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Rule #2: You Can't Crush on your Sworn Enemy - Audiobook

Rule #2: You Can't Crush on your Sworn Enemy - Audiobook

THE RULES OF LOVE SERIES

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SYNOPSIS

I live by three rules.

One: I never get lower than an A in any class.

Two: I never lose a cross-country race.

And Three: I never talk to Cade Kelley

Well, number three came crashing down the moment Principal Connell asks me to guide Cade back onto the right path. Something about helping him turn his life around. If only Principal Connell knew our history, he’d understand just what he’s asking.

But, I have an incessant need to please all adults, so of course I say ye

When Cade seems pleased as well, I can’t help but wonder if this is part of some scheme. A plan he’s worked up to finish me once and for all. Apparently, what he did in junior high wasn’t enough.

Just when I think I have everything figured out, my life spirals out of control. Suddenly, adults suck—especially parents—and pleasing them becomes the last thing I want to do. What confuses me even more is in the moment I choose to run away, the first person I go to is the one guy I swore I would never get close to.

Hopefully, the Cade I’ve uncovered won’t hurt me because I’m so close to breaking.

Some rules are meant to be broken

RULE #2 CHAPTER ONE LOOK INSIDE

For some reason, Principal Connell’s office always smelled like over-buttered popcorn. I wasn’t sure if he ate it or just preferred to use it as potpourri, but it coated the air with a greasy film. I shivered as I glanced around, trying to figure out where the offender was. Nothing. No left-over bag. No hidden microwave. The only thing I could conclude was there must be one of those warmers plugged in the wall emitting a heavy butter smell. 

The office door opened and Principal Connell entered. He was carrying a clipboard with some papers. He’d lifted a few and was reading something. When he passed by my chair, he let the papers fall back down. “Good afternoon, Miss Hammond.”

I tucked a curl behind my ear and nodded. I really wasn’t sure why I was here. During sixth period, Mrs. Sauser came up to me with a note from the principal. It asked that I meet him at his office after school. He had a question for me. 

I’m not a stranger to Principal Connell’s office, but not for the typical reasons. While others come here to get reprimanded, I, as valedictorian, get asked to help out. I wondered what he had for me this time. 

Principal Connell set the clipboard on his desk and pulled out his chair. Once he was sitting, he leaned forward on his elbows and steepled his fingers. “Thanks for coming,” he said. His dark-blue eyes peered over at me through his thick spectacles. He had attempted to mask his receding hairline by growing his hair out and combing it over. If he’d just shave his head, he probably wouldn’t look so old.  

I nodded, shoving those thoughts from my head. Apparently, I spent way too much time here if I was analyzing Principal Connell’s haircut. “What did you need?” I asked, shifting so I sat higher in my chair. 

Principal Connell leaned back, his chair bouncing a few times. He looked contemplative. “I have a favor to ask.” 

“Okay.”

Before he could continue, there was a short knock on his office door. Principal Connell leaned forward and called out, “Come in.”

I turned to see the door open. All the air felt as if it were sucked from the room. Cade Kelley stood in the doorway. His backpack was slung over one shoulder and he leaned against the doorframe with the other. 

What was he doing here? I looked back at Principal Connell, who had an unsure grin on his face. “What’s going on?” I asked, praying that my voice would come out normal.  

“Come in, Mr. Kelley,” Principal Connell said. 

Cade hesitated for a moment before he sauntered—yes sauntered—into the room and plopped down on the chair next to me. He leaned closer and smiled. “Hey, Chocolate Milk,” he said. 

Fury rose up in my gut. There were a few things I never did. I never got lower than an A on my assignments. I never lost a cross-country race. And I never talked to Cade Kelley. 

“I think this is a mistake,” I said, grabbing my backpack and moving to leave. “I should go. I don’t want to be late for practice.” I reached out to grab the door handle when Principal Connell cleared his throat. 

“Penny, can you sit down?”

My inner conflict grew. I was torn between leaving the room, where Cade was sucking the joy out of the air, and staying because the principal asked me to. My desire to please won out. 

Principal Connell nodded toward the seat I had just vacated. I walked back—this time much slower. When I got to the chair, I sat. My back was rigid, and my muscles twitched. As soon as he gave the signal, I’d be out of here. 

“Now, I know there’s been some issues between you two in the past,” he said, nodding between us. 

Issues. That was a funny way of putting it. Issues were for civilized people. What Cade did to me all through junior high was just mean. Once, during lunch, I laughed so hard chocolate milk came squirting out of my nose. Lucky for me, Cade had been only a table away. 

