𝐑𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐥 by Ginger Scott is live! This is a Mature YA opposites attract, friends-to-lovers, forbidden romance that you won’t want to miss! One-click today!
Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited
Purchase here: https://mybook.to/rebelgs
About the book:
On the surface, Cameron Hass always seems a bit risky. First to take the dare, last to leave the tracks in the face of an oncoming train, the Boston rebel has always liked to flirt with danger. But underneath, he’s terrified. Not about breaking an arm or getting pulled over for driving twice the speed limit, but about the man he’s going to become when he graduates from Welles Academy. His role models have never really been much to look up to.
Brooklyn Bennett, on the other hand, always appears to have it together. Every button is done, every hair in the perfect place, every grade not just an A, but an A+. Beautiful, smart, and from political royalty, Brooklyn set her future goals at the age of five, and she’s never strayed from the path of following in her parents’ diplomatic footsteps.
Surviving a terrifying car crash her junior year left Brooklyn questioning a lot of things. Losing her best friend left her feeling alone. But Cameron’s always been a good listener. And messy or not, his heart has always been in the right place. And when Brooklyn needed someone, he was right there. Maybe . . . he’s been there all along.
But how do chaos and rules go together? And what happens if the rest of the world wants to keep them apart?
I should have worn my brace. I’ve been standing in the same place, by the headmaster’s two-story bookcase and a grand piano I doubt is ever played, for nearly forty minutes, and my leg is shaking from the unbearable pain and strain I’m forcing my remaining muscles to endure.
My leg will never be as strong as it was. That’s what the doctors said after I woke up from surgery. Two pins and some stem cell therapy got me on my feet faster than expected, but the rest of my healing is going to be up to me.
“Unusual tear and damage.” That’s what they said before giving Mom and me the slim menu of options for recovery after the accident. I was lucky to have my leg at all. Lucky to have my life, really. My best friend in the entire world, Anika, wasn’t so lucky. She had a seizure and drove the car carrying us and two of our closest friends hood-first into the Solemn River. My friend Lily pulled me to shore. She saved me only months after Anika invited her into our friend group. Sometimes I wonder if my best friend knew that one day I would need an angel and that’s why she brought Lily to me.
“It’s a lovely get-together, don’t you think? I love that he hosts this for you all every year.” If Caroline Powell weren’t standing next to me, I’d collapse right now. But I can’t do that in front of the headmaster’s wife. Oh God, the scene that would make!
“Mmm, it is,” I agree, sipping the next inch from my sparkling water.
A perk of being a sixth form at Welles Academy is being invited to a handful of special soirees at the headmaster’s home. The parties are hosted a block away from campus, in a home that has been lived in by only five men and their families over the history of the academy. Headmaster Powell has been in the position for nineteen years, and I have waited for five of them to be in this position. These parties with New England’s elite are a privilege, and I should be roaming from room to room, shaking hands with every single guest. I can’t seem to find the motivation, though. And my legs are so tired.
“How is your father these days? I haven’t seen him since the inauguration.” My father, Walden Bennett, is Welles Academy royalty. He’s chief energy advisor for the White House, at least for the next year, until he formally enters the senate race. And there’s no questioning a win to serve the people of Massachusetts. Walden Bennett is loved by the public. He has meticulously sculpted his image for this moment, and one day I want to be just like him. Of course, that would require me to get off my ass and start mingling.
“Oh, you know, busy busy,” I say with a flash of a smirk.
Part of being a politician’s daughter is navigating the strange world of leverage and influence. People always need things, and my dad has a unique position that can sometimes get those things. Caroline runs the Welles endowment. She needs money, yes, but more than that, she wants a seat on a commerce board. I’ve been briefed about this by my dad at least a dozen times, and I’ve become adept at dodging the asks. If I weren’t worried about my leg buckling from strain, I’d make an excuse to move to a different room. But I’m trapped. Out maneuvered.
“Yes, he must be. I left a few messages with his office and have yet to get a call back.” She eyes me over the rim of her wine glass as she brings it to her lips and sips. Her burgundy lipstick leaves a Cheshire cat smile stain behind. “When you talk to him again, maybe you could . . .”
I pull my lips into a tight smile and nod.
My turn to sip from my glass. I wish it were wine instead of water. I wish it was vodka.
“You know, there are a few people here who would love to meet Walden Bennett’s daughter. If you don’t mind joining me on the terrace.” She steps toward the open double doors. I move to follow, but my leg gives way and I stumble. Despite my inner prayers to be strong, my damn leg lets me down. Caroline’s arm is under mine in seconds and before I can stop her, she’s already shouting for help.
