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Rule #9: You Can't Misinterpret a Mistletoe Kiss - Audiobook

Rule #9: You Can't Misinterpret a Mistletoe Kiss - Audiobook

THE RULES OF LOVE SERIES

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SYNOPSIS

I thought I was strong enough to go along with the plan. Fake dating heart throb, Cayden Rivers, seemed simple enough.

Apparently not.

I am just trying to survive. Spending the summer with my loosey-goosey Dad in Hollywood, CA is just enough to send my OCD tendencies into hyperdrive.

But Mom thinks it's good for me. And my best friend Michelle has agreed to come along.

I should have known better than to get on the plane.

First Dad drops his soon-to-be wife on me. Then I run into Cayden Rivers, the player of Hollywood. He seems just as trapped in his life as I feel in mine.

Which is weird. And the more I get to know him, the more I find out, maybe we're not that different.

So when he asks me to fake date him to help his image, I stupidly agree. Everything goes according to plan until my feelings start to grow and I can't tell if Cayden feels the same or if he's just acting.

My life spirals out of control and the only person I want to turn to is Cayden.

I just hope my heart is the one he doesn't break.

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The Rules of Love Romance series contains full length, standalone romances that are full of happily ever afters.

RULE #1 CHAPTER ONE LOOK INSIDE

There was a soft knock on my bedroom door. I sighed as I set my book down next to me on the bed. “Come in,” I said. 

The door opened and Mom leaned against the doorframe with an apologetic look on her face. 

Great. That was never good. 

“What?” I asked, feeling the usual needles in my stomach that came when Mom was about to spring something on me. 

I like control. I like consistency. I have everything planned out to a T. But Mom’s too big smile and hopeful glint in her eye told me my world was about to change. 

“I just got off the phone with your dad.”

Yep. I was not going to like this. I took a deep breath, trying to remember what Dr. Nelson said about receiving bad news, and nodded. “And?”

She stepped into my room and sat down on my bed. She reached out and grabbed my hand, attempting to give me some reassurance. 

“It turns out he wants you to come for the summer. He said that he got permission for you to spend time on the set. And he has some really fun activities planned for you two.” Mom peeked up at me, and I could feel her hesitation as she waited for my response. 

I pulled my hand back and hugged my knees to my chest. My gaze roamed over her as I tried to process what she was saying. 

I was going to fly all the way to Hollywood, California to spend my summer vacation with my dad. The man who barely had time for me. Who ran out on Mom and me when I was a baby. 

And Mom was okay with this?

We had a system. We had structure. And my type-A, OCD personality flourished in that environment. 

But this was the last summer before senior year, so I should have anticipated my Dad’s invite—and my Mom’s insistence that I accept it. She was always saying I’d regret not spending the last little bit of my youth trying to mend my relationship with Dad. Always muttering under her breath about how life would get infinitely more demanding once college started. 

So much for the two musketeers. 

Plus, Mom didn’t seem to care that Dad’s loosey-goosey, take things in stride personality stressed me out. I needed routine and consistency, not “anything goes” and “stop being such a killjoy.”

I shook my head. Nope. “What am I going to tell Michelle? I can’t bail on her.” I pinched the bridge of my nose. Spending my summer with my absentee father did not sound like a vacation. 

Mom’s smile widened. “Your father invited Michelle as well. I’ve already talked to her mom, and she agreed.” Mom reached out and patted my knee. Her typical, we’ve discussed this and I’ve won move. 

I glared at her. She was such a traitor. 

“This will be good for you. Dr. Nelson says you need to get out more. This is the perfect way of doing that.” Mom stood, sighing. “You’re leaving tomorrow, so you should get packed.”

I blew out my breath as I stared at her. My life was being planned without me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. 

“Mom—” I started, but she raised her hand, halting my protests. 

“Scarlett, enough. You’re going and that’s final.” She gave me a weary smile. “Your dad seems to want to make amends. I think you should hear him out. Besides, he’s shooting with that heartthrob, Cayden something-or-other. So that should be exciting for you.”

I scoffed. Did my mother not know me at all? Cayden Rivers was Michelle’s obsession, not mine. Besides, he was reckless and dangerous—the exact opposite of me. 

Mom didn’t wait to hear my protest. She announced that she was finding me a suitcase and that I better round up all my dirty clothes and get them washed. 

I was going. 

Period. 

* * *

“This is going to be the best summer ever!” Michelle screamed as she grabbed my arm and started shaking it. 

I glanced at the annoyed people sitting around us on the plane and shot them an apologetic smile. Then I turned to her and stared. 

She pushed her curly blonde hair behind her ear and shrugged. “They are way too sensitive. I wasn’t being that loud.” She collapsed back into her seat after grabbing the sky magazine from the pocket in front of her. She flipped through a couple of pages before she turned to look at me. 

“Scarlett Lamoroux, I can’t believe you’re not the tiniest bit excited that we are going to spend three long and glorious months with the Cayden Rivers.” She pressed her hand to her chest and glanced up like she was praising a higher being. 

