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The Secret Girl (Adamson All-Boys Academy #1)
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Shh, I have a secret.
The four sinfully gorgeous kings of this school—Church, Ranger, Micah and Tobias—can’t ever find out.
I already get picked on because my father’s the headmaster.
Adamson All-Boys Academy now has its only female student, but I’m not about to be their guinea pig.
Not when there’s a secret at this school nobody is talking about. Not when the last female student here ended up dead.
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It looks less like a school, and more like a castle.
I stand at the edge of the lawn in front of Adamson’s All-Boys Academy, and I try to remember how it feels to breathe. Orange, red, and yellow leaves swirl around the ankles of my slacks as I hitch my bag a little higher up on my shoulder and push on down the curving path toward the employee entrance.
My dad’s not far ahead of me, cursing at the random droplets of rain spattering down on our heads. He unlocks the door, gestures me inside, and then closes it behind him.
“Why don’t you head down to the cafeteria, find a spot, and get settled?” Dad asks, trying to smile at me. I’m frowning at him. I’m still mad. I’ll probably stay mad the rest of the year because …
“My boobs hurt,” I blurt, and he flushes bright red. “And the bandages are pulling on my nipples.”
“Charlotte,” he snaps back, reaching up to rub at his forehead. “May I remind you that this was your idea, not mine. It’s day one, and it’s not too late to change your mind.”
“No thank you,” I quip, turning and pushing out of the office and into the hallway. From bright California sunshine, beaches and bikinis, to … this. Frost-nipped air, piles of slimy dead leaves, and an all-boys school looking to experiment on me. I’ve been here two minutes and already I don’t like it. Back in Santa Cruz, I had friends, a boyfriend, and a passion for surfing. Here in … where are we again? Nobody-Gives-a-Crap, Connecticut?
The hallways here are cavernous, with stone arches and brick walls, windows made of delicate stained-glass, and mosaic floors. The teachers are all stuffy and dressed in suits, as opposed to my last school where most of the staff wore shorts and sneakers.
My chest is tight as I pull up the school map on my phone and make my way to the cafeteria. Apparently, Adamson has won all sorts of awards for their school food. It’s all sustainable, and primarily grown in greenhouses in the back. There’s even a chicken coop that all students are required to take a two week shift helping with. Yeah, so not looking forward to that.
Slipping in the big, double wooden doors, I find the room empty save for a single boy in the corner, hunched over a bowl of cream of wheat or oatmeal or something. He glances up as I walk in, adjusts his ear buds, and then looks back down at the open book sitting beside his bowl.
For a moment there, my heart stops, and I freeze just inside the door, holding my backpack and reaching up a hand to touch my newly shorn hair. Back in California, it was long, blond and luxurious. Now, it’s … cut in this nerdy, androgynous sort of way—long in the front and on the top, short on the sides and back. It’s naturally curly, too, so if I don’t straighten it, it flops in ringlets over my forehead and looks even shorter. Paired with my thick-framed black glasses (I usually wear contacts), an oversized blazer, and the athletic tape I wrapped over my breasts, I don’t think anyone will look at me twice.
It’s a strategic move on my part to pick a seat near the trash cans. Hopefully nobody will sit near me, and I can make it through breakfast without having to put up with awkward conversation. My whole goal here is to convince my mother—who lives in Los Angeles—to let me move in with her. I’ll still be five hours away from my boyfriend, Cody, and my best friend, Monica, but that’s better than a forty-four hour drive like it is now.
Flopping my backpack onto the table, I put my elbows down and then rub my hands over my face. I’m not wearing any makeup, so it’s not like it matters. Dropping my hands to my lap, I look around the room, taking in the shiny wood tables, the reclaimed wood floors, and the chandeliers made out of … antlers. Mm. Not exactly my aesthetic.
I leave my bag where it is, and head over to the counter, scanning my student ID badge and taking a tray. It might be a cafeteria, but the food looks good. I’m used to cold cereal, packages of oatmeal, and dry muffins for school breakfast. This place has scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and even smoothies. I’ll admit it: I’m mildly impressed.
That feeling only lasts so long as it takes for the cafeteria to fill up with students.
I’m the only girl at this school, the first female student in Adamson’s new integrated curriculum, but I’m not about to be their guinea pig. My dad calls it social progress; I call it an experiment with unknown outcomes. It’s great that the academy wants to have a mixed gender population. I mean, what is it, the sixteen hundreds or something? There’s no room for an all-boys school anymore, especially not when most people recognize gender norms are ridiculous social constructs.