The Rules of Persuasion

The Rules of Persuasion

by Amity Hope

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Overview

1)Take things slow (her rule)

2)Make it believable (his rule)

After tragedy hit her family, Meg Matthews officially crossed the line from “good girl” to “bad girl.” Motorcycle? Check. Graffiti? Check. The only thing Meg hadn’t planned on was blackmail. Too bad now a certain infuriating boy holds Meg’s future in his hands...

When Luke Prescott—star pitcher and town golden boy—catches Meg vandalizing the school, she’s given two choices: face the consequences or enter into a fake relationship with him to get his parents and his ex off his back.
But as Meg and Luke grow closer, they both realize they’ve been keeping secrets from each other. Their fake relationship might be doomed from the start—if they can’t learn to open up to the one person they never thought they’d trust.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains late-night graffiti sessions, flirty baseball lessons, and a never-ending list of relationship rules just made to be broken.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640631571
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 08/14/2017
Series: The Rules of Persuasion , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 264
Sales rank: 160,775
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Amity lives in beautiful northern Minnesota with her two sons, two cats and their Rottweiler.

She has a degree in elementary education and worked in that field for ten years before deciding to chase her dream. Her debut novel, Twisted, was listed by Amazon as a Top 100 Kids&Teens Kindle Book of 2012.

If she's not writing, or spending time with her boys, she's most likely reading.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Meg

I slowly backed away from Laurel High School. My footsteps were nearly soundless, courtesy of the thick soles on my motorcycle boots. With every step I took, my most recent creation became a little more lost in the shadows. I hitched my backpack higher up my shoulder, the cans of spray paint rattling around. The little metal balls inside each can clanged, creating a raucous melody.

The brick wall was my canvas, but to say I was an artist was a stretch. To call my work a masterpiece was blasphemy. Still, my signature piece — my only piece — was improving with every rendition.

Light from the streetlamps didn't reach nearly this far. Our school was on the edge of town in a quiet neighborhood. It was set back from the street, laced in by a row of hedges. I was able to work in relative privacy. Of course, it helped that at this time of night most everyone was asleep.

I paused for a moment to press my fingertips to my lips, then closed my eyes and blew the kiss up into the starry sky, willing it to reach the heavens. As always, I felt as if another little chunk of the weight holding me down floated away with it. It was why I did this — not every night, but often enough. Painting was cathartic.

Another step backward landed me against something solid. Solid with a bit of give. I knew instinctively I hadn't bumped into something but rather someone. I reflexively lurched forward, losing my balance as my boot nicked the raised edge of the sidewalk. An arm whipped around me and tugged me backward, caging me in. I sucked in a breath, ready to scream.

His free hand clamped over my mouth to muffle the sound.

I tried to pull my elbow back to get in at least one good jab, but his arm was still looped around me, pinning my body to his. I tried to suck in another deep breath, but his hand remained over my mouth.

"Hey. Don't scream. You don't want everyone looking out their windows, do you?" His voice sounded frantic, as frantic as my own clanging heart.

Did I? Probably. Then someone could call the police to get this crazy guy off me. I did the only thing I could think of. I lifted my feet, forcing him to support all my weight with the single arm he had around me. It worked and nearly toppled us both.

"Damn." He dropped me to the ground, not letting go completely. His hand fell from my mouth, joining his other hand around my waist, trying to steady me as we stumbled.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said. "You crashed into me. I was trying to keep you upright when you decided to yell."

I regained my footing as his hands slid away. He was only feet from me, but with the streetlight behind him, his face was nothing more than a silhouette. I backed away and he followed. The movement pulled him from the light and into the shadows, where, ironically, I could see him better.

I groaned.

I knew this guy.

He narrowed his eyes at me, and in that instant I knew he was trying to place me as well.

Lightning fast, he reached for me. I tried to swat his hand away, but in my shocked stupor I was a second too slow, and he pulled the black knit cap from my head.

