T is for...he's a TOTAL jerk (Grover Beach Team #3)

 

 

T is fo
r…
He’s a TOTAL Jerk

 

A Grover Beach Team book

 

 

 

 

PIPER

SHELLY

GENRE:  YA/CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, businesses, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

T is for…he’s TOTAL jerk

Third book of the

GROVER BEACH TEAM series

Copyright © 201
3 by Piper Shelly

Cover art by Melissa Coutino Richet

All cover art copyright © 2013 by Piper Shelly

All Rights Reserved

 

First Publication:
October 2013

 

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

Books by Piper Shelly

 

 

Grover Beach Team series

 

Play With Me

Ryan Hunter

T is for…he’s a TOTAL jerk

 

*

 

Loving Your Lies

 

*

 

Gabriel

(
Publication in 2014)

 

 

To Silvia and Andrea

Because dancing wouldn’t be half as much fun

without
you. :-)

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

“Being seventeen is no fun if you’re not partying. And you can’t party if you’re hiding in this room.”

I laughed at my cousin’s antics, but inwardly I cringed when she grabbed my wrist and hauled me out of my room and down the hallway through the villa. Cloey’s bright pink nails bit into my skin. The fact that her nails matched the color of her underwear—
always
—made me shudder. I really didn’t need this bit of information right after dinner with my aunt and uncle, who were kind enough to take me in for the next four months.

Being the daughter of an army general was pretty tough at times, but at least my parents hadn’t made me move during the school year this time. Well, not too far into the year, anyway. It was the beginning of November. Early enough to integrate into high-school society and make friends before you were called a total outsider. This was always my worst fear when the word
move
had been dropped into conversations in the past.

I snatched my black hoodie from the coat rack in the hallway before Cloey could crush my arm in the door. As I pulled it over my long-sleeved shirt, my cousin gave me an annoyed stare down her pointy nose.

“Why are you always so cold, Sam? This is California. You don’t wear a coat here even in winter.”

For someone who lived in Grover Beach all her life, this might be true. But for the previous eight months, I had been going to school in Cairo, and once you learned to cope with the frying heat in Egypt, anything else felt like a walk into a fridge.

“Where are we going, anyway?” I asked.

Cloey pushed me into her white car parked in front of the house and didn’t answer me until she was buckled in behind the steering wheel.
“To town. I’m going to introduce you to a few more friends of mine later tonight.”

Ugh.
More friends of Cloey? Meaning more girls who thought the most important thing in the world was the perfect hairstyle. Now, if this didn’t sound like an awesome Saturday night…

I leaned back, hugged my legs to my chest, and closed my eyes. A slap from Cloey two seconds later made me jerk around. “What?”

“Take your dirty boots off my seat! That’s leather.”

I groaned but dropped my feet to the floorboard. It was her car after all and not my parents’ Land Rover, in which no one bothered about sand on the seats that would fall from the soles of my shoes. In Cairo, there was sand everywhere.

Cloey drove us to a café in town where several cars were parked in a line in front. In a cursive style and flashing, the name
Charlie’s
was spelled in dark blue letters above the door.

I climbed out after her. “Is this it?
Looks nice.” The café had a beautiful outside area, but no one sat at the round tables tonight. Faint music from the 1960s or ’70s drifted from the inside.

“This is only our first stop. We’re going to meet Brin, Ker, and Les.” Cloey whirled around and sent me a warning glare. “Listen
. Here are the rules for tonight.”

“Rules?”
She couldn’t be serious.

“You only talk to people I talk to, and if I have a drink tonight, you’re not telling my parents. Got it?”

Gee. If I had known I’d get the real army drill here, I’d have borrowed a uniform from my dad and worn it for
a fun night out
with my cousin. I rolled my eyes and headed through the door.

The place was even nicer inside. Terracotta stone tiles gave the room a warm touch. An S-shaped bar lined the side wall, and attractive rattan tables and comfortable chairs stood all over the place, replicating a Caribbean ambience. I would know—before Egypt my dad had been based in Cuba for two years. I fell in love with this café in an instant.

