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Make Me (Sterling Shore Series #10)

By:C.M. Owens

Make Me (Sterling Shore Series #10)
        Author: C.M. Owens

       
         
       
        
Chapter 1



7 years ago …



HARLEY



I can do this. It's not a big deal if he says no. I've been told no before. I'm a rejection expert.

I've sat behind him in Calculus all year, and he's always been nothing but nice. He has even loaned me a pencil several times when I came unprepared-a nasty habit of mine.

The worst that can happen is he'll say no, and I'll end up finding someone else. I can do this. I can do this. I. Can. Do. This.

Just as I round the corner, I spot Dale Sterling at his locker, and my stomach flips over itself, which is a chore because my stomach is bubbling over the tops of my jeans like a muffin. I probably should have started a diet six months ago, but stress makes me eat, and I've been really stressed about prom. Actually, I've been stressed about the entire senior year.

Quit stalling and ask him, Harley.

I can do this!

Just as I near him, he's suddenly greeted by three more Sterlings, and I lose my nerve.

Totally can't do this.

No way am I going over there now that Maverick, Kode, and Corbin are with him. Hell no. That's a suicide mission.

Tria Noles comes into view, her platinum blonde hair hiding her face as she tries to sneak by, but Kode sees her and a wicked grin spreads over his lips.

"Nice skirt, Tria. Hello Kitty under there?" Kode asks, laughing when she walks faster. I'll never forget the day he jerked her skirt up and showed everyone her underwear. What a dick.

"Ignoring me, Tria?" he taunts, pushing away from the lockers with a book in his hand, leaving Dale and the others as he goes to torture her. No way do I want to ever be on his bad side.

She doesn't say anything as she goes to her locker that is just a few down from mine. I stand frozen to my spot, afraid that if I move I'll become a target.

"You're still ignoring me," Kode says, grinning like a snake who enjoys the deadly strike. "Heard you didn't like me telling Daniel about your little … issue. Don't worry. I hear antibiotics clear stuff like that up with no problem. You'll be fit for fun on prom night."

Tria slams her locker, but she doesn't even look his way before practically running down the hall. I swallow hard as Kode laughs in her wake, doubling over as though his cruelty is hilarious.

"I win," the dickhead bully announces, bumping fists with Maverick when he returns to their group. Dale shakes his head, not laughing with them, but he doesn't exactly act disappointed in them either. I thought he was different.

He is different. I know he is. He has turned down countless prom offers, though, so I don't know why I'm even bothering to ask him. 

"You cheated," Corbin says, rolling his eyes. "Besides, Daniel isn't the only one who is interested in taking her to prom. Justin has been sniffing around her."

Kode cracks his fingers, grinning in the direction where Tria went, and he dusts his blonde hair away from his eyes before winking at Corbin. "Then I guess I'll just have to start up a new rumor. She won't have a prom date, and I will win this damn bet."

Gross. All of them. Well, all of them except Dale.

Then Dane Sterling and Rain walk up. She's nestled into his side, and his arm is around her shoulders. Dane isn't as bad as them, but he's not as good as Dale either.

"What's going on?" Rain asks the laughing assholes.

"Kode is being Kode. Nothing new," Dale says on a sigh, then he backs away from the lockers. "See you guys later. I have a Chemistry test in five minutes, and I'll be lucky if I manage to grab a C."

That's my cue. Like a stalker, I follow behind him, careful not to be too obvious for fear of mockery from the other Sterling boys.

When he pauses at the corner, I almost slam into him, but I manage to keep my staggering a secret because he's busy quickly skimming his notes.

It's now or never.

"Dale?" I prompt, nervously swallowing hard as he turns to face me, looking puzzled.

Surely he knows who I am.

"I … um … I don't … I'm Harley."

He grins as though he finds that amusing. "I know who you are, Harley. I don't suppose you can bring me up to speed on Chem in less than a few minutes, could you?"

Taking a deep breath, I shake my head. "No, but the test is multiple choice. You can play process of elimination. I took it this morning."

He sags as though he's relieved. "Thank God. That means I have a much better chance of getting that C I need."

