October 13, 2015
Series: The Rules
Newly broke girl Alexandria Asher just wants to live a normal life. After her parents are sent to prison on embezzlement charges, she enrolls in college under her mother’s maiden name and tries her best to pretend she’s someone else.
Tristan Prescott is everything Alex is trying to avoid. A seemingly egotistical, lazy, rich jerk, she dumps her beer on his head when he comes on to her one night at a party. This only spurs Tristan into action. He loves nothing more than a challenge. And the beautiful Alex is exactly the type of challenge that intrigues him.
Despite her reluctance, Alex finds herself quickly involved with Tristan. Underneath that playboy exterior is a good guy, a sweet and sexy guy who she is undoubtedly falling for. What they both don’t realize is the actions of Alex’s parents are the reason for so much tragedy in Tristan’s family. And when Tristan discovers who Alex and her family really is, can he forgive and forget?
Read an Excerpt
Buy the eBook
The room is hot, so crowded with bodies seemingly moving to the beat as one and I dance right along with them. Water bottle clutched in one hand, my phone clutched in the other, arms above my head, trying to lose myself in…something. Anything to help me forget, at least for a little while. The guy dancing next to me is all sloppy moves and flailing arms made extra dangerous by the full cup of foamy beer in his hand.
I know this because I watch in horrified wonder as he drips foam all over the floor, some of it dripping all over him. If he gets any of that cheap beer on my costume there’s going to be hell to pay.
With an artful turn my old ballet teacher would’ve been proud of, I spin away from him, noting the disappointed look on his face. Oh well. He’s so not my type. None of these guys are really my type. I’m here with my new friend Kelli. We suffered through the first month of our statistics class together and bonded over a near fail on a quiz.
Mutual suffering is a great way to form a friendship. Kelli and I have become close these last few weeks. She introduced me to Jade, one of her best friends. And tonight, Jade introduced me to Lucy, who is going out with Jade’s boyfriend’s best friend.
Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But they all seem really sweet and the boyfriends are super hot so I guess that’s something, right? Making new friends, avoiding hot rich guys—because these guys are rich, I’m at Jade’s boyfriend’s house right now and this place is huge—acting like a normal girl no one really knows.
Just the way I prefer it.
Pushing past some irritating jock I catch leering at me whose idea of a costume is wearing his football jersey—so original—I head for the kitchen in search of another bottle of water or a soda or something nonalcoholic. I’m the designated driver tonight by choice. When you watch your parents drown their feelings with liquor to help them forget their misdeeds, you tend to avoid it.
At least, I do.
“Alexandria!” Jade smiles at me and waves, then resumes arranging brownies on a plate, brownies that look fresh out of the oven. More like smell fresh out of the oven. The rich scent of chocolate lingers in the kitchen, masking the gross combination of body odor, beer and weed that permeates the air. “I can’t get over how great your costume is.”
I do a twirl, my feathery white wings wobbling from where they hang on my back. The flimsy halo feels like it’s going to topple off my head at any moment and I reach up to right it. Last year I went all out on the costume I’m wearing when I bought it for another Halloween party, back when I thought I had money and not a care in the world. A different kind of party, a different kind of life, I’m not that girl anymore.
I never will be again. That girl wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing the same costume two Halloweens in a row…
“I especially love the feathers,” Jade says, nodding toward them. She’s all kickass female power in her Robin costume. Her boyfriend Shep is her partner in crime fighting. He’s been walking around the house all night long murmuring in the huskiest voice he can muster, ‘I’m Batman.’
His throat is probably going to be killing him by tomorrow.
“Thanks,” I finally say, reaching across the island to snatch a tiny square of brownie off the plate. I take a bite and immediately moan with pleasure. Not only is it good, it’s warm. Like straight out of the oven, just as I hoped. “Oh my God, so delicious,” I murmur after I swallow.
“Homemade,” Jade says, beaming with pride. She pushes the plate closer to me. “Have another one.”
I shake my head and inelegantly shove the rest of the brownie in my mouth, then lick my fingers clean. “No, thank you. I don’t normally eat sweets.”
Jade frowns. “Why not?”
Because my mother drilled it into my head from a young age that sugar is the devil. That anything that tastes or feels good is really bad for you. But she’s gone. I don’t have to worry about her watching over me, monitoring every calorie I consume, every mile I run, every page of homework I do.
I’m on my own now, so why am I still letting her control me?
“Screw it,” I mutter as I grab another piece of brownie and eat it in two bites.
Worth every second.
Laughing, Jade picks up the plate and starts toward the French doors that lead to the backyard. “I’m going outside. Want to join me?”
