The Rules(Forbidden #2)

By: Elizabeth Brown


Eight years ago...


I hate parties.

The dressing up. The small talk. And especially the strangers.

My standard coping technique was to arrive late and leave early, in an attempt to minimalize the amount of time I had to spend there, and today would be no different. I’d arrived late to my brother’s frat house. His college graduation party was in full swing as gushy relatives were being replaced with sorority girls, each hell-bent on securing one last fling with the jock of their choice.

Aside from Ryan, I didn’t know a soul, but in some ways, being solo had its advantages. After all, it meant I was anonymous, and being anonymous meant that I could take the Jack and Coke that someone’s well-meaning uncle poured for me and disappear for a while.

And in this case, disappearing meant spending some time alone in the library off the foyer, pretending to be really interested in an old encyclopedia set. I’d been bonding pretty well with the rocks and minerals volume when a giggly brunette and Ryan’s frat brother, Brad, wandered into the room and started making out on the couch. Either they hadn’t noticed me, or they just didn’t care.

I faked a cough, hoping they’d get the hint and relocate some place more private.

They didn’t even look up.

Well, I guess that’s my cue, I said under my breath as I slipped away and headed upstairs.

I’d just found a peaceful alcove off the second floor landing when a roar erupted from the backyard. I hurried over the window and peeked between the blinds. A bunch of graduates had just jumped in the pool, fully clothed, no doubt making their parents very proud. I was mid-eye roll when a deep voice came from behind me.

“Feel like joining them?”

I jumped and spun around, even though I knew what I’d see.

Or rather, who I’d see.

The voice belonged to Lambo Christie, one of my brother’s friends. Lam was heir to the Christie hotel empire. He was definitely rich. And definitely hot. And the lack of recognition in his eyes confirmed it: he definitely had no idea who I was. That was sort of on purpose: the few times he’d been over to our house, I’d hidden. It’s not that I’m antisocial, it’s just I can only take so many of Ryan’s bros at one time.

“What do you say, sweetheart, wanna take a dip?” His eyes bounced down to my chest and then back up.

And to my dismay, all prospects of a witty retort drained right out of my brain, along with all the blood. “Uh, no. I, uh, I don’t have a suit,” I stammered. Goddamn it. Why did he have to be so good looking? He was tall and tan and had eyes like melted chocolate.

“Suits are optional.” He crossed his arms and leaned into me. “House rules.”

Was that a wink? Who fucking winks?

“You going in without a suit?” I countered, desperately fighting a wink-induced grin.

He loosened his tie. “Hell, I’d go in with this suit on, if it meant I could see that smile again.”

I laughed, shaking my head at him as I found my voice again. “Oh,”

“Boo?” he asked, pulling back.

“Yeah, boo. That line was fucking cheesy and you know it.”

He chuckled. “Yeah. You’re right. It was pretty bad.” He cocked his head at me. “What’s your name?”

“Violet,” I lied. Hell, my hair was purple. Maybe it’d seem believable. Besides, I wasn’t about to tell him I was Ryan’s little sister.

He uncrossed his arms, put his hands in his pockets and closed the distance between us, pinning me against the wall.

“Violet, hmm?” he said, his voice mulling over the words as they slipped across his tongue. “Tell me something Violet, why am I so confused?”

My heart froze. “Uh, because you hit your head playing beer pong?”

That made him laugh. He was very attractive when he was laughing, his smile doing something to my nervous system that made my knees buckle.

“Playing beer pong? You’re cute, but no,” he said slowly, “I did not hit my head playing beer pong. See, sweetheart, I’m confused because it’s the last fucking day of college for me, and yet this is the first time I’ve seen you.” He stepped closer, bracing his arm against the wall behind me and grazing my ear with his lips. “Why. Is. That. Violet.”