Changing Beats (Book 1)

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Chapter Three

Cortney

Within the month we hired a total of four girls and regained a full staff. Training was finished and I finally had my first real day off in weeks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full day of relaxation. I was stuck at my parent’s home for the evening.

Once a week I was supposed to trek my way out to Beverly Hills, to the house I had grown up in. I had been able to pass on this venture for a month now, due to work, but tonight was my mother’s monthly social dinner, so there was no hiding from tonight. Despite what any family member was up to, save work, these dinner parties were mandatory.

I hated dinner with my parents, social or otherwise, they were tedious and tiring.

These dinners normally consisted of my mother telling me what I was doing wrong with my life, while my father was busy working on some sort of business merger and my sister babysat her sleaze of a husband, as he hit on everything under the sun.

My parents lived in a multi-million-dollar mansion with maids, a butler, a cook and chauffeur. They loved to flaunt their wealth and did it frequently between all of the parties, fundraisers, and balls they threw.

They called everyone who came to these events their friends, but over the years I saw a lot of bitterness and backstabbing within their social group. I knew that no one was a friend.

Every step or relationship play was formed simply to move pieces across an overgrown chess set. I had seen a lot of unhappy marriages, affairs and backstabbing over the years.

I had personally witnessed the hidden contempt that came with these people who had large fortunes. Everyone was out to make out bigger than what they started with, whether it led to happiness or not.

My parents were one of the few couples in this society that were content with who they were together, but I knew my father ignored a lot of my mother’s rambling. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have become so levelheaded. As a child I spent all of my free time with my father.

Instead of listening my mother’s debutant commands, I followed my father around. We went fishing, mountain climbing, boating and we even traveled the world together.

My father learned his levelheadedness from my grandfather, who had made the fortune my father held today. My grandfather had been another kind heart and kindred spirit, like my father.

Grandpop founded Rudson Jewelers, while in his twenties, and later became involved in real estate ventures. Now my father and his dealings kept us on the up and up.

We still owned the jewelers, but had added a few malls and several other investments. My dad was always looking for the next best thing, which was more of a means to appease my mother than it was about the money. He always said making my mother happy made him happy.

“Brittany, Darling,” My mother welcomed me, as she sauntered up, in her little red cocktail dress, her matching shoes clicking on the marbled floor. Her unnatural blonde hair was kept shoulder length in large, movie star cgirls that screamed upper class.

The woman simply could not accept that I preferred my middle name over my given first name. My father had given me the name Cortney, after my grandfather. Yes, my grandfather was named Cortney Rudson. It was a genuine name, one that I held dear. She hated my homage to Grandpop, preferring my generic, upper class, first name.“And here we go,” I mumbled into my wine glass.

Daddy saw her approaching me, from his standpoint at the fireplace, and smiled apologetically. He understood all too well, but was busy conversing with Craig Swanson, another socialite, so I knew he couldn’t break away to save me.

The hors d’oeuvres hadn’t even made their first full round yet.
She was relentless. What would it be tonight? My hair? My job? My clothes? My friends?

“How are you, Darling?” She asked, giving me her uppity version of a kiss; the one where she touches cheek to cheek and makes a kissing sound.

“I’m good.” I returned her fake smile.

“You should have slept today. Perhaps looked at least a little put-together for this evening’s event?” She chided me, “We do have guests this evening, Darling.”
‘Here we go. Let me count the many ways I disappoint my mother tonight.’

Number one: my lack of sleep.

“The same guests are here every month, mother.” I thought I looked fine. Black cocktail dress, matching heals, hair combed up and fastened in a barrette, plus jewelry.

“Oh, so you’re wearing the same dress you wore last month?” Her eyes widened in anger.

Number two: my clothing.

“No one is looking at my dress but you, mother.”

Sure, I wasn’t as put together as she was, but I hadn’t spent my day with my personal stylist getting ready for tonight.

“If people notice that I’m in the same dress, they have absolutely no life,” I told her snidely, “We’ve been short staffed at the hospital and I have been working a lot lately. I simply haven’t had the time to shop.”

“As of late,” she corrected me.

Number three: my grammar.

I sighed and chugged my glass of wine. All of it. It was only going to get worse from here.

“Brittany!” she hissed, “Put that glass down! People will see you and they will talk!”

Number four: my drinking.

I didn’t listen. I finished my drink and placed it on the tray. After a moment, another one was brought to me. I didn’t even have to ask, the staff was attentive on a night like tonight. Then again, they were always more attentive to those who appreciated them.

