Ava Darling may be a nerd, but she can’t wait to leave high school. On a good day, her fellow students ignore her; usually, they tease her. It’s just one more year though. Then she can move on to university and a fresh start. Unfortunately, a cruel prank puts Ava dead in the sights of school bad boy Hunter Black, who comes to her with a bizarre proposal. The two couldn’t be more different, but if they team up, they might find that secretly—very secretly—they have more in common than they think!
Age Rating: 16+
Do you ever have those days when you don’t even want to get out of bed? Today is one of those for me.
I groan and roll over, looking at my alarm clock. I may be a nerd and all, but even I hate getting up at the crack of dawn to learn and study. Still, I’ve already snoozed my alarm twice, which wasn’t the best of plans.
Lucky me, I’m only ten minutes late—nothing a quick rush around won’t fix.
I crawl out of bed and make my way to the bathroom across the hall, where I scrub my teeth and do my business and stare at my reflection. I brush my brown hair into a loose ponytail, letting it sway behind me as I head back to my room to get changed for school.
There, I throw on the big, black-rimmed glasses that everyone at school calls “ugly,” a pair of black jeans ripped at the knee, and an oversized Harry Potter top with the Hogwarts crest upon it. When I say “oversized,” I mean two sizes too big for my petite figure, but that’s the way I like it: hiding me from the outside world.
It’s the start of my final year of the sixth form, and boy, am I dreading it. Another year to be picked on, used, and threatened.
I can’t wait to escape to university somewhere, to have a fresh start.
I grab the bag at the foot of my bed, which I packed the night before, and head down to the kitchen. All the lights are off, but I can see a note on the fridge.
I walk over to the kitchen window and pull up the blinds, letting my eyes be blinded momentarily before they readjust themselves to the light streaming through. I then pull the note off the fridge, sighing.
Working double shift, there’s food in the fridge, you’ll have to make it yourself. Mum x
When I pull the fridge open, cool air blasts across my face, causing goose bumps to rise over my skin. Nothing takes my fancy, so I shut the fridge, grab an apple from the counter, and make my way out the door. I don’t want to be late for my first day back.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a normal routine—or at least, it was. But with the summer break over, I need to get back into the swing of things, to stop this sort of thing happening.
It’s only me and my mum now. Two years ago, a drunk driver swerved and collided into my dad’s car, instantly killing him. While my dad was taken from us, the drunk driver walked away with just a few bruises and breath in his lungs.
I was a daddy’s girl. He was always there for me when I needed him, and now he’s gone.
And now to provide for us, Mum must take extra shifts as a nurse for the National Health Service. They are understaffed and underfunded, but it makes her happy to help others, so that makes me happy too. Even though we had to downsize from our lovely home because we couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage.
I feel my eyes well up with tears, but I push them away. I don’t want to cry on my first day back to sixth form.
When I reach the school’s gates, I notice all the people with fancy cars and expensive clothes. I go to a public school, but there are still a lot of people with a lot of money they’re not afraid to show off, and they’re all gathered here to catch up after the summer holidays.
Walking with my head down so that no one notices me, I slip into the school. My locker is at the end of a corridor, so no one notices when I am there—a bonus for me.
If you haven’t already noticed, I like being invisible, the person people overlook until they need someone to do their homework or they need to let off some steam. The world gives me the gift of invisibility, and I’d be a fool not to take advantage of it, right?
At my locker, I find a blonde-haired girl waiting. I smile. It’s my only friend, Lily.
Let’s do introductions, shall we?
Lily has been my best friend since we were little, when we discovered our shared hatred for this horrible girl called Jessica. Jessica had stolen and ripped up our work, so we split a packet of sweets to commiserate.
We may have only been five, but who cares? Friendship is friendship at the end of the day.
Lily is stunning. Her blonde, curly hair falls to the middle of her back, and her bright-blue eyes catch your attention. She’s 5’6” with super long legs that girls envy, curves in all the right places, and naturally tanned skin. All in all, she’s what most boys want.
If you’ve ever seen The Duff, you’ll understand how easily ignored I am, but I don’t mind.
“Hey bitch, how was your holiday?”
I smile at the way Lily greets me before replying. She’s so confident in herself, and I admire her for that.
“You know me, I was very productive and managed to eat all the ice cream and watch loads on Netflix.”
“I noticed. You watched all of Shadowhunters in two days.”
I laugh. How can you not love The Mortal Instruments?
Now if you’re wondering how I manage to pay for Netflix, I don’t. Lily, my babe, lets me use her account. Her parents are quite rich; they own an amazing Italian restaurant—if you could try it, then you’d understand—and I’m like their own personal taste tester!
