it came to Katie. I’d been so scared that the truth would come out and she would leave me. It had seemed like the easier thing to do was just end it and wait. But then Harry had come along and everything had changed. My priorities and plans had changed. I’d wanted to tell Katie the truth—my truth. But there had never been a good time. There’d never been the right time for me to confess. Everything was still so precarious between us and I didn’t want to risk Katie walking away again. I didn’t want to risk her hating me. And I would never forgive myself if she took Harry and left. Life wouldn’t be worth living then.
“I’m worried.” Katie climbed into bed next to me, her eyes filled with fear. “Meg’s not answering her phone.”
“Maybe she’s in bed?”
“All day?” Katie shook her head. “I’ve been calling and texting her all day.”
“I thought you said she couldn’t talk while at the training?”
“Yeah, but what sort of job takes your phone away. I
have a friend who got a job at the White House and she still texts all day. Shoot, she sent us all a photo of the Oval Office a couple of months ago.”
“Really?” I frowned. “That sounds a bit shady.”
“She was fired recently.” Katie laughed. “I’m pretty sure all her photos were against protocol, but at least they never took her phone.”
“Maybe her new job is very private? It is a private club after all.”
“The operative word in your sentence is club, Brandon.” Katie rested her head on my chest. “Why does a club need to take your phone away? What the hell is happening in there?”
I shrugged and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sure nothing bad is happening.” I looked away from her, my heart pounding as I thought of all the bad things that had gone down there.
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “I just can’t stop thinking about her. Meg’s not like me. If she sees something shady going on, she’s going to investigate and try and get to the bottom of it. So if something shady is going on, then she could be in trouble.”
I held her close to me and closed my eyes as I thought about Patsy’s phone call. She’d urged me to come back to the club. There was a girl asking too many questions, she’d said. And there were other people there who were up to no good. I took a deep breath as I realized that I had to tell Katie the truth. If I was to make sure Meg was okay, Katie was going to have to learn everything. I held her tighter to me as I realized that this might be one of the last times that Katie and I were ever in this loving position.