Chapter 1

I didn't want to be here.

School that is.

Usually, I didn't have a hard time paying attention in class. Especially not in English, which happened to be my favorite subject. But I couldn't help but stare at the empty desk a few rows in front of me.

School had only just started a few weeks prior and the boy who was supposed to occupy that seat, had been there maybe twice. How does someone get away with not coming to class so often?

"Hello? Earth to Maddie!"

I rolled my eyes at the theatrics Kimmy Ford tried to throw at me to get my attention. She was waving her hand in front of my face until I finally glanced over at her. "What do you want? I'm trying to learn."

"Doesn't quite look like you're paying attention at all. Besides, it's not like you need anymore information in there," she leaned over and tapped my head. "Your brain must be so full of useless junk. It could explode at any minute."

"Your point?" I deadpanned.

She sighed and whispered, "can you believe he's actually here today? He's never here."

"Who are you talking about Kims?"

She narrowed her eyes and me and then looked pointedly to the front of the room. There, Ace Craige was standing, about to walk over to his usually empty desk. "Ace, Maddie, I'm talking about Ace."

Ace Craige was a bad kid, from what I had learned since Kindergarten. He and his friends were notorious for getting into a few fights, flirting and a one night stand at most girls in our school.

There was Raze Park; who played football up until last year after a bad knee injury. But somehow still kept the status of the best wide receiver around here. His dark blonde hair and blue eyes were a selling point to the girls here, making them all swoon with one look.

Then, there was Loki Thompson . He was the scariest out of the three of them. His dark brown hair and dark brown eyes seemed to judge every passing body that went near him. And I had even heard he had been arrested once.

But then there was Ace Craige. Everyone knew he was a narcissistic douche canoe who literally and figuratively screwed anything and everything with a pulse and a vagina.

But I will admit, Ace was hot; steaming cocoa on a winter night hot. His dark caramel colored hair and dark green eyes was enough for any girl to faint over. Plus, he had to be at least 6'1, that in itself was swoon worthy.

But it's not like I noticed or anything.

I had been very good at avoiding those boys my entire life. If one was in my class, I sat in the back. If they got into a fight, I walked in the other direction. It was easy, avoiding them.

But seeing Ace now sitting in his neglected seat made it hard to ignore him. "Kimmy, he's always here. He just ditched this class."

She shrugged. "I wonder why he's here today."

I wondered too. It was probably because his grades were already lacking from not attending his English class for three weeks.

After class, Kimmy and I quietly made our way out of the classroom. But stupidly, I made the mistake of looking behind me, and into the mostly abandoned classroom. Ace was getting up out of his seat and heading over to our teacher's desk.

How did someone look so hot just standing from their chair? Not that I noticed. But then, he turned and found my gaze on him and winked, actually winked at me. And for the first time in my life, that action caused a rift in my unpopularity.

Thanks to Ace Craige and his damn good looks, my shoulder knocked into someone walking by. But of course, it's not just anyone, no, that'd be too easy. I bumped into Farah Del Valle. Farah Del Valle was most definitely the most popular girl in our senior class.

Farah was the kind of girl all boys fell for. She was born with blonde curling hair, dark brown eyes and long tanned legs. Lucky her. She was the complete opposite of me. I had a dull shade of brown for my hair. My eyes were light blue and I was short. My legs were probably twice the size of hers.

Before now, Farah Del Valle had never even batted an eyelash at me. Now, her fake but very expensive eyelash extensions fluttered at me angrily. Her phone had fallen to the ground and it now faced with its screen to the floor. I held in a gasp, in hopes it didn't break. God knows what'd she do to me if her phone cracked because of me.

She sighed in relief after picking up her phone and I almost fainted with joy.

"I am so sorry. I didn't even see you. I wasn't watching where I was going," I start to fluster over her.

"Whatever, it's normal for Freshman to not know where they're going," she sighed, not even sparing me a glance.

I started to tell her that I wasn't a Freshman, that I had been in the same school, same grade since we were five but she flipped her long locks and walked away.

"Holy cow Maddie, you are so lucky she didn't end your life right there," Kimmy's voice was breathless.

I nodded and we started walking. "I know, that was a close one.

"What had you so distracted?"

I hit my lip, thinking about how Ace had looked at me, for the first time in my life.

Not that I cared or anything

"Madison Grey? Anyone there?" Kimmy brought me back to reality once more.

"I can't even remember," I lied. But l since I had never lied to Kimmy before, she believed it.

At lunch, Kimmy and I sat together in our normal spot, in the back of the cafeteria. "Oh gosh!" Kimmy's eyes widened at me. "Sorry, I just remembered I have to grab a book from the library for the history homework."

"Oh, okay. Just leave me here, alone. I get it," Kimmy whined dramatically.

I chuckled, "whatever. I'll see you in a little bit, okay?"

She nodded me on. "Uh huh. Get lost."

