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Kissing the Boy Next Door

Kissing the Boy Next Door

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Talking to him is forbidden, so why can’t I stay away?

Main Tropes

  • Ex-Best Friends
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Forced Proximity
  • Romeo and Juliet Without all the Dying
  • Truth or Dare Kiss
  • Mystery to Solve


It’s been five years since Wes and I have spoken.

Five years since he decided our friendship was less important than our parents’ fight.

So when we’re forced to practice a duet together, I expect him to keep our contact to a minimum.

Instead, he’s telling me the feud between our parents has gone on long enough. That he misses me and wants to fix things between us.

But I’m not going to fall for it.

I won’t fall for his charms like so many other girls have in the past.

If only my stupid heart would listen to my brain.Because kissing the boy next door is no way to fix a family feud.

Or is it?

Kissing The Boy Next Door is a Swoony Award winning Young Adult Contemporary Romance. If you like sweet romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, swoony kisses and endearing characters then you'll love this book.

Chapter One Look Inside

"You sure you don't want to join the cross country running team with me?" I begged my best friend, Jenna, after school on Wednesday as she walked me toward the parking lot. She was still in her cute jeans and a T-shirt while I was in a pink tank top, gray running shorts, and new running shoes with my blonde hair in a high ponytail.

"You know me and running haven't been friends since elementary," Jenna said. "So I must respectfully decline and cheer you on from the sidelines instead."

I gave her my best pout. I hated to run as much as she did. But unlike me, she had taken the mandatory P.E. credits each year. I, on the other hand, had just found out yesterday that because of an oversight on my transcript, I was missing a quarter credit of P.E. and I'd need to fix it ASAP if I wanted to graduate at the end of the year.

But since my schedule was already full of classes I either couldn't switch out of or didn't want to trade, I was forced to join a sport. And sadly for me, cross country running was the only sport that accepted new runners at any time of the season.

When we rounded a corner, a group of runners came into sight, all of them looking way too happy as they warmed up for today's practice. I didn't know how people could be happy when they knew running miles on end was in their near future.

"This is where we go our separate ways." Jenna turned to me, the sunlight hitting her brown hair just right to make it look reddish.

"You sure you don't want to join the team?" I widened my green eyes with my pleading. "They don't cut anyone, so I'm sure we could just walk and chat the whole time."

She shook her head. "Sorry. You know I only run when I'm playing softball." She glanced over my new teammates, her eyes pausing on someone before she looked back at me with a half-smile. "But your buddy Wes is over there." She pointed to a tall guy with brown hair, wearing a green T-shirt and black shorts. "Who better to show you the ropes than your super hot, next-door neighbor?"

I groaned. I'd forgotten he was on the boys’ cross country team. "Maybe I should just plan to do a winter sport instead."

"Or maybe your families could forget about the vendetta you've had against each other since middle school and learn to get along."

Wouldn't that be something?

Wes and I had been best friends throughout elementary, but then in seventh grade, the feud happened. When my dad decided he was no longer going to use Wes's dad's company as a supplier for a certain airplane part, things went downhill, and our families had never gotten over it since.

At that time, I'd thought it was stupid. I had assumed Wes and I could still be friends, but apparently, he had sided with his parents, because the next thing I knew, he was hanging out with the athletes and I was on my own.

And so, even though we were still next-door neighbors and went to the same school, we never hung out again. We weren't exactly enemies. But we weren't friends, either. And he wasn't above hurling an insult or two my way if the occasion arose.

I drew in a deep breath as I watched Wes stretch his long legs. While I didn't like how his personality had changed through the years, I couldn't deny that he'd turned out okay to look at. He had great hair, amazing blue eyes, and the kind of jaw that girls drooled over. And he was never without a girlfriend because of it. He was dating Olivia Matthews, who was pretty much the worst. But since Wes and I had obviously turned out to be two very different people, it made sense they'd gotten together.