I sighed as I slumped in my chair—as well as one can slump when they are packed into an airplane like a sardine. I blew my mousy brown hair from my face. Truth was I was dreading this entire trip. 

“Do you think we’re going to be able to meet him?” Michelle asked, clearly daydreaming about Cayden’s wavy brown hair and ridiculously blue eyes. I mean, CGI much?

I pulled my hair up into a ponytail as I glanced over at her. “Maybe? I don’t know. I mean, Dad is the director, so I’m guessing he’ll bring us to the set sometimes.” 

My stomach knotted as I thought about what waited for me on the other end of the flight. I’d thought I prepared myself for a summer with Dad, but maybe not. Maybe I should just hop on the next flight home as soon as we landed. 

“Oh no, you’re spiraling,” Michelle said as she leaned down to grab something from her purse. 

She emerged triumphantly with a Hershey’s candy bar. “Here. Your mom packed you an emergency stash before we left.”

I nodded as I grabbed the chocolate from her and pulled off the wrapper. There was something about milk-chocolatey goodness that always seemed to help calm me down. 

I sat in silence while Michelle hummed to herself as she read some article about the “Joys of Atlanta.” She was calm and collected while I was a hot mess. 

Thank goodness for great friends. 

By the time the flight attendant walked through the aisle, collecting garbage, I’d finished my candy bar and slipped the wrapper into the bag. She thanked me, asked Michelle to return her seat to the upright position, and continued walking. 

The pilot announced that we were descending and should be on the ground in ten minutes. 

I leaned my head back on the chair and took some deep breaths. Michelle continued to squeal and yammer on about what Cayden Rivers—yes, always his full name—was like in person. 

As soon as the plane touched down, throwing us forward in our seats, I let out the breath I’d been holding. 

I could do this. I could spend the summer holed up in Dad’s new mansion overlooking the ocean. After all, if he was stuck on set, he wouldn’t be around to bother us. I could figure out my new normal in Hollywood, California. 

I could survive. 

I just needed to convince my spiraling-out-of-control nerves. 

The seatbelt sign went off, and while everyone around us started getting out of their seats, I stayed put. Michelle bumped my leg as she tried to get her purse out from under the seat in front of us. 

“Next time, have your dad bump us up to first class, ‘kay? He’s a movie director. He has the money.”

“Okay.” I nodded. Dad had actually offered to have his private jet come pick us up, but I’d refused. I figured a pilot would be more motivated to keep an entire plane’s worth of people in the air than just a few. 

It probably wasn’t sound logic, but I didn’t care. With some self-reflection, I’d probably admit that I really didn’t like Dad spending so much money on nonsensical things when Mom and I shared a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Chicago. 

And maybe, just maybe, it felt like I was choosing one parent over the other by accepting his overpriced stuff. But I was Team Mom all the way—even if she’d basically forced me through security to get on a plane I didn’t want to be on.

The rows in front of us were now clear of people, so I grabbed my purse and stood. Michelle followed after me as I made my way down the aisle and out into the walkway, where the sticky summer air settled around us. 

Once we were in the airport, we followed the signs down to the baggage claim to get our luggage. 

I had one suitcase—Michelle had three. 

Why we were friends had always boggled my mind. But her mom and my mom met in Lamaze class together and had been inseparable ever since. Even when Michelle’s mom went on to have five more kids, they never outgrew us. We were family.

“Are you Scarlett?” asked a younger-looking woman with her hair pulled back in a severe ponytail and five-inch heels. She was holding a sign that said, “Lamoroux.” 

I nodded. “That’s me.”

“Great.” She walked over to the garbage and threw the sign away. “I’m Sasha, your dad’s assistant. He’s right in the middle of shooting, so he asked me to come get you.” She waved toward the exit. “Are you ready?”

I wrapped my fingers around the suitcase handle. “Yep.”

“I’m Michelle Faren. Scarlett’s friend,” Michelle said as she tried to maneuver all three of her bags. 

I reached out and grabbed one with my free hand, and Michelle shot me a grateful smile. 

If Sasha heard Michelle, she didn’t respond. Instead, she pressed on the Bluetooth headset in her ear and began talking as she walked ahead of us. 

“Everyone here looks so mean,” Michelle said as she fell into step with me. “I love it! Scar, I found my people.”

I rolled my eyes as a soft chuckle escaped my lips. When we were kids, Michelle and I dreamed of running away to Hollywood and becoming the next Audrey Hepburns. That was back before I became an awkward teenager. And back when large crowds didn’t give me mini panic attacks. 

Besides, Michelle could be a model with her long blonde hair and curves for days. But me? I took after Dad. Flat everywhere. 

Sasha interrupted our conversation, snapping her fingers at a man who was leaning against a black town car and staring at his phone. 

“Demetri, the bags,” she said as she slipped through the door he’d just opened and into the passenger seat. 

Michelle turned and mouthed, “Oh, my gosh,” as Demetri took her bags from her and rolled them to the trunk. I followed him and waited until he was done stashing Michelle’s bags before I gave him mine. Then I followed Michelle as she climbed into the backseat. 

“There are Perriers in the doors,” Sasha said from the front seat. She was focused on her phone and just threw a wave in our direction. 

