Monday, March 24, 2014

Business As Usual - Excerpt


Lexi Pendergraft has given up on finding love after a disastrous encounter with her last boyfriend. Instead, she focuses on two things: One, setting up a summer program for underprivileged middle-school aged students. And the second, getting to the bottom of her brother Reed’s recent strange behavior. His secret is destroying his relationship with his fiancĂ©e Caroline, and Lexi will do anything to help him save it. Especially after he gave up his dream to give Lexi a chance at a semi-normal college experience, something her parents threatened to steal from her after her rape a year ago.

Ben Masterson is determined to make it through his final semester of his senior year at Southern University. After recently losing his full ride scholarship, he’s suffering from sleep deprivation while trying to keep up with his mechanical engineering courses and working three part time jobs. He thinks he’s lucked out getting a job in the university math lab. The only problem is his boss—Reed Pendergraft.

As part of a role in a community theater play, Lexi wears a black wig and feels a confidence she hasn’t experienced in over a year. When she wears it to a bar close to the theater, she doesn’t think Ben, a bartender there, recognizes her. While Ben’s intrigued about what she’s up to, he’s smart enough to stay far away from his overprotective boss’s sister. Until fate forces him to help her, but why won’t she tell him her real identity?

My eyes sink closed and my cheek falls out of my open palm, jerking me awake. I look around to see if anyone notices, but I’m in the back row and the professor is looking at her notes. I sit up straighter, trying to shake off my drowsiness, but it hangs on like a whore to a rich john.
I glance down at my notes and up at the graph projected on the wall, wondering how much of the lecture I’ve missed. This might just be an intro course, but I hate history, which is part of the reason I put it off until the final semester of my senior year. The combination of the class’s nine a.m. start time, my shift ending at two a.m. at the bar, and my strong dislike of the subject matter means I tend to nap in here a lot. But whether or not I like Intro to American History, at fourteen hundred dollars per fucking credit hour, I hate to miss a single minute. I estimate I just pissed away fifty bucks with that nap and I didn’t even get a wet dream out of it.
Funny how I never gave much thought to how much classes cost when I was on a full-ride scholarship. Funny how I never thought about a lot of things.
But there was nothing funny about losing my scholarship right before the second semester of my senior year. Especially since I go to Southern University, “an Ivy-League-inspired school nestled in a Tennessee small town.” Who falls for that bullshit? But every year, one thousand or so new students find their way to our “picturesque campus, to embark on their exciting new lives.”
Embark on their exciting new lives, my ass.
The majority of students who attend Southern University are dripping in money. Their daddies have their future all figured out for them. I’m part of the one percent, the unlucky few who didn’t come to school with trust funds and beamers and daddy’s gold card. Those of us who were raised on PB&J and got old clunkers when we turned sixteen. We’re here on a combination of scholarships and student loans. Although, at this moment, I can’t figure out why we bother.
But that’s a lie. I came here because I was given a full-ride scholarship based on academic merit and financial need. I was a local boy, so it made sense to live at home and let my scholarship money do the heavy lifting for my college education. The reputation of the mechanical engineering department helped. It was a no brainer that ended up biting me in the ass.
No, Sabrina Richmond bit me in the ass.
The prof starts to change the graph and I’ve only written down half the information on the screen. Son of a bitch. I don’t know a single person in this class other than a passing acquaintance with a cute red-headed freshman who has let me borrow her notes before, but she’s not here today. I’m fucked. Again.

About Denise Grover Swank:

New York Times andUSA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn’t lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

You can find out more about Denise and her other books at:

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