My face was average, fairly unremarkable. But my hair? It was what everyone remembered about me. Long and auburn, it cascaded to my elbows in bouncy waves. It was my best feature and right now, as it tumbled from beneath my cap to shimmer in the dim lighting, it was a traitorous one.

He dangled my cap in front of me. I quickly swiped it out of his hand.

"So this is what the mysterious Meg Matthews does in her free time." His tone held a hint of gloating.

I was hardly mysterious. If he didn't know a thing about me, it was because we drifted in different social circles. He was neck deep in the crowd that thought they ruled the school. I was perfectly happy being part of a trio that floated around the fringes.

He was staring past me, checking out my mural. "It looks even better up close."

I was tempted to kick him in the family jewels so I could make a run for it. That, I knew, would wipe the smug, knowing look off his face. But it was probably a very bad idea to mess with the Prescott family's precious jewels, both literally and figuratively speaking.

The Prescotts were one of the wealthiest families in town. His dad was the Prescott in Prescott & Holbrook, the prestigious law firm that was notorious for representing corporations of questionable standing. Everyone in town knew to never cross the Prescotts.

It was best not to mess with this boy.

Making up my mind, I sidestepped him and took off at a pace that was not quite a run. He darted in front of me. I let out an embarrassingly loud yelp as I nearly slammed into him for the second time in a matter of minutes.

"Whoa, slow down," he ordered. "Where do you think you're going?"

"Home." I shrugged.

I tried to take another step, but he blocked my way again. For several long seconds we did a sloppy dance of darting and dodging. Tired of our charade, I stopped and looked up into his eyes.

I straightened my spine and squared my shoulders. I was taller than most of the girls at school. Still, I wasn't quite as tall as him, even in my heeled boots. That didn't matter. I wasn't going to let him intimidate me.

"Get out of my way, Luke."

"Not quite yet."

"Excuse me? Are you going to stop me?" I hoped my voice wasn't quaking the same way my insides were.

A wicked look of amusement flashed across his face.

"I'm out of here." I shoved past him. The traitorous cans of paint banged together. The sound echoed in my ears.

He grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me to a stop. His fingers held tightly enough to be a warning, but not enough to hurt.

"What?" I snapped.

"I caught you vandalizing a building. I think you better be a little nicer to me." His tone was soft, friendly. Fake.

I snorted out an indignant laugh. "Is that a threat? And you didn't catch me doing anything."

"Are you sure about that?" he taunted.

"You don't know that I did anything wrong. Maybe I was just walking by. In fact, I was just walking by."

He reached around me and gave my backpack a nudge. The metal paint cans clinked together again, announcing my guilt. Damn those cans of paint and their telltale rattling.

He smirked.

I gritted my teeth.

He snatched up my right hand and held it between both of his. The soft glow of the streetlamp made the drying paint stand out like crusty blood on my fingers.

He laughed. "I have literally caught you red-handed."

My heart hammered so hard it ached in my chest.

His grip loosened. It was his words that held me in place now. "Not to mention I was watching you. From right over there." He motioned toward the row of hedges that edged the school lawn.

"Really?" I scoffed. "Who would've guessed Luke Prescott has a fetish for creeping on girls."

He shook his head, that smug smile making my blood sizzle. "Uh-uh. You're not turning this around on me. Not when you're the one breaking the law."

"So ... what? You're going to tattle on me?" I crossed my arms over my chest, clenching my fists in an attempt to keep my hands from shaking.

We were only a week into senior year. I'd get suspended for this, more than likely expelled. Not to mention any charges the police would press.

In the past year I'd tagged maybe a dozen buildings, sidewalks, and other random surfaces ... and I'd never been caught. I hated to admit it, but the truth was that when I had a can of paint in my hand, I felt invincible.

I had more riding on this than Luke knew.

He looked over my head and eyed my work again. He chewed on his lip, giving the impression that he was mulling things over. I was sure it was all for show. He clearly knew exactly what his answer was going to be.

He wanted me to squirm.

Well, I wouldn't do it. Not for him.