Jenna's phone dinged, and after briefly checking the screen, she frowned and said, "My mom needs me to pick up my brother." She slipped her phone into her back pocket and gave me a warm smile. "Call me when you're done."

My shoulders slumped. She was really going to leave me all alone with these running fanatics. 

"If you never see me again, it's probably because I died somewhere along the road, all alone because my best friend abandoned me," I called after her.

Jenna laughed. "You're so dramatic sometimes, Lauren."

I shrugged. "Yeah, well. Most people know if they see me running, it's because there's a fire or a murderer chasing after me."

"You'll do fine. " She shot me one last smile before stepping off the curb. 

After trudging over to my new teammates and finding a place on the grass, I tried to copy what I saw everyone else doing to get warmed up. I did a few jumping jacks. Jogged in place a little, followed by a few hamstring stretches.

Someone stepped up beside me as I was stretching my calf muscles. When I stood up straighter, I came face to face with Wes. And as expected, he didn’t look happy to see me.

"What are you doing here?" Wes asked, sounding like I was trespassing onto his turf. Like me being at cross country practice was somehow breaking the guidelines of our unwritten agreement to avoid each other. 

I cleared my throat and gave Wes the most confident look I could muster. "I just joined the team." 

If I showed any sign of weakness, he would pounce on it. 

He raised a dark eyebrow. "You joined the cross country team? You do know that we actually run for our sport, not just to warm up for something else, right?"

I gritted my teeth. "I know what cross country is."

"And how long do you plan to be on the team?"

"For the rest of the season." I needed the credit, and I would not let our family feud get in the way of me graduating.

A frustrated look crossed his face, but he sighed and asked, "Does Coach Slater know your plans?"

My gaze quickly darted to the middle-aged guy in front of the group. I hadn't exactly talked to the coach yet, but my advisor had told me she'd speak to him and make sure he knew my situation.

When I didn't say anything, Wes said, "Let's introduce you then." And when I didn't follow behind him, he grabbed my arm and pulled me in the direction of the coach.

"Hey, Coach. I got your new recruit here," Wes said once we were in front of the man with blond hair and green eyes who looked like he could run a marathon at the drop of a hat.

Coach Slater's gaze met mine and he looked momentarily surprised before he held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Coach Slater. You must be Lauren Carmichael."

"That's me." I shook his hand.

"Have you done much running before?" He seemed to give me a quick look over, as if he could tell if someone was a runner just by looking at them.

"I'm not exactly a runner, no," I said. "But I'm a fast learner."

A fast learner? What a stupid thing to say.

Wes chuckled at my side. "I don't think your straight A's will help your stumpy legs move any faster than a B average would."

Stumpy legs?

I looked down at my legs. Sure I was only five-foot five and I might be more torso than legs, but my legs were not what I'd call stumpy!

The jerk!

I glared at Wes.

Coach cleared his throat awkwardly, his eyes sympathetic. "I think I know what you mean, Lauren. And since your friend Wes seems so keen on giving you pointers, I'm sure he'd be happy to answer any questions you may have."

"Oh, we're not friends," Wes and I said at the same time.

Coach Slater gave us a weird look but said, "Regardless of what you are, Wes is my top runner so he's a good guy to get pointers from."

"Okay," I said. I never should have said the whole "fast learner" line. Was there that much to learn when it came to running?

Weren't you just supposed to put one foot in front of the other and do it as fast as you could? 

The coach gave the group some instructions on where we were going to be running today. When he said it was the "gray water tower loop," most people cheered. Apparently, it was one of the routes the team preferred.

"So today was a good day to start?" I asked Wes since he was still standing near me. I figured I might as well tempt fate and talk to him again. Maybe he'd even know how to respond without throwing in an insult this time.

He shrugged. "It's the shortest route. Only four miles."

My jaw dropped. "Only four miles?" That was four times longer than I'd ever run in my life. And I hadn't run a mile since freshman year.

He shot me a half-smile. "Yesterday we ran eight."

I let that sentence hit me like a diesel truck. Eight miles?