Why am I talking about Chemistry? Precious time is ticking by.

He runs a hand through his barely-there hair, and his eyes go back to his notes. His strong jaw is chiseled, and his body …

There's no way a body like his is going to do anything but give me a bigger complex about my very, very overweight body.

Maybe if I … no. No. No. I have to ask him.

"I …  Do …  Are you going to prom with anyone?"

He shrugs while keeping his eyes on his paper.

"If I can think of someone who doesn't annoy the hell out of me ninety percent of the time, then maybe. Right now that only leaves Rain, and Dane will be taking her, even though she doesn't know it yet."

I thought they were a couple …  That's confusing.

"Would … um …  Do I annoy you?"

With the way I stammer, that answer is going to be a big fat yes.

He looks up from his paper and tilts his head to the side. A small, barely noticeable grin plays on his lips. "Are you asking me to prom?"

Shit. Shit. Shit. I'm really screwing this up.

"I … if you don't find anyone else, then maybe … I know it's stupid, and prom is just two weeks away. If you don't-"

"Sure," he says suddenly, interrupting my mortifying ramble.

I almost fall, because there's no way I just heard that right.

"Sure?" I ask, though I don't know why I'm asking. If he really said it, I need to back away slowly and disappear into the bathroom for a major girly squeal-dance before he comes to his senses and changes his mind.

"Yeah," he says, shrugging too casually. "You wouldn't drive me out of my mind, because you don't seem to give a damn that I'm a Sterling. And you don't seem like the kind of girl who will have a list of demands for me to meet before I even come pick you up." His eyes narrow. "Or do you?"



       
         
       
        

I laugh nervously. "No demands at all. Other than don't stand me up."

His grin …

I could forever fall in love with that. Then again, I've loved him from afar since fifth grade.

"Then it's a date," he says, still smiling, but the damn bell rings and douses the moment. "And I need to go try and pass a test."

I laugh again, but it sounds like an embarrassing giggle this time. I don't care. Dale Sterling is going to be my date for prom!

I decide to run to the bathroom and see how red my face is before showing up late for English. When I enter the bathroom, though, I stop in my tracks. Tria Noles is standing in front of the mirrors and drying her eyes from the tears that were no doubt provoked from Kode Sterling's latest attack.

"You okay?" I ask sincerely.

Tria is a bitch to most people, but she hasn't ever been mean to me. In fact, she's one of the few people who hasn't called me Gnarly Harley or Fatso-people aren't original anymore.

"Yeah," she says, sniffling as she pulls out her purse to reapply her makeup. If a girl as stunning as her gets bullied, there's no chance for girls like me. "Kode is just an ass. I really hate him."

I decide not to mention that I've caught her staring at him a few times with something other than hatred in her eyes. In fact, I sometimes worry about her sanity because I swear she has a crush on him.

"Sorry," I tell her. "But eventually they will get what's coming to them. And by they, I mean all the assholes in this school. At least that's what I tell myself."

She smiles grimly at me, but shakes her head. "Sterlings don't have bad fortune. Guys like them do whatever they want, say whatever they want, and act however they want to. To hell with all the rest of us that foolishly get in their way."

It's probably not smart to boast about the fact Dale Sterling just agreed to go to prom with me.

"I need to get to class," she says after making herself look as though she was never crying. "Then I have to find out if Daniel is still my date for prom. I doubt it. I'll end up going with Justin, even though we broke up. He's the only one that seems to be immune to Kode's toxic bullshit."

It's hard to feel sorry for a girl as gorgeous and rich as Tria Noles, but Kode's constant bullying attacks do make me feel that way.

Looking in the mirror, I see that I really am flushed. My pale neck and face are both blotchy and red. My stomach is hanging over my jeans, and I grimace at how horrible I look. I shouldn't have worn a shirt so tight. I look like a muffin that is bursting out of the wrapper.

My dirty blonde hair is sitting in disarray on top of my head. The wind must have blown it around, and windblown is not flattering on me. I can't believe he said yes with me looking like this. 

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