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Anyone But Rich (Anyone But #1)
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1542014158 (ISBN13: 9781542014151)
From USA Today bestselling author Penelope Bloom comes the first novel in the romantic, sexy, and hilarious Anyone But… series.
Seven years ago, my best friends and I made a promise: No matter what, we would never date one of the King brothers. Even if they grew up to become megafamous, gorgeous, heart-stopping billionaires. Even if they crawled on their knees and begged for forgiveness.
But guess who just flew back into our lives in a private jet? And guess who just showed up to my job on my first day? Richard. King. Fortunately, it takes two seconds for Richard to reveal he hasn’t changed. Conceited. Cocky. Rude. Unfortunately, he’s also the kind of gorgeous that’s borderline offensive—with a jawline to make statues self-conscious and a grin that short-circuits my brain.
He’s spent years taking what he wants. I doubt he’s hungry for anything else—except me, apparently. There’s no way I’ll let him maneuver his way back into my life. My friends would never forgive me. I would never forgive me. But did I mention his jawline?
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SEVEN YEARS AGO
We parked our cars at Overlook Point. The hills surrounding our little town were so small that it would’ve been more accurate to call it Mosquito Bite Point, where the hill was barely big enough to see over my uncle’s bald spot, let alone the school that blocked most of the view. If you leaned just right, you could sort of see the chapel and the river near the center of town, but my friends and I never came here for the view.
For as long as I could remember, this was where we came to talk when something had gone seriously wrong. And not I tried to hover pee and accidentally blasted the entire toilet wrong. Not even the I mistook my mom’s hair removal cream for conditioner event of two years ago. No, Overlook Point was for the big-drama moments. It was for life-and-death situations, and if the King brothers weren’t a life-and-death situation, I didn’t know what was.
Iris would have normally been wearing her soccer uniform. She’d have her hair pulled up in a sporty little ponytail, and she’d be in a hurry to get back to school in time for practice. Miranda would have a stack of textbooks open on her passenger seat, because she was so nerdy that her idea of texting and driving involved chemistry books instead of a cell phone. She’d be chewing on the nearest object, because some life-altering exam was looming. My own car would have usually been burdened with folders full of the work I’d been doing on my latest story for the school newspaper and scripts full of highlighted lines to study for the next school play.
We all had our things. Iris was going to head butt her way into a college scholarship. Miranda was going to outbrain everyone in the state and get a free ride to any college she wanted. And me? Thanks to Rich King, I was probably going to be picking gum off the bottoms of tables while customers tried to pinch my ass.
My friends and I had been happily making our way through life when the King brothers—with their chiseled jawlines, six-pack abs, and obnoxiously gorgeous smiles—collided with us like freight trains.
One by one, the Kings had managed to smooth talk their way into our lives and throw a wrench into the perfectly oiled machine that was my friendship with Iris and Miranda. Since kindergarten, the three of us had survived disputes over who was going to hold Brady Hall’s hand during skate night and arguments over who got to wear that black-and-white dress to the formal, and we’d even managed to stage the school’s greatest cover-up when my first period came in seventh grade while I was wearing white jeans. It never mattered how big the obstacle was. The three of us were unbreakable, and we’d find a way to overcome it. Only this time, I thought maybe the rift between us would be too serious to fix.
For as long as I could remember, the King brothers had been the royalty of West Valley. The oldest two were twins, and the younger was only a year their junior. They could’ve had any girl in town. Everybody knew they’d go on to bigger and better things after all this. Movies, professional sports, megabusinesses—whatever they wanted. There was just an aura about the three of them. They seemed invincible, like some greater power had accidentally dropped them into a frothing pot of good luck and stellar genetics before they left the assembly line. Landing a date with one of the Kings was like stealing a slice of something larger than life. For those few hours—days, if you were lucky—you were carving out your moment in the life of someone who was almost certainly going to be special. It was a moment in the spotlight, and I didn’t know any girl who didn’t want it.
We hadn’t been any different. The Kings were distant and unattainable—even Nick, the youngest, seemed out of reach. He’d been friends with Miranda ever since middle school, but he was always dating someone else. Three weeks ago, that someone else was me, and that was how I stupidly set off the chain reaction that brought us to the hilltop and nearly to the breaking point in our friendship.
We all sat on the hoods of our cars, and no one seemed to want to be the first to talk.
“I really am sorry,” I said to Miranda.
She was looking down at the school and the little piece of West Valley she could see below.
“You seriously didn’t know I liked him all this time?” she asked.
Iris chimed in. “You did say, ‘Ew, Nick is like a brother to me,’ pretty much every time we teased you about liking him. So you can’t really blame Kira for not realizing you wanted to fuck your brother. Brotherfucker,” she added. “Besides, if you wanted to get Kira back for dating Nick, I think Rich kind of beat you to the punch.”