Cash (Hawthorne Brothers Romance)

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Cash

 

Hawthorne Brothers Book Two

 

M.L. Young

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2016 by M.L. Young

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction.  Any resemblances of characters to actual persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.  The author, M.L. Young, holds exclusive rights to this work.  Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.

 

 

 

 

No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the author.  The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

Attention:
  This book features alternating points of view.  Each chapter is titled with the character whose point of view you are reading from.

Chapter One

 

Cash

 

“How about a slice of humble pie to go with this grenade?”

That was, by far, my most memorable and most popular line from the movie.  It had reached stratospheric heights, raking in half a billion dollars in the box office. It definitely wasn’t award worthy, at least Oscar worthy, but for my first movie I was pretty proud.

My parents used to tell me when I grew up I would be important, somebody people loved. I didn’t care much about that, but more about the money, which was funny considering my name is Cash. 

Now, I won’t say that money is the sole motivation in my life, definitely not, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few million in the bank, that’s for sure. I fell into this whole acting gig, and not by choice. I was in Los Angeles visiting a friend who had moved out a few months before for school, and I was “discovered.” Sitting at a Starbucks, a man, Jared, came up to me and asked me if I had representation. I had no clue what in the hell he was talking about, thinking he was a scam artist or something, but he turned out to be legit. I took his card, talked with him, and soon found myself at an audition, the audition that took me from Cash Hawthorne to Cash Hawthorne, A-lister.

I still remember my first day on set. I was a nervous wreck, just wanting to make a good first impression. My mother had called before I went that day and talked me though it, telling me that most of the crew probably had horror stories about actors, and I shouldn’t be like them. She had the soul of a Southern mother deep down within the shell of a farm-strong Midwestern gal. She told me to treat them like they were my family, like I was talking to her or my father, whenever I was around them or interacted with them. It must’ve worked, because the crew couldn’t seem to get enough of me. 

As I sat on the set of the sequel, the crew setting up for the next shot, I flipped through my phone as my co-stars did the same. Truthfully, and I wouldn’t tell this to the general public, movie sets could be quite boring. Green screens, CGI, and doing the same thing ten times over with different tones and angles can get a little exasperating, and that’s all coming from a guy who’s never really done this before. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for the veterans. I suppose it was all a necessary evil, though.

“Ten minutes until action!” the director, David Cramer, yelled.

Two makeup ladies came over and powdered us while tending to my fake scars and blood, as this action scene was a pivotal one in the movie. I was rescuing the First Lady and her daughter from a group of terrorists that had taken over the White House. 

I looked to my right, seeing that very First Lady going over her lines as she mouthed them to herself. I didn’t have many lines in this scene, mostly just action sequences, which was fine by me. I still wasn’t used to the whole memorization thing, but everybody was patient and kind with me. Maybe my being nice to them bought that for me. 

“Cast needed on set!” a producer yelled, and I hopped out of my chair.

The set for this scene, a combination of foam bricks and a green screen backdrop, were all I had to help me imagine I was inside a taken-over White House. That was one of the most difficult parts of acting. I had to imagine that the green room was right over there and a staircase was there and it was all a little hard—even for a guy who had three imaginary friends as a child. 

I gave the nod to the director, showing I was ready, before a marker was set and he yelled action. 

“Where are they keeping them?” I yelled, holding one of the terrorists by the shirt collar.

“Please, don’t kill me!” he pleaded.

“Tell me where they are or I’ll have your head for this,” I snarled.

“They’re being held in the panic room downstairs. Please, don’t kill me! I have a family!” he cried.

“So did the people you killed,” I said before putting a merciless bullet in his head.

“Cut!” the director yelled. “Beautiful, Cash, just beautiful. Move on to the next scene, everyone!”

Yup, that was show business. Little cuts here and there molded together into a seamless movie that looked like it was being recorded live. How they did it I had no clue, but I was just glad I was on this side of the camera instead of behind it or worse, on the editing side.

“So that was okay?” I asked David.

“It was better than okay, Cash. You need to have some more confidence and believe that you’re doing a great job. We definitely cast the right man,” he said.

