It's called Pride and Popularity; here's the deets:
Before you dive in to the first chapter, I just want to point out that there is a 40-copy giveaway going on on Goodreads right now...
And don't forget, you can check out my review of Pride and Popularity next summer as part of the Jane in June lineup!
Summer before Sophomore Year
Summer before Sophomore Year
“Taylor Anderson is the hottest guy ever!” Madison said as she leaned in closer to me to catch a better view of him moving across the concrete basketball court in our local park.
To my right, Alyssa, who looked just like a younger Lucy Liu, practically burst an internal organ when she exclaimed, “I know. I’ve secretly dreamed of marrying him since I was ten.” A pathetic sigh followed.
Disgusted with myself for somewhat agreeing with their drooling, I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, you and every other girl in this park. Look around you—is there a girl here not into Taylor?”
Alyssa flipped her long black hair and turned to stare at me with wide eyes. “Don’t you like him? I thought everybody liked him.”
Madison, still intent on Taylor, started to cheer as he made a basket. Her sporty, light brown ponytail bobbed up and down. Every other girl on the bleachers cheered and applauded, drowning out any answer I could’ve given Alyssa. Taylor pranced around with that silly grin on his face, waving to his adoring fan club, which only made them scream louder.
I rolled my eyes again. Please, could this get any worse? The guy’s got an ego the size of Madagascar. Let’s just inflate it more, shall we?
As if by some built in radar, fifteen-year-old Taylor’s eyes honed in on me and my lack of enthusiasm. His lopsided grin worked all of its charm on the crowd as he approached our section of the bleachers. “Hey, Chloe,” he hollered. “What’s the deal? You weren’t impressed?”
“Uh . . .” was all I could gasp as every female within a three-mile radius turned in my direction. I’m sure Taylor couldn’t even hear me with all the noise.
“Come on! I bet I could get you to cheer for me. To prove it, this next basket’s for you.”
All the girls let out a collective sigh as he pointed his finger right at me. I could have cheerfully crawled under a rock and lived there for five years, mostly because of my body’s reaction. He knows my name. He called me Chloe. He knows my name! my heart chanted as its speed tripled. Mesmerized by Taylor’s retreating back, I watched slow-motion-movie-like as he rejoined the other players and laughed off their teasing remarks, which were muffled by the pounding in my ears.
“Chloe? Hello? Earth to Chloe.” Madison’s voice reached my subconscious.
“What? I’m here.”
Alyssa giggled and nudged me with her elbow. “You were saying?”
I stared at her blankly. “Uh, saying?”
“You know, about not liking Taylor?”
A smirking Madison came to my rescue. “Come on, Alyssa. She’s just a little shell-shocked, that’s all. Honestly, who wouldn’t be? Nobody can resist falling for him. It’s a proven fact.”
Smiling at my dazed expression, Madison nudged me again. “I would have to say the new girl’s got it bad.” Both of my neighbors and so-called friends burst into laughter.
Taylor must’ve heard them, because he paused and looked in our direction. Just as I was starting to breathe normally, he pointed right at me again and winked. In an instant, my face was as red as my very-berry lip gloss. Taylor noticed, and everyone noticed Taylor noticing me. He winked again and flashed those 100-watt pearly whites right at me. I was a goner. In the amount of time it takes a butterfly wing to beat, I was simpering and smiling back. Madison was right. No girl could resist the charm of Taylor Anderson, not even me.
With the knowledge of my defeat, Taylor turned just in time to catch the ball and swoosh it into the net. The fact that he had been standing on the three-point line made it a much louder “Taylor cheer” as the crowd of teenage girls rose to their feet. He beamed as he turned to me and mouthed, “That was for you.”
“Get up!” Alyssa yelled, tugging on my arm.
“Come on!” Madison shouted as she literally pulled me to my feet. The other players were trying to congratulate Taylor, but he was still standing in the middle of the court, hands on his hips, daring me to cheer.
I gave up and let out a wild cheer to rival all the other girls on the bleachers, clapping my hands and jumping up and down. I couldn’t help myself.
“Welcome to the Taylor Club, Chloe,” Taylor said, moving to stand beneath me.
My heart flip-flopped as I stared down into his gorgeous blue eyes.
“I promise you won’t regret it.” With that he grinned, turned, and jogged to the other side of the court, where he sat next to one of the prettiest girls I had ever seen, then nonchalantly leaned over and kissed her. My heart and hands froze.
“Who is that?” I murmured.
Alyssa answered first. “That’s Taylor’s girlfriend.”
“He has a girlfriend?” He has a girlfriend!
“Yeah. You didn’t know?”
No, I didn’t know! “I guess I never thought about it,” I answered in a squeaky voice, but at least I didn’t start to shake or anything.
Could I seriously have made a bigger fool of myself? How in the world did I, for two seconds, fall for his charm? Of course he has a girlfriend. She’s probably the most popular girl in the whole school. The guy’s obviously a player. I, of all people, should be able to withstand egotistical morons like Taylor Anderson.
My mind jolted back two months to Denver, Colorado, the assembly on the last day of school before summer break. I will never forget how Levi McFayden looked through the sea of people that separated us to find and connect with my eyes, or how he spoke so loudly that the whole school could hear him. He had pretended to still be talking to my friend Abbie, but everyone could see that the most popular boy at our school was looking straight at me.
“What? Why would I like Chloe Hart? What made you think I could ever like her? Just because I talk to someone doesn’t mean I like them. Besides, she’s a reject, plain and simple. I could never like a reject. So go run back to your friend and tell her my answer is no.”
Levi had picked the last day of school to publicly humiliate me, and I was suddenly relieved my family was moving far away from Denver. I wanted to make a new start somewhere else—anywhere else. Yet here I found myself in a new place, getting ready to start at a new school, knowing the same awful thing could be repeated all over again.
Well, not this time. I’d learned my lesson. Popular guys like Taylor Anderson will never see girls for who they are, but I could see exactly what he was. Taylor Anderson can officially remember this moment as the last time I will ever give him the time of day, I thought. What a self-centered, manipulative jerk.
“Chloe, are you okay?” Alyssa asked.
“Y–yeah, I’m fine. I, uh, just remembered my mom needed me home by 3:00, so I’m gonna go, okay?”
Madison turned from the game. “You’re heading home?”
“I need to.” I smiled reassuringly. “Let me know how the game goes, all right?”
Both of my friends shared a girly look until Madison piped up. “Do you really need to ask? Isn’t it obvious Taylor’s team will win?”
“Is it?” I said.
“Hello? General rule of thumb, if you’re going to be living in Farmington—Taylor’s team always wins. He’s the best at everything!”
“And don’t forget, the cutest.” Alyssa giggled.
My smile tightened. “Bye. I’ll call you two later.” I heard their combined chorus of “Okay, bye” as I walked down the steps of the bleachers. At the edge of the court, I came across two girls whispering.
“He’s so hot! I mean honestly, can you believe there is anyone as hot as Taylor on this planet? Dark hair, blue eyes . . . like, everyone is in love with him.”
Disgusted, I pushed my red curls off my face and then stomped away. Not this girl! There is one thing I can safely promise myself. I will never fall in love with Taylor Anderson.
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