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Authors: Emma Hart

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BOOK: The Love Game
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“Right,” Megan agrees. “But he's always been like that. That's just Braden.”

Megan and Braden both come from the same town and from what she's said, their parents are quite close so they grew up together. Besides us, she's about the only girl at the party that isn't falling at his feet.

“You know what?” Kay says. We glance over at him and another blonde is wrapped around him.

“What?” I say and turn away from him with a look of disgust on my face.

“That boy needs to know what it's like to do what he does. What it's like to be humped and dumped.”

All eyes turn to me. I shake my head, stepping back. “Oh, no. No, no, no way!” I turn and leave the room, pushing my way through the kitchen to the yard, all three girls on my heels.

“Mads, it'll be fun!” Lila takes my hands and bounces. “Come on!”

“Um.” Megan looks at the house then at me. “I guess it wouldn't hurt.”

“No.” I shake my head again.

“You only have to hump him once,” Kay reasons. “Besides, he's not exactly bad to look at, is he? I could imagine smacking that ass.”

“Then you do it!”

“Oh, no.” Megan sighs. “She can't. Kay might be bi but everyone knows she prefers girls, so he won't go there. Lila has a boyfriend who happens to be his friend, and I grew up with him. He's like my brother or something. You're the only one that can do it.”

“I don't understand what we'll get out of this.” I look at each of them.

“Satisfaction of knowing the guy finally wanted what he couldn't have,” Kay shrugs. “Come on, Mads. It'll take two weeks, three, tops.”

“A month maybe,” Megan adds. “After that, he'll get bored and give in or he'll be in love with you. He's always watching you, Mads. Even in class when you think he isn't. And he refuses to talk about you to me, so I know he's attracted to you. Usually he gives me a play-by-play over his weekend conquests.”

“Plus Megs knows how his mind works,” Lila says. “So we have that advantage.”

“You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?” I sigh and rake my fingers through my hair.

“Nope.” Kay shakes her head.

“Oh, hell. I have a feeling I'm gonna regret this.”

“Maddie Stevens. Your mission, should you choose to accept it.” She grins and puts her hand out. Lila and Megan put theirs on top of hers. “Is to play the player at his own game. Do you accept?”

I inhale deeply, every bit of my mind screaming at me to say no and run. Play the player. The guy I hate because he embodies everything I wanted to leave behind when I left Brooklyn.

Instead of running, I place my hand on the pile in front of me. “Accepted.”


Chapter Two - Braden


I have no fucking idea who this chick is who's hanging onto my arm. I'm pretty sure I've never seen her in my life, but she's kinda hot with nice tits so I guess she can stay for a bit. She's not hot enough to bang though, so she won't be around for that long.

Blondie presses her lips against my ear, and I hide my cringe by looking around the frat house. My eyes find Maddie Stevens – Princess of University of California, Berkeley.

She's sitting at the bar with that bi girl. Shit, what's her name? Oh, never mind. Megan and Lila are sitting with her, and I watch as they knock back shot after shot of whatever it is Kyle is throwing down their throats tonight. She shakes out her auburn hair and the bi one drags her up.

My eyes sweep her body, and I'm vaguely aware Blondie is now sitting on my lap. Two hard globes press against my chest, and I know instantly she's got fake tits. They were way too good to be true.

Megan takes Maddie's hand, and she smiles, almost shyly. She starts to move to the beat of the music and
there's nothing shy about that. She puts her free hand in her hair, looks at the floor and her hips move perfectly in time. She glances up through her eyelashes and smiles again, more confidence in it this time.

“She's so fucking hot,” Aston says, appearing next to me. Ryan steps up behind him.

“Maddie?” I ask, my eyes still on her moving body.

“Who's Maddie?” Blondie purrs. Fuck, she still here?

Maddie looks up, her bright green eyes taking in Blondie on me. Her lip twitches in disgust, and she turns away.

