Read The Price of Love (A Price Novel Book 1) Online

Authors: Maggi Craft

Tags: #romance

The Price of Love (A Price Novel Book 1)

BOOK: The Price of Love (A Price Novel Book 1)
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THE PRICE OF LOVE

© 2014 Maggi Craft

All rights reserved. Published by Swift Eleven Publishing. No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America.

Editing by Laura Meehan and Kristin Theil

Cover image by Renee Lewing

Interior and cover layout by Vinnie Kinsella

ISBN: 978-0-692-30143-2

Acknowledgments

I
want to thank my family for being so supportive and for picking up my slack when I disappear for days writing.

I must thank my lifelong BFF, Carri Jackson, for pushing me to do this and for spending many long hours in deep discussion about our character friends, reading my work, and giving me honest feedback.

I also have to thank Nancy Bloom for her great ideas; the world’s best SIL, Becca Tharp, who always knows how to put things in perspective; and the many other friends who’ve supported me along the way. Without your faith in me, this wouldn’t be possible.

Chapter 1

I
n high school, Slayde Price was the guy every girl daydreamed about. The one whose name they doodled all over their notebooks, surrounded by hearts and stars. He was ridiculously beautiful and fit, tall, dark, and handsome to a T. He was almost six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a killer body. He had those abs that you see on Calvin Klein underwear models, and all the girls waited until the very last minute to leave PE just to watch him take off his shirt before going into the locker room. He had dark hair and dark brown eyes with hints of gold, and his skin was perfectly tan all year long. If that weren’t enough, he had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. His teeth were perfectly straight and white, and sometimes he had this crooked little half grin that would make me melt. I had a major crush on him, but guys like Slayde Price didn’t even see girls like me.

His sophomore and junior year he of course dated the beautiful cheerleader who looked like Malibu Barbie. She also happened to be my bitchy little sister, Kenedy. She was the popular girl that everyone wanted to be friends with but secretly hated. She could definitely have been considered a mean girl. She was cheerleader, prom queen, and absolutely gorgeous. She was always tan and had perfectly sun-streaked golden hair that was never out of place, and she had the biggest blue eyes you’d ever seen. She was tall, with big boobs and curvy hips. She had looked like a princess her whole life, and it made me want to gag. However, Kenedy wasn’t a nice princess. She was selfish, rude, and hateful. I guess it was a good thing she had her good looks, because that was all she had.

I, on the other hand, was just average. I was smart, and I had no interest whatsoever in sports, parties, or cheerleading. I was short and thin, with long blond hair and green eyes. I had hardly any boobs to speak of, and Kenedy always said I would grow up to be president of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. So, needless to say, guys like Slayde Price didn’t date girls like me.

I did date Slayde’s older half brother, Brady, for over a year. Brady was good-looking, but he seemed to be one gene short of his younger brother’s godlike perfection.

Slayde Price and I didn’t have much in common. We knew some of the same people in high school, but that was about it. As far as I knew, he didn’t even know I existed. So, you can imagine how surprised I was when I ran into him in Paris eight years after my high school graduation, and he ran up to greet me like I was his long-lost BFF.

“Arden Simms! Oh my gosh! I haven’t seen you in forever. What are you doing in Paris?” he asked, giving me a big hug.

I was totally caught off guard. “Slayde, hey! I’m actually between semesters at ULA Tech and decided to take a much-needed break. I’m staying with Kenedy for a few weeks.”

I hadn’t taken a semester off since I started working toward my medical degree eight years earlier. I had always taken more than my recommended class load and actually had time to take a break this summer semester. So I did, because I knew it was my last chance. Once I was an intern, I would never have any free time. I would spend a few weeks at the end of the summer doing research, but for the moment I was free.

“Well, you know Kenedy is in Milan for two weeks, right?” he asked, and smiled that ridiculously perfect Slayde Price smile.
Is he here in the same modeling program as Kenedy? I
couldn’t believe she had never mentioned that.
Surely they aren’t back together.
She would definitely have mentioned that.

“Umm, no, I didn’t know that. She knew I was coming.” I nervously chewed my bottom lip and tried to think of a plan B.

Slayde started laughing. I was glad my stupidity was amusing him. “Well, you know you’re welcome to stay at my place until she gets back. I have a room to myself.” This was no surprise. Slayde’s father was a Major League Baseball player, who had come from old money somewhere in the South. If money wasn’t a problem, why would Slayde share a room with a stranger like everyone else?

“Oh no! Thanks anyway, but that’s totally unnecessary. I’ll figure something out — but it was great to see you again.” I walked away. My brain was screaming at me.
What in the hell are you doing? The most beautiful guy you’ve ever laid eyes on is asking you to shack up at his place, and you say no? Have you lost your mind? Where the hell else are you going to stay?

Slayde grabbed my elbow and spun me around, snapping me out of my frantic inner monologue. “Arden, where are you going? It’s crazy stupid for you to spend a bunch of money on a hotel when I have plenty of room at my apartment. I live in the same building as Kenedy.”
Why had she not told me this?
“As your friend, I can’t allow you to stay in a hostel by yourself. It’s just not safe. So if you want me to follow you around a hostel for two weeks to make sure you’re OK, then so be it. But you wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with anyone but me at my place. What do you say?” And there it was again. That Slayde Price, drop-your-panties grin.