“Thank you, David. It means a lot to have a director like you supporting me like this,” I said.

“Let’s hope we have even more films together,” he said before being called off set.

“Hey Cash, have a minute?” Charlie, one of my co-stars, asked.

“Yeah man, what’s up?” I asked.

“My girlfriend is out of town tonight and I was wondering if you wanted to go hang out or something,” he asked.

“Yeah, I don’t think I have anything tonight. Let me check,” I said, pulling out my phone.

Charlie was a cool guy, about my age, twenty-two, though I’d say he was a bit luckier in some respects. He and his girlfriend had been together since they were fifteen, well before he had any credits to his name, and it was clear that they’d been in love for a long time. His sudden money and fame weren’t factors in them being together, and that’s what I was jealous of.

I thought dating would be much easier when I got famous. I had some money, people knew who I was, and women threw themselves at me. I found a pair of panties in my mailbox, once. The problem was that most of those women either wanted a night with me, or they just wanted what I had. It wasn’t that I didn’t like a hot night of passion, I’m a young guy after all, but after seeing my brother Bentley and his fiancée, Anna, I couldn’t help but want the same thing. There was something about having a life partner that really appeals to me. Finding that was a different story.

“Yeah, everything looks good. What were you thinking?” I asked.

“Maybe a low-key dinner? We could always go play video games or something after if you’re down,” he said.

“Man, I haven’t had time to play any in months. I used to be so addicted,” I said.

“That’s what happens when you’re the star! I usually play at least an hour a night, sometimes even in my trailer. But yeah, we can either meet there or I could give you a lift or something,” he said.

“How about I pick you up? I want to try out the new ride,” I said. “Can’t get enough of it.”

“Shit, yeah, I heard you talking about it. Sounds like a deal,” he said before texting me his address. “We’ll figure out the rest later.”

Chapter Two

 

Jenna

 

I wiped a glob of spit off the side of my cheek before squinting and looking at my phone.

“Shit,” I muttered, jumping out of bed.

I had a test today, my 400-level business class, and it was close to starting.

I quickly fixed my hair and grabbed my bag before running out of my room and towards the door. My roommate, Malia, wasn’t home. As I fumbled for the matching shoe, the door unlocked and opened.

“Oh, hey,” she said as she walked in.

“Can’t talk. About to miss test,” I said frantically.

“Doesn’t that start in fifteen minutes?” she asked.

“Yes, I overslept,” I said, finding the shoe and slipping it on.

“Better hurry,” she said before I grabbed my bag and ran out the door.

We lived on campus, sort of, in a large group of on-campus apartment housing. It wasn’t owned by the university, but was integrated with the campus just like the dorms would be, which was nice. Malia and I were also fortunate enough to be right on the edge of the neighborhood, near the building I needed to go to. I hopped on my bike, which was sitting on the front patio, and furiously sped off. I was sure I left a skid mark on the sidewalk behind me. This test was a third of my grade, and once that clock struck eleven the door would shut and nobody would be let in for any reason whatsoever. If I didn’t get there on time, I could count this class as failed.

I refused to check my phone for the time, even after I’d locked up my bike to another bike on a full rack, which wasn’t something I normally did. Running and hoping not to trip over my own feet, I rushed into the building and up the stairs, where a few other students were walking into the class while the professor, a burly white bearded man with a potbelly, stood guard.

I saw a clock above the vending machines. Twenty seconds left. I refused to walk, my calves tightened and about to give out, until I got through the door, panting like a heat-stricken dog. Mr. Frang closed the door and I found my seat. I made it.

“You will have the entire fifty minutes to work on your exam. If you have any questions, please bring your test to me and ask. I won’t give you any answers, but if you have a legitimate misunderstanding of the question at hand I will clarify it for you. Anybody caught cheating will be thrown out of the class, and the university disciplinary board will be alerted, which could result in expulsion from the school.  Please only use a number two pencil on your Scantron sheet, and you may leave once finished,” Mr. Frang said before handing out the exams.

