Power (the keatyn chronicles book 9)

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Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Episode 1

Ariela: Holmby Hills

Riley: Vegas

Episode 2

Keatyn: Malibu

Vanessa: Holmby Hills

Keatyn: Santa Monica

Riley: Santa Monica

Episode 3

Riley: Santa Monica

Ariela: Sonoma County

Vanessa: Santa Monica

Dawson: Santa Monica

Vanessa: Santa Monica

Keatyn: Santa Monica

Dawson: Santa Monica

Riley: L.A.

Episode 4

Riley: L.A.

Vanessa: Santa Monica

Ariela: Sonoma County

Dawson: Santa Monica

Ariela: Sonoma County

Vanessa: Holmby Hills

Keatyn: Studio City

Dawson: Malibu

Episode 5

Riley: Connecticut

Gracie: Connecticut

Keatyn: Connecticut

Episode 6

Keatyn: Connecticut

Dawson: Holmby Hills

Ariela: Connecticut

Riley: Connecticut

Gracie: Connecticut

Riley: Connecticut

Dawson: Holmby Hills

Keatyn: L.A.

Riley: L.A.

Copyright 2014 by Jillian Dodd

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, store in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book. 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status or trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Jillian Dodd Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-940652-48-1

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7TH

Vanessa’s Estate, Guest house - Holmby Hills

ARIELA

“Collin! Stop it!” I yell, pulling away from his unwanted kiss. 

He grabs my arms tightly, digging his fingers in. “You’re my wife. You need to come with me.”

“How did you get in here?” I ask, wondering how he got through the gate.

“I told the phone company we were in California on vacation and you misplaced your phone. They gave me the GPS coordinates. The gate was open. You told your parents you were staying in a friend’s guest house. And here I am.”

I shove the divorce papers toward him. “Take these. It’s time you face the facts. We’re getting a divorce. We’re not getting back together, and I’mnotcoming home!”

He leans closer to me, like he’s going to kiss me again, but instead he whispers, “But, pumpkin, you got up in front of 478 people and promised ‘Til death do us part.”

“And you promised to be faithful. You broke our vows, Collin, not me.”

“I told you I’d stop seeing her.”

“No, you told me you already had, but we both know you lied about it. You need to leave, now!” I shout.

“I’m not leaving without you!”

“Yes, you are,” a voice says.

Collin spins around to find Chad, Vanessa’s buff, massage-giving pool boy standing behind him. Chad’s arms are crossed in front of his chest, his muscles bulging from beneath a tight white T-shirt. 

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Collin asks haughtily. “I’m herhusband.”

“Who she is divorcing. I will escort you out now or have you arrested for trespassing. Your choice.”

Collin studies Chad closely and I know which option he will choose. Although he tries to act tough, he’s not a fighter. He’s too soft. 

“This isn’t over, Ariela,” he says to me, as he allows Chad to lead him away. 

Collin stares at me the whole time Chad is dragging him down the stone path. That’s when I notice a pink bouquet lying on the ground. 

Riley!

I run toward the house so fast that I pass Chad and Collin, looking for him. When I get to the front of the house, I see a single pink petal lying on the driveway. I pick it up and stare at it.

As Collin walks by me, he knocks it out of my hand. “I’m going to make your life miserable, baby. That’s a promise.”

“You don’t knowhowto keep promises,baby,” I sass back before he screeches out of the driveway. 

I turn to Chad. “Was Riley here?”

“I haven’t seen him.”

I rush back to the guest house, stopping to pick up the beautiful bouquet of pink peonies. When we first dated, I told Collin they were my favorite flower, but he always insisted that red roses were better. When we dated later in college, he asked me again. This time I lied, telling him I loved red roses. I would have died if he ever bought me anything pink. Pink was something I shared with Riley. When Riley asked me to be his girlfriend, he gave me a pink rhinestone Hello Kitty ring. On our one-year anniversary, he filled my dorm room with an assortment of pink flowers. The peonies were my favorite and Riley said they would forever be our flower. Part of me can’t believe he remembers. But our love left such an imprint on our souls that neither of us could ever forget. 

I set the bouquet down on the kitchen counter while I grab my phone and call him. 

It goes straight to voicemail. 

Could Riley have seen me with Collin? Is that why he dropped the flowers and left? 

I call again and get no answer, so I decide to text him. 

Me: Hey, are we still on for tonight? 

When he doesn’t reply, I send another. 

Me: I found the flowers, Riley. Please call me. 

My hands shake as I fill a vase with water for the peonies. I set the gorgeous arrangement on the sofa table then go up to the main house, finding Vanessa in the kitchen. 

