Read Break Online

Authors: Vanessa Waltz

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Holidays, #New Adult & College, #Contemporary Fiction, #Psychological, #Teen & Young Adult

Break

BOOK: Break
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Break (Billionaire New Adult Romance)

Published by Vanessa Waltz

Copyright 2014 Vanessa Waltz

 

[email protected]

Editing by Adele Allaire

 

Blurb:

What if a handsome man offered you thousands to pretend to be his girlfriend? And what if you started to believe the lie?

 

Jessica has never had a boyfriend, and that's just how she likes it. She's still trying to rebuild herself from a sexually abusive past, and a guy - no matter how gorgeous - would only mess up the fragile balance of her life.

 

Almost-billionaire Luke Pardini is gorgeous, that's for sure. He's also desperate. His dying father thinks he's too irresponsible to inherit the family estate, and Luke needs to convince his dad that he's grown up and ready to settle down with a girl. Any girl.

 

With five billion dollars at stake, Luke can't mess this up. But as he pretends to date Jessica, he finds himself drawn to her more than he'd like to admit. Jessica has been hurt too many times to count, but Luke is the one person who makes her feel safe. It could have been a Cinderella story, but both of them made a promise that their relationship was just for show, and neither of them is going to step over the line.

 

When Jessica's secret past emerges on the front page of the tabloids, his dad threatens to disown him if he doesn't sever ties with her. If their relationship was only a charade, the solution would be easy. But if it's not…

 

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Table of Contents

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

About the Author

 

Chapter 1

 

The BART train screamed as it ground to a halt. A gust of wind blew across the platform and whipped my hair around my face. The metro’s metallic high shriek and the sound of scattered dry leaves sliding down the pavement made my teeth grind together. The doors hissed open and I walked inside the battered, heated car, trying to find a seat away from the door.

I had a love and hate relationship with the BART. Relying on the aging public transportation system to get around wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. The seat cushions were old and stained, and if you didn’t have a seat, then people with varying degrees of hygiene crammed against you. I sat down as if the BART seat was a pincushion and recoiled as someone next to me coughed. Thousands of people depended on it for transportation into the city, and it was frequently the target of delays and strikes. It cost me over ten dollars to ride into the city, and paying a bridge toll and overpriced city parking was an unaffordable luxury.

I was riding the BART to my college campus as a last-ditch effort towards finding a damn job. On Friday, I wrote to my old professor in a melancholy, drunk-infused haze and he finally replied last night. The late night Sunday response from my English professor surprised me. I didn’t think he would get back to me in time, but I scheduled a meeting for nine, which unfortunately was the time most people commuted to the city for work. In a few stops, the BART would be jam-packed with hordes of people, pressed up against each other like sardines in a can.

Maybe I would walk along Embarcadero and visit Pier 39 for clam chowder after the meeting. Even though it was always packed with tourists, I always loved walking there and breathing in the clean air. On a clear day like this one, the sun would light up the pier like a gem. In the distance, crystal waves would crash on the rocky shores surrounding Alcatraz. To Northern Californians, San Francisco was the place that promised a path to success. If you lived there, you had it made in life.

When I was in school, I used to dream about the day when I’d be able to afford an apartment. In a city where rent cost at least three thousand a month for a studio apartment, only a few could afford it without sharing expenses with several roommates. Still, the city was the goal. Even though it was a short BART trip away, everyone wanted to live there.

The train emptied nearly an hour later when the majority of passengers got off at Market or Powell, but I had to take the train all the way to the end of the line. Freezing mist greeted me as I exited the train and made my way through the station to the street. I clutched the resume I spent the morning scrambling to finish in my folder as I climbed into the shuttle bus that would take me to the dreary gray college campus I thought I’d never see again.

After you get a Bachelor’s degree, you’re supposed to be qualified for a job
. With the economy in the tank as it was, none of my English major friends got jobs. Some switched to other careers, while others applied to grad school and retreated into the false security it provided. I felt cheated somehow.

A sick feeling riled my stomach as I thought about what I would say to Professor Lark. I did well in his class and he always encouraged me to follow my dreams, but there was the possibility that nothing would come out of it. He’ll know someone, or something.
It’ll be fine.

I walked across the campus and opened the door to the English department. As I walked down the hallway, I saw many professors I recognized at their desks, some in meetings with students. It was really strange to be back here. Asking for help from my professor felt like a step backwards. Why was I doing this? The sick feeling in my stomach rose sharply. I didn’t belong here anymore.

I was here because I didn’t have a choice. It was this or I was going to send in applications to the local
Chili’s
. I stopped behind Professor Lark’s door, my heart beating rather fast.

Pull yourself together!

I heaved a great sigh and nodded to myself. Then I raised my fist and knocked three sharp raps.

“C’min.”

Professor Lark wheeled around in his chair and smiled as I entered the door. “Jessica, how are you?”

“Good,” I lied as I hitched up a grin on my face. My hand tightened over my resume. “How are your classes?” I asked as I sat down across from his desk.

He was young for a college professor, with thick brown hair and an attractive face. Professor Lark was known for being easygoing and fair, and as a result he was one of the most popular professors. Everyone liked him.

