Authors: Chris Cannon
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains multiple PDAs, after-school detentions, and gambling on the side. Warning: betting on a boyfriend is bad for your health.
Kissing? Check. Detention? Check. A bet that might lead to love or abject humiliation? Check.
Zoe Cain knows that Grant Evertide is way out of her league. So naturally, she kisses him. Out of spite. Not only is Grant her brother’s number-one nemesis, but he has zero interest in being tied down to one girl. She’s shocked—and secretly thrilled—when they start spending more time together. Non-exclusively, of course, but that doesn’t mean Zoe can’t change his mind, one PDA and after-school detention at a time.
Zoe’s brother claims Grant is trying to make her his “Ringer,” an oh-so-charming tradition where a popular guy dates a non-popular girl until he hooks up with her, then dumps her. Zoe threatens to neuter Grant with hedge clippers if he’s lying but Grant swears he isn’t trying to trick her. Still, that doesn’t mean Grant is the commitment type—even if winning a bet is on the line.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Christine Canada. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Visit our website at
Crush is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
Edited by Erin Molta
Cover design by Bree Archer
Cover art from iStock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition September 2016
This book is dedicated to my family for all their support. Especially to my husband for allowing me to freak out occasionally when the editing process makes me a bit crazy. And to all the fans who left ratings and reviews for
. You all are the reason this book exists.
I sat on a bench in the quad waiting for my brother, who was late
. I shifted around trying to find a way to sit where my legs didn’t come into contact with the lava hot granite. Whoever decided skirts were an essential part of the Wilton high school uniform should be throat-punched.
Where was Jack? I checked the Big Ben-type clock in the middle of the quad. As a junior transferring to the school, I had to attend Orientation. My brother, a senior, didn’t even have to come today. Do you think he’d let me drive the car myself? No. He claimed he came to meet up with friends. I think he hates turning the car keys over to me. Too bad. I’d gotten my license last week and my grandma’s old Honda Accord was now community property.
Someone sat to my right. When I looked to see who it was, someone sat to my left. I glanced back and forth between two hot guys wearing Wilton school jackets. One had dark hair, blue eyes, and a killer grin. The other had blond hair, brown eyes, and a serious expression. Given a choice, I would go with bachelor number one.
“Hello.” I glanced back and forth between them. “Can I help you?”
The blond looked at a list he held in his right hand. “Ten bucks says you’re Claire Barnes.”
“You’re Deanna Case,” the dark-haired boy said.
I shook my head.
“Lauren Tate?” the blond asked.
“No.” What type of strange guessing game was this?
The dark-haired boy frowned at his paper. “You can’t be Helga Svengack.”
“You made that name up.” I grabbed his list. No, it was real. Poor girl. I scanned the page listing the names of juniors transferring to Wilton Academy from private high schools. My name wasn’t on the list. Probably because I’d come from public school.
“What do you think you’re doing, Zoe?” My brother Jack stomped up to the bench, wearing his I-want-to-punch-someone face.
The dark-haired boy gave me a look of disgust. “Please tell me you’re not dating this loser.”
He’s my brother. Second, he may be a jerk, but he’s not a loser.”
The blond flipped his piece of paper over. “You’re Zoe Cain?”
I nodded. “And you are?”
“An asshole,” my brother muttered.
The blond stood up. “Say that again, so I can hear you.”
And my social life was about to go down the drain before it even started. Jumping up, I stood between them. “Can we dial back the testosterone please?”
Turning away from my brother, I held my hand out to the blond. “Zoe Cain, and you are?”
He glared at my brother for a moment before shaking my hand. “Aiden Eastman.”
“And you?” I pointed at the dark-haired boy who seemed amused by the whole situation.
He sauntered forward, took my hand in his, and brought it to his mouth for a kiss, just like you see in those old movies. Totally corny. And I knew he did it to annoy my brother, but it still made my skin tingle. “Grant Evertide.”
Holy crap. This was the guy who’d beaten my brother to become vice president of Student Council last year? The same guy my brother beat out for the lead in the school play? I gave him a nod of approval. “Well done. Very smooth.”
He struck a pose and adjusted his green and blue striped tie. “Thank you. I try.”
“Damn it, Grant. Stay away from my sister.”
I pivoted around to glare at my brother. “He’s joking. What’s your problem?”
Jack shoved his finger in my face. “You can talk to any other guy at this school, but you are
allowed to talk to him.”