“No one you should worry about, babe.” I peel her off me. “Be a doll and get me a beer.”

She flutters eyelashes caked in mascara. “Of course.” She hops off of me and I pat her ass, turning my attention back to the guys.

“Who was that?” Ryan asks.

“Good question, dude.” I shrug. “Some chick.”

I catch sight of Maddie pushing her way through the crowd, Megan, Lila, and bisexual girl following her.

“Hey, reckon the girls would be pissed if I chased after her?” Aston asks, following her with his eyes.

“Megan would beat the shit out of you.” Ryan nudges him and leans against the arm of the sofa. “Lila and Kay, too, actually.”

Kay. That's the bisexual girl.

“Maddie would likely kick my ass, too,” I add, looking at them. “You'd need to get that girl down the aisle before she dropped her pants for you.”

“Marriage? Fuck that.” Aston shakes his head. “I'm too hot for that shit, dude.”

He isn't far off, at least not in the eyes of the girls here. He's never short of a quick one or two on a weekend.

“Marriage?” Ryan repeats. “Nah, you just gotta make the chick fall in love with you. Make her fall in love and bam, there it is. Piece of ass, and a hot one, too.”

I tilt my head slightly, studying them both. “She's like a fuckin' china doll, though. If you did it too hard, she'd break.”

“I'd break it,” Aston says. “Just without the love shit.”

“I reckon you could do it.” Ryan takes a swig of beer and glances at me.

“A week?” Aston taps his chin.

“Nah,” I say.

“A month,” Ryan says with finality. “She ain't gonna be easy to break, but she'll give it up in a month. You could do it, Braden.”

“Dude, you realize that's your girlfriend's friend? You're askin' me to get her to fall in love with me, fuck her, then dump her.” Not that I wouldn't mind a chance to fuck Maddie Stevens. In fact, I'd pay for that damn chance.

Ryan shrugs. “Like Lila will ever find out. This shit stays between us three. Braden Carter seducing a girl ain't exactly gonna be out of place, is it?”

“Do it.” Aston grins. “Make her fall in love with you. If anyone can, you can.”

“Dunno.” I lean back and look at the dance floor. She's back – all four of them are.

She's doing that hip thing again, swaying them from side to side. She shakes her hair out and laughs. Lila exaggerates a wink over to Ryan, and he smirks. Lila turns back and says something, making Maddie look over her shoulder. Her green eyes meet mine.I smile slowly, the smile that gets me anything. I wink. One side of her glossy pink mouth curls up, and she looks away again, her hair flicking with the movement of her head.

“Well?” Ryan nudges my head. “You gonna do it?”

“Challenge accepted, boys,” I say, resting my arms behind my head. “One month from now, Maddie Stevens will be in love with me and in my bed. You can count on that shit.”


Chapter Three - Maddie


I roll over, wincing at the light coming in through the curtains. How much did I drink last night? Too much, clearly.

“Good morning, sunshine!” Kay shouts and kicks the dorm room door shut.

“Nope, not over here.” I bury back under my covers.

“I have coffee and muffins!” She pulls the covers down and I groan, opening my eyes.

“Why? Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do I feel like I just got run over by a herd of wildebeest?”

“One, I have no idea what a wilder beast is, and two, it's called a hangover.” Kay holds out a Starbucks take-out cup and my favorite blueberry muffin.

I sit up and take them from her. “Thank you. Why are you not feeling this way?”

“I'm one of the lucky ones.” She snickers and chucks herself on her bed. “I don't get hangovers. You, however, do, it seems. Megs is the same. She'd usually be in bed all day.”

“Sounds good to me.” I take a sip of the coffee.

“But not today,” she sings. “Today we're getting down to business.”

“Down to business?”

She raises her eyebrows at me. “Do you remember our deal last night? Your mission, Ms. Bond?”

Ah. Play The Player. “I thought we were joking.”

“When have I ever joked about anything as serious as sex?”

