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Authors: Ashe Barker

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The Three Rs

BOOK: The Three Rs
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Table of Contents

Legal Page

Title Page

Book Description


Trademarks Acknowledgement

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

New Excerpt

About the Author

Publisher Page

A Totally Bound Publication

The Three Rs


©Copyright Ashe Barker 2014

Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright January 2014

Edited by Sarah Smeaton

Totally Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Totally Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Totally Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2014 by Totally Bound Publishing,
Newland House, The Point, Weaver Road, Lincoln, LN6 3QN


This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
heat rating
Totally Burning
and a

What’s Her Secret?


Ashe Barker

Second chances don’t come along that often. But when they do, you grab them with both hands. And hold on tight.

Perfect strangers don’t just leave you a share in their business. Do they? And even if they do, surely the rightful owner won’t just take it lying down…?

Abigail Fischer is about to find out for herself that life can make some unexpected twists. When a mysterious letter arrives informing her that she’s inherited a controlling interest in a thriving construction firm, Abigail thinks it must be a mistake. Or a sick joke. That is until she’s confronted by her new, very angry and very reluctant business partner. Handsome as sin but determined to be rid of her, Cain Parrish is everything Abigail desires—and most fears. Forced to uproot from her safe but dead-end job to help run the firm, Abigail is quickly drawn to her dominant partner. Attuned to her most secret desires, and able to meet them effortlessly, he quickly finds his way past her defenses.

But Abigail is not what she seems. Astute in business and a skilled Dom, Cain can easily demand her submission, but can he find his way past Abigail’s carefully constructed façade to discover the shameful secret she’s managed to conceal all her life? Despite her growing enthusiasm for the new opportunities now facing her, Abigail can’t become something she’s not. Or can she? Is it possible to leave the past behind and start over?

When things start to go wrong in their business, and as Abigail’s blunders threaten to sink their small but up to now profitable enterprise, will their delicate personal relationship survive?

Will Cain forgive Abigail’s mistakes or is there a deeper significance to her apparent ineptitude?


This book is dedicated to John, and to Hannah,

and to the triumph of optimism over experience.

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia):
C.S. Lewis

Harry Potter:
J.K. Rowling

Stephenie Meyer

JobCentre: JobCentre Plus

Nescafé: Nestlé S.A.

Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc.

Yellow Pages: Hibu UK Limited

Rolex: Rolex SA

BT: BT Group plc

Costa: Costa Coffee

Anadin: Pfizer, Inc.

Candy Crush Saga: King

Windows: Microsoft Corporation

Mac: Apple, Inc.

JCB: J C Bamford Excavators Limited

Observer: Guardian Media Group plc

Aga: Aga Rangemaster Group

BBC Worldwide Ltd.

The Tweenies:
British Broadcasting Corporation

Fifty Shades of Grey:
E. L. James

Pizza Hut: Pizza Hut, Inc.

Bob the Builder:
The Shari Lewis Company

Formica: Fletcher Building

Civic Voice: Civic Voice

Chapter One

It looks official.

White envelope. It’s made of heavy paper, expensive looking. My name and address on the front, and some other words in large, bold letters. I recognize some of the letters. A word starting with ‘P’ and with a ‘v’ in it. Probably ‘Private’. Not so sure about the other word, that’s just a jumble. As if someone simply grabbed a handful of the alphabet and dropped it onto the paper.

But the letter is definitely for me. I do recognize my name, my address. Maybe I should open it, try to decipher whatever’s inside.

I put the envelope, still unopened, back on my table. It leans against the cereal packet as I take a sip of my coffee and contemplate it grumpily. It’s been two days since the imposing looking white envelope plopped onto my doormat, and I’m no closer now to knowing what the contents might mean than I was when it first arrived. It could just be junk mail. Some organizations deliberately make their rubbish letters look real and important just to trap unwary or gullible people. I like to think I’m neither of those things, but the fact remains I have a letter propped against my cornflakes box which may or may not be important—it certainly looks the part—and it’s spent the last two days occupying pride of place on my fireplace taking the piss out of me. It’s likely to continue taking the piss for another week, until my friend Wendy who lives upstairs comes back from visiting her sister in the Cotswolds. Wendy does my reading for me when it can’t be avoided. Because I can’t.