“I’ll stay here and man the kitchen.” Somehow, no one’s in here at the moment, which is weird. The keg is outside but there’s still stuff to drink in here, plus the food.
“I’ll be back in a minute. These brownies will fly.” With a quick smile flashed in my direction, Jade turns and pushes through the door, pulling it shut behind her.
I head over to the ice chests that sit against the wall, rooting around in one until I find a fresh bottle of water. I crack the lid off and take a long drink, extra thirsty after eating the brownies. The music still pounds from the living room, so loud I can hardly think and a girl wearing a sexy witch costume goes dashing by, giggling uncontrollably as she passes me and heads out into the backyard.
Running my free hand over my hair, I glance down at my skirt, noting how short it is. I’d been all about attracting guys last year. This year, not so much. I’m trying to be low key and this costume is the farthest thing from low key with its dipping neckline and thigh skimming hem. I saw plenty of guys checking me out earlier, no doubt intrigued by the virginal white dress and feathery angel wings. I almost look like I could’ve strutted right off the Victoria’s Secret catwalk.
Almost. I’m not so vain as to think I could be a VS model. Besides, my boobs are pretty small…
“Well, well, what do we have here?”
I freeze at the sound of the masculine voice coming from behind me. Great. Male attention I was trying to avoid, though I’m an idiot to think I could’ve avoided it with this costume on. One wrong move and my ass would be hanging out.
Slowly I turn to find a tall guy standing before me, and it takes everything I have not to roll my eyes.
Most of the dudes at this Halloween party tonight are beyond obnoxious, either wearing the most ridiculous costumes ever or behaving like assholes. Something about a mask and drinking too much booze on the spookiest night of the year brings out the worst in them.
This guy, in his sleazy pimp costume, is no exception. And wasn’t his costume played out already years ago? Made out of cheap crushed purple velvet trimmed in leopard print, with wide collars and bell bottom pants, topped by a matching purple velvet and leopard trimmed hat. He’s wearing mirrored sunglasses so I can’t see his eyes, which makes me think he’s kind of shady. The grin on his face is huge, in that giant, shit-eating way good looking guys smile.
Because he so is. Good looking. He knows it too.
Oh, and he has a cane. That he’s pointing right at me at about mid-thigh.
Like he’s trying to lift the hem of my skirt.
I take a step away from him and send him my most evil glare. “You look ridiculous.”
“You look hot as fuck.” He lowers the cane and takes a step toward me, that confident grin he’s wearing perfectly matching his horrific costume. He looks like a greedy pimp. Or what we regular people think a greedy pimp must look like.
“Eloquent,” I tell him, crossing my arms in front of my chest. I ignore the little fizz of pleasure his comment gives me. I should not like that he called me hot as fuck. How crude. He’s a pig.
His head tilts down and he actually reaches up to push his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose so he can…what? Get a better look at me? He’s got a lot of nerve. “Nice cleavage, angel.”
I don’t have what constitutes as much cleavage yet somehow, he makes me feel dirty for wearing a costume with a low neckline. Must be his tone of voice. Or more likely the lecherous way he’s checking me out. Do girls really find his behavior attractive? Granted, he’s good looking from what I can tell but his attitude is shit.
“Do you come by the sleazy comments naturally? Or are you powered by the costume?” I bat my eyelashes like I’m as innocent as my halo implies I am.
He pushes his sunglasses back up, covering suddenly thunderous blue eyes. He’d seemed infinitely amused with himself, with the situation only a moment ago and I’m surprised at the sudden shift. “My flirting skills are in the toilet with this costume tonight, I swear to fucking God,” he mutters.
His blunt honesty makes me laugh and he smiles slowly in return. “Newsflash. Girls don’t find pimps that attractive. We’re taught from a young age to run in the opposite direction when we spot one.”
“I’ve discovered that.” He rubs his chin, cupping it with his thumb and index finger and I watch those fingers move in barely contained fascination. He has nice hands. Wide palms, long fingers…
“You run into many pimps?”
His deep voice breaks through my thoughts and I give a slight shake of my head. “You’re my first.”
The faintly leering grin is back, just like that. Inside I grow cold. He’s too cocky for me. Too sure of himself. I’ve dealt with enough of these types to last me a lifetime. “Well, let me introduce myself—”
“Tristan! Keep away from her.” Jade miraculously materializes by my side. I didn’t even hear her enter the kitchen. “Seriously, she’s a nice girl. I refuse to let you mess around with one of my friends.”
I barely know Jade and I’m relieved that she’d rush to my defense so quickly. I almost want to hug her but I keep myself in check.
Tristan—the name doesn’t fit but I think the pimp costume is blocking me mentally—takes a step back, holding his hands up in front of him as if he were defending himself. “No harm, no foul, Jade. Seriously.” He flees the kitchen before we can say anything else.