“I think it’s time that you start thinking about your future, Brittany,” her voice lowered, “You are almost twenty-five years of age and are not married, nor have you chosen a career for yourself. All of your friends from school are happily married or knee deep in exciting ventures. There is this young man who moved in next door two years ago-”

Number five: my marital/relationship status.

She was on a roll, trying to hit everything now.

They had been trying to get the guy on the top of the hill to come to their dinners for two years now. It wasn’t happening. Nor was I about to fall for a guy who’d bought the 2.5-million-dollar home in cash.

“I do have a career, mother.” I cut her off quickly, before her newest attempt to set me up with more of the rich and privileged. “Nursing is a career.”

“Lower your voice,” she hissed again, “You need to find some direction in your life, young lady, and you had better do it soon. People are talking about our flighty daughter who dropped out of an Ivy League College, just to slum around the poor-end of town in her pajamas.”

Number six: My career.

“Wow.” This was an all-time low. “They are scrubs, mother. I wear them when I am helping to save lives.”

“The lives of people who live in the slums and don’t do any good in today’s society,” She retorted.

My jaw dropped, as she spoke. I couldn’t believe how low she’d hit.
“Wow, mother.” Out of all of things that this woman has ever said to me... “I’m going to do us both a favor and pretend that I didn’t hear that. I am going out to the patio now. If Daddy has a free moment, I would love to converse with him.”

I grabbed a bottle of wine on my way out.

I could hear my mother’s gasp, but I honestly didn’t care which socialite saw me chugging from the bottle.

That’s why I’d become a nurse in the first place. I really wanted to help people, to make a difference. I was still a little uncertain about how it would all work out or if I was on the right path though.I understood that she was upset that I had left medical school. I’d been so close and gone so far but, when it came down to it, I just couldn’t finish my medical degree.
Something was telling me there was more out there, more that I could do than become some plastic surgeon for the wealthy. What it was, I just wasn’t sure.

The patio was peaceful this time of night and I stood, leaning against the marble railing, looking out onto the gardens, rich, green and vibrant with life.

I had so many wonderful memories here, too bad none of them were with my mother.

There was the grassy field, where my father and I used to chase fireflies when I was little. The pool, where he taught me how to swim and the pond around the corner where we fished when my mother wasn’t home.

Our poles were still hidden in the greenhouse and pulled out a few times a year when mother went to her club gatherings. Frank, the gardener, kept our secret hidden well.

In a month or so, daddy and I would have another “date” and I looked forward to it.

“Hey, Blondie,” an obnoxious voice sounded.

Tonight made a series of records, for both of the biggest headaches in my life.My brother-in-law had found me in no time flat. What a surprise. Less than five minutes. I think this was a record.

“Bill.” I spit the name out like it was acid on my tongue. Tipping the bottle to my lips, I began chugging wine from the bottle.

Here we go again.

“You used to call me William,” he teased.

“I didn’t always know you were a sleaze bag, Bill.” I gave him a huge grin that he obviously knew was fake.

He turned back to the group to make sure my sister wasn’t watching him, per usual, then turned back to me. Then leaned against the railing, closer now.

“We used to be friends,” he smiled, staring at my tits. He was on a roll tonight too. I rolled my eyes.

“Then, imagine my surprise when, one day you showed up as my sister’s fiancé,” I spoke dryly, chugging again.

“That’s not fair.” He grabbed the bottle from my hand, taking a swig before I could pull it back.

“That’s mine,” I snapped.

“You lied to me about who you were.” He scolded me, pointing a finger around the bottle.

“To keep the money-grubbing assholes at bay,” I pointedly glared at him, “Oh look. Found one.”

“Cort, we can still be friends.” A slick, sleazy smile spread across his face.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I huffed a laugh.

What was up with tonight? Was it national everyone-craps-on-Cortney night?

“No,” he told me, “I miss you, Cort. I miss our... Alone time.”

“Fuck off, Bill!” I snapped, standing and chugging most of the remaining wine from the bottle, until I felt light headed.

When I was sure that I’d chugged a good eighty percent of the bottle, I was satisfied.

Bill sat on the railing, watching me with a stunned look on his face, as I removed my heels and walked toward the lawn.

“Tell my mother I drank too much wine and had to leave,” I laughed.
Of course, she’d know I had done it on purpose. Oh well, it would give her something to talk about at our family dinner next week.

I walked off the patio and made my way off the grounds. I would get a cab home once I’d made it to the strip. I didn’t need to use my parent’s driver. I was finished with tonight.

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