The Secrets of Seduction - Introduction
The Ladies of the Burling School Series
Eyes narrowed, Ella ducked down behind the bleachers and watched. Waiting. She could feel her blood pounding as the adrenaline surged through her system. And yes, she definitely had her camera ready.
Unfortunately, nothing happened.
She’d been sitting here on the gravel behind the bleachers, hidden by a stack of worn, used wooden planks. Ella was sure that the football players were up to something behind these bleachers, but she hadn’t been able to figure out what.
Glancing at her watch, she knew that she didn’t have much time left. Her father would be almost finished with dinner right about now and he’d be expecting her home.
With a grumble of frustration, she gathered up her books and the wrappers from the candy she’d grabbed on the way out of the school newsroom. She was just about to get up when a movement to her right stopped her.
There…just off to the side of the bleachers was Warren Beterman, the captain of the football team. Smothering her excitement, she ducked back down and waited, wondering what…or who…Warren was waiting for.
A moment later, Adam Givener walked down the hill from the parking lot and…a moment later, both boys smiled to each other.
Ella held her breath, trying to understand what was going on. Was this a romantic meeting? If so, that wasn’t the kind of reporting she wanted to do. She didn’t care of the boys were hiding their feelings for each other. She wanted the good stuff! The illegal stuff! She wanted…!
“Here. You said you wanted the essay to be on Sheakespear’s King Lear, so I wrote about the changes in authority figures in different plays. Will that work?” Adam said, pulling a sheaf of papers out of his book bag.
Warren quickly flipped through the pages and Ella held her breath, silently recording everything with her cell phone.
“Yeah, this looks pretty good,” Warren finally said, grinning at Adam. “Thanks!” and then he handed Adam the money.
Ella’s eyes widened as she continued to record the scene, hoping that her trembling excitement wasn’t shaking the camera too much.
Adam counted out the money, then nodded and stuffed it all into his pocket. “Nice doing business with you, Warren.” And then they both walked away.
For a long moment, Ella remained hidden behind the stack of wood, her heart racing. She’d done it! She knew that the guys were doing something back here! She’d been sitting in the library too many times, studying after school. The windows in the library looked out at the athletic fields and she’d seen some of the guys coming down here to the bleachers. But instead of practicing, they’d just come here for a few minutes, then walked away. Every one of them had looked around, as if expecting something bad to happen.
Now she knew! With a grin, she pushed everything into her book back and stood up, looking around to make sure no one saw her. Once she was sure that the two other boys had already departed, Ella stepped out of her hiding place.
Feeling relatively safe, she hurried down the path towards the main school building, then up and around to the front.
It was only a half mile walk to her house, but during that time, she mentally began writing her expose article. As soon as she stepped into the house, Ella ran up the stairs to her bedroom, eager to get started.
“Honey, it’s time for dinner!” her father called out.
Ella jumped onto her bed and grabbed her computer. “I’ll be right down! I just need to…” but her voice faded as she typed up the story. Tomorrow, she’d turn it in to the teacher in charge of the school newspaper, then it would be only two more days until the story was released to the other students. This was going to be great! She’d uncovered an injustice in the world and…okay, an injustice in her school. But soon, she’d tackle the rest of the world!
“You will not leave this house!”
Malcolm ignored his father’s bellow and walked out anyway. His departure meant that he would be disinherited, but Malcolm didn’t care. In fact, he preferred it that way!
“Don’t you dare leave!” his father raged, even as Malcolm moved down the stone steps of the front entryway. “You are my son and it is your responsibility to…!”
Malcolm stuffed his bag into the trunk of his car, ignoring this latest threat. He was thoroughly sick of his father’s demands. Something was rotten in that house! His mother had died a week ago and…things had been bad before, but now…it was worse. It was like the stink of his father’s abuse was permeating the furniture and Malcolm just couldn’t take it any longer.
He’d stayed only long enough to attend his mother’s funeral, but now that it was over, he just wanted out. He was finished with school and ready to start out on his own. With fury pushing him, he started the engine of his old car, the car that he’d bought and his father had disdained because it wasn’t good enough to be parked in front of a ducal estate. Malcolm suspected that his father hated the car more because he hadn’t paid for it, therefore, the old man couldn’t control his son by taking it away, as he’d done all throughout Malcolm’s childhood. At even the slightest infraction, Edward would mete out a dire punishment for anyone, including the servants.
But now, he was done. He’d never step back into this house. Not ever again!
Driving away, he didn’t even look in the rearview mirror. And with every passing mile, Malcolm felt better. The tension in his shoulders eased away as the wind drifted through the open window.
Free and clear. Rolling down even the back windows, Malcolm allowed the fresh, country air to pull away the stink of his father’s cruel world.
Malcolm hadn’t accepted any money from his father since leaving for college. Even then, he’d attended a smaller university, paying his way by applying for scholarships and loans.
Now it was time to build his own life. One that was free and clear of his father’s excesses and bitterness. Free of the abuse that always seemed to fuel the old man’s heart.
As the sun drifted out from behind a cloud, Malcolm smiled for the first time in…months.