Blank:Alpha Billionaire Romance

By: Cassie Wild

Chapter 1

Preslee

“It’s nine on a Friday night and you’re nineteen years-old, shouldn’t you be out having fun or something?”

I rolled my eyes and grimaced when my best friend answered the phone with her usual lecture.

“A simple ‘Hello’ works wonders too, ya know,” I said, distracted as I searched through my purse to find my car keys. “You know that I have class on Friday nights, so save it.”

Ava’s rich, throaty laugh came through the line, so addictive it forced me to grin. “You know I’m teasing. How was it tonight?”

I sighed.

“That good, huh?”

I finally managed to find my keys and threaded them between my fingers, closing my fist. Voila. My own Freddy Krueger-style weapon, responsible for getting women such as myself through dark parking lots since God knows when. I stepped out into the deserted parking lot, the chilly, early-November air sending a shiver through me. I’d parked under a light, as close as I could get to the entrance of the community college. My last class had gotten out half an hour earlier, but I’d been waylaid by a professor who’d wanted to chat about some of the comments he’d made on my latest research paper.

“Ehh, school is school,” I told her. “Some classes are better than others.”

“They can’t all be CSI-level stuff, Pres,” Ava reminded me dryly.

“I get that,” I said. “But can you tell me why anybody needs to take Introduction to Computer Science? I mean, why not have a course about walking? Or breathing?”

I’d been frustrated since the first day of class when my professor had introduced us to this novel thing called a keyboard. I’d seriously started doubting the veracity of my school’s reputation at that point.

Ava laughed again. I knew that she, of all people, understood my frustration with that particular course. She’d been a computer whiz since she’d laid her hands on her first hard drive. The technological complexities that baffled me, she could take apart and piece back together again. Bugs, malware, fried discs, and malfunctioning fans, you name it, she could fix it. “Just a few more weeks and the last of your introductory classes will be over,” she pointed out.

I kept my eyes and ears open as I walked, keys at the ready, and vaguely wondered if men ever felt the need to be so cautious when walking across a dark parking lot. Probably not, I thought as I reached my small, silver sedan. Being barely five foot two didn’t really help either. I’d taken a couple self-defense classes, but I only had so much to work with.

A slight shift in the light drew my attention. The shadows outside of my bubble of light shifted. I fumbled to insert my keys in the lock as a large figure stepped from the recesses of the darkness and drew closer to my cowering form.

Shit. Shit. Shit. A flash of metal had me panting as I finally got the key in the slot, hopped in the car and pressed the automatic lock button. I gripped the wheel until my knuckles turned white and checked my rearview mirror. The man stuck to the shadows, leaving me only with the impression of someone huge.

Granted, it could’ve been my imagination, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.

I heaved a sigh of relief as I pulled out of the parking lot, leaving the creepy man – or my imagination – behind.

“So what are you up to tonight?” I asked Ava, switching on the phone’s hands-free function. Safety first. It was a twenty-minute drive down dark back roads, and I appreciated the voice on the other end of the line keeping me company along the way. The maybe-person I’d seen or hadn’t seen had definitely rattled my nerves

And, like always, Ava was there. Ever since I was five years old, Ava had practically been my other half. When her family moved next door, we’d clicked almost immediately. It happened on our first day of kindergarten, when we’d walked to school together, and Ava had taken my hand to cross the street. In that moment, I’d known we’d be friends forever.

It was a friendship that had gotten us both through hard times. More than the average, typical teenage angst stuff – we’d definitely gone through that – but our connection ran much deeper. Ava’s parents had never had what you’d call a happy marriage. Even when we were little, she’d been forced to watch violent fights between her mom and dad almost every day. Stuff no one should ever have to witness. Definitely nothing a kid should see or hear.

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