It’s hard to think that we’re so close when we come from very different places and when Lily looks as good as she does. I never really understood why she would stay by me, but I am grateful for it.
As I take out my books from my locker, Lily texts on her phone like a maniac. The tapping of her nails on the screen is somehow calming in the chaos around us.
I’m brought away from my thoughts when Lily begins slapping me on the shoulder repeatedly. I roll my eyes and wonder if she’s broken her nail with the force of the blows, but then I turn around.
There they are: the three sex gods. The Three Musketeers, as everyone in the school calls them. (Although in the novel there were four members of the Musketeers, so I guess everyone is technically wrong.)
The whole hall has gone silent, and students part like the Red Sea to let them through. Girls bat their eyes, hoping to be noticed, while boys glare because they want to be them.
I roll my eyes again. Sure, they are freaking hot, don’t get me wrong, but they are players, fuckboys—excuse my French. They hump and dump. Fuck and chuck. Nab and shag.
Sometimes it’s for fun, other times it’s a game or a bet, but in any case, it’s meaningless to them.
The leader of the group and the sexiest, in my opinion, is Hunter Black. He’s six feet tall and made of pure muscle—not the gross, bulky stuff you see on bodybuilders but the kind you see on models. His hair is dark brown, almost black, and his eyes are the color of the forest, a dazzling emerald green.
As dreamy and drool-worthy as Hunter is, though, he has slept with nearly every girl in the school, and he’s never with the same girl twice. Except for that bitch, Jessica. He keeps running back to her, and she loves the attention. Since the most popular and sexy guy in the school wants her, all the guys want her.
Then there’s Hunter’s best mate, Liam Thorn, a six-foot-tall swimmer with a gorgeous body, blond hair, and blue eyes. Though he’s not as hot as Hunter, in my opinion, he’s also not as much of a fuckboy. He keeps a girlfriend from time to time, which to me screams cute, and I think the others could learn a thing or two from him.
Lastly, there’s Declan Reed, who is over six feet tall and has black hair and blue eyes. He’s not only known for being a fuckboy but also for being a prankster, which is weird because most of the time he has a scowl on his face. You wouldn’t think he has a sense of humor because he only ever shows an intense dislike of people.
Declan hasn’t been with Hunter and Liam that long—maybe about three or four years—but he sure as hell fits in with his looks. And he sure as hell is loyal to them.
Oh, and did I mention that all these boys are rich? Like ridiculously rich. They could probably buy the school if they wanted to and no one would stop them.
Everyone respects the sex gods: teachers, students, I’m sure even some of the parents. They all fear them and would do anything they asked. There have even been rumors that they are involved in some horrible things, like gangs and drugs, but the police are too scared to do anything about it.
No one really knows if it’s true or not, but no one dares ask. With their money, I’m sure they could just buy anyone off anyway.
So, there you have it. These three boys basically run the school, and no one tells them otherwise.
As they walk past, I keep my head down. I don’t want their attention, maybe because I don’t like what the attention would bring for me: pain and fear.
When the bell goes off, Lily and I make our way to our first class, maths. I groan. People are walking everywhere in a mad rush, and I’m trying my best to avoid them so that I don’t receive any backlash.
“It’s torture!” I complain. “Do they really expect us to do maths on a Monday morning?”
Lily just giggles and shakes her head at my foolish outcries.
“Well, they must really hate us this year.”
Hearing her sarcastic tone, I turn to glare at her. Then we both burst into fits of laughter.
I’m not bad at maths; I just hate the subject. I don’t even know why I chose it as an A-level—it’s pointless. When will I ever get asked to work out algebra or circle theorems? The answer is never!
I’m so distracted by all the students and teachers shouting around me that I don’t pay attention to where I am going, so when a guy pops up in front of me, I’m not able to stop myself. We crash into each other.
With the wind knocked out of me, I stumble back a bit, grasping at my stomach. Through the tears in my eyes, I look up at the guy who caused me this pain. We stare at each other for a moment before he barges past me, scattering my books and nearly knocking me over.
As if having the wind knocked out of me wasn’t enough, he had to scatter my books, which I had managed to hang onto in the first attack.
“Sorry, gorgeous,” he says, throwing a wink in my direction before getting lost in the sea of students.
I stand there, shocked. Some guy—and a hot guy, at that—called me gorgeous and winked at me! Someone noticed me!
Feeling my cheeks go a deep shade of red, I shove my head down and carry on walking, dragging Lily behind me. She had collected all my books, embarrassed by the whole fiasco.