“Fine, fine.” I give in and sigh. “What do you mean, down to business?”

“We need to draw up a plan of attack!” She crosses her legs, Indian-style, and bounces twice on the bed.

“A plan of attack,” I repeat dumbly.

“Uh, duh! You think we can go into this blind? Oh no, honey.” She shakes her head. “Braden Carter has got more charm than the Irish leprechauns-”

“Which don't exist.”

“And that means he's dangerous. You're trying to make him fall in love with you, yet if he lays it on thick you could end up falling in love with him.”

“There would be no hump and dump, which would defeat the object of Play The Player.” I sigh.

“Precisely!” She claps once. “So we need to figure out a fool-proof plan that ensures while he's losing his heart, you aren't losing yours. Because that would just be disastrous.”

“Kay, I don't know.” I sigh again. “Braden Carter doesn't fall in love. If he has a rulebook, that's it, right above the rule that says rules are for losers. I have a month to do this, right? I just don't know how it's possible.”

“Nothing is impossible if you believe in it enough.”

“But I don't know if I believe in it.”

“You will,” she says confidently. “You will.”

“I hope you're right,” I reply. “Because this is looking like a fail before it's even started.”

“Knock knock on your cock,” Lila opens the door and Megan follows her in, a large roll of paper and marker pens tucked under her arm.

“What is that?” I ask, taking it in.

“Operation Play The Player,” Megan answers, sitting on the floor between our beds. She unrolls the paper, uses two books to hold it flat and writes 'OPTP – Operation Play The Player' at the top of the sheet.

I shake my head in disbelief. Am I actually doing this? I was under the impression that college meant growing up, but I was wrong. I feel like I'm thirteen again and trying to trick my lifetime crush into admitting he's crushing on me too.

“Stop shakin' your head.” Lila jumps up on my bed next to me. “It's gonna be okay. You can do this.”

“You guys do realize that in terms of love and relationships, a month is short, right? And in terms of Braden Carter, a month is a lifetime?” I question. “Who says he won't get bored after a week and go and find one of his floozies to warm his bed?”

“You have to stop him from doing that,” Megan says softly. “You have to make him never want to leave your side. I give you a week to reel him in, get him interested, and then this is in the bag.”

“A week?”

“If you can get him to be by your side in a week, he'll fall in love in three,” she clarifies, uncapping a blue pen. “Stage one. Attachment.” She jots it down on the paper, giving me until next Sunday.

“Hold up, this isn't even starting until tomorrow!”

“Wrong.” Kay shakes her head.

Lila nods in agreement with Kay. “The guys are having a football game in the yard of the frat house later. We're all heading down there.”

I huff. “Fine. It starts tonight.”

Megan flashes me a grin, green pen in hand. “Stage two, next week, is Public Appreciation and Attachment.”

“Which translates to what, in my terms?” I frown.

“Hand holding, public kissing, exclusivity.”

I snort. “You guys have a hell of a lot of faith in me, you know.”

“Stage three, week three,” Kay continues. “Almost Sex and Public Knowledge Relationship.”

“Everyone will know?”

“Well, yeah.” Lila raises an eyebrow at me. “Humping and dumping will be so much more satisfying if everyone we know, and then some, knows.”

“It seems a little... Harsh.”

“You have to be cruel to be kind, baby girl,” Kay says.

“They're right,” Megan agrees without looking up from the paper. “I don't much like the idea of hurtin' him, but he needs to sort his head out. If he's this bad five weeks into college, I dread what he's gonna be like in two years. He needs to get a clear message and soon.”

“Why not just talk to him?” I try. “Why go to extreme measures?”

“Because Braden Carter only understands things in extremities.”

“Okay, so say this works.” I tap my finger against the bed. “And he does fall in love with me. I'll hump and dump him and then what? You know he won't leave it. He'll fight to get me back. What do I do then?”

BOOK: The Love Game
4.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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