“Move.” Cloey pushed at my back. “Don’t stand in the doorway gaping. Our table is over there.”

No gaping.
I made a mental note of that and resisted the urge to salute to the drill sergeant, who snorted at the back of my neck. At this point, I thoroughly regretted not bolting the door to my room after dinner.

Heading to the back of the café, I looked over my shoulder and quirked my brows at my cousin. “Seriously, Cloey, it’s not like the paparazzi are hiding behind those columns, waiting to snap you doing something outrageous.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but a deeper voice came from another direction. “Watch out!”

My head snapped around and I jolted to a halt only seconds before a waiter with a tray crashed into me. He raised a protective hand up in front of the empty glasses to prevent them from toppling onto the floor.

“Oh! I’m sorry,” I stuttered, and backed away. When I looked up I was staring into eyes that were as blue as the sky over Egypt, set in a face that could easily attract me. I always fell for boyish good looks, especially if they came equipped with tousled blond hair like his. Only trouble was, he was glaring at me like I’d broken the damn glasses already. His harsh gaze moved past me and the scowl on his face deepened.

Cloey pushed to the front. “Hello, Anthony.”

I had trouble figuring out if she meant to sound flirtatious or arrogant.

“Bring me a martini at my table.” She looked at me, deliberating and with a finger to her lips.
“And a club soda for my cousin.” Under her breath she added, “You’re going to drive home tonight.”

I felt the urge to laugh, but I feared Cloey would just use that as another reason to rebuke me, so I restrained myself. “I don’t think you’ll get alcohol in this place,” I whispered back, then turned to the
waiter, Anthony. I wondered if Cloey was going to introduce me.

She didn’t. Instead she stalked right past him, toward a table at the far end, and sat down with three of her friends I had met earlier today, adjusting her black mini.

Great. Like an idiot, I stood in front of this guy, who just tilted his head and regarded me with a questioning look. Since he seemed to be a friend of Cloey, maybe he was waiting for me to introduce myself? I offered him a smile. “Hi. I’m Samantha Summers.”

The guy rolled his eyes. “Just get out of my way.”

Oh…

My shoulders slumped as I took a quick step to the side, and he shoved past me. I wasn’t easily embarrassed, but right now I knew my face was glowing like a stop sign.

“Another Summers…” he growled—what—disgusted? “Just what we need.”

Gone was my last bit of hope for a nice first evening in my new hometown. I clenched my teeth and hurried to Cloey and her friends, keeping my
eyes straight ahead, avoiding the curious stares of the kids around. Sinking into the seat, I lowered my chin.

“What.
Was.
That
?” Cloey’s high-pitched voice was pleasant like disinfectant in my eyes.

“What do you mean?” I snarled back.

“Didn’t I tell you just a minute ago not to talk to people you’re not supposed to?”

“What?”
She obviously had lost it. And I wasn’t up to crap like that after the rebuff I’d just had to stomach. “You talked to him first. What’s wrong with you?”

“I talked to him because I had to. He’s the busboy. But we’re not friends with him or his likes.”

“Oh my God, Cloey. Do you ever listen to yourself?” I was ready to rise from the table and take the two-mile walk home. Anything that would save me from my cousin’s idiocy. My fingers curled around the armrests, but just as I pushed myself up, Anthony stepped up to our table. For some unknown reason, I slumped back into my seat. Maybe it was the menacing look in his eye that prevented me from leaving.

He slid a bottle of Red Bull across the table to Cloey and each of her friends,
then he sat a glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon wedged on the rim in front of me.

“What’s this?” Cloey snapped, picking up the bottle and shoving it at Anthony. “I asked for a martini, not Red Bull.”

Anthony leaned forward, resting his palms on the table top, and glared at Cloey. “I don’t think any of you are over twenty-one, so it’ll be your usual. Take it or leave it, Summers.”

When his harsh gaze focused on me, the heat in my cheeks resurfaced. Dammit, could he stop doing that to me? I swallowed against a dry throat,
then grimaced sheepishly. “I’m the one with the club soda, remember? I’m sure I don’t need to be carded for that.”

