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Just Friends by Charity Ferrell is live! Don’t miss Rex and Carolina’s story! Keep reading for an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT and a GIVEAWAY!!!
Someone should have warned me about falling in love with my best friend.
Little did I know when Rex came to my locker attempting to bribe me, that he’d turn into my everything.
We’d become best friends. I’d steal his heart. He’d steal mine.
Nothing has changed in the years of our friendship.
Not our connection, not our feelings, or that we still hold each other’s hearts.
But his heart isn’t the only thing I’ve kept.
The secret I’m hiding could shatter the only man I’ve ever loved.
I’ve loved Carolina since the day she called my bluff.
Our friendship always came first.
She believed in me when no one else did.
I tucked away my feelings because I couldn’t survive a life without her.
We crossed the line once, and I swore it’d never happen again.
As time passes, the harder it becomes to live up to that promise.
Until finally, there’s no holding back.
Cover Designer: L.J. with Mayhem Cover Creations
Cover Photography: Wander Aguiar Photography
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Just Friends – Chapter 1
High School—Sophomore Year
“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 that.
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 for.
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 valedictorian.
- 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 true.”
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 hilarious?”
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 penis.”
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 do it.”
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 size.”
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 buddy.”
“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 ass.
High school kids are so original.
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 parking lot.
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 shoulders.
“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 your ass.”
“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 flawless.
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 with you.”
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 this.
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, Carolina.
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 different, right?
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 same time.
“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.
Charity resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. She grew up riding her bicycle to the town’s public library, and reading anything she could get her hands on. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, spending time with her family, or caving into her online shopping addiction.