Bryce Matthews doesn’t do the whole nice boyfriend thing. Chocolates and flowers—girls can forget all that. And he certainly doesn’t care about the gossip and rumors that follow him at school and around town. If anything, the talk amuses him. Bryce isn’t lacking in confidence. He knows himself and he knows his limits.
One of those hard limits is Madison Issac. Bryce can never have her, and he’s perfectly fine with that. Sometimes the fantasy is better than the reality anyway.
Madison Issac thought she was a pretty good judge of character. But she’s surprised at how gentle and comforting resident bad-boy and next-door neighbor Bryce Matthews is when we finds her crying in the park.
Maybe there’s more to Bryce than people think? So Madison begins to wonder.
Can a guy like Bryce ever change his ways?
Can a girl like Madison really be into a guy like Bryce?
With hearts and reputations on the line, this kind of love can be scandalous.
A yellow cab pulls up to our home, and Kyle walks out to greet the driver. My parents are hugging the little blond, blue-eyed monster. I stare from my window for a second or two, and then I turn my attention to my room. My queen bed is disassembled and up in the attic. Before me now, a twin bunk bed. The brat is going to want the top, and of course I’ll have to oblige because she’s going through a rough time.
What about me? What about my rough time? This girl tortures me. She takes and takes and has never once given back. If you ask me, all that’s happening to her? It’s called justice. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. Maybe she’s changed some since she lost her big house with the pool, her rich friends, and her glamorous lifestyle. Maybe she’s a little kinder.
Sucking in a breath and feeling a little guilty for being a snot, I go downstairs and greet Sarah. She enters the house as I reach the bottom step of the stairs. Dark shades mask her eyes, and they match her black sun hat and her black dress. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she was dressed for a funeral.
She moves her shades down her nose a little and sneers at me. “I see you haven’t changed much, Madison. Didn’t like the highlights?”
She knows I didn’t like them. The evil troll! At Easter, she said she wanted to do my hair. I thought she was being nice. She said we could make it pretty, and I agreed. Stupid me. She said red tints would give my dark brown hair a summery glow. She didn’t put red tints in. She made my hair pink. She claimed she picked up the wrong box. I had to go to school with bubblegum-pink highlights in my hair for almost a week before someone could fix it. A hundred and fifty dollars down the tube.
I smile. “Guess it wasn’t really my thing.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, being cool never has been.”
I knew it! I knew the evil monster did it on purpose. She mocks my clothes, says I dress like a hobo, and all that stuff. My clothes are nice; sure, I didn’t spend $200 for any summer dresses in my closet, but who cares? I’m certainly not going to spend $800 on a stupid purse. Um, hell to the no!
But my cousin has—excuse me, had—over $2,000 to spend per week. I barely have $200 in my bank account. Working five to twelve hours a week for eight bucks an hour is nothing to brag about.
“Where’s my room?” She shoves her sunglasses up her nose and makes her way to the stairs.
“You’re sharing with me. Come on.” I head up to my room, not waiting for her.
She gasps. “Sharing? I’m … Never mind. Apparently, that will have to do. We’ll just redecorate your room.”
I stop and turn on the last step to look back at her. “What do you mean ‘redecorate’?”
“Maddy,” my mom bites out as she follows us up the stairs. “Change can be a good thing.” She walks past me and mumbles, “Remember what the therapist said.”
That quack told us we had to make sure we didn’t try to force Little Miss Unwanted Guest to conform to our ways. He said we should try to appease her as much as possible and ease her into the change. But right now, I wish she was on a boat to China or some other faraway place.
Gritting my teeth, I say, “You know what? My room could probably use a makeover.”
Sarah smiles and enters my room. She looks around, instantly frowning. “I’m getting top bunk.” My mom carries in a few boxes, and Sarah smiles at her. “Thanks, Auntie Heather. Where are the boxes I had shipped here?”
“Oh, I’ll have the guys carry them in.” My mom hugs Sarah. “I know this is a hard time for you, but we’re glad you’re here.”
Pffft! She might be glad, but I’m not, so she can drop the whole “we” business.
As soon as my mom leaves, Sarah removes her sunglasses and hat. She looks around the room and shakes her head. “Well, it’s clear you’re in need of some decorating tips, that’s for sure.” She runs her hands over the matching comforters my mom bought for the bunk beds and laughs. “Seriously, this floral motif is so out.”
I nod like I care. I really don’t. It’s a blanket. It keeps me warm. That’s all that matters. I’m not the homeless one. She is. I’m not the one with parents going to jail. She is. But, hey, maybe this is her way of coping with all that, so I will bite my tongue and not say a word.
“Maddy! Graham and Bryce are here!” my mom calls to me.
I instantly smile, feeling better. My heart is humming to see Graham. As if in another world, I leave my cousin and race down to the two boys. I’m not really keen on Bryce, but that’s because my whole life, he’s been in and out of juvie more times than I can count. He’s a bad boy with a temper. I don’t know why Graham is friends with him.
Graham smiles before I reach the bottom step. “Hey, Maddy! We were … oh, um … Hi.” His attention goes from me to the stairs. I look back and see Sarah. I turn back to Graham and realize he’s looking at her as if she’s the whole moon and stars.
Natalie Decker is the author of RIVAL LOVE series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn’t her favorite time and books were her source of comfort. She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!
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