“I’ll pay you fifty bucks to write my English paper.”
I slam my locker shut before shifting to face the brave soul who asked
I don’t cheat.
I don’t break rules.
Everyone knows this.
He’s casually leaning against the locker next to mine. A smirk is spread
across his face, as if he expects me to squeal in delight that he’s asking me
for a favor.
Not happening, homeboy.
Homeboy is Rex Lane.
Our school’s arrogant fuckboy.
A guy I’m not writing a paper
I mock his smile. “I’ll charge
you fifty bucks not to rat you out for homework bribery.”
“Homework bribery?” He flashes a brighter I’m a nice guy; do what I’m asking grin.
I firmly nod. “Yes.” I motion down the hallway. “Now, go away. Having
this stupid conversation with you is wasting my valuable study time.”
I count on my rudeness to scare him off, but when his eyes brighten in
amusement, I know I’m wrong.
I have two high school goals in life:
- Become class
- Do not gain Rex’s
or any popular guy’s attention.
Luckily, he caught me after the class bell rang, so no one is around to
witness this unfortunate encounter.
“Come on, Carolina,” he pleads. “Prove to me the rumors about you aren’t
I stiffen. “Rumors?” I deliver a stern look. “What rumors?”
I mind my business. Don’t gossip. Stay in my lane.
All of this to prevent rumors from circulating about me.
He licks his lips, leaning in closer, and lowers his voice. “The rumors
that you have a stick up your ass and lack personality.”
There might be a stick up my ass, but I’m going to shove my foot up his.
I narrow my eyes, and my response releases in a hiss, “Really? You want
to talk about rumors? Maybe I should believe the rumors about you.”
“The rumors that say I’m cool as fuck? A terrific lay? Fucking
Our high school halls flood with rumors about him.
The one that he sports an overinflated ego is officially confirmed.
“Negative,” I reply. “The rumors that you’re a sucky lay with a small
This is a lie—a rumor I’ve never heard—but hey, if he wants to talk crap,
so can I.
“Lies, babe, all lies. I’m more than happy to present the evidence to
back up my claim.” He retreats a step, dropping his hand to the crotch of his
jeans, and tugs at his zipper.
I do another quick scan of the hallway before loudly snorting. “You won’t
He flinches, that smug smile slipping off his lips. “Huh?”
“You won’t do it.” I nod toward his crotch. “You won’t unzip your pants
and present your evidence.” I park my hands on my waist and kick my foot out.
He gapes at me, speechless.
“Pull it out or go away.” I dismissively wave my hand. “I have a test in
ten minutes, and you, standing in front of me with your hand on your junk,
aren’t helping me ace it. Go beg another girl to write your paper because you
lack a brain … and according to the girls’ locker room gossip, a decent penis
He drops his hand from his crotch, his smile returning. “Looks like
Little Miss Innocent might not be as uptight as she leads on. There’s some
personality hidden underneath those awful, itchy-looking sweaters of yours.” He
makes a show of eyeing me up and down.
I opt out of giving him hell over the uptight
comment. The faster he goes away, the better.
“No, she has a low annoyance tolerance.”
He steeples his hands into a praying motion. “Say yes to writing my
paper, and then you can go about your studying, sweater-wearing ways.”
“Sixty bucks and a bonus of
proving I’m well-endowed when we’re in private.”
I dramatically gag. “Gross.” As much as I don’t want to deal with him, I
could use the cash. “Seventy-five, and I’ll help
you write the paper, but you’re doing it yourself. I don’t cheat.” I signal
to his jeans. “And keep your micropenis to yourself. I’d rather fail every
class than have you prove you’re well-endowed.”
“Paying you to help me write
the paper defeats the point of paying you.”
“Really? With that brilliance
of yours, you shouldn’t need me to write your paper.”
“Why are you even asking me? You’re in line—behind me—to be class valedictorian. You can easily write your own
paper.” I reach forward to pat his shoulder. “I have faith in you, petite-penis
“Never said I couldn’t write the boring-ass paper. I’d just rather not.
I’m a busy guy who doesn’t give two shits about Shakespeare.”
“Eighty dollars,” I blurt out.
“Eighty? What the fuck? You can’t up the ante like that.”
“I can, and the longer you waste my time, the higher the price.” I can’t
believe I’m agreeing to this, but hey, money talks. “Eighty dollars. Meet me at
the library after school.”
“The library sucks. My house.”
I shake my head. “You’re high if you think I’m going to your house.”
“If I’m paying eighty dollars, which is fucking insane, at least give a
guy the privacy of his own home.”
