Toe the Line Read Online Penelope Ward

Categories Genre: Alpha Male, Angst, College, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 96
Estimated words: 94012 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 470(@200wpm)___ 376(@250wpm)___ 313(@300wpm)

From bestselling author Penelope Ward comes a friends-to-lovers story spanning more than a decade…

At first, I thought I’d hate spending the summer with Archie Remington—the conceited son of my parents’ friends.
What I knew about Archie: he was gorgeous, pre-law, and had always treated me like I didn’t exist when we were younger.
When our families bought a house together on an island in Maine, he and I were forced to share a bathroom.
The boy I remembered was now a full-grown man—but with the same attitude.
After a rough start, Archie and I unexpectedly started getting along one day and eventually became friends. We shared secrets and bonded during our morning jogs. I discovered that Archie had a wild spirit and that he struggled to conform to his father’s expectations.
Things were cool until I had to go and ruin it, getting drunk one night, and blurting out my fantasy—involving him.
I took it back, but it was too late. Archie had heard me loud and clear. After that, we never quite knew how to toe the line.
When that summer came to an abrupt and shocking end, I headed back to college, unsure if anything would ever be the same again.
Across the miles over the years, he and I stayed in touch as friends, but fate and timing always kept us from becoming more.
You know the saying: If two people are meant to be, they’ll find their way back to each other?
Let’s just say Archie came back into my life in a way I would’ve never expected.
And this time, my heart would really be put to the test.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************




IT’S FUNNY HOW you always remember where you were and what you were doing when something pivotal happens in your life.

I’d certainly never forget being in the art room in kindergarten when I heard my teacher had died in a car accident on the way to school that morning. And I’d always recall getting my period for the first time while bowling with my dad.

Today I had something else to add to that list. I would always remember where I was when I received Archie Remington’s wedding invitation: in the pedicure seat at Wonder Nails, choking back tears after opening the envelope while simultaneously fighting unwanted laughter from the tickle of the loofa being rubbed on the bottom of my feet.





I’d taken a pile of my mail with me to sort through while I was in the chair in an effort to maximize my time. In the middle of the stack was an envelope containing a thick piece of crème stationery that read:

Please honor us with your presence as we join our lives in love.

Mariah and Archie

Saturday, October 12th at 5 PM

St. Catherine’s Church

Sonoma, California

Cocktail Hour and Reception to follow at Lindall Estates

For the past seven years, Archie had been my best friend. I’d known he was dating Mariah; I’d even met her once when I flew out to California on business and used it as an opportunity to visit Archie. But surely he could’ve had the decency to tell me he was engaged before sending me this invite? We’d exchanged many candid emails over the years. He’d never hesitated to relay anything going on in his life. So why keep this major piece of news from me and have me find out as if I were a virtual stranger? It made no sense.

I continued to stew over this and fidget as the woman finished my pedicure.

Toes completed and bursting with a sense of betrayal, the second I exited the nail salon, I dialed Archie. Flustered, I hadn’t even bothered to remove the paper flip-flops they’d given me to wear out while I stood on the busy New York City sidewalk.

Archie picked up on the second ring, his deep voice a grating sound against my already-sensitized nerves.

“Noelle?” He paused. “Is everything okay?”

He was likely asking because, while we’d been close over the years, you could probably count on one hand the number of times we’d actually spoken on the phone. Our preferred method of communication had always been email.

“How could you not have told me you’re getting married?” My voice cracked.

“What? How the hell do you know that?”

“You didn’t mean for me to know? What are you talking about? You sent me an invitation!”

The line went silent for a moment. “Shit. All I did was hand over a list of names and addresses. I had no idea they were going to send anything out so soon. I was planning on telling you next weekend.”

Archie and I planned to meet at Whaite’s Island, Maine, where our families co-owned a summer home. Since their half was now half in Archie’s name, he and I were meeting with a realtor to discuss listing the property. I would be going in place of my parents, who’d moved down to Florida. It was a seller’s market right now, so it seemed the right time to unload it. We’d been renting the house to seasonal tenants for several years.

“I’m so sorry, Noelle. Mariah’s mother must have gotten ahead of herself. I swear I would never have wanted you to find out like this. Please know that.”

Swarms of people rushed past me while I stood there in a daze. I concluded that Archie was telling the truth, but despite his explanation, I still felt a pang of sadness.

When the silence on the line grew awkward, Archie said, “I’ll cook you your favorite pasta with vodka sauce next week to make up for it.”

“Yeah…” I muttered. “Okay.” My chest hurt.

Not because of the damn pasta. My best friend was getting married, and that was complicated.

The thing about Archie? He was my best friend now, but at one time…we’d almost been more. That summer I learned the biggest lesson of my life: A good way to have your heart broken by your best friend is to forget how to toe the line.




THERE WAS NOTHING like that first hint of salty air. I’d come to Whaite’s Island, Maine, for a couple of summers before this one, but the excitement of arriving was just like the first time. It never got old. When you breathed the noxious fumes of the city most of the year, it was easy to appreciate the literal breath of fresh air here.

I stepped out of my parents’ car and looked up at our new summer house. Although I’d seen photos, this was my first time viewing it in person. It was your typical oceanside, shingle-style home, with a wide, spacious porch and tons of large windows. The lawn was beautifully manicured, and bushes bursting with flowers surrounded the property.