Project X by Nephylim
Release Date: 23 September, 2014
Morgan Bentley is a bastard. Always was and always will be.
At least that’s what Matthew Hopkins thinks. Unfortunately, Morgan is also a brilliant law student, and easily eclipses Matthew, academically and socially.
Matthew insists he hates Morgan. According to Matthew’s best friend, Cory, perhaps he doth protest a bit too much.
Cory has received the chance of a lifetime in the form of an internship with ITM—Information Technology and Medicine—the prestigious research company where Morgan’s father is the CEO. Too inquisitive for his own good, the naturally curious Cory stumbles on a deadly secret inside of ITM. What he has learned will tip the balance of everything, but for good or bad?
Just what is the mysterious Project X?
What is Morgan’s involvement?
Matthew has to sort fact from fiction, friend from foe, as his world is turned upside down and inside out, and nothing can be the way it was.
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Morgan didn’t have any friends. What he had was an entourage: people who cared less for the person he was than for the prestige his company brought. At the moment he had a girlfriend, the undoubted Alpha Female of the university, a bitch called Charlotte Lethbridge, whose father owned half of Mayfair. The relationship wouldn’t last, though. They never did. And next week it could just as easily be a boyfriend.
No one ever said ‘no’ to Morgan. No one outside his circle of ‘friends’ ever said anything at all unless he invited them to, which he rarely ever did. Cory often said Morgan was sad—he had to be. He had to be lonely and sad because he had no real friends, no lasting relationships, no one to share with. Not like us. Sometimes I had to stop myself laughing when he said that. Morgan Bentley sad? Not bloody likely. He had everything. I mean everything.
His father was a research chemist, heading a huge multinational corporation. They manufactured drugs and engaged in research projects, sometimes for the government. I think that’s why Cory was so fascinated with Morgan. He was getting a degree in biochemistry and wanted to be a researcher himself. Cory was awesome… but he had flaws, and his fascination with Morgan was one of them. Personally, I wouldn’t care if I never saw his smug face ever again. Hell, I’d have been so much happier if I hadn’t.
Because of his father’s job—he had to work long hours and take frequent business trips—Morgan was often home alone, and what a home it was. Fortunately, he lived quite close to the university—not that he would have stayed in the student accommodations, even if he’d lived a hundred miles away—in a house almost as big as the university itself. The estate comprised a good few acres of grounds, enclosed by a wall topped with electrified barbed wire. I’ve never been lucky enough (Hah!) to be invited inside.
I say it was fortunate he lived at home, because he rarely spent any time at the university when he wasn’t actually in class or working in the library, so I didn’t have to put up with him after hours, so to speak.
Unfortunately, Morgan was taking the same degree I was. He was even in my tutorial group. I hated him even more because he was brilliant in every way. He had a natural aptitude for the subject, speaking with passion about justice andhonor; holding a debate with fluency, and having an uncanny memory for detail. In addition, when he wanted to, he could turn on the charm and had personality in bucketfuls. He outshone us all, although I was almost able to hold my own… sometimes.
It was truly unfair how Morgan had it all, and didn’t seem to care about any of it. Did I mention he was gorgeous? Of course he was. How could he possibly not be? I swear the entourage would still have licked his arse if he was ugly, but perhaps we wouldn’t have had to put up with the adoring looks and mooning fans. Gods, I hated the Morgan fans. You saw them everywhere. They would light up as soon as he came into the room. Their eyes would go round and they would babble incoherently with soppy smiles on their faces. Gods, I hated them… and I hated him.
I was thinking all of this as I sat in a tutorial and listened to him talking about the assignment we’d been given. The topic was all about arguing a case involving easements and rights of way. My interest didn’t lie with Property Law, and although I’d researched and prepared, I hadn’t been able to drum up much passion about it. Morgan, however, did everything with passion—except live.
Morgan had this ‘dark and dangerous’ image thing going on. He always dressed in black, wore silverjewelry, and sometimes black fingerless gloves. He painted his nails black too, and of course his hair was long and black. I don’t think he dyed it. Someone had once called him a Goth, but that was so the wrong word for him. There was no ‘right’ word for him. He only wore designer… anything. He listened to classical music and, I’d heard, he played piano like a pro. He drove an Audi convertible, or sometimes a monster silver bike. He defied description. He was unique.
That day, as usual, he was sitting in front of the window. I swear he did it for effect. The late autumn sun made his heavy hair shine with the sheen of silk. It was easy to get lost in the shine, and the way the thick, vivid blue streak at the front stood out, jewel bright in the sunshine.
Not that I cared, of course. I barely even noticed. I was too busy being infuriated by how effortlessly he tossed about arguments based on fine and obscure points of law. I’d never even heard of them, let alone considered them when preparing my arguments for today. How the hell was I supposed to counter that?
My mind worked furiously, casting about for a way I could get around the arguments he was raising. I barely understood what he was saying, although the lecturer clearly did and was, just as clearly, impressed. She was probably half in love with him, too. It was sickening the way everyone got sucked into the phenomenon that was Morgan Bentley.
And didn’t he know it? He lounged in his seat, soaking up the admiration, the half circle of adoring faces turned up to him. His arm was stretched across the back of the chair next to him. If it hadn’t been too high, I swear he’d have had his feet up on the table. He was a study in crafted, conscious ennui.
For a moment, our eyes met, and I was stunned by the power of those startling green orbs—slanted like a cat, sparkling but curiously empty. I snarled at him and he smiled.
When it was my turn to present my response, I stumbled and stammered for a while before I found my stride. Then I began to do pretty well. But for every argument I raised, he had a response. For every point I made, he had three to the contrary. Halfway through the presentation, we started to spar. I deliberately goaded him, and he responded. Although we were icily polite and kept to the topic of discussion, we fought like fencers, the words our épées.
By the time it was over, I was exhausted and I had no idea who’d ‘won’. From the dazed expressions of those around us, including the lecturer, I guessed neither did anyone else. It was almost embarrassing.
I gathered my books and began to store them in my backpack. A shadow fell across me, and I looked up. Of course, it was Morgan. I’d known it would be, even before I began to raise my head.
I glared at him. What? Did he expect me to thank him for his praise, this meagre scrap from the table of his greatness?
“Yeah. You too.”
Morgan smiled. It wasn’t his usual smirk, neither was it the ironic twist of the lips he sometimes gave… this was a real smile, small and brief, but natural. I’d never seen a smile like that on his face before, and I found myself returning it before I realised what I was doing and stopped. For an instant, the briefest of instants, a look flashed through Morgan’s eyes I would have sworn was… disappointment, then he turned and walked away.
To view the Book Trailer, click HERE