He used an alternating method, which was smart, where the person next to you had a different version of the same exam. The questions and answers were in a different order, though they were all the same. It made cheating extra difficult, not that I’d tried. I usually did well enough on my own.

People got up as time went by, bringing their stuff to the front and leaving. I panicked, looking up at the clock to see that not even half of the time had passed. I knew I was fine time-wise, but it made me wonder if I wasn’t as prepared as I’d thought. Maybe they just got things wrong—at least that was what I told myself, instead of thinking that I was just slow and a little dim. I was street smart, but book smarts were always a little harder for me to absorb and retain.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock, I got to the last question, one about accounting techniques, and scribbled in the C on the sheet before grabbing my sheet and bag and walking to the front.

Mr. Frang was reading a book and he didn’t even bother to look up at me like most of my other professors. He wasn’t the type of man you wanted to befriend, but he did work efficiently and I learned more from him than the others. I guess that counted for something.

Being from Illinois, I always relished the warm weather in Southern California as I walked outside in January and felt the sun beat against my skin. The traffic, crime, and smog was something to contend with, but they were all necessary evils when living somewhere that wasn’t sub-arctic and covered with snow and ice.

I had a few hours until my shift at Korrigoro, a Japanese fusion restaurant that was all the rage right now until the next place popped up. We were only a month in, and I’d already made more money in that one month than I did during three months at my old job. I didn’t work that often, though, maybe twice a week, though it was still enough to pay my bills and keep me afloat. I’d much rather be in an office, but until I got that piece of paper in my hand they liked to call a diploma, I guess I was stuck serving rich people.

I walked in the front door of our townhome as Malia was finishing up making lunch. She handed me a plate and we sat on the couch and watched the
Real Housewives
of some place or another. She was more into these reality shows than I was, but I watched anyway because seeing catty middle-aged women fight about Botox was entertaining and made me laugh.

“So, how did the test go?” she asked as a piece of food fell out of her mouth and down her shirt.

“I think I did well. I know I at least got a B. I think,” I said.

“Hey, that’s not bad. That class is pretty tough. Four-hundred-level, right?” she asked.

“Yeah, it is. It’s probably the hardest one I’ve ever taken, though it is my final semester, so at least there’s a light at the end of this tunnel,” I said.

“It’s strange he has a test this early in the semester. It’s late January, after all,” she said.

“He said there were three of them, the final being the last one, so this one covered all the stuff we did the first two weeks. I feel the same way, I thought it was a bit much, but what can you do?” I asked.

“Talk to your dad recently?” she asked out of the blue.

“No,” I said curtly. “Why?”

“Just wondering. Was thinking about it earlier and wanted to ask before I forgot,” she said.

“That man isn’t a part of my life, just like I’m not a part of his. That’s the way the universe wants it to work,” I said.

“Think you two will ever reconcile?”

“Likely not, and that’s okay. My mom is married to Tom, and he’s a great guy who treats her right,” I said.

“Yeah, I liked him. He was nice,” she said.

“Anyway, new subject,” I said.

Talking about my father wasn’t something I did—ever. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, and I wasn’t fully sure why I hated to do it, but it just set me off somehow. I usually never thought about him, but whenever somebody did mention him I began to think
a lot
about him. I Facebook stalked him a few months ago, after my mother brought him up once, but I never added him or anything like that. 

His life looked so perfect, with his blonde wife and her two kids. They went on vacations, ate out, and had a perfect little life that I never had. I guess I couldn’t blame the kids, but still, he was
my
father, and I should’ve at least had him present for a birthday. Whatever.

“Did you ever sign up on RandomMeetX like I told you to?” she asked.

“No, I don’t think I’m into things like that,” I said.

“What, why not? It’s a great way to meet guys!” she said.

“It just seems so, I don’t know, wrong. These guys could be serial killers, after all,” I said.

“I’ve been on three different dates and they’ve all been fine. You just have to be smart and weed the losers out,” she said.

“I just like meeting a guy in person, knowing that he’s real and not some pimply guy in Romania, and go from there,” I said.