“I heard your ex was here,” she says as she pours me a drink. “You need this?”

I gratefully take the drink.

“You’re shaking,” she says. “What happened?”

“I’m not even sure,” I say, taking a gulp. “I opened the door happily expecting Riley but found Collin standing there instead.”

“What did he say?”

“That he wants me to come home. That he’ll stop cheating. When I said no, he grabbed me and kissed me. And now I’m freaking out because I’m afraid Riley might have seen.”

“What makes you think that? Dawson just texted me to cancel our dinner plans. Something about a last minute business trip with his brother.”

“That’s weird.” I double-check my phone. “He didn’t call or text me. Did Dawson say where they’re going?”

“Nope. Just that he had to go straight to the airport.”

“Weird.”

“What makes you think Riley was here? Because I’m pretty sure if Riley saw you kissing someone, he would have been pissed and let you know it.”

“I found a bouquet of pink peonies on the ground. Peonies are our flower. Could you call Dawson and ask him if Riley was here?” I plead.

“Sure, I can.” She puts her phone up to her ear. “Hmm. Straight to voicemail. But, you know, there is another way we can find out if he was here.”

“How?”

She grabs a remote and turns on the TV. “What time were you expecting him?”

“Six.”

She clicks a few buttons. “This house has video security.” She rewinds back to 5:55. “Well, that’s a problem,” she says as we watch Riley drive through the gate. My heart starts beating wildly when I see that he still has his green Viper. I remember one of our first dates, so vividly. 

“God, you’re beautiful,” Riley says, making me blush when he greets me with a kiss outside my dorm. 

I look at the ground, embarrassed. I’m not used to those kind of compliments. 

He puts his hand under my chin and gently raises it so that I have to look in his eyes. “I’m going to tell you that every day until you believe it. To me, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world.” He gives me a cute grin. “I have a surprise for you tonight.”

“What kind of surprise?” I ask.

“I’m going to let you drive my car.”

“Really?” I say in shock. “I overheard you tell Dallas that you’d never let some girl drive it.”

“You’re not justsomegirl,” he says, melting my heart. “Do you know how to drive a stick?”

“No.”

“Then it’s about time you learn.”

“I can’t believe the gate was just open like that!” Vanessa yells, snapping me back to the present. “Bernard! Get in here. Why was the gate open?”

“I knew Mr. Johnson was expected and being proactive.”

“You know that’s not how we do things.”

“Yes, Ms. Flanning, I apologize. It will not happen again.”

“That explains how Collin got in,” I mutter, but then I watch Riley. “See, he’s getting out of the car and he has the bouquet. Are there cameras in the back yard too?”

“No, just the gate, the front door, and the perimeter outside the gate.”

I’m holding my breath waiting for Riley to come back on screen, hoping he’s on his phone with some emergency.

There’s a flash of his face on the screen. “Pause that!”

“He’s pissed,” Vanessa says. 

“Shit. He must have seen Collin.”

“Or maybe he got a phone call and was mad he had to leave.”

“Is it normal for him to take off on a moment’s notice for business?”

“Actually, it is. Captive is currently filming four different movies. Something could’ve gone wrong on a set—a director threatening to quit, one of the big stars getting into trouble. It doesn't happen often but it does happen.”

“So why didn’t he bring me the flowers, give me a kiss, and tell me he had to leave?”

“It could be because he saw Collin, but I highly doubt it. If he would have seen, Riley would have confronted you. I think he got a call, was pissed he had to leave, dropped the flowers, and left. I’m sure he’ll text you later. He’s probably on the phone dealing with it and can’t call. Just leave him a message and tell him I told you about the trip.”

“Okay.”

“What’s more important, though, is dealing with your ex. Chad said he escorted him out. Why was he even here? How did he find you?”

“We have that thing where you can find your lost phone. He tracked it here.”

“Why did he come?”

“To give me back the divorce papers. He wanted me to go home with him. When I said no, he threatened to contest the divorce forever.”

“He can’t contest it forever, but he can make your life miserable during what can be a long, drawn-out process. That I know. My divorce took two years to get finalized.”

“I don’t want it to take that long.”

“Then it’s time to play hardball, Ariela.”

“I’m not good at that.”

“Then I can’t help you.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just . . .”

 “Ariela, you have to decide what you can live with. Can you put your life on hold for a couple years while you wait to get a divorce? Can you live with the emotional devastation it will cause you? Can you listen to his lame excuses for why he’s an asshole and wants you back?”

