The Consequence of Seduction

By: Rachel Van Dyken

PROLOGUE

REID

I was told the nurses swooned when I was born, something about being the most beautiful baby they’d ever seen. It was my jumping-off point, and in a way it set the course for the rest of my young life, making me believe that if you were good-looking and well liked, you held the world in the palm of your chubby, chocolate-covered hand. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea that my mom told me their reaction. It caused me to expect a certain amount of attention everywhere I went, attention that, no matter where we went—grocery store, doctor’s office, school—I always had.

Things got progressively worse as I got older, because when I wasn’t on the receiving end of admiration, it upset me. Girls adored me, and in return, from a young age, I adored them. I was immature and rarely rejected, so it never occurred to me that I needed more than good looks, nice eyes, and a killer smile to get by. I used my charm on everyone from my own parents to schoolteachers. If someone told me no, I helped them understand why they should change that to a yes, and usually I was successful. Eventually my mom noticed she had raised a spoiled monster, so when I turned sixteen she tried to keep me in check by talking my teacher out of changing a bad grade. I may have flirted with said teacher, I may have sat on her desk, and I may have slightly come on to her—then again, she was really young and I was desperate to pass the class. My ear still burns when I think about my mom pulling me out of the principal’s office headfirst.

I learned an important lesson that day, one that stuck with me. She said looks would fade, but you were stuck with a personality forever.



As the whiskey seared its way down my throat, I winced, swallowed, then poured myself another shot.

Then another.

And another.

And another.

My chest still hurt. I rubbed the spot where my heart was trying to put itself back together again.

“Reid,” my mother’s voice whispered in my head. “Girls are going to love you, and you’re going to love them, but there will come a time in your life when you have to choose one.”

“But I don’t want to choose one!” I said, absolutely horrified at the prospect. Would it be like choosing a best friend? Or picking out my favorite G.I. Joe? How did people survive making those types of choices? I mean, when Dad asked if I wanted orange juice or milk, I hid under the table and cried!

“Honey.” Mom rolled her eyes. “Believe me, by then you’ll be a grown man, mature. You’ll know your own mind. Trust me on this. You’ll know.”

I laughed bitterly and tilted my head back, pouring another shot down my throat.

Older.

Wiser.

More mature.

Not true. Not at all. Because when it finally came down to picking one girl, I’d hit a little . . . snag. Yes, let’s call it a snag. I mean, to call it a mistake makes me look bad, and I’m not the bad guy in this scenario. Believe me, if there ever was a villain to name all villains? A monster kids talked about around the campfire? Whispered about in front of a mirror?

Look no further than Jordan Litwright.

I took three more gulps straight from the Jack Daniel’s bottle, hoping to erase my own memory.

My story starts like a lot of people’s do: with a bad decision.

Followed by several more bad decisions.

And then guilt.

Shame.

Remorse.

A few tears . . . not on my end. Please, I’m a guy; I don’t cry. Hell, my eyes may . . . fill with water, but I have bad allergies.

The thing about picking one girl? The thing about growing up and knowing that it’s time to retire your college sweatshirt and grab a tie?

Well, it sucks.

It makes a man feel trapped.

And when men feel trapped, they do stupid shit.

When men like me feel trapped? Well, we say yes when we should say no.

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