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Scandal Never Sleeps
Author: Shayla Black

Creighton Academy

22 years ago

Gabriel Bond really wanted to murder his best friend. He even knew how he’d do it—by beating Maddox to death with that damn camcorder.

“Do you understand the trouble you’ve caused, Mr. Bond?” The very fussy school counselor Mr. Ogilvie sat back, his bushy gray brows rising over his eyes like judgmental twin caterpillars.

Gabe had always loathed his last name since no one at the exalted Creighton Academy would call him anything but “Mr. Bond.” It made him sound like some kind of stupid secret agent. Currently, they’d come to the point in the James Bond film when the floor opened and dropped him into a vat of man-eating sharks while the bad guy monologued. Gabe was fairly certain he would rather swim into the Great White’s mouth and allow himself to be eaten alive so he didn’t have to hear the horror about to transpire.

He should have known nothing good would come from screwing a member of the rival debate team. Especially when it hadn’t been a student of the all-girls Murray Heights Academy for Young Women, but their faculty sponsor. Damn, she’d looked maybe twenty, and in exceptional shape. She’d had the most gorgeous pair of breasts he’d ever seen in his young life.

Roman Calder stepped up beside him. “I don’t think my client should answer any questions.”

Sometimes Roman took his position as the president of the Creighton chapter of the Future Lawyers of America way too seriously.

“Mr. Calder, you’re in trouble, too. All of you boys are. This is a serious offense. While Mr. Bond has shamed our academy, the rest of you broke the rules as well. What did you think you were doing, sneaking off to a bar? What will your parents think?”

His father would likely high five him and breathe a sigh of relief because he now had confirmation that his only son was neither asexual nor gay. His mother would roll her eyes and take another drink from her ever present “coffee” mug that smelled suspiciously like vodka. Only his younger sister would worry.

This entire incident was Mad’s fault. Mad the instigator. Mad, the dude who’d taped his best friend’s one-night stand without bothering to ask first. Fucker. Gabe felt his face flush slightly, but he’d learned enough about the world to know when to bluster his way through.

Yeah, Mad had taught him that, too.

“Mr. Ogilvie, I don’t understand why my friends are here. Maybe they were out after curfew, but it’s no secret that nearly every student is from time to time.” Another thing Gabe had learned was when to throw himself on his sword. God, he was going to miss his friends. If his stupid dick got him expelled, he had no illusions about what would happen. His parents would ship him to another prep school, and he would have to start all over. “Please, if you’ll let them off the hook, I’ll admit to everything.”

“Martyr,” Mad coughed like the idiotic douche he could be.

Gabe very slowly lifted his hand behind his back and shot his bestie the middle finger.

Connor Sparks stepped up. “No, Gabe. We went into this together. We go down together.” He frowned. “I wish I could have played against Exeter. It’s going to be hard to miss out on the league championship.”

Daxton Spencer shook his head, following Connor’s lead. “Yeah, I think the whole school will be deeply disappointed. Without our captain, we’re sure to lose.”

Smart bastards. Gabe repressed a smile and couldn’t help but feel a spark of hope. Creighton took lacrosse and the league championship very seriously. It brought money and prestige to a school that valued both greatly.

The counselor, who in Gabe’s opinion had always had it out for them, leaned forward. “If you think for one second that sports will save you from the punishment you’ve earned, you’re wrong. This establishment has rules, and I follow them. I’ve seen the video evidence. It’s disgusting. Perverse. What is wrong with you boys?”

Dax and Connor looked around, then at one another, and shrugged.

Mad grinned as if silently admitting their list of faults was long and distinguished.

“You think this is funny? Expulsion is the only acceptable outcome for this mess. We raise gentlemen at this school, and you six have proven you’re anything but. And you, Mr. Hayes . . .” Ogilvie turned to Zachary Hayes, the quietest of the six.

Their contemplative buddy never made a move without thinking through the outcomes and consequences first. Zack frowned.

Gabe felt his stomach drop. God, he was getting Zack kicked out. Zack, the freaking class president and valedictorian. The one with the brightest future.

“I’m surprised at you,” the counselor continued. “I knew you would find nothing but trouble when you fell in with this crowd. I believe I warned you.”

All eyes turned back to Zack. With dark hair and winter blue eyes, Zack often seemed ready to permanently retreat inward. He’d been at Creighton for two months before Gabe had really talked to him. Mad had been the one to bring the quiet kid into their group. Gabe had soon realized that Zack was smart and funny . . . and could sometimes figure a way out of a bind. For five years, it had been the six of them against the world. They shouldn’t have fit. Connor and Dax had naturally become pals because they were both athletes. Roman and Zack were the obviously ambitious types. And somehow he’d been the nerd taken under the wing of the most obnoxious, devious-minded rich boy at school, Maddox Crawford.

They felt like brothers, and he couldn’t be the one who fucked up everything. In a year, they would graduate and they had plans to attend Yale together. They’d coached Connor through trig and made sure he’d gotten an A so they wouldn’t be separated in the future. One for all and all for one, and all that shit.

Maybe his dream was about to be dashed, but he wasn’t going to screw over his friends. They had a pact.

“It’s my fault. I blackmailed them into sneaking out with me.” He was willing to tell any lie that might work.

“Dude, that was weak.” Dax rolled his eyes. “Like anyone would believe that. Look, Mr. Ogilvie, you know how the press is, willing to say anything salacious about us rich boys to make a buck. Do you really want People magazine running an article that exaggerates about Creighton’s super entitled boys running wild and taking women who have barely given their dubious consent to bed?”

Gabe gaped at his friend. What the hell? “Her consent wasn’t dubious, asshole.”

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