Authors: Brooke Cumberland,Rogena Mitchell-Jones,Sommer Stein
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Anthologies, #Romantic Suspense, #Collections & Anthologies, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense
The Intern Serials:
Complete Box Set
Volume One, Two, & Three
After the Internship
Copyright © 2014
The Intern Serials: Complete Box Set
Cover Photo by
K Keeton Designs
Cover design by
Perfect Pear Creative Covers
Rogena Mitchell-Jones, Manuscript Service
All rights reserved. No parts of the book may be used or reproduced in any matter without written permission from the author, except for inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, establishments, organizations, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously to give a sense of authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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She’s sexy, fierce, and a loud-mouthed know-it-all…and she’s completely off limits.
Cecilia isn’t your typical college student. Hell, she isn’t a college student at all, but that doesn’t stop her from applying for one of the biggest and prestigious enterprises in the Midwest.
She wants it. She takes it.
She doesn’t let anything get in her way when it comes to finding out the truth.
When Bentley Leighton, soon-to-be CEO of Leighton Enterprises, meets “Ceci,” he’s instantly impressed. He doesn’t have time to train a new intern. However, when he sees her that first day, his intentions begin to change.
He’s the boss. She’s the intern.
Nothing can happen. It’s against the company rules.
Then again, rules were made to be broken.
What starts as innocent flirting becomes raveled up into so much more—secrets, lies, deceit.
EVERY LITTLE GIRL has a hero, someone they look up to. To little girls, their dad is everything to them. My dad was my everything. My hero, my role model, my best friend.
I was eleven years old when my world shattered—came to a crashing halt. Laughing and living a carefree life was easy when you were oblivious to the world’s cruelty. That was when I had my first real life lesson. The world is a cruel place.
My little brother and older sister were outside with me jumping in and out of the sprinklers on a hot summer day in Omaha. It was our favorite thing to do together, something we couldn’t fight about. My dad was sitting at the patio table reading his newspaper and drinking his coffee like he did every Saturday morning. From the outside, we were the perfect suburban family.
On the inside—lies, hatred, and secrets.
I witnessed something that day that’ll always be imbedded into my mind. I also have the evidence to prove it…on my very own skin.
AFTER SEVEN YEARS, the memory is still seared into my mind. Everything about that day. That moment.
I rub my shoulder as I always do when I think about him. That’s where I have the scar—the memory—of what that day entailed.
I engross myself into every crime and detective show possible. I’m fascinated with everything relative to murder or criminal cases. I know it’s an odd fascination, but it’s all I know. It’s all I’ve wanted to know.
I’m not your ‘typical’ high school girl. I don’t wave pom-poms around, wear short skirts to get boys to notice me, or even bury my head in a book studying. I’m not any of those, so if that’s what you’re hoping to get, it’s time to adjust your expectations.
I’m that girl in Chemistry getting an ear full right now. I’m the one that was so damn distracted that I blew up my Bunsen burner and nearly the entire school. I’m the one that’s fascinated with everything I shouldn’t be. The one who doesn’t have to work to get a guy’s attention or cares about popularity. The one distracted by my past, and it won’t ever go away until I know the truth of that day.
* * *
“Miss West, what a surprise to see you in here.” Principal Jamison smirks at me from across his desk. I cross my arms and legs as I prepare for another lecture.
“It was an accident,” I begin to explain.
“I’m sure it was, Cecilia. But you’ve been having quite a few accidents lately.”
I shrug as if I’m bored, which I am. I’ve heard it all from Mr. Jamison.
“Seeing as you didn’t intentionally blow it up, and you didn’t harm anyone I’m going to let this slide. But—”
I roll my eyes. There’s always a freaking but.
“I need your mother to sign this form.” He hands me a typed out form explaining what I’ve
done and what matters are going to be taken for my actions. I grab it from his hands and stuff it in my purse.
“Fine. Anything else?”
“No, Miss West. But please, try not to burn anything else. I’d rather like to keep this place in one piece.”
I stomp up and grab my bag that’s hanging on the chair. I turn my back and head for the door without saying another word—instead I flash him the bird.
“Good day, Cecilia,” I hear him say with amusement.
I’m sure you’re wondering how a teenage girl like me gets away with shit like that, but when the principal is your aunt’s husband who knows exactly the childhood you’ve had, you tend to get the sympathy card.
