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By Annie Seaton, Erin Molta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Annie Seaton
All rights reserved.
Megan Miller snapped her laptop shut as the captain announced they were only half an hour out of Heathrow Airport in London. The second leg of the long-haul flight from Dubai had passed quickly, and she'd organized all of her notes and files ready to begin her research at Glastonbury. A shiver of anticipation rippled through her as she realized that in less than an hour her feet would be on the ground in England, and her lifetime dream was about to be achieved — visiting England, going to a music festival, and just experiencing the British music scene firsthand.
The screen on the back of the seat beside her caught her attention and she leaned forward with interest as the credits for a seventies music show ran down. She flicked her own TV on, put the earphones in her ears and scrolled through the music programs, found and selected the seventies show, and grinned when Davy Morgan strutted onto the stage.
How good was that? Megan had spent the past hour reading about him and now she could listen to his music ... and watch him. It didn't get much better than that. The librarian at the university had e-mailed the final articles scanned from the old microfiche copies of It's here and now, the music magazine from the seventies that Megan was using for part of her research. The article was one she hadn't read before and the photograph had caught her attention. It had been the same photograph as the poster she'd had up on her wall when she was a teenager. The lurid headline hinted at a scandal but she ignored it. Her research had shown that scandals for rock stars in the seventies were manufactured on a daily basis to boost record sales.
Hasn't changed much. With today's technology at everyone's fingertips, a rock star couldn't sneeze without it being tweeted somewhere in the world. She'd been fascinated by the seventies music her parents loved, and she'd preferred it over the nineties bands her friends had followed. Her fascination with the era had continued through university, and now formed the basis of her doctorate. Her research on Davy Morgan had come to a dead end soon after 1971. It seemed besides a few tours in late 1971 and early '72, he'd become a bit of a recluse and there was very little to be found on him, apart from his appearance at the Glastonbury festivals for a few years after that, and the popularity of his albums. It was as though he'd disappeared ... the only mention of him was a rumor that he'd retired to an island somewhere to write his music.
Megan reached over and turned the volume up and closed her eyes as Davy sang "For Megan." She'd always loved that song and was sure it had deepened her love of Davy Morgan's music.
Come back to me, Megan.
Together we will conquer time.
It had been the beginning of a journey that was now culminating in the final research for her doctorate on the sociology of seventies music and festivals. She couldn't help the grin that she knew was spreading across her face. She was going to go to her first Glastonbury festival.
Life was good.
After they'd landed and Megan had collected her luggage, made her way through customs, and had her passport stamped, she found a quiet corner and pulled out her cell phone. It took a couple of minutes to find a provider but eventually she had service ... and fifteen messages.
What the hell? They were all from her sister, Kathy, and her stomach clenched as she thought the worst. Rather than pick up the messages, she dialed her sister's number and it picked up on the first ring.
"Oh. Megan, thank God." Her sister's voice broke when she answered the call.
"What's wrong? What's happened? Are the kids okay?" Kathy and her husband, Tony, had two small children whom Megan adored.
"Yes, everyone's fine. But there's something you need to know. It's just awful."
"What's wrong?" Megan put her bag on the floor and slid down the wall as she waited for Kathy to answer.
"The university was trying to reach you and they called Tony." Her brother-in-law was a law lecturer at North Shore University, where she worked as a sociology lecturer and tutor while she finished her doctorate.
"Yeah, what's so urgent?"
"I'll find Tony and he can tell you. He's already dealing with it." The worry in Kathy's voice was beginning to unsettle Megan. "We'll call you back when I find him. He's outside somewhere."
While she waited for them to call back, Megan racked her brain trying to figure out what was wrong. She'd finished all her student marking and had entered her marks, despite having a problem with her log-in and password to the grade center. It had taken a while to get her password reset and she'd actually worked in her office to finish up the grades yesterday before she'd headed to the airport. It had turned out well because she'd caught up with her friend Beth, whose family cottage Megan was staying in at Glastonbury.
"You can catch the train from Paddington Station to Castle Cary. There'll be buses to the festival but if you grab a taxi at the station, you'll be able to go straight to Violet Cottage," Beth had instructed. As soon as she heard from Tony, she'd head off to find Paddington Station and make her way down to Glastonbury.
Finally the Queen tune that heralded an incoming call rang out, and she pressed the pickup button.
