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Protect My Heart

Protect My Heart

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She swore off guys. He swore to protect her.

Main Tropes

  • Undercover Bodyguard
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Date Auction
  • Pretend to be Step-siblings
  • Self-Defense Lesson
  • Pining/Angst

Synopsis

After a series of cheating ex-boyfriends, Emma goes on a self-prescribed boy cleanse and plans to spend her senior year focused on the important things in life, like deciding on a which college to attend. She has no idea she’s an heiress with a target on her back and boys are the least of her worries.

Arie thinks his college internship will be easy: pose as a high school senior and protect Emma. He never expected to fall for her.

Sparks ignite, but danger is near. If Arie can’t keep Emma hidden, her fate will be infinitely worse than falling for the guy she shouldn’t want.

PROTECT MY HEART is perfect for readers who enjoy sweet YA romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, passionate kisses and endearing characters.

Chapter One Look Inside

Today marked day nine of my boy-cleanse. That’s right—I’d made it more than a week without drooling over any of the hot guys at school. I should have won an award for having such amazing self-control, considering cute guys had once been my biggest weakness—addiction, really.

After my horrible summer, I had to come up with a plan. My first step was to wean myself off all thoughts of boys and dating them. Where daydreaming about guys during German class used to be my favorite pastime, it was now strictly off-limits, even if those foreign guys in the textbook did look like male models. Nope, no big blue eyes or knee-weakening smile would enchant me this school year. And as for getting butterflies in my stomach, they were definitely not a good sign—merely a warning that my defenses were low and that I needed to run in the opposite direction.

My best friend, Maya, thought my boy-cleanse was stupid, but that’s only because she’d never caught her boyfriend making out with the girl he’d always said was just his good friend. I should have known things were too good to be true. Popular guys like Nick Bergstrom didn’t go for regular choir nerds like me.

I’d thought since Nick graduated last year, I wouldn’t have to see him again. But it appeared that even college freshmen needed food every once in a while. That was why I was ducking down behind the chest freezer in Lana’s Supermarket on a Friday afternoon, peeking over the top as I waited for Nick to push his cart down another aisle.

I watched him carefully as he moved farther from my hiding place, hoping the whole stack of cereal boxes would land on his head. When Nick finally turned down the chip aisle, I dashed toward the bakery to grab a loaf of French bread, wishing for the thousandth time that I didn’t have to run errands for my mom in order to use her car. I mean, shouldn’t being the youngest child have some perks? But no, not with my parents anyway.

I was dropping the bread in my cart when I caught sight of a guy walking toward me. He was probably a year or two older and tall, with hair so dark it was almost black and arms that were sculpted to perfection. This guy wasn’t just cute. He had “World’s Most Beautiful Man” written all over him. Seriously, he put poor Hans from my German textbook to shame.

I straightened as he sauntered closer, and I finally came to my senses when he smiled at me. Be cool, I thought as I smiled back. He pulled a bag of whole-wheat English muffins off the shelf and studied the ingredient list.

Realizing I was dangerously close to breaking my nine-day streak of not ogling guys, I maneuvered around him and shuffled out of the bakery, whispering my mantra: boy-cleanse, boy-cleanse, boy-cleanse. With a safe distance between us, I peeked back for one last glimpse. I must have stared at his broad shoulders a moment too long, because my cart collided with something. I snapped out of my trance and watched in horror as bagels and muffins toppled to the ground, landing in a heap.

For one tempting moment, I considered leaving the mess and bolting. But my conscience kicked in at the last minute, and I scrambled to pick up the mess, hoping the guy wouldn’t notice…somehow. I had just finished stuffing a few boxes of poppy-seed muffins on the shelf when I turned around to find the gorgeous stranger crouched down with five bags of blueberry bagels in his arms.

You have to be kidding me! My face burned hotter than a curling iron.

“Looks like the bagels decided to attack you today.” He chuckled as he placed them on the bakery cart.

“Yeah, they just jumped out at me. I think they wanted to scare me or something.” I laughed uncomfortably, wishing I could turn invisible. I should have run from the mess when I had the chance.

“Usually it’s the paper towels that come at me, but I’ll watch out for the baked goods from now on.” He winked and bent over to pick up the last box of muffins. He was both funny and cute—a deadly combination. Thankfully, the butterflies in my stomach were sounding the alarm to retreat. I needed to get away before I did something stupid like ask for his number—or ask whether he’d marry me. I never dared do things like that normally, but in my weakened state I could already feel my crazy side coming out.

Before I lost my inhibitions, I simply said, “Thanks for your help…” and waited for him to give me his name.

“Arie.” He cleared his throat and held his hand out. “My name is Arie.”

Ar-ee. Ar-ee drives a Ferrari. The rhyme zipped through my head out of habit. I shook his outstretched hand, noticing his firm handshake. “Nice to meet you, Arie. I’m Emma.” I hoped my palm wasn’t noticeably sweaty.

He nodded, let my hand drop, and stuffed his hand in his pockets. “I just have to ask…” He squinted and tilted his head to the side, a half smile on his lips. “Were you hiding from someone earlier? I’m new in town and need to know if there are certain people I should avoid.”

I cringed. “You saw that?”

He nodded.

How much more embarrassing could this afternoon get? Maybe I should run into the paper-towel display and let it bury me.

“I saw my ex-boyfriend and panicked.” I shrugged.

“Oh.” Arie nodded, then lowered his voice. “I’m guessing it wasn’t a better-off-as-friends thing, then?”

“Not quite. It’s hard to stay friends after being cheated on.” Why was I telling him all this?

He looked over my shoulder, pointed a finger, and whispered, “Is that him?”

“What? Where?” I snapped my head around. When I didn’t spot Nick anywhere close, I glanced back at Arie, only to find him chuckling.

That was just what a super hot guy would do—make a joke at someone else’s expense. Nick had done that, too. I may have thought this guy, Arie, was good-looking at first glance, but now I had come to my senses. I could totally tell he must’ve had plastic surgery or something. His face was a little too perfect. And those muscles…he must spend half the day at the gym to get them that way—just big enough to seduce unassuming girls but not too beefy. Some guys were so in love with themselves.

I huffed and gripped my cart full of groceries. “Good one,” I said. “But just so you know, it wasn’t because of my ex that I lost control of my cart. It was purely accidental.” I squared my shoulders, trying to appear unfazed—difficult considering I was having one of those hot flashes my mom always complained about. “Anyway, I better get going. My ice cream is melting.” I actually couldn’t even remember whether I’d picked up the ice cream yet, but I needed to get out of there before I did something else stupid.

“It was nice to meet you, Emma.” He smiled. “I hope we’ll run into each other again sometime.” His eyes twinkled like he had some secret delight.

I nodded and angled toward the produce section. “I’ll try to keep my cart under control next time.”

Arie grinned. It would be a shame if I accidentally ran over his foot as I left.

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