I thrust my finger toward him. “You’d better not try any funny business.”
He rubs his palms together. “This is homework, Carolina. Get your
virginal mind out of the gutter.”
My last class of the day is AP English.
It’s also Rex’s.
This gives him the opportunity to stalk me out of class, to my locker,
and out to the parking lot while I ignore him.
Classmates call out his name, give him head nods, and say hi as we pass
them. Interest floods their faces when their eyes cut to me. It’s not that I’m
the class weirdo—although, as I learned today, I apparently have a stick up my
High school kids are so
I’m more along the lines of the class do-gooder who aces every test and
spends her free time volunteering.
Oh, and I’m also the preacher’s daughter.
Rex definitely isn’t preacher’s daughter’s friend material.
Hell, he doesn’t even fit into his role of the mayor’s son.
“Where’s your car?” he asks, strolling next to me and scanning the
I look away, embarrassment striking me. “I don’t have one.”
My parents gave me the option of waiting until my sister graduated and
passing her car down to me or buying one myself. Considering my cash flow is
zilch, waiting for hers it is.
A whiff of fresh soap and citrus hits me when he slings his arm over my
“You ride the bus?”
I shift out of his hold. “I ride with my sister.”
“Tell her you don’t need a ride today.” He returns his arm to my
shoulders and spins us toward the opposite side of the parking lot. “Today is
your lucky day, sweetheart. You get to ride with me.”
“Hard pass.” Surprisingly, I don’t shove him away while he leads me to a
newer model black Dodge Challenger.
“Come on, Lina. It’d be pretty selfish to have your sister drive you when
you could ride with me.”
“Don’t call me that,” I grumble.
His arm falls, and he ups his pace to turn around and stare at me,
walking backward. “What?”
“Lina. No one calls me that.” I immediately regret telling him this.
He rubs his thumb over his bottom lip. “I’m for fucking sure calling you
Lina now. It’ll be our thing, babe.”
“Ugh, and don’t call me babe either.”
“Lina babe, when you tell me not to do something, it only makes me want
to do it more.”
“Then, it’s only fair for me to give you a nickname.” I tap my finger
against the side of my mouth. “I’m going with … Needle Dick.” There’s no
stopping my lips from cracking into a smile.
He points at the car. “Get your ridiculous nickname-giving ass into my
car and stop insulting my dick before I really do show you.”
“You’ve already proven you’re too chicken in the hallway.”
“Of course, I can’t pull my dick out at school. My parents would kill me
if I got caught showing off my cock like I was at the school’s talent show.”
I snort. “That would require you to have talent.”
He smirks. “Oh, babe, I have plenty
of talents. My first trick will be to show you how to pull that stick out of
“So I can stick it up yours?”
“I like this little attitude of yours. It’s hot.”
He digs out his keys from the pocket of his jeans and unlocks the car. I
hop into the passenger seat with no argument. He’s right. Not only would my
sister bitch on the entire drive to Rex’s, but she’d also charge me gas money
for having to go out of her way.
I settle into the leather seat while Rex pulls out of the parking lot. He
thrums his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of a Snoop Dogg song. I
use this chance to take in everything that is him.
What’s fascinating about Rex is, he’s not your typical popular guy—the
ones you see in movies and read about in books. He’s not the star athlete or
the prom king or the school’s notorious bad boy. His personality is what draws
people to him. He’s fun, cocky, and laid-back. Everyone either wants to be his
friend or his girlfriend.
That is, everyone except yours truly.
I don’t need that kind of distraction in my life.
Rex is also crazy smart. He spends most of his time in the computer
programming lab and has even been called into the school office to fix
technical issues. Rumor has it, he’s also hacked into the system before.
He’s tall, at least six feet, and he towered over my small frame when we
walked through the parking lot. He might not play sports, but he’s more toned
than our quarterback. His hair is a coppery-brown and cut short. Two dimples
pop out of his cheeks when he smiles, and the asymmetry of his face is
He’s also rich. I’m reminded of this when he pulls into the driveway of
his mansion of a home. It’s the biggest in their neighborhood, and it has a
giant yard and impeccable landscaping. The Lane family is considered the most
affluent in our small town of Blue Beech, Iowa.
Rex shifts the car into park and steals my attention from the home when
he clears his throat. “That sure was a fun ride. I’ve never been checked out by
a preacher’s daughter before.”
My eyes widen.
Oh dear God.
Was I that obvious?
“That’s it. Take me home,” I demand. “I don’t check out guys. I was
simply observing the guy I’m going to be stuck with for the next few hours.”
