Let Me In by Ali Parker

Chapter 1





Xander





Ten years ago





I kept my sunglasses on, protecting my eyes from the hot San Diego sun. I was early and in no hurry to get to my next class at UCSD. In fact, I was dreading it a little. I knew it wasn’t going to go well. It never did. My professor had taken a strong dislike to me from the moment I darkened his door. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t give a shit. I just needed the damn grade.

My book bag was slung over one shoulder as I walked along the cement sidewalk. I sipped the iced coffee I carried in my other hand. It was a gorgeous sunny day. As soon as I was done with class, I was going to the beach. A cold beer and some good music were exactly what this day needed.

“Wait up,” I heard from behind me.

I slowed my walk, waiting for Charlie Pugh to catch up. The guy was two years younger than me. We had met last year, his freshman year, and I had taken him under my wing.

“I didn’t think you had class on Fridays,” I said.

He grinned. “I don’t, but the hot chick I’m after does. I’m going to accidentally run into her and see if I can convince her to go out with me tonight.”

“Good boy,” I teased.

“Did you do it?” he asked.

I patted my hand against my book bag. “I did.”

“Xander, he’s going to fail you,” he warned.

“I don’t care. It’s good. If the old goat could pull his head out of the nineteenth century, he would know it was good.”

He sucked in a breath through his teeth. “You are a rebel.”

“No, I’m smarter than the average bear and this asshole can’t see it. He hates me and is looking for a reason to fail me. It isn’t going to work. Even if he rejects the project or gives me a shitty grade, I’ll still pass.”

“What about your dad, though?”

I rolled my eyes behind my dark shades. “I don’t give a shit about that either. I’m passing. I’m not a college dropout. I’ll graduate and he can get over it.”

“You are a bad ass,” he joked.

“Who is this girl you have the hots for?” I asked.

“She’s a little older than I am, blonde, and sexy as hell. I’ve had my eye on her for a while. I have accidentally run into her a couple times. I make her laugh.”

“Because you look funny,” I quipped.

It was funny because Charlie looked anything but funny. He was young with a lopsided smile and a laid-back surfer attitude. His black hair and crazy blue eyes made him a standout. Girls panted after him, but he always set his sights on the ladies he couldn’t have, the ladies that were not interested in his charms.

“I’ll wear her down. I’ll flash my blue eyes and smile a lot. It works every time.”

I shook my head. “I would be very careful boasting about that. Someone might lynch you one of these days.”

“I’m too cute to lynch.”

“We’ll see,” I said and continued on my way.

“So, the project, did you change it at all?” he questioned.

“Nope. It’s good. I know it’s good. The professor can fuck off. It’s people like me that are going to change the world. He is too set in his ways. He isn’t innovative. He wants to keep doing things the way they have always been done. He’s wrong.”

He let out a low whistle. “I hope you didn’t include that in your research.”

“No, but I should have.”

“You are close to being done with all this. Don’t rock the boat,” he said before bursting into laughter at the pun.

“That’s the thing. My boat won’t be rocking. My boat—ship rather—will carry ten times the cargo today’s ships do. My ships will use half the fuel. They are lighter, faster, and more efficient. If he can’t see that, he’s an idiot. Hell, I already know he is an idiot. He doesn’t have the ability to look ahead. He is stuck in the past.”

He shook his head. “I hope he doesn’t ruin your chances of graduating. You are so close.”

“He can’t. He doesn’t have that kind of power. He only thinks he does.”

We stopped walking. My class was off to the left. “Good luck,” he offered.

I shrugged. “I don’t need luck. I don’t give a shit what he thinks. I know I am right. If I had a decent professor who understood the first thing about engineering, I would be getting an award. My idea is solid. As soon as I graduate, I am taking it to a company that can put it to work. One day, I’m going to laugh my ass off atop my piles of millions. I’m going to come back here as an alum and make sure I point out that the asshole tried to keep me down.”