I envied that. I had never been charismatic—my upbringing was painful. I could never treat strangers with such open kindness. I was quiet in class, but I wrote well.

He waved his hand and an irritated look crossed his face. “The furloughs have been really frustrating, as you probably know. But otherwise, it’s been fine. How goes your internship?”

My face fell as the burn of failure heated my chest. “Well, I was there for a year and they told me they didn’t have a paid position available. So I was forced to quit.”

He frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that. At least it will look good on your resume.”

A sting of anger punctured my self-pity. Didn’t anyone understand that I couldn’t live on unpaid internships, no matter how good they looked on my resume? “That’s sort of why I’m here.” I swallowed. “I’ve been applying to editing jobs, even technical writing, and I’m having a really hard time. It’s been a year since I left my internship and I haven’t found anything.”

The panic I’d been feeling crept into my voice. Professor Lark looked sympathetic, but I didn’t see anything in his face that gave me hope.

“Perhaps you should get a job while you continue searching. I’m sorry, Jessica. But I don’t think I’ll be much help. Have you tried looking in the career center?”

“Do you have any contacts in the industry? Anyone you could send my resume to? I already tried the career center.”

He took the resume from my hands, avoiding my eyes as he scanned it. “I’ve been out of touch with the industry for a few years, Jessica. I’m really sorry that you came all this way for this. The only thing I can suggest—”

My heart swelled with hope.

“—is to keep trying. Get a paying job anywhere, it doesn’t matter. On the side, get another internship or a volunteering gig at a publisher. Just keep at it. You have to gain more experience.”

I felt hollow. My head nodded as if I was hearing life-saving advice I hadn’t heard before. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve heard, “Don’t give up” or “Keep trying.” One of these days, someone will see how dedicated you are.
Or, you know, they won’t.
It was all bullshit, all of the optimistic hopes of people who had their lives together and really didn’t understand what I was going through.

I stood up abruptly, fighting to keep my face from crumbling. From the look on his face, I was probably failing. “Thanks, professor,” I said in a horribly cheery voice. “Yeah, that makes sense.”

My words echoed hollowly in the small office. I looked around at the dank office, taking in the battered books and how tired he looked, as if his job had prematurely aged him. Why had I come here? He had never even been published. He was just as much as a failure as I was.

“Jessica, wait!”

“Bye professor!”

I pretended not to hear him as I dashed out of the office. Pressure was building up behind my eyes and I felt myself gasping for breath. I thought suddenly of the Golden Gate Bridge and saw my body leaping off the red bars to be swallowed by the icy waters.
Everything will be fine
. I would go to the library and research. I’ll spend the whole day there if I have to. Clearly, I couldn’t count on anyone for help. I was on my own, just like I always had been.

Once I entered the library, I felt a bit calmer. The library was my sanctuary. When I was young, I spent whole days away from home at the library. It was easy to crack a book open and dive into the story for hours, and escape. When the library closed at five, only then would I return home. I could still remember how sick I felt when my feet brought me closer and closer to my home.

I slid into a chair and logged onto the computer. Someone had left a
Time
magazine on the desk and I pushed it aside. The computer monitor burned my eyes as I scoured every website I knew for editing jobs and found a few that I had overlooked before. I spent hours typing up cover letters and sent half a dozen emails. I also sent my resume to other non-editing jobs. Professor Lark was right; I couldn’t afford to keep waiting for my dream job.

I grabbed the mug of coffee I brought with me, which was now stone cold, and knocked over the magazine so that the cover landed face-up. An article caught my eye.

How I Became a Millionaire’s Sugarbaby

Intrigued, I flipped the pages to the article and read one of the enlarged quotes:

“I make about $5000 a month, which doubles when I travel with him.”

Holy shit.

My eyes scanned the article quickly, as if I was the first one to learn this secret. The article was about sugarbaby websites, where the world’s richest men would ‘hire’ young women to go on dates with them at the most exclusive restaurants, or as companions when they traveled for business. The woman in the article claimed that she had never had sex with her clients. Women who became sugarbabies were usually college-age. They needed to pay for their college tuition, or their credit card debt, or whatever.

This can’t be real.

I immediately clicked to one of the websites they mentioned,
www.millionairearrangement.com
.
I gaped as I scrolled through the list of “gentlemen” and saw their profile pictures, their net worth, and their location. Apparently, the website did background checks on their millionaires’ tax records to make sure that their income was legitimate.

My mouth watered as I thought of what I could do with five thousand dollars a month. This couldn’t be real. It was too easy. They probably all have sex with the millionaires, making them little more than prostitutes.

I imagined myself on the arm of a sixty-year-old man and my guts twisted. But really, who cared how old he was? I could go on a couple dates with him. It’s not like I was signing a contract to go home with him.

This is a really stupid idea.

But I could choose whom I went out with. He didn’t have to be sixty years old.

I took the
Time
magazine with me, stuffing it into my bag. It wasn’t the first time I had ever stolen something, but I still felt a little guilty.

BOOK: Break
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ads

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