I let out what I hoped was a bored-sounding sigh. He probably expected me to wait all night for him. He was the kind of guy who was spoiled, entitled, used to getting what he wanted. He had gorgeous cornflower blue eyes and golden hair that curled up at the edges of his ball cap. His dimples would've made him look angelic if it weren't for the smile that was so devilish. He looked just innocent enough to be dangerous.

"Tell ya what," he said. "Let's make a deal. I'll keep this quiet, but you'll owe me a favor."

I grimaced as his eyes scanned over me. I was wearing black leggings and a black long-sleeve fitted T-shirt. Under Luke's scrutiny the form-fitting duo felt oddly promiscuous.

"No."

"You really aren't in the position to refuse me."

"And yet," I said, "that's exactly what I intend to do."

"You sure are feisty." It sounded suspiciously like a compliment. "How can you be so sure you'll say no? You don't even know what the favor is."

"Then enlighten me."

He shrugged. "I don't know yet. I'm working on it."

My face crinkled in confusion. "Working on it?" He tapped his head with two fingers. "Working on it."

"Right." I took off.

He fell into step beside me. His running shoes quickly matched the rhythm of my boots. One look at him and it was pretty clear what he'd been up to. He was wearing athletic shorts and a faded baseball T-shirt. Now that my intense panic had ebbed into a feeling of minor trepidation, I could make out the faded scent of his cologne mingled with a subtle hint of sweat.

I stopped.

So did he.

"What are you doing?" I demanded. "Don't you have a midnight run to finish?"

He made a face at me, as if the answer was obvious, and said, "I'm walking you home. Come on." He held out his hand, probably expecting me to melt at the gesture, like a snowflake in his palm. I was no flake. There would be no melting on my part.

I took a step back, and he dropped his hand to his side.

"You know where I live?" I asked incredulously.

"No," he grinned. "I figured you'd lead the way."

I was unfairly thrown by his smirk and the repeat appearance of his dimples. I stared at him stupidly for a moment before regaining my senses.

"I don't need you to walk me home." I made a shooing motion with my fingers. "Go away."

"Not happening." He crossed his arms over his chest and stared me down.

"What? Why? It's not enough that you harassed me, bullied me, and threatened me? Now you're going to stalk me, too?"

He looked around, motioning to our surroundings. We had reached the sidewalk that lined the deserted street. "It's late. It's dark. You're a girl."

"And you're sexist."

He snorted. "Hardly. I couldn't live with myself if something happened to you because I was too lazy to see you home."

"Are you serious right now? This is Laurel!" Our northern California town was quiet, idyllic. It was far enough inland to deter tourists but close enough to the Pacific to make weekend picnics at the coast ideal. "Nothing happens here!" "Says Laurel's most top-secret criminal." He nodded sagely.

I ignored his sarcasm. "You don't have to walk me home."

"I do."

"Actually," I pointed down the street, "you don't." The silhouette of my Honda Rebel was visible within the shadows of a dogwood tree. The leaves rustled in the autumn breeze. "I'm driving. I'll get home just fine. Thank you." My tone relayed anything but thankfulness.

"Awesome motorcycle," he murmured reverentially. "Will you give me a ride?"

I raised an eyebrow. "Is that the favor you want?" He frowned. "No."

"Then, no." I smiled sweetly back at him. "I'm going to go now. Got it?"

He didn't stop me as I scurried away from him. Instead his voice floated across the distance I'd covered.

"Don't worry, Meg. I'll keep in touch."

I quickened my pace.

It felt as if I took forever to cover the distance to my Rebel. The moment I did I felt a wave of relief spill through me. Hopefully Luke was all talk and I would never have to think of this night again. I tossed my leg over the side, yanked my helmet on, and moments later my bike roared to life.

My metallic blue baby was hardly ideal for a stealthy getaway. That's why I always parked several blocks away. The machine rumbled beneath me, familiar and comforting. With a nudge of the throttle, it would whisk me away from here.