“When I decided to come here, something inside me sort of snapped. I know this is the right decision for me. I’ve just got to get back some of my—”

“Confidence. You’re a beautiful, talented woman, Ariela, and I get it. My relationship with Bam stripped my confidence and my dignity. Sometimes, though, you have to hit rock bottom before you realize that you need to make a change.”

“I’m at the bottom now. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I already threatened to tell my dad about the affair, but my dad will be neither shocked nor appalled that he’s unfaithful. If anything, he’ll probably sympathize with him.”

“You’ll have to use the photos then,” Vanessa states. “But here’s a question. If Collin has a lot of loyal clients, couldn’t he take them all to another firm if your dad decided to take your side?”

“Not really. My dad spoon-feeds him business. He doesn’t really work that hard.”

“So if we want to hurt him, we take away his clients. If his clients start leaving him, would that affect your dad?”

“Yes, my dad gets a cut from everyone’s sales. That’s why he gives Collin so many customers, because they are still ultimately his.”

“Is it normal for someone so young to make partner?”

“Not at all.”

“So the other reps at the firm probably resent him?”

“Yeah, they see how easy he has it.”

“You mentioned that he wants kids, so he'll look stable. He wanted you to go on a weekend event for the same reason.”

“Appearances are important to him. The perfect marriage. Perfect house. Lots of luxury items to make him appear more successful than he is.”

“Hmm,” Vanessa says, tapping a perfectly manicured nail on the table. I look down at my own nails. I've nervously scraped off most of the polish. 

“The holiday season is coming up,” she says.

“Yeah?”

“Does your husband send out holiday cards?”

“Actually, he sends out Thanksgiving cards since his clients celebrate different holidays and he doesn’t want to offend anyone.”

“Maybe he should send out one of those cute photo cards this year.” She grins. “Or, better yet, a photo collage.” 

“Of him and his secretary? Do you think his clients will be like my dad and not care?”

“Maybe, but I bet in most households the wives open the mail.”

“If the wives were offended, that could ruin him.”

“Only if you actually sent it. I’m not saying you should. I’m just saying you just have to convince him that you will.”

“I’d need his client list,” I say, thinking it through.

“Can you get that?”

I smile to myself. “I think I can. In fact, I’m going to call my dad, right now, before Collin talks to him.” I take a cleansing breath. “Here goes nothing.”

My dad answers with, “I assume you’re calling to tell me that you and Collin are back together. I want to go on record that I deserve all the credit. I told him he needed to just go out there and get you.”

“Collin was here, Dad. We got into a fight and he left. But after he left, I had a change of heart and decided to come back home. I apologize for the disrespectful way in which I spoke to you the other day. I know that you and Mom were able to work past it, so I’m hoping Collin and I will be able to follow your shining example.”

“That’s my girl.”

“Oh, and Dad, I was thinking of a way I could make it up to Collin. You know how Mom’s been telling me that I should put my event planning skills to good use as a volunteer? Well, I want to do something special for Collin. I thought instead of his usual Thanksgiving cards, I’d send out party invitations instead. I want to design an amazing event for his clients to attend. Do you think he’d like that?”

“Darling, I think he’d love that. I’m so proud of you.”

“Don’t tell him, please. I want it to be a surprise.”

“Mum’s the word.”

“Thanks, Dad. That means a lot to me. Will you help me?”

“Of course. Anything you need.”

“Well, to send out invitations, I’d need a list of his clients’ home addresses. I’d hate to ask his secretary. I’m afraid she might tell him and ruin the surprise.”

“She is a bit of a gossip. Tell you what, I’ll download the list myself and email it directly to you. I’ve got my laptop here at home. Give me a few minutes.”

“Oh, thank you, Dad. You have no idea how much this means to me.”

“Glad to help. Call your mother and make dinner plans soon.”

“Thanks, I will.”

When I hang up, Vanessa says, “Oh, you’re good.”

“I feel guilty lying to my dad.”

“He and your mother have been lying to you for years about their relationship.”

“Good point,” I say, as my phone dings. “I just got the email from my dad. Now what?”

“Now, we play hardball. Leave Collin a message, apologizing, and asking him to call you.”

Penthouse Suite - Vegas

RILEY

I’m lying on a circular bed on a raised platform with Jennifer, passing her a joint, and watching Dawson slide down the fireman’s pole from the second floor. 

“This is like some crazy fantasy of mine,” she says, as much to herself as to me. She was hitting the champagne pretty hard on the flight here. Hell, we all were. “Me and three hot guys alone in a freaking outrageous Vegas suite.”

“What do the guys do in this fantasy?” I ask, as Knox screams his way down the pole.

