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Anyone But Cade (Anyone But #2)
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The second novel in USA Today bestselling author Penelope Bloom’s Anyone But… series turns up the heat and hilarity with a story about second chances and promises worth breaking.
After Cade King cost me everything, I vowed I’d never fall for him again—even if he became rich and megafamous.
Now he’s back, and he’s still the embodiment of a big, shiny red button. Everybody knows you shouldn’t touch red buttons, but it’s so, so hard to resist.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it a little when I arrested him for disorderly conduct. Unfortunately, I think Cade liked it a little too. So when he asks for my help raising the son he just found out about, I know exactly what to say: “No, you stupidly sexy red button. I won’t touch you, even to help a cute little kid.” You’re damn right that’s what I said. Mostly.
Still, Cade doesn’t know the first thing about commitment. He lives completely in the moment. I’d need to have a recurring case of amnesia to believe he could change, even for his son. Or me.
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SEVEN YEARS AGO
My best friends and I had decided to go full force into acting like stereotypical teenage girls: by meeting on top of a hill in the middle of the night to swear an oath. The melodrama was so thick and tight you could’ve bounced a quarter off it. On a normal night, even the hint of a stunt like this would’ve made me roll my eyes so fast that I could’ve thrown out my neck.
It apparently wasn’t a normal night, because I’d come along willingly. I’d even sworn the stupid oath.
Miranda and Kira had driven off about half an hour ago, which left me sitting behind the wheel of my car on top of Overlook Point. I still felt like an idiot, but at least I was an idiot with a plan. Stay away from Cade. More specifically, stay away from the King brothers in any way, shape, or form. It was the faultless philosophy of “What you don’t kiss can’t break your heart,” or something like that.
I looked over to the passenger seat and saw my shin guards and cleats from soccer sitting right where I’d left them. There was a kind of finality to it. I’d strapped them on one afternoon a week ago without ever imagining it would be the last time. I’d played and taken them off unceremoniously. It reminded me of an idea I’d come across on the internet once: one day, we all play with the neighborhood kids for the last time, but we rarely ever know it is the last.
I swiped the cleats and shin guards to the floorboard with a groan. It physically hurt to look at them. I could still see the look of disappointment on my coach’s face when he sat across from me and stared down at the test results. Thanks to He Who Must Not Be Named and the brownies he’d brought me, I’d tested positive for marijuana, even though the hardest drugs I ever took were those aspirins with caffeine when I got headaches. Although I guessed I couldn’t say that anymore, thanks to Cade and the stupid brownies he had left in my locker.
There were arguments in his defense. Yes, he claimed he’d been planning to tell me what was in them. Yes, he had thought I wouldn’t even check my locker until after study hall, like usual. But I’d turned the whole thing over a hundred times in my head, and no matter which way I looked at it, he’d been too careless. Regardless of his intentions, it showed me that my future wasn’t as important to Cade as it was to me, and I couldn’t trust someone like that to be part of my life. Plus, he was an absolute idiot for putting pot brownies in my locker in the first place, whether he was going to tell me or not.
I turned the key in the ignition and listened to my busted Jeep struggle to start. Just as it groaned to life, I saw headlights coming up the hill.
I squinted in the rearview. It had to be Kira or Miranda. Despite Overlook Point’s impressive name, nobody from our small town of West Valley would ever choose to come here. If mountains and hills were boobs, Overlook Point was so small it wouldn’t even be ready for a training bra. To make it even less impressive, the only thing it really looked over were some trees and a mostly obscured glimpse of West Valley.
Once the car got closer, I recognized it with a sinking stomach. It was a big, dented, and dirt-covered truck.
I briefly considered throwing my Jeep into reverse, accelerating to ramming speed, and aiming to kill. Considering the size of his head and the astronomical ego he crammed between his ears, it would’ve been hard to miss. If the airbag happened to pop his head off his shoulders like one of those Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robot toys, it would’ve been just fine by me. Then again, it wasn’t worth wrecking my car to hurt him.
Up until the breakup, Cade King had been the boyfriend of my dreams. Well, that might have been a slight stretch. Cade was kind of like a poorly trained puppy. He was extremely loyal, enthusiastic, fun loving, and honest to a fault. He was also prone to making poor decisions, especially in terms of his physical safety. Keeping him alive was part of the gig when it came to dating him, but I’d found the task had oddly endeared him to me even more.
I needed to stop thinking about what he was and how things were. All that needed to matter was now. And now he was one-third of the reason my friends and I had come out here like a bunch of weirdos and sworn a pact that we’d “never date one of the King brothers again, even if they end up becoming famous billionaires and begging for forgiveness on their knees.”