Something appeared on his face that made him look a lot less intimidating. It took me a second to realize it was a set of dimples. He wanted to smile? Well, he didn’t, but his gaze softened for sure.

Next thing I knew, Cloey reached across the table and knocked my glass over with surprising clumsiness. The gush of water splattered down the length of my camouflage pants.

“What the heck—” I jumped up at the same time as Anthony jerked back from the table.

“Watch out, busboy,” Cloey spat. “Just look what you did.”

Anthony cut her a glance that asked for a rope to strangle her. “Are you crazy? That was you.”

She arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow and leaned back in her chair, arms folded under her boobs. Her voice went deathly cold. “I didn’t touch anything. You should try taking your eyes off me next time and concentrate on the simple job you have.”

Oh wow, this was Freddy Kruger meets Stephen King’s
It. There was some serious enmity floating between them, and I was sure this had nothing to do with
her
being the queen of her own world and
him
just being a simple busboy. Why did I suddenly feel caught in the middle of something personal?

“Tony! Is there a problem?”

I turned my head to find a tall man behind the bar looking over at us. He wasn’t dressed in black pants and white shirt like Anthony, but sported a blue T-shirt with a black vest over it.


No
problem, Charlie,” Tony replied through gritted teeth. Then he yanked a dishcloth from his belt and wiped the table. When the top was dry, he slung the cloth over his shoulder and cut me a look that was all back to annoyed. “Can I bring you anything else that you and your friends can knock over?”

Words caught in my throat, when I actually wanted to scream at him that he shouldn’t drag me into this. They weren’t my choice of friends, and Cloey—well, she was family and I depended on her in a way I started to really hate this evening. But with the prospect of staying in her house for quite a long time, my options were limited.

I shook my head. Tony left without another word.

A pull on my arm made me drop to the seat again. Cloey frowned in a very disapproving manner as she raked a few strands of her very blond bangs out of her eyes. “There’s a lot you have to learn if you want to hang out with us, little cousin.”

I was only six months younger than her, but I’d been the little cousin for a long time, due to my unfortunate five foot and two tiny inches. It didn’t bother me. What really got on my nerves was the strange, bitchy attitude Cloey seemed to have developed since the last time we’d met.

One of the girls—Breena or Brinna, I couldn’t remember exactly—giggled and opened her handbag under the table. Everyone took a turn in reaching inside, except me. When I saw what they took out of it, my eyes widened. “You brought alcohol shots to this place? Are you insane?”

“Shush!” Cloey poured a tiny bottle of vodka into her Red Bull while the others leaned closer and covered her from the view of the bartender. “This is just to get into the right mood. We’re going to a party later.”

Okay, that was it. My options might just have taken a run, but I wasn’t going to take that kind of shit from Cloey or anyone else. “I don’t care what you’re doing, but
we
are going nowhere. I’m outta here. Give me your car keys. I’m sure Christine—”

“Kerstin,” the strawberry blonde next to Cloey corrected me sharply.

“—Kerstin, or any of the others, can drive you home.”

“I don’t think so.” Cloey laughed, and she sounded really pissed. “You’re not driving my car when I’m not with you.”

“You dragged me here and you knocked ice-water over my pants. I’m not exactly having the time of my life. And I’m definitely not going to
walk
to your house. So gimme the damn keys.” I paused and leaned closer to her. “Or do you want me to drop a note on the kitchen counter for your mom to read tomorrow?” My voice was a warning hiss. “I’m sure she’d love to hear that you’re spiking your drinks.”

“You wouldn’t dare, you little scamp!”

“Try me.” I held out a hand, giving my cousin the death glare I’d contained all day since she’d run her hand through my fringy, black hair and told me I looked like a walking bush when she and her parents had picked me up from the airport.

With a snort, Cloey fished the keys out of her handbag and dropped them into my palm. As she gritted her teeth, I wondered whether I was going to pay for this later.

Man, tonight sucked.

I straightened my spine and squared my shoulders. Holding my head high, I walked up to the
busboy, who’d stopped by a young couple and was chatting with them. From the pocket of my pants, I pulled out a couple of dollars and tossed them on his tray. “Keep the change.”

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