Did he just say I am his friend?
How was I never aware of our friendship?
We were acquaintances maybe, but I would never have called us friends. I stopped and thought for a second, which was kind of hard with him standing there smiling at me. “OK, but just until I can catch up with Kenedy and see if she has a spare key anywhere.”

The thought of sharing living space with Slayde Price made me extremely nervous. I was having trouble just standing next to him. How was I going to do this? It would be so uncomfortable, but what other choice did I have? It was this or go home. I was definitely not going home. So I forced myself to smile too.

“OK, then it’s settled.” He winked at me. “Let me help you with your stuff, roomie.” He picked up my bag and nodded toward his building.

When we got to his apartment, I found out it was a very small studio. I noticed there was only one bed. All that separated the bedroom area from the rest of the room was a partition that looked as if Slayde had put it there. This was definitely an apartment made for one person or one couple. Not two strangers. There would be little to no privacy. I wasn’t sure where he was planning on having me sleep.
This is definitely going to be interesting,
I told myself
.

I guess he saw me surveying the place and could tell what I was thinking, because he smiled and said, “You can have my bed, and I’ll sleep on the couch. I usually sleep there anyway.” He gave me that crooked grin, and I had to look away so he didn’t see me blush.
Why does he have to be so damn hot?

“Thanks, but I can’t take your bed. You’re so kind to let me stay here, but I just can’t take your bed. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Whatever, but we’re gonna feel pretty silly cramped up on the couch when there is a perfectly good bed sitting right over there. But suit yourself!”

I really couldn’t say anything to that, but the thought of him and me on that couch didn’t sound like such a bad idea. I finally had to force myself to stop thinking about that.
How am I going to keep my thoughts out of the gutter while I’m under the same roof as Slayde Price? I don’t know what I’m even thinking like this for. He was only kidding.
He definitely wasn’t interested in me as anything more than a friend. I guessed I would be just another gold star in the invisible crown that sat on that perfectly groomed head of beautiful dark hair.

Kenedy was going to freak out when she found out I was staying with Slayde. She’d probably rather I stayed at a hostel with strangers or slept in a box in an alley. But she was the one who had left me hanging. She’d have to get over it.

While getting settled, I noticed that Slayde kept smiling at me a lot. Even for him. He was probably having a hard time not laughing at me for being such an idiot. I was so embarrassed. Sneaking out in the middle of the night and hopping a plane back home, where I felt comfortable, was starting to sound like a great idea.

Slayde interrupted that thought. “I’m starving. What about you? After traveling all day and wandering around the city lost, waiting to be rescued — ”

I cut him off. “Thanks for swooping in, but I was not lost and was definitely not in need of saving by you or anyone else!” I picked up my bag. No matter how beautiful he was, my pride saw beyond his good looks.

He looked a little taken aback. “Wait a minute. I was just teasing you. Come on! I’m sorry if I offended you.” He put his hands on my shoulders and focused his dark gaze on mine. I could feel my face getting red again. “But you’re pretty cute when you’re mad. I never took you for such a feisty little thing. You always seemed so calm and levelheaded. I have to admit it’s a nice surprise. Now, let’s go grab something to eat. My treat, since I so obviously lost my manners for a minute.” He didn’t even wait for my answer. He just grabbed my hand and led me out the door.

I had no clue what he was talking about.
He remembers me as being so levelheaded?
Was I missing something? I remembered hanging out with him and some of his friends a few times with Brady, but I don’t recall ever having a one-on-one conversation with him. He talked like he remembered things about me, but I doubted he even remembered I dated his brother.
He probably just remembers what Kenedy said about me and assumes I was a quiet little recluse because I made good grades and stayed out of all the high school drama.
That had to be where he was coming from.

He took me to this small bistro, somewhere off the path to nowhere. I wasn’t sure where we were exactly, but it was within walking distance of his apartment. I enjoyed the beautifully lit streets for a while, and then he led me down a short cobblestone alley and into this little hole-in-the-wall. It actually turned out to be amazing. They had the best steak and fries I’d ever eaten. That wasn’t what the waiter called it, but that’s what it was.

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I had eaten and just how hungry I was until Slayde said, “You sure eat a lot for such a tiny little thing. Where does it all go?” He looked under the table as if to suggest my food might be hiding under there.

My cheeks flushed. What exactly was he trying to say? I decided I had to let it go. I couldn’t get angry with him every time he picked on me. Especially when he smiled that crooked little smile. I still had never in all my life seen a smile that beautiful, and we’d grown up in LA, where mostly everybody had themselves pulled together enough that they all looked exactly perfect and exactly alike. Not me, though. I was just ordinary, and I liked it that way.

After we finished our meal, I felt exhaustion from my long day catching up with me. Slayde suggested that we turn in so I could get over my jet lag, saying he also had an audition early the next morning.

BOOK: The Price of Love (A Price Novel Book 1)
6.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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