“Their hands are all over me. They all think I’m beautiful.”

“So, you up for that tonight?”

She sighs. “Sadly, no. I'd never be able to look any of you in the eye again. I'm pretty sure my three guys are strangers who I’d never have to see again. Likeever. Would you do that, Riley? Three guys, one girl?” She turns and looks at me. “Or have you already?”

“I’d prefer the three girls to one guy fantasy.”

“Have you ever done that?” 

I smile. “Maybe.”

“It’s a yes or no question.”

“Depends on what you're referring to. Three in the same night or three at the same time?” 

“Same time.”

“No. Only two.”

“I would never do that with you, Riley. Just for the record.”

“Why not?”

“Because even after your stupidity at the vineyard, I still respect you.”

“We’d have fun, I promise.”

“No.”

“I don’t mean you, me, and Knox. I mean just the two of us. So you and Knox fucked. Big deal. I don’t care. We can still have fun.” 

“Which is the problem, Riley. Youshouldcare. So what happened with Ariela? Knox said the other day you were on cloud nine.” She looks around. “And now we're nearing the pits of hell.”

“I went to pick her up and she was kissing her husband.”

“Then fuck her.”

“Yeah, fuck her.”

“It's her loss. It really is.” She grabs my arm. “Oh, Riley, I think I drank too much. The bed is spinning.”

“Itisspinning.”

“Did you drink too much too?”

“No, I mean the bedactuallyrotates.”

She sits up. “Oh, thank god. I’m not as drunk as I thought.”

“Let’s drink to that.”

We run to the bar, pour shots of something, making extras for Knox and Dawson.

“Here’s to . . . Uh, October?” Knox salutes.

“No wait! I know,” Jennifer yells, sloshing her shot. “It’s not October! It’sCocktober! So, here’s toCocktober. Hoping the use of yours is, um, plentiful and I get plenty for myself.”

We all down our shots and then she says, “Uh, that sounded slutty. I didn’t mean I want all your cocks.”

Knox lays a big kiss on her lips. “Naw, sugar, you only want mine.”

After she kisses him, she pulls us all on the bed with her. “Let’s take one more spin on the bed!”

Knox pops up when his phone rings. 

Dawson pips me on the forehead, taunting me like he did when we were kids. But Jennifer leans on her side and faces me. “I’m glad you’re not mad at me, Riley.”

“You’re too cute to stay mad at,” I tell her. 

Knox ends his call. “Our guy’s here!” He gives me a wink then turns to Jennifer. “So, the plan is we go to some dance clubs and later we’ll invite some cool people back here to party.”

“What, no strip clubs?” Jennifer asks, exactly as he’d hoped.

“Oh, sugar, I wasn't sure how you felt about strip clubs. A lot of girls aren’t confident enough to go to them.”

“I’ve never been to a Vegas strip club. It sounds like an adventure. I say we do that!”

“Well, if you insist,” Knox replies.

“I insist,” she says. “And what else should we do? I know! We’ll go dancing, get thrown out of a club, maybe get arrested, get married.” She bounces in place next to Knox. “Wouldn’t that be an adventure? Wanna get wasted and get married?”

Knox pulls her into a hug. “That’s the thing about Vegas. No planning. You just go with the flow.” He pats her back while he looks at me and Dawson and mouths,No fucking way!

As we leave the suite, I wrap my arm around my brother’s neck. “Tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

And it was . . . Until we ended up in jail.

“Riley Johnson, you can make your call now,” the policeman says, opening the cell door. 

I look down at myself, wondering what the fuck I’m wearing. 

The night is kind of a blur but I do remember running down the hotel hallway naked, chasing a hooker who I thought stole my wallet. Then Jennifer started stripping and invited everyone to participate inthe naked party parade.

I stare at the phone for a second, knowing who I need to call but dreading it. 

Dallas is the only one who can make this mess go away. For all of us. 

“Riley?” he answers groggily. It’s five in the morning and Dallas is not an early riser. “Tell me you’re not in jail.”

“I’m in jail.”

“Fuck. I was joking. Where? What happened?”

“Vegas. Party. Drunk. Naked.”

“You and Ariela went to Vegas?”

“No. When I went to pick her up, she was kissing her husband.”

“Oh, shit.”

“Exactly. So I decided to go to Vegas for the night with Knox and Dawson.”

“Can’t one of them bail you out—wait, did they get arrested?”

“Yeah,” I admit, hanging my head. “Jennifer too.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Thanks, man.”

“Riley, we need to talk. Seriously.”

“Yeah, I know. I fucked up bad this time.”

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