"Megs, I'll cut straight to it." Tony's voice was grim. "The vice-chancellor contacted me when they realized you'd already left for England. You're going to have to come home."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"They've suspended you from your job while an investigation is under way."
"An investigation?" The words came out as a squawk and a couple of heads turned in her direction. "What sort of investigation?"
"They've sent you a letter with some serious allegations about your behavior in the sociology department. It involves falsifying marks and taking money from students to change their grades."
"That's absolute bullshit." Megan's head was spinning and she put her hand up to her throat.
"And that's not all. They say you've plagiarized material for your doctorate."
"Greg Cannon." Megan pushed herself to her feet and walked over to the large window overlooking the runway. "It was Greg Cannon, that slime bucket. Wasn't it?" She leaned forward and her forehead touched the glass as she listened to Tony.
"There's a meeting next week. If you want to fight it you're going to have to come home."
"What if I don't come home? For God's sake, Tony. I've only been here five minutes."
"If you don't fight it, it will be seen as an admission of guilt." Tony sighed. "You've got no choice. If you don't come home and fight it, you'll have no job to come home to."
"I knew he was up to something. That bloody man weaseled his way into my bed, and he was way too interested in everything I was doing at work." Megan gritted her teeth as her suspicions fell into place. "He wanted that promotion and I was a certainty over him."
"So you think Greg's responsible?"
"Isn't it strange that my log-in and password wouldn't work all of a sudden? They've been fine for three years. He obviously got hold of them and logged in as me and changed marks or something."
"Maybe I could ask for an audit by the IT department?" Tony's voice held the first shred of hope since he'd called.
"He's smart enough to have covered his tracks, but I suppose it's worth a try if you think they'll do one."
"I'll see what I can do. God knows, it's the last thing you need after the last six months," Tony said.
"Okay, see what you can do and I'll call you in the morning after I get down to Beth's family's place. We'll figure out if I have to come home right now."
Could she trust Tony to handle it? Could she stay in the United Kingdom for a month and go home to the whole thing being fixed? The research for her doctorate on the sociological aspects of the Glastonbury music event through thirty years of festivals was the final step toward her thesis and she couldn't afford to give up this opportunity now that she was here. But the flip side was, if she stayed and was found guilty, the work would be for nothing. If she lost her job at the university, she'd never get another academic job anywhere else.
"Are you still there, Megan?"
"Sorry, I was thinking."
"So you'll trust me to handle it for a couple of days?"
"Absolutely. I trust you. All the grading paperwork is in folders in my study at home. Hopefully, it will discredit all the lies he's told about my marking. The stuff about my thesis I'll deal with personally, when I come home. Tell Kathy she was right. She tried to warn me about that jerk." Megan looked around the terminal. It was surreal having this conversation in an airplane terminal in England. All of her excitement about being here had disappeared in an instant. "Any questions you've got, e-mail me and I'll sort them out. I'll go to the media if I have to. And I'll deal with Greg Cannon when I get back. I am so off men ... for life." Then she realized how Tony was going out on a limb for her. "Sorry. Brothers-in-law excepted."
Having a lawyer in the family had been handy when their parents had died in the car accident last year, and she and Kathy had had to sort out the mess of their estate. Tony worked part-time in his family law firm, but his first love was academia and he spent a lot of his time at the university lecturing as an associate professor.
"So e-mail me with anything else you think of when you get there," Tony said.
"Shit." Megan thought of the conversation she'd had with Beth yesterday when her friend had given her the directions from London. "There's no Internet in Violet Cottage. In fact, Beth's Aunt Alice apparently never had a phone connected. I'll have to go into the village to the public phone."
"Use your cell phone." Tony was on the ball. "And if that doesn't work in the English countryside, you should be able to find an Internet café or something."
"Okay, I'll be in touch tomorrow, somehow." A measure of calm had returned as Megan realized she could stay. For a while at least. "And Tony? Thanks. I really appreciate it."
She disconnected, tucked her phone into her bag, and picked up her suitcase.
This whole mess could mean the end of her career and her passion. The timing sucked, but she would go back and sort it all out when the month was over. She had to fight it, but now, she would try to focus on Glastonbury as best she could, get her research data, enjoy the festival, and try to block out the mess until she came home. It was in Tony's capable hands.CHAPTER 2
David Morgan hitched his guitar up on his shoulder and cursed for the second time that night. The band practice session had gone late because the pyramid stage had been only half set up when they'd gotten to Worthy Farm in Pilton at midday. The organizers had tried to find the best site by using a witching rod so they could set the stage above the magical ley line that was supposed to run through here from Stonehenge. It was said to be lucky.