Ever since then, everyone in our class called me chocolate milk. It wasn’t until Loni Patterson peed her pants at the ninth-grade carnival that my humiliation was finally overshadowed. But every time I was around Cade, he still brought it up. 

I snorted and folded my arms. That was as long as I liked to think about Cade. If I dwelled on it too much, I just got angry. And Cade Kelley didn’t deserve to have that kind of power over me. I wasn’t going to let him. 

Principal Connell shot me a look and continued. “I’m hoping that we can put those differences aside and work together.”

“Work together?” I glanced between the two of them. “On what?”

Cade leaned back in his chair and sighed. 

“Principal Connell?” 

“Mr. Kelley has had some issues that were taken to court. One of the stipulations was that he remain at school and get some assistance with grades and fitting in. When the judge asked me who I thought would be best at that, your name came to mind.” Principal Connell nodded in my direction. 

Me? He wanted me to babysit Cade? I shook my head. I had to have heard him wrong. “I’m sorry, what?”

Principal Connell rubbed his temples. “I need you to mentor Cade. Just for a few months. Hopefully, with your help, he can get his grades up and get accepted to a good school. And, thus, avoid some unfortunate consequences for his actions.” He narrowed his eyes as he studied Cade. 

“Why are you punishing me?”

Principal Connell glanced over at me. “This isn’t a punishment. Think of it as an opportunity. It even comes with a judge’s recommendation. Think of how that would look on your application.” He gave me a weak smile. 

I had to give it to Principal Connell. He knew how to speak my language. Getting into Harvard Law had always been my dream.

“But as with everything else in life, this is not a requirement. Solely a request. You can turn it down if you would like,” he said.

“Can I turn it down?” Cade piped up. 

Principal Connell shook his head. “That is not an option for you.”

I sat back and studied the floor. What was I going to do? On the one hand, it sounded amazing to have a judge write a recommendation, and that just might be the thing I needed to push my college application over the top. 

But, it required me to spend time with Cade. Nothing was worth that. 

I turned my attention back to Principal Connell. “Can I think about it?” 

Principal Connell narrowed his eyes and then nodded. “Yes. Let me know tomorrow. If you decide against it, I’ll have to ask someone else.”

“I can do that.” 

Principal Connell smiled. “Until tomorrow then.” He nodded toward the door and began rifling through papers on his desk. 

Relieved that this conversation was over, I stood and slipped on my backpack. Cade seemed to have the same idea—we both ended up at the door at the same time. He glanced over at me and shot me his annoyingly cocky smile. 

He reached out and opened the door. After a big flourishing bow, he said, “After you, m’lady.”

I glared at him and walked out. Did I want him opening the door for me? No. But I also wanted to get as far away from him as possible. 

Once I was out in the hall, I started toward my locker. When I heard footsteps behind me, I turned. Cade was following me.

I narrowed my eyes. “What are you doing?”

He glanced down at me and smiled again. What was with him? “You don’t own this hallway; you do realize that, right?” He pushed his hands through his dark wavy hair. His bright blue eyes sparkled with amusement. Why did he take so much joy in torturing me?

I sighed. “Of course I understand that I don’t own the hallway. But I know that your locker is in that direction.” I stopped and waved toward the other hallway. 

An incredulous look passed over his face. “Are you stalking me, Chocolate Milk?”

Heat rose up my spine as I sputtered. “I am not stalking you. In fact, you are the last person I would even care about.” I pinched my lips together as his eyebrows rose. 

I hadn’t meant to say all of those things. I guess pent-up frustration had a way of exploding out of me eventually. “I’m sorry,” I said. I wasn’t a mean person—he was. But every time I was around him, I just overreacted. 

He shook his head. “Well, I’m happy you got that out of your system. Come on, Chocolate Milk, tell me how you really feel.”

I let out an exasperated sigh and turned. I was finished with him. There was no way he and I were going to be able to work together. We were like oil and water. “I have to go,” I said and stomped off down the hall. My day had been so relaxed, and now, thanks to Principal Connell, I was incredibly agitated. 

I could hear Cade’s laugh as I made my retreat. 

“See you tomorrow, Chocolate Milk,” he called after me. 

I fought the urge to respond. Instead, I turned the corner and headed to my locker. After all my books were put back and the ones I needed for homework were in my backpack, I slammed the door and yelped. 