Can’t read, don’t read. Never really learnt. And now it’s too late. Probably.

Childhood leukemia effectively wiped out the first two years of my schooling. I was nearly eight before a bone marrow transplant finally did the trick and I was eventually pronounced cancer free, but by then the other children in my year were miles ahead of me. They all seemed to be able to read, and I still couldn’t. My school did try. They sent work home for me, and a teacher came to see me quite regularly. I was often too ill to listen to her though, and I didn’t feel like concentrating. In that cunning, manipulative way that children have sometimes, I soon realized that all I had to do was lie back and close my eyes, look a bit helpless, feeble, pained, and they’d back off immediately.

“Oh, she’s tired. Let her rest.” My mother was sick with worry about me, and fiercely protective. I milked that relentlessly, idle little slug that I was. Being ill was crap most of the time, but it had its up-side. No one hassled me, and if I didn’t want to bother with school stuff, no one would make me. My health was the only thing that mattered—I just had to concentrate on getting better.

And when I was better, school tried again. I had a special reading recovery tutor, they put me on accelerated reading programs, spent a fortune no doubt on my remedial education, but none of it made much impression. I learnt the alphabet, learnt to recognize my own name then to write it. I can string together short words, simple words, and I’m sort of okay at guessing how to fill in the gaps. I’ve had a lot of practice at that over the years. But it’s an unreliable system, I make a lot of mistakes and I completely miss the meaning of most things. I never read newspapers, not even the red tops which I understand are written for people with a reading age of about seven. They’re too hard for me. I struggle to understand cooking instructions on food packets, but these days most are done with symbols so that’s easier. I can recognize a picture of a microwave, and single numbers are okay. Even double numbers at a pinch, but beyond that I get hopelessly lost. So I’m pretty much unable to read or write anything. Functionally illiterate, is the label they give to people like me, or so I understand.

I’m perhaps slightly better with numbers. I can add up in my head. Adding, subtracting, multiplication—I’m very good at all that mental arithmetic. It’s just that I struggle to untangle the lines of numbers when they’re written down.

My mother was just so relieved that I was alive, she was prepared to overlook my slow learning. Did I say slow? Of course, I mean I went at the speed of a dead snail. My mother insisted I’d catch up, but she thought I was delicate, and they needed to make allowances. It’s true that I had to continue to go back to the hospital on a regular basis for years after I was pronounced clear, for blood tests to make sure there was no recurrence. There never was, and in truth I felt fine.

School wasn’t all bad. I loved sports despite my mother’s anxiety that I might get over-tired, and I played in the netball team. I was the goal-shooter and pretty good. Nothing wrong with my hand-eye co-ordination. I could draw too, really well, actually. I quite enjoyed the practical aspects of art lessons. I did some nice work, but my art folder was a mess. I recall a lot of red pen in it—the teacher’s attempts to set me on the right path, obviously wasted on me.

Overall, my education was limited almost to the point of non-existence. And my initial disadvantages of poor health and laziness turned into embarrassment. The years went by and I made no progress—at least none that I could see—and others in my class moved on to read more and more adventurous books. I saw the
films on the television or at the cinema, I loved
Harry Potter
and later
, but while everyone else could read the books I could only enjoy the films. While others could use the Internet to find out the information they needed to do their homework, my homework just didn’t get done. I was moved into ‘special’ learning groups, and my school continued to make an effort. But it was half-hearted—I was a hopeless case. I certainly thought so, and I suppose that just clinched it. The best school in the land can’t do much with a student who doesn’t believe they can learn. By the time I was fourteen or so, they’d given up and so had I. I marked time with netball and art when I could dodge the zeal of the art teacher. She never quite relinquished the task. I left school at sixteen, with no qualifications and all the job prospects of a lettuce.

BOOK: The Three Rs
9.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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