“I’m fine, really,” I plead.
I don’t need a scene. I don’t want an audience while I sit and work blood through my limb. Someone will want to run and fetch my brace and my crutches, and I’ll have to explain that they’re buried under my bed behind boxes of shoes—shoes I shouldn’t wear in my condition. Then will come the questions about the injury, shared versions of the accident everyone knows about, feigned shock and empathy. Someone will call me brave, and others will chime in with my favorite phrase, “poor thing.”
Headmaster Powell is the first to rush to his wife’s call for help, and he swoops in at my other side despite my insistence that I don’t need help to the piano bench that has a film of dust on it.
“Poor girl,” Caroline mutters. I cringe at the words, squeezing my eyes shut and reminding myself that telling people to fuck off and leave me alone isn’t part of my brand.
“What’s going on?”
My eyes open at the sound of a familiar voice. Cameron Hass can be a lot to handle, but he’s also an excellent distraction, causing a scene just by being in a room.
Thank God he’s in this one right now!
“Mr. Hass, good timing. Can you support Miss Bennett while I call on some help—” Caroline is insistent. I’m precious to these people, mostly because of my connections. Only because of my connections.
“Really, my muscle just spasms sometimes. I stood too long. Please . . .” My voice cracks pathetically, but I cover it by clearing my throat. My mind is racing through the possibilities, knowing there is probably a doctor in this house right now that she would no doubt drag over to look me over just to say she’s done something to help me. What she doesn’t realize is telling my father she helped me out when I was weak won’t impress a soul. Walden Bennett believes in powering through and never letting people see the cracks.
“We worked out too hard, didn’t we? I’m sorry, Brooky.” Cameron winks at me when he utters that appalling nickname he’s thrown my way since first form. I bunch my lips into a silent, sour response, but only because nobody is looking at my face. And really, if he saves me from this scenario, he can call me whatever the hell he wants.
“Probably, Cameron. He’s been helping me with my physical therapy exercise, and oof! He’s a stickler for not cutting taking corners.” I lay it on thick. He’s lucky I didn’t call him Cammy. If I weren’t so focused on selling this lie, I might have.
“Sorry, just . . . I thought cutting corners was basically your career choice, Mr. Hass.” she utters.
“Only for the shit I don’t like, ma’am,” Cameron responds without missing a beat. I shake with a single, silent laugh.
“Language!” Headmaster Powell points a spindly finger in Cameron’s face, which gets zero reaction from my friend. I suppose years of being seen as the class clown and the one constantly being barked at for talking out of turn, acting out of turn, or just plain turning the wrong way has hardened Cameron while also sharpening his come-back game. If the headmaster pointed at me that way, I would probably have to fight hard not to cry. Cameron doesn’t flinch.
“Well . . . I’m glad you’re able to exercise. But really, it would make me feel better if you at least let us get a walker or a wheelchair or something, just for tonight.” Caroline gestures to her husband and he races off to no doubt dig up some piece of equipment they’ve probably kept in their basement for just such an occasion.
I stand quickly, masking the wince my face wants to make with an exuberant smile.
“No! Really, see? Better now.” My leg is trembling so I sway a little on my feet to disguise the motion.
Headmaster Powell ducks back into the room and before his wife has a chance to insist again, I pull out a few steps from my youth tapdancing classes. Kick, ball, change. “I promise. All I needed was a bit of a stretch.”
The blood moving through my legs is helping, but the nerve zaps around my knee are intense, and I’m seconds away from buckling again.
“I’ll make sure she gets back safely. We both walked here, so we can leave together. I’ll take her the fast route, cutting corners left and right, you know . . . through lawns and such.” Cameron’s mouth ticks up on one side, dimpling his cheek in the perfect passive aggressive F-U.
Caroline’s eyes narrow, but the growing chatter down the hall draws her attention away from us and she seems to let Cameron’s comment slide. This is her party as much as it’s supposed to be for us. This is her way of wooing donors, and the more time she spends with me, the less time she’s spending urging checkbooks out of purses and collecting business cards for follow-up.
“I’ll make sure my dad knows you’re looking after me. He’ll be grateful,” I lie. He won’t give two shits, but those are the magic words she needs to hear.
Her blood-red lips pucker into a pleased smile.
“All right, then. But if you change your mind—”
“I won’t.” I shake my head in confirmation, and it’s hard to read her expression. She’s either impressed with my stubborn determination or suspicious. Rightfully, she should be both.
She hits Cameron with a warning glare before leaving the room with her husband. I stumble toward the piano bench the moment the coast is clear, falling on my ass with a whimper.
