Home > Defiant Princess (Boys of Oak Park Prep #2)

Defiant Princess (Boys of Oak Park Prep #2)
Author: Callie Rose

Chapter 1

 

 

“I like you when you’re wild, Legs.”

“Yeah?”

“Fuck yes.”

Finn’s grin was infectious, his laughing honey-colored eyes lit by moonlight. Sweetness sat on my tongue from the cupcake’s frosting, and two tequila shots buzzed in my veins, making the world seem beautiful and miraculous.

Exquisite.

“Speaking of wild.” Mason’s voice tugged my attention from Finn’s warm gaze, and I watched him sit down on the soft sand and take a drag from the joint Cole had rolled. His full lips pursed as he blew it out slowly. “It’s your birthday. What do you want to do to celebrate?”

An ocean breeze caught my hair, the salty air playing with the brown strands as I sank onto the sand beside him. Moon and starlight glinted off the vast expanse of water before us, and the foamy waves crept up the shore in rhythmic undulations.

“This,” I murmured happily. “Just this. It’s perfect.”

“Hey! Girl, are you listenin’? I said I didn’t want fuckin’ onions on my burger!”

The irate, nasal voice dragged me back to the present just as the speaker—a man with a thin handlebar mustache and graying blond hair—slammed his half-eaten hamburger down on his plate. He pulled a stringy onion slice out of it and lobbed it toward me. The slimy ring landed on my chest, sliding down into the small crevice of my cleavage.

I was wearing a gel push-up bra that added extra padding and smashed my boobs together to create enough cleavage to fill out the low-cut tank top with the words Big Daddy’s emblazoned on the front.

Fishing the onion ring out from between my boobs, I nodded stiffly. “Sorry, sir. My mistake.”

“Damn right, it was.” His eyes narrowed in annoyance before his gaze slipped down to my chest, where his buddies had been staring the whole time. “So what do I get?”

“I’ll bring you another burger,” I said dully. I’d already been at Big Daddy’s for seven hours, and it’d been a shit day for tips. A shit day in general, really.

“That’s it? I don’t get anything else?” He scoffed. “If I’d been allergic to onions, I could’ve died.”

But you aren’t, are you? You’re just an asshole who definitely didn’t ask for no onions in the first place.

Or maybe he had. I honestly wasn’t sure. Today had been a particularly bad day for my focus. I kept slipping into memories I wanted desperately to forget—they pulled me under like a riptide, thrashing me around in a turbulent sea of emotions. They were almost like flashbacks, so vivid and consuming they seemed to yank me out of the present and hurl me through space and time.

“I don’t know, sir. What would you like?” The owner of Big Daddy’s, Jeff, didn’t like us giving out free stuff, but I just wanted this asshole off my back. It’d be worth getting chewed out later if I could get mustache-man to leave me alone.

“How about a lap dance?” One of his buddies, whose hair was even thinner than his friend’s, grinned lecherously.

My stomach twisted, but I managed to keep my face mostly composed, refusing to look at the new speaker. “This isn’t a strip club. It’s a restaurant. Do you want something else to eat or not?”

“Oh, come on!” his buddy pressed, reaching over to palm my ass in the booty shorts that were also part of the Big Daddy’s uniform. “You don’t dress like this unless you’re plannin’ to take it off.”

I shoved his hand away, taking a large step back as my heart rate picked up. Anger flooded my veins like hot oil, the flashback from the beach that night compounding my hatred of the assholes gathered around the table in front of me. He probably didn’t know that the ass he’d just tried to grope belonged to a seventeen-year-old—I’d lied about my age to get hired, telling Jeff I was twenty-one—but it shouldn’t fucking matter.

“I’ll get you a new burger, and I’ll throw in a free beer,” I said shortly, then turned on my heel and headed for the kitchen before any of them could object.

Fuck this place.

Fuck these entitled men who think for a single second that any of the girls here dress like this for their benefit.

But more than any of those men, more than mustache-man or his buddies, I hated the four boys who had relegated me to this shithole job in this dead-end town.

Fuck the Princes of Oak Park Prep.

 

 

My shift didn’t end for another three hours, and my legs and feet ached by the time I started walking toward the bus stop. I’d been back in Idaho for two and a half months, and I could tell I’d lost ground in my strength and flexibility. I hadn’t danced since the last week of classes at Oak Park—partly because I didn’t have the time or money to go to a studio here, and partly because even dancing made me think of the Princes, and I wasn’t ready to face that.

Instead, I’d thrown myself into work, juggling two jobs and picking up extra shifts whenever and wherever I could. It kept me out of the foster home I’d been placed in as much as possible, and when I was there, I was usually asleep.

Mina, the woman who’d agreed to foster me, had two other kids living at her place as well. She was doing it for the money and no other reason, which meant she didn’t even try to enforce any kind of curfew or house rules on me. As long as I didn’t get myself arrested or make her look bad when Child Protective Services did their check-ins, she didn’t give a shit what I did.

Janet Pelletier had sat me down for a long interview after retrieving me from the airport the day I got back. I’d half expected Jacqueline to have completely turned her against me, convinced her I was a total juvenile delinquent who’d be better off behind bars than in the system, but Janet’s treatment of me was entirely neutral. Maybe she was just trying to cover her own ass, since she was the one who pushed so hard for me to go stay with my grandparents in Roseland.

She’d promised she would work hard to find a home that would be a good fit for me. But either she’d lied, or—more likely—there just weren’t that many good options available.

I probably should’ve been glad to be placed in a house where no one really cared where I went or what I did. It made my revenge plans easier to pursue. But “no one cares about me” is a pretty shitty mantra to live your life by, and when I thought about the two remaining blood relatives I had left in the world, my chest ached like there was a black hole in my heart.

For just a little while, I’d let myself believe in the optimistic picture Janet had painted when she’d first told me about Jacqueline and Philip. Had let myself believe there might be a family out there who loved me. I’d realized pretty quickly after arriving in Roseland that I’d never have that kind of relationship with my grandparents.

But I hadn’t expected things to end so badly.

Reaching up, I brushed my fingertips along the curve of my cheekbone as I gazed down the street to watch for the headlights of the bus. The bruise that Jacqueline’s stinging slaps had left on the side of my face had faded long ago, but just like my memories of the Princes, I swore I could still feel it sometimes. As if it’d all happened yesterday and not months ago.

It’s over, Talia. Let it go.

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