“It’s not any safer, though. That guy could still be a serial killer, you know,” she said.

“I’ll take my chances,” I said.

“Do you have to work tonight? There’s a
Housewives
marathon on,” she said.

“Yeah, I better get ready, actually. Traffic will be a bitch since I’ll have to leave right when rush hour starts,” I said, getting up off the couch.

There was some credence to what she said, though I wasn’t sure online dating was necessarily the solution. So what if I hadn’t had a date in three months? Hell, it’d been even longer since I’d gotten any, not that I was a slut or anything, but there was only so much a vibrator could do, and I was pretty sure the batteries were dying in that thing anyway. Maybe if I hadn’t found anyone in another month or two I’d sign up, though I wasn’t sure I’d tell her that unless I met a guy through it. She’d have a field day if I signed up now.

I always took a shower before every shift, even if I hadn’t done much that day. One thing I learned about working in a higher-end restaurant was to always look my best. We seemed to get tipped an extra twenty-five percent, at least according to my coworkers. Since I didn’t work often, that extra income really added up for me, and it was worth it to wash my hair and do my makeup for that money. But God, that sounds so cheap.

As I got done getting ready the fear of sitting in never-ending traffic hit me. I left for work about twenty minutes earlier than usual, just to hopefully skip past it. I was convinced the city planners made the roads as some kind of sadistic joke years ago. Traffic had never been good here, at least that was what old-time residents had told me, and I definitely believed them. It was like the planners sat there and wondered how they could make things incredibly miserable for people, and the roads were the answer. I was sure that other cities, other big cities, didn’t have it this bad. You almost needed to nab a priest for the trip just to say a prayer and spritz you with holy water in case you died en route.

I listened to the radio on my way there, a classical station, which wasn’t what most people would expect of me. I loved rock music and even some rap and hip-hop, but I didn’t need to get amped up before going into work. Besides, I had a habit of whispering lyrics to myself, and the songs that were popular today didn’t exactly have great lyrics for trying to earn a fat tip. Maybe in some biker dive bar, but not where I worked. 

My usual spot next to the dumpster was available so I parked in back, squeezing my small Honda in and doing a kind of twist to get out without hitting my door against the chipped green hunk of metal next to me.

“You’re early,” Kieran, a coworker, said, as he sat out back smoking a cigarette.

“Had to beat traffic,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad today. I’m leaving soon and was just checking the report,” he said.

“Are there a lot of reservations tonight?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

“Shit,” I replied.

“More tips, though,” he said.

“Also more work,” I replied before going inside to drop off my things.

We had lockers in the back, albeit small ones, that we decorated and made our own. Mine had some stickers from a dollar-store coloring book I bought for fun. A few of them were bubbling and peeling off from the heat of the kitchen. 

I pulled an apron off the shelf, tying it around my waist and putting my order book and pens in the front pocket before looking in the mirror and making sure I looked presentable. We always had to be checked by management before stepping foot onto the floor for the night. Something about having the same, great experience for guests every single time or something like that. 

“Hey Matt, I’m ready to go out for my shift,” I said, peeking into the office.

“Okay, let me do the check,” he said, wiping his mouth with a napkin and standing up.

I stood still as he made sure my shirt was pressed, tucked in, and my hair was back and in place. I showed him my nails, always having to be clean, though mine were painted, a nude color of course. I was pretty sure I’d be fired if I came in with any kind of exaggeration on them. 

“You look good. I’ll put it in the book,” he said, going back inside.

I walked out onto the floor and checked with the front to see what section I was in and how many tables I was taking over tonight. I had five, which was about the most I ever wanted to do at one time. I’d probably only have to do ten tables tonight, maybe eleven, but each would leave a tip of thirty to fifty dollars, unless I got really lucky and got some kind of big spender. Celebrities, athletes, and media executives had been known to come in and drop a big amount for a fun night. My highest tip yet was two hundred. 

I hadn’t yet been seated, which was okay, as the restaurant wasn’t too busy, but the rush was close to starting. 

I just hoped I had a good night tonight.

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