The tragedy of losing my dad—my hero, idol, and best friend—has forever altered me. I’m no longer his little girl—his princess. I’m a cold shell of a person forced to grow up and deal with the new complexities his absence left of my upbringing. I was forced to grow up much faster than I should’ve had to and face the realities of what the world was really like—cruel and unfair. I don’t know who I am, or who I should be, but I know one thing’s for sure—I can only rely on myself to find out the truth of that day.
“I heard what you did.” Simon appears next to my locker with a grin.
“Yeah, and what’s that?” I snap back as I turn the lock code on my locker.
“That you about burned off Montana Greyson’s fake eyebrows.”
I laugh. “That should teach her to be ninety-five percent fake then.”
“I could hear her screaming from outside the girl’s bathroom. She was cursing and crying.”
I roll my eyes. “What a fucking drama queen.”
“Well, to be fair, she wasn’t blessed with your perfect skin and naturally straight hair,” he teases, pretending to give her an excuse.
“True.” I smirk. “But I don’t care about those things.”
“It’s a shame you don’t see how freaking gorgeous you are.” I scowl as his eyes wander up and down my body like a dog in heat.
I quickly look in the tiny magnetic mirror that’s hanging in my locker and shrug unapologetically. “I see it. But I only care when it gives me an advantage,” I respond playfully.
If he only knew that’s exactly what my plans are…
I slam my locker shut after putting my bag away. “Well, I’m out. Tell Cora that I’ll call her later if you see her.”
He flashes me a disgusted face. “Yeah, like I’m going to purposely run into Cora.”
I laugh at his expression. “Fine, whatever. I’ll talk to you later, babe.”
After this morning’s incident, I’m ready to get the hell out of there. I have somewhere else to be anyway.
My older sister, Casey, is living at home while she attends college. It’s cheaper and that way she has our mom to do her laundry still. If it were me, I would’ve gotten the hell out of here long ago.
She’s only three years older than I am, but we look a lot alike. At least I hope people think we do, because I’m hoping to be her for the next sixteen weeks.
After showering and getting dressed, I peek into her room where she’s studying on her bed.
“Hey, Casey. I need your student ID.”
Her eyes never lift from the book. “It’s in my wallet.”
I walk over to her purse and pull out her tiny Coach wallet. I’ve been in it numerous times, usually to borrow her license to get into clubs or to buy alcohol. She never questions it, either.
“Thanks, I’ll bring it back later.”
I wasn’t dressed in my usual clothes. Instead, I’m wearing a navy blue pencil skirt, white silk blouse, and nude pumps. I look like a librarian, but I need to look the part.
My hair is up in a tight bun with a few loose curls. I wrap my late grandmother’s pearls around my neck for added effect. My face is naturally pale, so I add a touch of makeup—nothing extreme. My body is slender—a gymnast’s body—but I haven’t trained in years. Not since I was fourteen and could no longer deal with the memories each practice brought.
It used to be a passion of mine, but now it was only a reminder of my dad and the times we spent together every Sunday afternoon at the gym. I loved it before dad died and now it was only a painful memory—a painful passion.
Who the hell dresses like this? Someone who needs to pretend to be someone else, I suppose. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I walk into the building marked Leighton Enterprises and then take the elevator to the third floor. Confidently, I step off and walk straight to the secretary’s desk.
“Hello, may I help you?” She looks up at me bored.
“Hi, I’m Casey West. I’m here for an intern interview.”
“Welcome, Miss West. Mr. Leighton and his colleagues are a few minutes behind. Please take a seat, and they’ll be with you shortly.”
I nod. “Thank you.”
I hold the manila envelope in my lap as I take a seat. It contains my ‘college transcripts’ along with a lengthy essay on why I deserve this unpaid internship.
I forged all of it, of course. It wasn’t hard at all, actually. I used all of Casey’s college scripts and found her school schedule to look up her professor’s names. A few phone calls and I had my fake transcripts and recommendation letters. Add in Casey’s student ID, and I was now a makeshift college student.
I made sure to do extensive research on this company. It’s one of the largest investigative criminal reporting companies in the Midwest. They do a little of everything, but the part I’m interested in is the criminal cases. They hold files to every unsolved murder in Nebraska, which is exactly my reason for being here in the first place.
“Miss West? They’re ready for you now.”
I stand up and smooth my skirt. I thank the receptionist as I walk down the short hall to a boardroom.
The internship process is extensive due to all the private information held here. I had to go through an extensive questionnaire online as well
as a phone pre-interview, but I’m prepared. I’m going to nail this interview head on.
One thing my dad always said about me was that I was a real charmer. I’ve had the ability to manipulate and deceive people for as long as I could remember, and I fully intend to use that to my advantage. Using charm and seduction—my two secret weapons—I confidently walk in.