“Too late. We have a paper to write, Lina babe.”
He kills the engine to the car, circles it, and opens my door as I’m
debating my next move.
Go in or leave.
I smack away his waiting hand, and he moves out of the way. With a scoff,
I follow him into the house. As soon as we make it through the front door, he
captures my hand in his, and I nearly fall on my face when he starts pulling me
up the stairs.
“My bedroom is up here,” he says.
I jerk back, causing him to stop. “I’m not going into your bedroom.”
He glances back at me, blinking. “Yes, you are.”
I’m cut off when he grabs my hand again, tightening his grip, and
stupidly, I don’t fight him this time. He steers us down a long hallway and
into a bedroom.
It’s a spacious room, larger than my parents’ master, and surprisingly
clean. Three of the walls are painted a dark red, and the other is black.
Against the black wall is a sleek metal bed with a black comforter on top. It’s
different than any guy’s room I’ve seen before.
Granted, I normally don’t hang out in guys’ bedrooms.
There’s a mini fridge in the corner, a massive desk with three monitors
on top, and a TV above a black console. A collection of gaming devices and
games clutter the stand.
I lose his hold when he shuts the door behind us.
“Seriously?” I snap, crossing my arms. “You have no boundaries.”
He grins, showing off his bright white teeth. “My mom said that can be a
great trait in life.”
“For who? Serial killers?”
“For guys asking girls to do their homework.”
He walks around me to the mini fridge, opens it, and peeks up at me.
“What’s your drink of choice, Lina? Water? Pepsi? Tequila?”
I roll my eyes, pushing my black-rimmed glasses up my nose. “You don’t
have tequila in there.” This calling-his-bluff game is fun.
“I beg to differ.” He clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth.
“It’s in a Gatorade bottle, tucked into the very back so no one sees it.”
Today, I’m feeling gutsy.
“Give me a tequila shot then.”
He squints in my direction. “You’re fucking with me.”
I shake my head. “I’ll need it to get through an afternoon of hanging out
He grins, pushing his arm into the fridge, and pulls out a bottle.
Maybe calling his bluff
wasn’t the smartest idea.
We’re not at school where he can be expelled for doing something like
We’re in his bedroom.
I gulp when I see the bottle, focusing on the amber-tinted liquid inside
that’s most definitely not Gatorade.
Way to call his bluff,
Now, he’s calling yours.
Time to gear up and
taste tequila for the first time.
The room is quiet as he stands. His eyes are fastened on me while he
slowly unscrews the orange cap and holds the bottle out to me.
I’ll be damned if I let him win this … game? Whatever it is.
Nausea cartwheels in my stomach, and I haven’t even taken a drink. Lord
knows how it’ll feel after I do. I inhale a deep, determined breath.
I got this.
I’ve never drunk tequila, but I’ve had wine.
It can’t be that
Deciding it’s done doing gymnastics, my stomach tightens, as if it’s
preparing itself, when I snatch the bottle from him. I grip it and drag it to
my lips. Right before I do anything drastic, my back stiffens, and I frown at the
“How many people have taken a drink from this bottle?” I question. “I’m
not about to contract some STD.”
He chuckles, signaling to the bottle. “The only person who’s drunk from
that bottle is me.” He pauses, snaps his fingers, and points at me. “And you,
in a minute.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “You better not be lying.”
His hands go to his chest, feigning offense. “Lina, my sweet Lina, I’m
heartbroken you don’t trust me.”
I gulp again.
Here goes nothing.
I can do this.
Before I chicken out, I take a quick swig of the tequila. My eyes slam
shut, blocking me from witnessing his reaction, and my teeth clench as I
swallow down the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted. There’s no stopping my
body from shuddering. I hold in a deep breath out of fear of puking it up.
When I open my eyes, I immediately roll them.
A huge grin is spread across Rex’s shocked face.
He whistles and leans back on his heels. “Damn, Lina. Either you have a secret wild side, which I’d fucking
love, or I’m bringing it out of you, which I’d also fucking love.”
I shrug. “You’ll never know.”
I inhale a deep breath, dragging up as much nerve as I can, and take
another sip to prove myself. My throat burns as if it were on fire, and I smile
with pride as soon as I swallow it down.
“It’s your turn, Needle Dick.” I extend the bottle back to him.
“Look at me, corrupting you.” He grabs it, cheers me, and takes a gulp. “I can’t wait to do it more.”
Little do I know, walking into Rex’s bedroom will change everything.
Rex Lane will take over my life.
He’ll steal my heart.
I’ll steal his.
Only we won’t know what to do with what we’ve taken.