“If I have to give you a piggyback ride to avoid more of that, I will,” Cameron says, sliding onto the other side of the bench. Leaning forward, I rub my knee and calf with my palms.
“Thanks, but I remember your last piggyback ride. I ended up in the lake.” We were twelve and partners for the Spring Fling obstacle course. When it became clear we weren’t going to win the race, Cameron turned the activity into an opportunity to get me soaked.
“To be fair, it was pretty hot out. I don’t think you minded.” He presses his fingers down on the piano keys, playing a soft chord. A concert for one.
“Uhm, to be fair, you dumped me in the lake when I was wearing Givenchy sneakers, so yeah. I minded.” I sit up straight but continue to rub my knee.
“Who wears Givenchy sneakers to field day? Pfft.” He rolls his eyes then lays his other hand on the keyboard, playing a soft chord an octave lower than the last one. My gaze focuses on his fingers, the delicate way they press the keys with familiarity. I didn’t know he played the piano. It’s clear that he knows his way around the ivories, though.
“Says the guy who wears the same blue and white Adidas Gazelles for everything,” I retort, leaning into him and dipping my chin to catch a glimpse of his feet, which are in fact in the blue and white shoes. The contrast with his dark gray suit is comical.
He taps his toe on the piano’s pedals.
“Comfort over both form and fashion.” His hands inch along the keyboard toward me, tapping out a faint melody that’s muted by the pedal he presses to the floor. I catch myself smiling at the deftness of his hands as much as the melody.
“Man of many talents.” I smirk at him.
His fingers curl against the keys, his heavy monogram ring scraping the surface. He shrugs. I think maybe I’ve embarrassed him by calling out his musical ability.
“Many, many years of forced piano lessons.” He leans into me, his bicep touching mine, and for a blip, I have this urge to lay my head against it. Instead, I clear my throat and swing my legs around the bench to turn my focus on the shelves of books. Cameron does the same then stands, moving forward and pulling out a copy of Gulliver’s Travels.
“I hated this book,” he says, flipping quickly through the pages before sliding the heavy novel back into its place.
“It’s satire,” I respond.
He glances over his shoulder to meet my gaze.
“It’s boring.” Cameron drags a heavy hand against the spines of the books that line the shelves on his way to the rolling ladder parked on the far end. He flashes a grin only a second before pushing off from the ground and hopping on the ladder to ride it halfway across the room. He holds an arm out exaggeratedly, as if he’s truly flying, and when the ladder abruptly stops, he leaps off and stumbles back to his spot on the bench.
I can’t help but giggle.
“Why are you so good at making me laugh?” I ask as he blows upward at the loose locks of brown hair that have fallen over his chocolate-colored eyes.
“Oh, that’s because I am very funny,” he answers with a wink.
I nod with a closed-lip smile and for a moment, the room feels smaller. I’ve hung out with Cameron here and there, and we’ve always gotten along. But I don’t know that we’ve ever spent a lot of time alone. When did he get so big? I swear, a year ago he wore that same suit and it draped on him. Now . . . Cameron has muscles?
We break eye contact at the same time, almost as if we both got caught doing something we shouldn’t. Cameron plays another chord on the piano, as soft as the last two. This time, the sound is rather melancholy.
“I should go before Caroline Powell tries to force me into a mobility scooter,” I say as I stand. My leg is tired, but I’ve worked the muscles out enough to make it home.
“I’ll walk you,” Cameron says, quick to stand at the other side of the piano. We both walk around it to meet at the point where a gold-plated rod props up the lid.
“You don’t have to.” I swallow because I’m looking at him differently again—as though he’s attractive. Because . . . shit. He is.
He leans into me and cups my ear.
“I welcome the excuse to get out of this place—every chance I get. Please, I insist,” he whispers, his lips, I swear, brushing my ear with his light laughter. A thousand watts of electricity channel down my spine, and suddenly every muscle in my body feels primed and ready to sprint.
“All right,” I croak.
Cameron leads the way through the vast room built for nothing but show, and he holds up a hand at the open double doors as he looks to the left then right.
“Coast is clear,” he whispers, waving me to follow.
He grabs a long wool coat from the mudroom near the front door and I spot my red pea coat hanging across the room. Before I can slip my arms through on my own, the fabric slackens as Cameron holds my coat open for me to put on.
“Thank you,” I say, blushing. I’m blushing!
The mudroom is dark, thank God! I pull the knit hat from my coat pocket and stuff it on my head as Cameron holds the door open for me. The breeze outside is strong enough to carry dry leaves across our path, and we spend most of the walk with our hands crammed in our pockets and our chins tucked into the collars of our coats.