Michelle had already grabbed the bottle from her side of the car and was breaking the seal. She met my gaze with wide eyes as she brought the mouth of the bottle to her lips. 

“It’s still cold,” she whispered as she leaned toward me. “How did they do that? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

I glanced down to see I too had a bottle nestled in the cup holder of my door. I was thirsty, but for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up. If I did, then it was like I was saying it was okay that Dad didn’t pick me up. That he, once again, chose something else over his daughter. 

Wow. All that from a bottle of water. Where was Dr. Nelson to congratulate me?

And then I decided to face my fear and ask the question that had been tugging at my mind since the moment I saw Sasha. “Where’s my dad?” I asked, hoping I came across as relaxed instead of a jumble of nerves. 

Sasha flicked her gaze over to me. “He’s…dealing with something.” She set her phone down and turned to focus on me. “He wanted to pick you up, but a thing came up that he just couldn’t get out of.”

I snorted as I turned my gaze toward the outside world flashing by the car. I didn’t want Sasha to see my tears. I wanted so badly to stop caring that my dad might show up for once. He never did, and I felt like a fool for thinking that he could change. 

“What kind of thing?” Michelle asked. She’d drunk half her bottle of water and was now leaning forward as if she were trying to catch every salacious bit of gossip that Sasha would throw her way. 

Sasha removed her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She sighed as she returned her glasses. Whatever it was couldn’t be good. 

Sasha plastered on her fake smile as she turned to Michelle. “It’s nothing Chad Lamoroux can’t handle.”

I folded my arms as I swallowed hard. 

Why did I care this much? I was pretty used to Dad not showing up. I should have known he wasn’t going to be at the airport to get me. It was his MO. 

“Am I going to see him today?” The words tumbled from my lips before I could stop them.

Sasha flicked her gaze back at me and then back to her phone. “Yes. Your dad asked us to bring you right to the studio so you can have lunch with him.” She glanced back over to me. “You are hungry, right?”

“Yes—”

“No—” I said at the same time. 

I glanced over to Michelle with my eyes wide. She was staring at me with the same intensity that I was shooting her direction. There was no way I wanted to see my dad right now. Not after he didn’t pick me up. I needed some time to get my nerves under control. I wanted to go to his house, unpack, and shower. 

Then I wanted to eat an entire box of cereal while watching a chick flick on the ridiculously large television he’d set up in my room. I wanted to forget that I was here.

Maybe I should have strategized with Michelle before we got in the car. We should have come up with our game plan before we were pushing against each other. 

Sasha glanced between Michelle and I and then clicked her tongue. “Well, my job is to bring you to the studio. You can talk to your dad about going to his house after you see him.”

I sat back in my seat and sighed. Yet again, when it came to Dad, I had no decision-making abilities. I was going to see him whether I wanted to or not. 

Michelle felt differently. She squealed and then grabbed her phone and began snapping pictures. She leaned toward Sasha. “Are we going to see Cayden Rivers there today?”

Sasha glanced back at her. “Mr. Rivers should be on set today,” she said. From the frustration in her voice, it seemed as if he was a sore subject for her. 

Michelle pumped her fists in the air and then grabbed my arm. “Best summer ever,” she sang. 

I rolled my eyes as I focused my attention outside. 

This wasn’t going to be the best summer ever. It was going to be pure torture, and no spoiled, thinks-too-much-about-himself celebrity was going to make it better. 

My goal was to do as little as possible. Fly under the radar and wait for the moment when I could board the plane, return home, and continue my simple life in Chicago. Sans Dad.

A mistletoe kiss is just a simple kiss, right? Wrong.

All I want to do during this Christmas break is survive. A week at the cabin with our family’s friends/rivals, the Stephensons, every yuletide activity is turned into a competition where my family must win. Every. One. Yep. Lots of Christmas spirit around here. But, I've survived past holidays, there's no reason why I can't survive this one.

Until Mom informs me that Jacob Stephenson, my brother's ex-best friend and resident bad boy, is back from his grandmothers after having been gone for the semester. I guess, after you find out your son robbed a gas station, you banish him to the most southern state.

Now my ridiculous crush is back in full force and I’m trying really hard to stay away from him. My brother is frustrated that Jacob is home and I'm supposed to put my family above boys. Right?

Maybe…

I was attempting to be loyal until Jacob and I kiss. Sure, it was a forced one brought on by mistletoe tradition, but there was something in the way he held me and pressed his lips to mine that told me, he just might be feeling something more. But when he keeps pulling away and acting like the bad boy I'm pretty sure is fake, I begin to realize that there's more at stake here then just my heart. A truth that is eating away at him.

I just hope I can unearth it before Christmas is over and any chance that I have at discovering the real Jacob disappears.

Some rules are meant to be broken.

TROPES

  • Celebrity Romance
  • Fake Dating
  • Bad Boy
  • Social Class
  • Summer Romance
  • Fish out of Water

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The Rules of Love Seres

Come read this best selling young adult series! Each book is standalone so can be enjoyed in any order. All clean romances - just kisses only!

Some rules are meant to be broken.