Had my brother learned nothing in the last sixteen years? Apparently not, and for that he would pay. I turned back to the source of my brother’s irritation. “Grant, do you have a girlfriend who would mind if you kissed me to piss off my brother?”
In answer, he leaned down and pressed his mouth against mine.
I heard yelling, but I didn’t care. It seemed natural to slide my hands up Grant’s chest to rest at his shoulders. His arms went around my waist. We fit together perfectly. When the kiss ended, I felt pinned in place by the curious look in his ice blue eyes.
“Hot Tamales?” he asked.
And the spell was broken
I chuckled and backed up a step. “Close. Red Hots.”
When I saw my brother’s face red with rage, I laughed harder. He stomped off.
“That worked even better than I expected.” I smiled at Grant and then ran to catch up with my brother, because I wouldn’t put it past him to ditch me in the parking lot.
I hoped he’d give me the silent treatment on the ride home, but no such luck. He griped the entire time. We lived a good twenty minutes from campus, so that was saying something. Not that it mattered, I was used to him ranting about the things I did or the other injustices that seemed to happen to him on a regular basis, and I’d become skilled at tuning him out. While he rambled on about how stupid I was, and what a jerk Grant was, I replayed the kiss in my head. While I had kissed a few boys, I must say this kiss ranked higher than the others. Would Grant want to kiss me again? I hoped so. And I’d do everything in my power to encourage him. The fact that it ticked Jack off was a bonus. That’s what he got for trying to tell me how to live my life.
The Accord bumped up and down, which meant we’d reached the gravel drive to our house. From this distance, I could see my mom and grandma sitting on the front porch of our old farmhouse, husking corn.
Jack parked on the side of the house in the shade of a giant oak tree, and got out of the car, still scowling at me. I ignored him and exited the vehicle before he launched into another list of things I couldn’t or shouldn’t do.
I climbed the weathered steps to the front porch, purposely stepping on warped areas that gave a little bounce and a creak of greeting. My grandma took one look at Jack’s face and said, “Zoe Cain, what did you do?”
I placed my hand over my heart, pretending to be offended. “I merely demonstrated to my brother that he shouldn’t tell me which boys I can and cannot talk to.”
“She threw herself at Grant Evertide,” Jack said. “It was disgusting.”
“Oh, please. I did not throw myself at him. I asked him to kiss me to piss you off. There’s a difference.”
Mom shook her head. “One of these days you’re going to cut off your nose to spite your face.”
“Ignore her.” Grandma patted the spot on the bench beside her. “Come tell me about this boy.”
“You shouldn’t encourage her drama queen ways.” My mother ripped off a cornhusk and threw it in the wicker basket at her feet.
“Where do you think she gets her spunk from?” my grandmother asked.
I sat next to Grandma and relayed the story of how I met and kissed Grant. Her eyes twinkled. “Before I met your grandfather, I kissed Everett Evertide.”
“Really? Then how did you meet Grandpa?”
“Well, Everett was a handsome boy and I always had fun when I was with him, but he wanted to kiss a lot of other girls, while your grandfather, God rest his soul, only wanted to kiss me.”
“You’re better off dating someone with a similar background,” my mom said. “Your father and I had everything in common. That’s why—” Her voice wavered and she sniffled.
A familiar ache blossomed in my chest and my eyes grew hot.
My mom cleared her throat. “I better start dinner.” She stood and retreated into the house.
After Zoe left, I had a sudden craving for cinnamon rolls.
“You do realize Lena is going to hear about this.” Aiden folded his list into exact fourths and slid it into his shirt pocket.
“Since she’s my ex-girlfriend, I don’t think it matters.” Plus, I had a new and entertaining way to annoy Jack Cain. As far as I could see, it was a win-win situation.
“Have you told Lena she’s your ex?” He pointed across the quad. “Because she doesn’t look like an ex right now.”
Lena stormed toward me in what I’d come to think of as tantrum mode. Right on cue, my head started to pound. Before she could start in, I held my hand out to signal she should stop. “I don’t want to hear it. We broke up. You don’t get to yell at me anymore.”
Her eyes narrowed. “The joy of being your ex is I can yell at you whenever I want. I don’t have to worry about you being mad and freezing me out. I can say that kissing some hick farm girl is low class and if you plan to go slumming, you should do it behind closed doors.”