David strode across the field trying to shake off the anger that consumed him. Everything had gone wrong today. Bear, their drummer, had been late because of the crowds gawking at the musicians along the road into the farm. Someone had let slip that Bowie and the Stones were rehearsing, and by the time he and the band had set up and rehearsed, it had been pitch dark despite almost being midsummer.
If they'd asked him where to put the stage, he could have shown them straight up. But he was not in the mood to talk to anyone. Holly Love, their publicist, had handed him the latest issue of the Taunton Times and he'd thrown it onto the stage floor in disgust when he'd read the bullshit the journalist had written up about Emma's death. Last year, when he'd agreed to foster the bad-boy image to promote sales, he'd naively thought all he'd have to do was lounge about in leathers and have a few scantily clad girls hanging off his arm.
Not be associated with a drug overdose death of someone I grew up with ... and had once thought I loved.
It had taken David three attempts to get back home across the fields and by the time he got there he was royally pissed off. He'd spent an hour wandering around in the long, damp grass before he'd finally found the time gate so he could make his way across to the back garden of Rose Cottage. Someone had been there, because when he came around the side, the small front gate leading to the narrow, hedgerowed road was open.
No matter how much he protected his privacy and tried to hide, some groupie always managed to find him.
No matter where ,or when he was.
After the first festival, and Emma's death, he'd moved down to Glastonbury and settled into a vacant cottage outside the village to take refuge from the publicity and the journalists who constantly chased him. Music had flowed, and he had written new songs, day and night. Alice McLaren lived next door and she'd shown him the way to his future. At first, he'd been skeptical, but the day she'd taken him to the standing stones, a new world had opened up for him — an opportunity to escape the misery of his life and the relentless pursuit of the press — and he had embraced it.
When Alice had first told him about the ley line behind the cottages, he'd thought it was just new age hippie ramblings, but she'd taken him over to the three large markers in the field. She'd placed his hands on the bluish-gray stone. He'd jumped back as they'd hummed and moved beneath his fingers. The next day he'd gone exploring alone, and had slipped through to the future for the first time. When he'd come back, Alice had explained it. Her family had been traveling through the time gate for centuries. Listening to her explanation of ley lines and time slips had saved his sanity. For a few hours, he had thought Emma's death had pushed him over the edge and he'd had some sort of breakdown.
Carefully, he'd put the past behind him and explored his future. It was as though he'd come home, taking him away from all the rabid fans and groupies who constantly followed his band, or any band. When he had discovered the success of the band, and the wealth he'd accrued since the seventies, it had almost done his head in. The day he went up to London and recognized the elderly banker — who was still the same man who'd set up his accounts forty years ago — everything had fallen into place for him. Clive was the only other person, apart from Alice and the guys in the band, who knew his secret ... but now Alice was gone.
He'd made his decision to stay in the twenty-first century and only went back through the time gates for the festivals, some touring, and when the band was recording in the studio. But living near the time gate had unsettled him, so he had bought an island in the Caymans. Davy Morgan became a recluse and the press soon lost interest in him.
He cursed again, as his toe stubbed something large on the front porch. He took a step forward and tripped over a small bag. As he fell, he twisted to protect his guitar and landed on something soft, which expelled a soft oomph.
"What the fuck?" He grunted as his eyes adjusted to the faint light shining from the single lamp inside. He'd left it on after fumbling with the lock in the dark last night. It had taken half an hour to get the old key in the door. Living in an old country cottage was great for his privacy — most of the time — but it had its disadvantages. A night of singing at full volume had strained his vocal cords and all he wanted was a long, mellow whiskey to soothe his dry throat.
Dropping his gaze, he groaned as a pair of red-clad legs moved beneath him and he realized he was lying across a woman. A very well-endowed woman. Wide eyes looked back at him above a white T-shirt stretched tight across her breasts.
"Well, you might as well come in. A good fuck might just improve my night."
A soft gasp followed him as he put both hands on either side of her and pushed himself to his feet before retrieving his guitar from the ground.
Excerpted from Hot Rock by Annie Seaton, Erin Molta. Copyright © 2014 Annie Seaton. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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