Beckett - Book 1

By: Gemma Brooks

PROLOGUE





I smoothed my hands along my navy pencil skirt and stared at the boring oak table in front of me. The courtroom was extra stuffy on that humid summer day and it took everything I had not to run outside for some fresh air. My eyes wandered over to my attorney who made no effort to hide her nervousness as her silver pen tapped on the legal pad in front of her.



Maura was nice, but she wasn’t exactly a shark and divorce wasn’t exactly her specialty. A year out of law school and a friend of a friend, she was doing me a huge favor by taking me on for practically pennies. Simon had frozen all my funds and wiped out the accounts the moment the divorce papers were filed. The only thing I had to my name was an almost maxed out Amex and a small, quickly dwindling cash loan from my parents. I could hardly afford the rent on the studio apartment I was forced to rent when I was practically rendered homeless.



“All rise,” the bailiff said. The collective sound of creaking wooden benches and seats filled the small room as everyone stood. The room was silent save for the odd coughing and sniffling.



Our judge, a thin-lipped, red-haired, no-nonsense woman in her upper fifties peered down over the top of her glasses at the paper in front of her. My heart raced and my mouth went dry. I’d been waiting almost a year to hear the terms of the divorce settlement. Failed early negotiations led to failed mediations, which led to taking our case to court.



Simon Parker was one of the most powerful music moguls in the country. A self-made man, he wasn’t afraid to be merciless to get what he really wanted. At one time I’d actually admired that about him.



Stupid girl.



“Simon Parker, you are hereby ordered to pay alimony to Hadley Tennyson Parker,” she began. I reached over and squeezed Maura’s hand as I bit my lip and waited for the details.



At twenty-one, I’d moved to Manhattan to pursue modeling. Years in the pageant circuit and a display full of crowns and sashes at home gave me a false sense of security. Failure had never been in my vocabulary and it was a word we weren’t allowed to so much as breathe in the Tennyson household. A couple months in the city and failed booking after failed booking was all it took for me to realize I was a small fish in a very big pond stocked full of countless rare, exotic, and beautiful fish. My blonde hair, long legs, dimpled smile and southern drawl only got me so far in the Big Apple.



Lucky for Simon, he met me when I was at an all-time low. I’d been booked by a low-tier modeling agency to attend a black tie party for some Manhattan socialite who wanted nothing but so-called “beautiful people” filling the spaces between her fancy and well-connected guests. People with too much money to burn did crazy things, I learned. It was at that party when I first caught Simon’s eye. He told me he had to have me and he practically followed me around for hours until I agreed to go out on a date with him.



His persistence impressed me and his engaging smile held my attention. He told me he was a music producer who moved to the city a decade prior to pursue his dreams. He laid out his five-year plan and then his ten-year plan, and he had this unstoppable determination in his eyes when he spoke about them.



He was going to take over the world one MP3 download at a time, he said. No one could pick the hot new acts like he could.



Through conversation that evening I learned that Simon was a hungry, passionate, and insatiable soul. I saw a bit of myself in him, and visions of taking over the world together like some high profile power couple flashed through my head. A whirlwind courtship led to a whirlwind wedding, and for a tiny sliver in time, I was the happiest girl in all of Manhattan.



A year into our marriage Simon’s record label took off out of nowhere, and I quickly learned that the only thing Simon truly gave a shit about was himself. And his money. He didn’t want me. He wanted a pretty girl to make him look good. A gorgeous wife to show off. Someone to make the other guys jealous. A lithe sophisticate in designer gowns to hang on his arm when he attended weekend after weekend of lavish dinners, parties and award shows.



Simon loved attention, though he was good at hiding that fact. Everyone thought they knew Simon but they didn’t. Only I had the joy of knowing the real version of him; the version he kept locked away until it was just the two of us.



“Did you see the way Barton was looking at you?” he huffed proudly as he unhooked his cufflinks after a party one night. “He totally wants you. I love the way people look at us like they want to be us.”



I ignored his comments as I unzipped my silk dress and tugged my slip down my narrow hips. His hands slipped from behind me and hungrily tightened around my tender breasts. He didn’t touch me the way a normal husband touched his wife. There was no love in the way he looked at me. I was just another thing Simon owned. Another luxury import in his garage. Another Rolex in his collection. His perfect little bought-and-paid-for wife.



Whenever he kissed my neck and pressed his hardness into my backside, I always knew what he wanted. He called it my wifely duty and reminded me that I was lucky. He could have anyone he wanted but he chose me.

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