“Welcome, please take a seat.”
Three men sit in a row behind a long cherry table. They all have files lying on the table and shuffle through them as I make my way to the chair.
“Hello, gentlemen.” I lean over and urge my hand in front of them, quickly shaking the first two men’s hands. I shift my body, so I’m angled toward the last one whom I assume is Mr. Leighton from the pictures I found.
Oh my god. He’s intimidatingly stunning. I try not to stare, but it’s impossible not to when I’m trying to put on a show of confidence.
He hesitates, but grabs my hand anyway and shakes it. It sends a chill down my body, and I immediately jerk back.
I smile as I slowly sit down and set my folder on top of the table.
“You are Miss Casey West, correct?” The one in the middle asks.
“Yes, sir.” I remind myself to keep eye contact while controlling my facial expressions.
“Excellent. Well, welcome. I’m Paul Landers, and this is my colleague, Logan Sommers, and this here is Mr. Bentley Leighton.”
I glance at each of them, but my eyes halt on Mr. Leighton. As I get a better look at him, I swallow as I take in his face, mouth, and biceps. Little butterflies appear in my stomach as his eyes make contact with mine.
Paul and Logan look like typical businessmen. They’re the most engaged, whereas Mr. Leighton looks bored and irritated that he’s been called into these interviews in the first place. He shifts uneasily as our eyes make contact.
He also doesn’t look the part. Where Paul and Logan wear the clean-cut look—short slicked hair and clean-shaven face—Bentley looks straight out of a motorcycle ad. He has shaggy dark blonde hair that has a little curl to it and a week’s worth of trimmed facial hair. It’s actually a good look for him, but it definitely is not what I expected a future CEO to look like.
“It’s a pleasure,” I say as I make sure to keep my smile seductive. It’s a talent I nailed down years ago.
“Can you tell us what you know about Leighton Enterprises? And why you think you’d benefit from the intern program here?” Paul asks right away with a pen ready to start taking notes on everything I say.
I clear my throat and sit up taller. “I know all the basic information that is on your website, and honestly, it’s just the tip of what this company is really about.” I notice all three are now staring intently at me. “What is not on your website is that Leighton Enterprises is one of the largest charitable contributors in the Midwest. You give the most to foundations that support Amber Alerts, Missing Children Programs, and unresolved cold cases to name just a few. You truly believe in the justice of finding missing persons, and giving justice to the families of the victims. Besides your charitable contributions, you also hold the highest record in
the country for reporting the most open cases from over ten years ago. And I think I can benefit from all of that.”
Paul and Logan’s jaws drop as Mr. Leighton’s expression remained unchanged. I’m unsure if he’s impressed or pissed off, but I continue smiling as I make eye contact with each of them.
“That’s very impressive,” Logan finally says.
“Thank you. I did an extensive background search, but I’m very fascinated with this line of work.”
“What do you see yourself doing in the future?” Paul asks.
“I’d like to be a journalist. Perhaps a news reporter. I want to dig into open or even seemingly impossible cold cases. I want to make a difference to someone’s family, even if it’s years later. I want to do the unthinkable.”
This earns an eyebrow raise from Mr. Leighton. Well, it’s a start. I’ll get him to warm up to me before I walk out that door.
“Excellent choice,” Paul nods as he writes his notes down.
“What do you think you can offer Leighton Enterprises during your internship?”
“I hope to offer my skills, but mainly, I hope to make your lives easier. I want to be the middleman that helps get you whatever is needed to help you do your job better.” I know I won’t be working on any cases, so I won’t even pretend that’s an option, but I can definitely use the advantage to get my foot in the door. Once I am in, I can do my own digging.
“Sounds very ambitious.” My head jerks to Mr. Leighton, who finally speaks. His voice is low and stern. It takes me by surprise.
I smirk and cross my legs. “I guess you could say that.” I like the attention he’s finally giving me. It makes me feel like I’m cracking him.
“What can you tell us about your college experience thus far? What major are you?” Logan asks as I tear my eyes away from Mr. Leighton.
“I’m a double major in journalism and criminal justice. My plan is to find a career where I can merge both of those since they both fascinate me,” I answer honestly—well, as honest as I can be. I do plan to double major in college when I attend next year.
“You sound very busy,” Mr. Leighton interrupts. “How do you plan to juggle it all?”
I pull my bottom lip in between my teeth just before releasing it and answering. “I’m very skilled at juggling.”