“Well. That was interesting,” I say after I take another long drink from my water bottle.
Jade sets the empty plate on the counter and turns to look at me. “You don’t want to with that guy.”
I raise a brow. “Want to what?”
“Anything,” she stresses, shaking her head. “He’s the player to end all players. He’s only become worse since Gabe started dating Lucy. It’s like he’s trying to make up for Gabe and Shep being off the market by banging every chick he meets.” She sighs. “He’s Shep’s cousin and an okay guy for the most part but when it comes to women? Forget it. I wouldn’t wish him on my worst enemy.”
I wince. “I wasn’t about to let him bang me. Did you see his costume?”
Jade bursts out laughing. “I knew we’d get along fine. But definitely avoid him. He’s fun to flirt with, but that’s about it.”
“I’ll remember that,” I murmur as I watch her buzz around the kitchen. I’m totally hiding out. I used to live for parties, but not anymore. I only agreed because Kelli really wanted me to go and I don’t even know where she’s at.
Considering I’d like to leave before this party gets too out of hand, I need to find her.
“Who’s the angel?” I ask, yelling in Shep’s ear.
We’re standing on the edge of the makeshift dance floor, the music so loud I can barely hear myself think. Not that I’m thinking much, since my brain is numb from too much alcohol consumption.
Shep frowns at me. “Which one are you talking about? There are at least five angels in this room alone.”
I glance around, surprised to see he’s right. Funny, how I only noticed one. The tall, thin girl with small tits and shiny blonde hair. Jade’s friend.
A shudder runs through me at the reminder. Jade and I, we either get along or we don’t. And most of the time, we don’t. Oh, we’re polite to each other. Sometimes we laugh and have a good time. Other times, she’s shooting me dirty looks and steering Shep away from me. She thinks I’m a bad influence.
She would be correct.
“That one.” I point when I spot her exiting the kitchen. She has the face of a model—or let’s be more apt, an angel. All elegant cheekbones and pouty pink lips, perfectly shaped nose and icy blue eyes, she’s beautiful. I normally like them bubbly and cute, a girl who thinks my jokes are funny while hanging onto every word I say. While talking to this particular girl though, I got the distinct feeling she thought I was the joke. My costume didn’t help but still.
Needless to say, she intrigues me.
“Ah,” Shep nods, “I met her earlier. Seems nice. She’s a friend of Kelli’s.”
Ugh. Kelli. I may have made out with her once by accident a few months ago. We were both drunk and she also may have shoved me off of her after about five minutes of awkward, sloppy drunken kissing. Not one of my finer moments. “What’s her name?”
I’m still pointing at her and she spots me, her eyes meeting mine. I’d ditched the sunglasses the moment I left the kitchen and I wish I had them back on. So I can hide from her probing look. Feels like the chick can see deep down inside me or something and it’s making me uncomfortable.
From the sneer forming on her perfect lips, I’m thinking she doesn’t like what she sees.
“I don’t know. Allison? Alexis?” He snaps his fingers. “Alexandria.”
“Which is it?” I don’t look away from her. It’s like I can’t. Ah, shit, she’s headed right for me. I stand up straighter, feeling the alcohol course through my veins and my head spins a little. I’m drunk. She’s still walking toward us, gliding across the room really, her feathered angel wings bobbing with her every step.
I’m starting to sweat and it’s not just because it’s fucking hot in here.
“Alexandria,” Shep greets her like she’s an old, dear friend. Weird. I’ve never seen this chick before in my life. And I’d definitely remember her. “Have you met my cousin?”
“Hi, Shep.” She smiles at him, the sight of it dazzling. Her smile fades the moment her gaze lands on me. “I just met Tristan in the kitchen with Jade.”
“Awesome. Jade is Tristan’s number one fan.” Shep claps me on the back, sending me stumbling forward. I nearly collide with Alexandria and she takes a sideways step, dodging out of my way. For one brief, tantalizing moment, I was close enough to smell her.
And holy hell, she smells fucking amazing.
“I’ve heard,” she says dryly. “So you’re cousins?”
A girl wearing a naughty cop costume comes up to us—I don’t remember her name—bearing gifts. A red cup clutched in each hand, she offers one to me and one for Shep. “You two look thirsty,” she says with the slightest lisp.
I gratefully take the beer and gulp from it, swallowing mostly foam.
“Aw, sorry honey,” the naughty cop says to Alexandria, her condescending tone obvious. “I didn’t see you there or else I would’ve gotten you a drink too.”
I’m about to do the right thing and offer Alexandria a sip of mine. Or better yet, I should go get her a cup. I part my lips, about to be the ultimate gentleman when Shep beats me to the punch.