“For someone who was about to fall over, you’re moving at a pretty solid clip,” Cameron teases. I slow a beat in response, realizing I am close to a walking jog, if there is such a thing.
“I really wanted to get out of there,” I laugh out, meeting his gaze. He smiles with full lips that push dimples into his cheeks, and I’m not as cold as I was a minute ago just from seeing it. My pulse is also racing, which has nothing to do with the pace of our walk.
We reach the corner of campus in minutes, and when we reach the spot where the pathway divides—one route heading to my hall, the other to his—we pause.
“You think you got it from here? I mean, I could still run back and get you that walker,” Cameron teases.
I push him gently and he grabs my hands awkwardly before we both recoil, hiding our hands in our pockets again.
“Don’t you dare,” I say, not thinking about his joke at all now, instead thinking about his hands, the ones that made the piano sound so lovely, how warm they felt in those brief seconds just now, how big they are—strong. His monogramed ring. His tanned skin. The soft lines on his knuckles.
“Well, you take care, Brooky.” He stirs me out of my head, and I laugh nervously as I back away toward my dorm. “I’ve got a date with a few buddies.” He nods over his shoulder, toward the riverwalk, and I get without him saying that he’s going to smoke. For someone so fit and healthy, the guy sure likes his weed.
“Yeah, I’m going to find out why my roommates skipped out on tonight’s party.” Lily and Morgan were on the fence about coming, and I am pretty sure they both ditched me for boys, though Morgan’s situation with her quarterback crush is . . . complicated.
“You do that.” He’s several steps away now, still walking backward, still looking at me and smiling. I wonder how long he can walk like that.
“You’re going to trip,” I shout.
He shakes his head.
“I never fall. Besides, I promised I would make sure you made it to your dorm, and you haven’t climbed those steps yet.” He’s adamant, which is clear by the way he manages without even looking to weave around a stone bench that divides the pathway behind him.
“Fine, but only because I’m afraid you’ll fall in the river if I make you keep this up.” I chuckle, then turn to scale the steps, careful not to put too much weight on my left leg.
“I told you, I don’t ever fall. I know right where that river is. Now, get inside!” His playful scolding has me grinning.
“I’m getting! I’m getting!” I tug the door open and step inside, turning to stare through the glass when it shuts. Cameron salutes me and promptly spins on one foot to continue his journey.
I remain at the door until he’s completely out of view, and I linger for a few extra seconds knowing he’s only on the other side of sculpted hedges that lead to the walking path. Catching myself, I shake my head and laugh at my silly insta-crush.
“It’s Cameron Hass, Brooklyn. Get a grip,” I mutter to myself.
By the time I make it to my room, I’ve pretty much banished the flirtatious thoughts about Cameron from my mind. As expected, Morgan and Lily are nowhere to be found, so I treat myself to a rare night snuggled in my jammies with a good romance. And despite my iron-clad will, I somehow mentally morph the hero into Cameron, and that vision follows me all the way into my dreams.
Another winner from this fabulous author. She is the queen of these YA/NA romances with just the right amount of heat and so much emotion that guts me every time. She is a master at the nuances of older teen emotion and young love that seems authentic without being overly angsty. I loved this second story in this terrific series with daredevil Cameron and shy Brooklyn. Also, the continuing storyline of the devastating accident that took the life of a friend and the impacts to our three heroines. Brooklyn is still reeling and her recovery is slow until she gets help from an unlikely source. There’s more to the lovable goofball Cam than meets the eye. Cam was a revelation as his true personality unfolded from crazy stoner daredevil that he was in Loner to thoughtful, brilliant man in this story. A tough life made him a good man and his backstory is heartbreaking. There are loads of family issues in the story with a couple of surprise reveals. I really liked that most of the parents came through in the end and were good guys. I especially loved the relationship between Cam and his dad. So heart warming and emotional. The romance was a combination of sweet and sexy and I really felt the connection between Cam and Brooky. Sweet tenderness and passionate heat. There were just a couple of elements that threw me off but nothing that affected my enjoyment of the story with these engaging young adults in an elite private school setting. I’m always there for a story by this author. She is one of my favorites. I can’t wait for the next installment with the third of our heroines the feisty Morgan and her crush, star quarterback James. I loved this one. A must read!
Preorder The Boys of Welles series:
Loner (Book 1 – available now) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B5YKBTJ2
Rebel (Book 2) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B5YHXNPK
Habit (Book 3) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B5YHKT6D
Find more books by Ginger Scott here: www.littlemisswrite.com