I dared a glance over my shoulder before I took off. Luke was standing right where I'd left him, his arms crossed over his chest. One hand listlessly tapped against a sculpted bicep. He gazed at me with an intensity that made me tremble.

A favor? I couldn't imagine what that boy could ever want from me.

CHAPTER 2

Meg

I ducked into a classroom when I saw our guidance counselor, Miss Perez, strolling in my direction. As always she wore an immaculate pantsuit, kitten heels, and a dainty string of pearls. Her glossy black hair was snipped into a flawless bob. She looked like she belonged in a private practice office. Not a cramped, windowless cubicle that harbored the smells of teachers' lunches nuked in the break room across the hall.

Shortly after Sydney's terminal diagnosis three years ago, my parents insisted I meet with someone to help me cope. It was too bad they didn't abide by the same rule. While I missed my little sister beyond measure, at least I was able to get out of bed in the morning. I hadn't cut myself off from my friends or retreated into a shell of my former self. Not like my mother had. And my father? He had thrown himself so totally and completely into his business that we hardly saw him anymore.

I had crept through the front door last night, not at all surprised to find Mom sleeping on the couch. I made my way up the stairs to the sound of Dad's soft, rumbling snores. He always slept with the bedroom door open — no matter how bad of a fight they had — a standing invitation for my mother to join him.

She never did.

As far as I knew she hadn't slept in their bed since Sydney died.

The clickety-clack of Miss Perez's heels grew louder, and then the sound receded as she passed by.

Most days I wouldn't even consider avoiding her. Today was a different story. Miss Perez could read me easier than her favorite psychology text. One look at my face and she'd likely know I'd gotten myself into trouble last night.

I eased back into the crowded hallway.

I hadn't been able to sleep after last night's excitement, so I'd gotten up early. I took advantage of the extra time by coating myself in imaginary armor. My eyeliner was a little thicker, my eye shadow a little darker.

I'd slipped into my favorite boots. They were black, up to my knees, with silver buckles down the sides. The spiked heels gave my height enough of a boost that they should put me at eye level with Luke. I was anticipating a run in with him. I didn't want him to have any sort of advantage over me. Not even the advantage of height.

My leather pants were previously reserved solely for riding. My black sweater hung loosely off one shoulder. I hoped it screamed edgy. I wanted to give off a don't-mess-with-me vibe without coming across as totally tacky.

My best friend, Francesca Rossini, swooped in from behind me as I neared my locker. Her fingers dug into my biceps as she pulled me into an alcove. Francesca was petite, yet her temper could be monstrous.

"What were you thinking?" Her words were a hiss, her dark brown eyes alert as they scanned the hallway, making sure no one was listening. She shoved an unruly dark curl behind her ear. It defiantly bounced right back, landing against her olive-toned cheek.

Francesca was the only person I'd ever told about my late-night obsession.

She obviously didn't approve.

I couldn't blame her. If she knew the murals were in honor of Sydney, she'd probably be more understanding. But it hurt too much to talk about, so I'd never explained it, not even to her.

"I mean, the school? It's one thing to paint an abandoned building that no one is going to notice. It's another thing entirely to paint the freaking school." She jammed her fists onto her hips.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. "I know."

"What if someone had seen you? Do you know how much trouble —"

Her gaze zeroed in on something past my shoulder. I twisted around to see what had her so bewildered and found myself facing Luke. I couldn't remember if he was normally in this hallway in the morning.

He grinned at me like we were old pals.

"Hey, Meg. How's it going?"

I stuffed down a groan and fought the urge to give him the bird.

He continued to smile.

I glared back.

I felt Francesca's gaze swing between us.

He said, "Did you get home safely last night?" "I obviously did," I replied through gritted teeth.

"So I stopped by the office this morning. I had to hand in some paperwork for a class I dropped. Principal Prichard is not a happy man right now. He's mad, Meg, real mad." Luke shook his head, attempting to look forlorn.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Rules of Persuasion"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Amity Hope.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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