“Want mine?” Shep hands his cup to Alexandria. She takes it but doesn’t drink from it yet, just smiles at him like he’s her hero.
Damn it. Just messed that up.
“Thanks,” she murmurs, bringing the cup to her mouth so she can take a sip. I watch in fascination as she wraps her pink lips around the rim of the cup and tips her head back, grimacing the moment she swallows.
Foamy beer is the worst.
But her lips damp with beer is about the best thing I’ve seen all night. Maybe all month.
“Hey.” Shep slaps me on the back again but this time I hold my ground. “I’ll see you all later. I need to find my girl.”
He’s gone before we can say another word and I scowl at where he stood only a moment ago. My cousin is completely pussy-whipped. I don’t know how he can stand it, being with one girl all the time. Gabe’s gone and lost his mind over a girl too, and I can barely wrap my head around it. I’m the last man standing, the final true believer in one and done.
Crazy but true.
“So. Tristan.” The naughty cop rests her hand on my chest, her other hand reaching behind her and pulling out—a pair of handcuffs? Oh, boy. “Up for some fun later?”
I swear I hear Alexandria laugh and I jerk my head in her direction to see her fingers covering her smiling mouth. Naughty cop’s fingers slide over my bare chest—the shirt I’m wearing is open practically to my stomach—and I return my attention to her, taking a step back so her hand falls away. “I don’t do handcuffs on the first date,” I tell her.
Naughty cop—damn it, I wish I could remember her name—rests her hands on her hips and mock pouts. “This isn’t our first date.”
I wince. Yeah. I’m that asshole who does a girl and doesn’t remember it. I’m supposedly living the dream? “How about I don’t do handcuffs ever.”
“Smart policy,” Alexandria murmurs, making me smile.
Making naughty cop fume.
“Have fun with your little angel then,” she says snidely, sending us both a disgusted look. “At least with me, you know I put out.”
I watch her walk away, her hips swishing, that little black skirt she’s wearing obscenely high. Was that the smart choice, letting her go? Hey, she’s a sure thing and Alexandria looks like she’d rather kick me in the balls than sneak off to the bathroom for some quality naked time.
“You could chase after her you know,” she says, her droll voice making me whip back around to face her.
“What do you mean?”
“I saw the drool form in the corner of your mouth.” Alexandria smiles tightly. What, is she jealous? No freaking way. “And you know she puts out so…”
“I’m not interested in her.” I take a step closer to her, pleased that she doesn’t run away. This close, I can see the delicate way her nose turns up, right at the tip. The perfect shape of her lush lips. Her skin is flawless. Her hair looks so soft I want to touch it and her scent…
I want to bury my face in whatever spot she’ll let me and just inhale her.
She raises a brow. “You sure about that?”
“Definitely sure.” I let my gaze travel all over her, noting the gentle curve of her tits—yeah, they’re not very big but that’s okay—the nipped in waist and those long, long legs make up for it. Her body type isn’t what I’m normally attracted to but I’m all for changing it up.
“Am I supposed to assume you’re interested in me instead?” She holds her red cup up in front of her chest, like some sort of defense mechanism but that’s not going to stop me. I’m not letting her go so easily.
“You picked up on that, hmm?” I lean toward her and take a deep breath, closing my eyes for the briefest moment. Wild flowers. Heady and sweet. Fucking delicious.
When I open my eyes I find her watching me like she thinks I’ve lost my damn mind. “What were you doing?”
“You smell amazing,” I tell her. I’m being one hundred percent honest here, not my normal mode of operation but this girl is the complete opposite of who I usually go for. I’m running on pure instinct.
“So you just sniffed me.”
“Well…” My voice drifts. Don’t tell me she’s pissed. “Yeah.”
“You’re not my type,” she says bluntly.
Ouch. “You’re not my type either, sweetheart, but there are always exceptions to the rules.” I move in for the kill, slipping my arm around her waist. She startles when I settle my hand on her hip, her skin warm through the thin fabric of her costume and I feel the thin string that must be the waistband of her panties.
Just like that, my cock twitches to life.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She pulls out of my grip.
“What does it look like I’m doing?” I try to put my arm around her again but she bats it away with her free hand. “What the hell?”
“You really think you can just sidle up to some random girl and feel her up?”
Has she never been to a college party before? “You’re not random. We already met.”
She laughs. “I am so random. And so are you. We don’t fit.”
“Do we need to fit to fuck?” I ask incredulously.
The shocked, disgusted look on her face is almost comical.
“You’re a complete jackass,” she declares, right before lifting her cup of beer and…
Dumping it all over my head.