"How long are your races typically?" My voice came out higher than normal.

"Our course here is about three and a half miles. Most of the other schools we compete against have similar lengths."

"So why have the eight-mile days?" Seriously, who in their right mind would run for that long if they didn't really have to?

"To build up your endurance and help you get in optimal shape." He looked at me like I was stupid.  "Coach Slater and Coach Marowsky have coached the girls' team to take state for the past seven years and the boys' team to take state the past five. They know what they're doing."

I held up my hands. "Sorry for asking."

"Why exactly are you here if you don't want to run?"

I shrugged. "I need this so I can graduate."

"I'm guessing that when you broke your leg sophomore year, they didn't give you a pass on P.E."

"Yup." Honestly, I was surprised that he even remembered that I'd broken my leg. "But I have a plan."

I have a plan?

Why did I even say that?

Probably because I wasn't used to talking to Wes and so only stupid sentences were coming out.

He narrowed his blue eyes. "What's your plan for?"

I looked ahead. "Like I'm going to tell you."

He laughed, showing the dimple in his left cheek that I remembered poking several times with my finger back when we were friends. "Well, good luck with your plan. I'll see you at the end of the trail."

I must not have seen or heard the coach give the signal, but a second later, Wes was pulling off his shirt, revealing his tanned and toned torso. 

I blinked my eyes, momentarily caught off guard by the sight. I'd seen him surfing in the ocean behind our houses plenty of times, but that had been from a distance since we’d always been careful never to go to the beach at the same time. I'd never been close enough to see how muscular his arms were, or how defined his six-pack was.

No wonder Olivia had dug her claws into Wes.

I tore my gaze away from him before he could notice my stare and drew in a deep breath to bring me back to the task ahead.

The coach blew his whistle, and an instant later, the stomping of feet greeted my ears as everyone started running. Wes tossed his shirt in the back of the coach's truck, and a few seconds later, he was at the front of the pack.

Before I could get completely left in the dust, I drew in another deep breath and ran after the group.

* * *

I was able to keep up with the slowest runners on the team for about five minutes, but then my body decided it was done and I fell farther and farther behind. After another minute of jogging so slowly a baby could probably crawl faster than me, I gave up and started walking.

I wiped my sweaty face with the bottom half of my pink tank top. Even though it was the beginning of October, I was dying in the North Carolina humidity. I put my hands on my hips and tried to catch my breath as I watched my teammates disappear in the distance. I hadn't seen Wes since the first fifty yards into our run.

I looked at my smartwatch. It said I'd only run half of a mile. I did the math in my head. Three and a half miles more to go. This wasn't looking good. If I didn't find shortcuts along the way, I wouldn't make it home until dark.

After catching my breath, I tried to pick up the pace again. I'd looked up a couple of things last night to prepare for today's run and had read somewhere that running slow was the best way to get good at running long distances, so I gave it another shot. 

Three minutes later, my lungs threatened to explode on me.

How did people do this for fun? Wasn't running considered a punishment in all the other sports?

I considered just turning around and heading back toward the school when I saw someone in black shorts running toward me.

Oh, no! Wes was already on his way back.

If he saw that I'd only gone a mile, I'd never hear the end of it. So I did the only thing I could think to do and ran onto someone's front lawn to hide behind their big live oak tree.

When I peeked around the trunk to watch Wes as he ran by, I had to quickly pull my head back because he was just about to pass my hiding spot.

I leaned my forehead against the trunk and blinked my eyes shut, hoping he hadn't seen me. But a second later, his voice cut into the air. "Are we going back to our elementary days of playing hide-and-seek behind the tree again, Lauren?"

I scrunched up my face and lightly punched the tree. So much for not looking like a bad runner with stumpy legs.

"Just head back to the school," he called over his shoulder on his way past. "You can try again tomorrow."

So after Greg Thane, another runner from the boys’ team, ran past, I left my hiding spot behind the tree and headed back toward the school.

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