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When We Began

When We Began

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What's the first rule when staying at your best friend's house for the week? Don't fall for her older brother.

Main Tropes

  • Best Friend's Brother
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Witty Banter
  • Practice Date
  • He Falls First

Synopsis

I never paid much attention to my best friend’s older brother until he refused to kiss me. After that humiliating day, I promised myself that Liam Turner would regret ever making me feel less than worthy.

But then I got stuck spending the week at his house.

So to make the best of the situation, I made plans to find my next summer boyfriend and flaunt it in Liam’s face. Revenge was working great until Liam made a U-turn and targeted his charm and hotness on me.

A practice date? Sure. I'd show him what he'd been missing.

Falling for the enemy was not on the agenda.

WHEN WE BEGAN is a standalone novel in The Ridgewater High series. Perfect for readers who enjoy sweet YA romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, passionate kisses and endearing characters.

Chapter One Look Inside

"See you in a week, sweetie," my mom said through the rolled-down window of her Prius.

"Have fun on your trip." I bent over to see her and Isaac one last time before they went on their anniversary trip to Belize. Then I pulled on the handle of my suitcase and waited until my parents pulled away from the curb before heading up the Turner’s driveway to knock on their front door.

Alyssa Turner, one of my best friends, opened the door. Her blue eyes were bright with excitement, her honey-blonde hair pulled up into the ponytail she'd worn to cheerleading practice this morning. 

"Cassie! You're here!" Alyssa beckoned me in. "I'm so excited for this week!"

I lifted my suitcase over the threshold and stepped inside. "Me too." 

My mom and Isaac had gotten married six years ago, and every year since, they would go on a week-long anniversary trip—which meant that I got to hang out at the Turner's house while they were away.

"I have a surprise," Alyssa said in a sing-song voice.

"Did the football team decide to have an extra summer camp, forcing Liam to be gone all week?" Liam was her older brother who found joy in tormenting me every time I was around him. Power-complex, anyone?

"You wish." Alyssa smiled. "It's something even better."

I didn't know if anything could be better than that dream of mine. For some reason, back in middle school Liam had decided that because I was friends with Alyssa, it also meant that he should take on the role of an honorary big brother. Apparently, bossing around Alyssa and their younger brother Caleb wasn't enough for him.

"My surprise is this way." Alyssa led me from the entryway through the living room and to the hall that led to the bedrooms on the main floor. She stopped by her room at the end of the hall.

"Are you ready?" she asked.

"As ready as I'll ever be." I grinned, having no idea what her surprise was. Alyssa was pretty down to earth usually, so I doubted there was anything crazy waiting behind the door.

She turned the knob and swung the door wide open.

I looked around at her gymnastics trophies and at the photos of us with our friend Raven and Alyssa's boyfriend Trey, which were stuck all over the walls, and tried to figure out what her surprise might be. But her room looked about the same as usual, if not slightly cleaner. 

I stepped deeper inside, and then I saw something new. There was an air mattress at the foot of her bed.

"Is that air mattress for me?" I asked. 

She looked at me with bright eyes. "Yep, no sleeping pad on the carpet for you this summer, my dear."

"Man, talk about living like a queen." I laughed. "Though I must say that I'm most excited that your bathroom isn't being remodeled anymore. That will be super nice."

"I know, right?" Alyssa sat on her bed. "No more rushing across the hall in my bathrobe anymore."

At the mention of a robe, I couldn't help but remember what had happened the last time I'd stayed over. I'd taken a shower one morning but had forgotten to bring mine. So I had to wrap myself in a towel before going back into Alyssa's room to get dressed. Unfortunately, I'd neglected to poke my head out the door to make sure the coast was clear and ended up running smack into Liam.

Thankfully, I had a good grip on my towel and nothing too awkward happened. But Liam had looked at me differently for the rest of the day. 

I set my suitcase against the wall, beneath her window, and saw that Liam was in the backyard, mowing the lawn without a shirt.

I studied his tall frame as he pushed the mower down a stretch of grass. He'd gotten his blond hair cut since the last time I'd seen him. He was wearing dark sunglasses to shade his blue eyes from the sun, and the morning light glistened on his tanned shoulders.

But those weren't the things I noticed most about him.

I'd heard he was going to be the quarterback for Ridgewater High's football team this year, but I hadn't realized how much bigger he'd gotten in the past couple of months to accomplish that.

"Since when did Liam get muscles?" I asked Alyssa, letting my gaze linger on her brother a little longer. Even though I couldn't stand him most of the time, I couldn't deny that he was extremely attractive.

"He's been lifting at the gym with the football team in the mornings." She shrugged and plopped down on her bed. "Not that I've noticed any difference. I am his sister."

I pulled my gaze away from the window and shrugged like I hadn't just been checking out her brother. "He looks good."

When I turned to Alyssa, her mouth was hanging open as if I had just said that I saw a pixie flying around back there. 

"Did you just compliment my brother?" she asked. "I think I need to write this moment down or something."

I waved my hand and unzipped my suitcase, pulling out my makeup bag. "You say that as if I've never had a nice thing to say about Liam before."

"I don't think you have," she said, her blue eyes still wide with surprise. "Does this mean you two might actually get along with each other instead of acting like a couple of toddlers fighting over a toy all week?"

I unzipped my gold-and-blue makeup case and gave her a noncommittal shrug. "I guess you never know."

"Good. Because Caleb is at science camp all week, and therefore, won't be home to distract Liam. We might have to put up with him more than usual." Caleb was their ten-year-old brother who got into all sorts of mischief when he was around. He was basically just like Liam had been at that age, so I couldn't pretend like I wasn't relieved that at least one of Alyssa's annoying brothers would be gone for the week.

"Liam still has football practice, right? Like, he won't be around twenty-four seven, will he?"