“The perk of being your ex is your opinion means nothing. Go nag someone else.” I hiked my backpack up on my shoulder and strode off, telling myself the wounded look in Lena’s eyes shouldn’t make me feel guilty. If she thought she was going to continue telling me what I should and shouldn’t do after we’d broken up, she was dead wrong. I’d gotten off that ride and I did not plan to get back on. Relationships were for suckers. From now on, I’d date who I wanted, when I wanted, no harping allowed.
“You know, this is why I hang around with you.” Aiden fell into step beside me. “There’s never a dull moment. You always do something entertaining.”
A plan came to mind. “Speaking of entertaining, I bet Zoe has a friend.”
“Statistically speaking, the odds are you’re correct.”
“Smart ass. I see an opportunity here for both of us to have a good time at Jack Cain’s expense.”
“I see this whole thing exploding spectacularly in your face.” He smacked me on the shoulder as if to congratulate me.
“But you’re still in.” I knew the answer.
“Of course I am.”
At dinner that evening, I sat across from my father as he read the paper. My mother stared off into space, sipping her third glass of white wine. Over the last few weeks this had become dinner as usual at the Evertide household. Cold, quiet, and calm. Unless I asked a question, no one spoke.
Tonight, my grandfather joined us for dinner, so I didn’t have to carry the conversation.
“How’d your day go?” he asked.
“It was good.” Remembering Zoe’s laugh, I grinned.
“I recognize that look. Who is she?”
My grandfather could read me like a book. I cut a piece of steak while I considered how much to share. “She’s new to the school, and she’s the sister of someone I don’t like, which makes things interesting.”
My mom tuned into the conversation and set her wine glass down. “What happened to Lena?”
Was she joking? “We broke up two weeks ago.”
“Don’t worry.” She reached over and patted my arm. “I’m sure you’ll reconcile.”
My father peeked around the edge of his paper. “Run while you have the chance.”
My mom pursed her lips and gave my dad the I’m-so-disappointed-in-you look. “Yes, dear, because being involved with someone who loves you and wants to take care of you is a terrible thing.”
“He’s seventeen. That girl’s mother has been talking wedding gowns for the last three months. She’s insane. I repeat. Run while you can.”
My knife hit the plate and made a screeching noise. “Wedding dresses?”
“It’s what mothers do.” My mom appeared flustered. “Besides, her family has that lovely beach house in San Francisco.”
“We have a beach house in San Francisco,” my dad said from behind his paper.
Mother sniffed and swirled her wine around in her glass. “Theirs is closer to the water.”
“By a dozen feet,” my father shot back.
Apparently this was not a new topic of conversation.
“Tell me about this young lady you met,” my grandfather said.
“Her name is Zoe. She’s impulsive and she laughs a lot.”
“Sounds like a fun girl to
.” My dad emphasized the last word.
“Zoe what?” Mom asked. Which is what everything came down to for her.
“I don’t recognize the name. Did her family move to the area?” my dad asked.
And this was where it would hit the fan. Aiden and I had attended Wilton Academy since freshman year. There were always a few students who transferred in from other private schools, because their families relocated here to work for Wilton Genetics. It was the major employer in Canton, Illinois, and most of the town, including Wilton Academy, had sprung up around them.
The locals who lived on the farms scattered throughout the area didn’t transfer over until junior year. That way their high school transcripts said they graduated from an exclusive private school, but they only paid half the tuition. We referred to them as hicks or farm kids. They called us snobs or geeks. Our parents were the scientists and lawyers that kept Wilton Genetics on the cutting edge of agricultural research and development. The standard joke was that our parents were the best and the brightest in their fields while the hicks’ parents were only smart enough to farm the fields. Our parents wore lab coats and created the genetically modified plants, which were faster growing, or more nutritious. Their parents wore overalls and drove the tractors. There was a weird White collar/Blue collar divide that was hard to get past. Sometimes the differences caused friction, like it had with Zoe’s brother.
Keeping my voice neutral, I said, “Actually, she’s local.”
“She’s a hick?” My mom’s tone could’ve given someone frostbite.
My dad set his newspaper down. “Maybe you shouldn’t date her.”
“I dated a local girl when I was in school,” my grandfather said in a wistful tone.
“What happened?” I’d never heard him speak of any woman but my grandmother.
“Life happened. We both met other people we were more suited for, so we went our separate ways. You’re seventeen. Live a little. You have the rest of your life to worry about what other people think of you.”
“I think I’ll invite Lena and her mother over for dinner one night this week,” my mother said.
“Then I’ll be eating at Aiden’s all week.”
My father laughed. “I’m coming with you.”