Crista, my best friend since kindergarten, was leaning against the nearby locker with earbuds in, bobbing her head. I shot her an annoyed look, and she pulled her earbuds out. “What’s with you?” she asked, snapping her gum. 

I heaved my backpack onto my shoulder and started down the hall. “Principal Connell.”

Crista followed after me. “What? I thought he was like your best friend or something. Did you guys have a spat?”

I glared at her. Her blue hair was pulled back into a ponytail revealing the under portion that was shaved. She had earring spacers and a nose ring. I loved her quirky style, but it clashed against my smooth brown hair and modest make-up. Mom would kill me if I wore anything but knee length dresses or jeans. 

Crista’s midriff tank top and miniskirt was a source of contention between me and Mom. Thankfully, Mom know that Crista was a good person, so she allowed me to hang out with her. 

“He wants me to mentor Cade,” I said as we turned the corner and headed toward the locker rooms. I was late for cross-country—I hated being late. 

Crista sucked in her breath. “What? Wow.” 

If anyone understood my pain when it came to Cade Kelley, it was Crista. She had been right there with me during the chocolate milk episode. 

I shot her a knowing look. “He says it’s a favor. That I might get a recommendation from a judge if I go through with it.” Even saying the words sent an excited jolt through my body. 

A knowing look passed over Crista’s face. “So you’re going to do it then.”

I shrugged, pulling open the locker room door. “I don’t know,” I said, leaning against the metal doorframe. 

Crista snorted. “I know you all too well, Penny. You’re going to do it because you are sickeningly sweet and crave approval.” She shot me a knowing look and slipped her earbuds into her ears. 

I narrowed my eyes. What was so wrong with wanting the people in charge to like me? They were the ones to help me go places—to get accepted to a good school and finally leave this small Tennessee town. A place where once you landed, it was hard to leave. 

“I do not,” I said, but Crista was no longer listening to me. 

She waved and headed in the direction of the art room. She’d hang out there while I practiced, and then we’d meet up together and she’d give me a ride home. 

I sighed and slipped into the locker room. At least I was going to be able to work off some of my frustration. Maybe I’d finally beat my fastest time. Excitement rose up in my chest. I was ready to get lost in running and take my mind off Cade and Principal Connell’s request.

“You won’t ever let me do anything. You always have to say something.” He scrubbed his face as he turned away from me. “You drive me crazy.”

Oh, no. I wasn’t going to let him say something like that and then turn away from me. He was definitely not going to have the last word. “Hang on,” I said, following after him. “I drive you crazy? What about you and the whole Chocolate Milk nonsense?” I stepped in front of him so he had to stop.

I folded my arms and tapped my fingers. It both excited me and scared me to confront him like this. But, if he was going to start something, he’d better finish it.

His eyebrows rose as if he was shocked that I would say something about that. He scoffed and glanced away. “You can’t ever take a joke, can you?”

I stared at him. A joke? “You had the entire school call me that name. It was humiliating. Talk about taking one dumb accident and forever immortalizing it.” I studied him.

He leaned closer to me, and then his expression softened. “You’re right. That was wrong of me. But I thought we’d moved on. I figured you knew that I hadn’t meant any harm.” He stepped around me and leaned against the trunk of his car.

“If you didn’t do it to hurt me, then why did you do it?” I was so angry and frustrated that my skin felt hot. What was his deal? Why couldn’t I ever figure him out?

He scoffed and turned back to me. “Really, Pen? Really? You can’t be that naive.”

I swallowed. What was there to be naive about? “Maybe I am,” I whispered.

He turned and stepped up to me until we were inches apart. Suddenly, his hand was around my waist and he was pulling me close. My heart pounded as I glanced up at him.

“Wh-what are you doing?” I asked, my voice coming out breathy.

“When we talk, we only end up fighting. I figured I’d take a different tactic.” He leaned closer until his lips were millimeters from mine.

Continue reading Rule #2: You Can't Crust on your Sworn Enemy if you like: 

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • He Falls First and Harder
  • Protective Hero
  • Bad Boy

"This was so cute —the opposite’s attract, the boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-town story was perfect. Cade and Penny were real and I loved the journey they went through to learn how perfect they were for each other. I thought they were more mature than their parents! Ms. Meyers has talent in creating such adorable story lines—" Rule #2 Reader

Some Rules are Meant to be Broken

TROPES

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • He Falls First
  • Social Class
  • Young Adult
  • Protective Hero
  • Forbidden Romance

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