"Yeah, he's usually still at football practice by the time we get home from cheer practice."

"Well, as long as we get a bit of a reprieve, we might be okay." I winked. "What's the plan for today, anyway?"

"Liam and I are watching our nephew Mason today, since his regular babysitter is sick, so we were thinking about taking him to the swimming pool. Does that sound okay?"

"Sure, I can lie in the sun and tan at the pool just as easily as I can in your backyard. Plus, I heard there might be a hot lifeguard there worth checking out." It had been two weeks since Jess Brooks and I had broken up, so it was about time I found a replacement boyfriend. He probably already had a new girlfriend by now with the rate he went through them.

Until dating him myself, I'd always wondered why he went through girls so fast. But after seeing the way he looked at his best friend, I finally understood it. It was obvious he was in love with her, but she was oblivious to it all.

Alyssa spoke, taking me away from my thoughts of my ex. "You do know you don't always have to have a boyfriend, right?"

"Says the girl who's been dating the same guy for a year." I smirked at her then ran some mascara along my lashes.

"Yeah, yeah." Alyssa rolled her eyes.

Alyssa and her boyfriend had been together for seemingly forever, though I still didn't understand why exactly. Alyssa was gorgeous and could have any guy she wanted, and while her boyfriend was nice enough, I couldn't help but think that she only settled because the boy she really liked had moved to North Carolina last summer.

"Why are you putting mascara on before we go swimming?" Alyssa asked.

I pumped my mascara applicator in the tube. "You're going to the pool to swim. I'm going to the pool to find a new guy."

"I think you're just too scared to get in the pool after watching that documentary on swimming in public pools last month."

I shrugged. "I've been enlightened and don't have the ability to ignore what I've learned." 

"You're not going to catch an infectious disease by going in the pool. That's what all the chlorine is for."

I scrunched up my nose as I brushed another coat of mascara along my lashes. "Yeah, but I don't like thinking about why they need to dump all the chlorine in there in the first place."

* * *

"Do you want to take him for the first or second half?" Liam, in his deep voice, asked Alyssa as he lifted their nephew Mason from his car seat in the back of Liam's car.

Mason was such a cute toddler. He had big, blue eyes—the same color as all of the Turner siblings—and his dark hair was super curly like his mom’s. Of the four siblings, Charlotte Turner was the oldest and had married young and had a kid soon after. 

"How about you take him first?" Alyssa said. "That will give me time to wear Cassie down the first half and maybe get her to climb in the disease-infested pool with us."

Liam turned to me as we approached the Ridgewater Aquatic Center. "Charlotte said she already changed a poopy diaper today, so I doubt Mason will leave any chocolate-covered raisins this time around."

I shook my head as images from last summer flashed through my mind. "You just have to bring that up again, don’t you?" 

Last time we'd taken Mason to the pool, I'd helped Alyssa give him his bath after we'd finished swimming, only to realize too late that he'd pooped in his diaper while we'd swam. And because poop was gross, I'd totally screamed when little balls fell to the ground and at my feet. 

Liam, of course, had thought that seeing me jumping up and screaming was the funniest thing in the world. And had been absolutely no help in cleaning Mason up.

"It was pretty funny." Liam laughed and held open the door to the Aquatic Center for us. "You have to admit that."

I stepped right next to him and Mason, taking the toddler's hand in mine. "Make sure to poop really good this time, okay? Uncle Liam needs a taste of his own medicine."

Mason smiled at me and said, "Poop," and then laughed his cute two-year-old laugh.

Liam looked down at his nephew. "No poop allowed, Mason."

"Poop." Mason laughed again.

I touched his cute chubby cheeks. "Just save the excitement for Uncle Liam and we'll be best friends forever, okay, little guy?"

Mason flashed a toothy grin and said, "Poop."

I smiled back, deciding we'd come to an agreement, and then continued past the boys and through the door Liam still held open for me. 

After paying and getting our wristbands for the day, Alyssa and I took Mason into the locker room with us. I changed into my bathing suit—a cute white two-piece with a lacy overlay—while Alyssa changed Mason into his swim diaper, swim trunks, and life vest.

"Do you mind taking him out to Liam while I change?" Alyssa asked once Mason was ready.

"Sure." I grabbed the beach bag from the bench and took him out to the kiddie pool. Liam was standing with his feet in the water, his light blue swim trunks hanging low on his hips. 

Dang, he was looking way better than he should if I wanted to ignore him like I usually did.

I looked down at myself, feeling self-conscious for the first time in front of Liam. My swimsuit was really cute and only showed a few inches of my stomach, but I suddenly wished I hadn't pigged out so much at lunch. I sucked my stomach in before I put Mason down, hoping my food baby wasn't too prominent.

"Well, I'll let you two have your fun," I said. "There's a lounge chair calling my name outside." 

Liam took Mason's hand from mine, his fingers grazing my skin briefly in the exchange.

Instead of thinking about the zing of electricity the short touch had shot through my arm, I focused on maintaining a serene expression. And when I looked at Liam again, I caught him running his gaze over the full length of my body before he turned back to his nephew.

Was Liam checking me out?

Liam cleared his throat when he saw that I'd noticed his inspection. After hesitating for a moment, he said, "Don't get too comfortable in your lounge chair. I have a feeling the swimming pool will be calling your name today." 

And then he winked.

He'd never winked at me before. Should I be reading into this?

No, it probably wasn't a flirtatious wink, more of a warning wink, like he had some sort of mischief planned. 

"I'll make sure to keep an eye out for you in case you decide to try and throw me in."

His eyes lit up. "What a great idea you just gave me."

I gripped my beach bag. "Don't even think about it. Revenge is kind of my thing."

He smiled at me like I'd just presented him with an irresistible challenge. "I'll look forward to it."

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