I kept my head down as I walked through the halls. It wasn't to avoid anyone, it was just a habit to keep my nose and eyes out of things that weren't my business. I nearly bumped into another body but I stepped around them quickly when I saw their feet come into view. I muttered an apology and kept walking.

"Wait!" I heard from the voice now behind me.

They weren't talking to me. No one ever was.

"Hey, you! Girl in the maroon shirt and black jeans!"

Oh. That was me. I slowly turned around to face whoever was trying to talk to me. When I saw it was Ace, my eyes bugged and I almost turned back around to keep walking.

He walked over to me with a swagger only he held and stopped in front of me. I had to look up to see him properly. "Madison Grey, right?"

Uh. I merely nodded in confusion.

"Saw you checking me out earlier in Clark's class," he smirked.

Hold up, what? I snorted, something I only do in front of Kimmy. "Like I'd ever check you out," I stated. And holy cow, where did that sass come from?

He chuckled but the smirk remained, "then why did you walk right into Farah?"

"I just wasn't watching where I was going," I must have sounded like a brat.

The smirk grew, "simple explanation, you weren't watching where you were going because you were busy watching me."

He had a point there. But was I going to tell him that? No. "Has anyone ever told you your ego is bigger than Mount Everest?"

The smirk became mischievous. Oh no."No, but I have heard something else is bigger-"

I plugged my ears to save my innocence from such assault. Ace laughed, I think. Seeing that he was done with his innuendo, I unplugged my ears and felt a blush rise to my cheeks. "Are you always this gross?"

"Gross?" He choked out, trying not laugh. I simply nodded and started to walk away. "Wait, wait, that's not why I wanted to talk to you."

Why did he want to talk to me? "I need a favor," Ace's voice lowered Oh and I cleared my throat, "you know, not every girl wants to-"

"No, no no no, not that," he interrupted me before I said something to embarrass myself. "I need you to pretend to be my girlfriend."

I laughed in his face. "Why do you need someone to pretend to do that? There are plenty of nice girls at this school."

Okay, not necessarily true.

"Just, trust me when I tell you none of the girls here are girlfriend material," his eyes narrowed on mine.

"And I am? Girlfriend material?" I was so confused.

Ace nodded, "yeah, you know. You‘re smart, shy and hot."

If I had had a drink, I would have done a spit-take. Ace Craige thought I was hot?

Not that I ’m interested!

I didn't know what to say but apparently my mind did. "Well that isn't going to happen buddy, sorry." And then I tapped his chest twice. Twice! And started to walk away toward the library like I had first planned.

But just then, the door to the cafeteria opened again and out came Farah Del Valle. She saw Ace and me talking and the look in her eyes was devilish. "Well, what do we have here? Is this freshman bothering you Acey?"

First of all, Acey? What kind of nickname was that? Ace seemed to think the same because his eyebrows scrunched up at the name. And second of all, I was not a freshman.

"Freshman? Where?" Ace laughed. Farah nodded toward me and he laughed even harder. "Far, she's been at the same school as us since kindergarten, in the same grade."

Far? Again with the stupid nicknames.

She aimed her gaze at me, "if you aren't a freshman, why did you knock into me today in the halls? Are you just stupid or blind?"

Before I could retort something i'd regret, Ace stepped in. "She was busy checking me out."

"Was not!" I responded immediately.

Sophie snorted, "so she speaks." She was clearly amused. "Why are you talking to this loser anyway Ace?"

Ace's face hardened, "that 'loser' happens to be my girlfriend Farah so if I were you, I'd back off."

I couldn't believe Ace freaking Craige had stood up for me, to Farah Del Valle. And wait, did he just call me his girlfriend? Didn't I just tell him no? "I am not-" Ace grabbed my upper arm and led me away from Farah into a classroom across the hall.

"Don't ruin this for me Mad, i'm serious," his voice was low and intimidating.

I yanked my arm away from his grip as he closed the door behind us. "First of all, my name isn't Mad, I go by Maddie. Second of all, I told you I didn't want to be your stupid fake girlfriend. Didn't your mother teach you when a girl says no, it means no?"

As I went off on a rampage, Ace stood there, hands in his pockets, leaning against a wall. He looked hot as hell with the small, amused smirk that refused to fade.

"What?!" I exclaimed at him when he said nothing.

He shrugged. "Nothing, you just look hot as hell when you're mad," he said, repeating what my mind had just thought.

I definitely felt a blush rise up my neck and into my cheeks. Within the past 5 minutes, Ace Craige, notorious bad boy, had called me hot twice. This day just kept getting weirder and weirder. "I'm not mad, I'm just confused. Why do you need a fake girlfriend in the first place?" I asked him, still trying to figure him out.

He started to look uncomfortable. "My family is coming into town."

"And?" I asked him.

He looked around the empty classroom awkwardly. "I told them I had a girlfriend."

"Can we get to the point Why you decided I was the chosen one?"

His gaze returned to me. "The chosen one? Who are you, Harry Potter?"

"You know, for someone who's trying to convince me to do them a favor, you aren't being very pleasant about it," I reminded him.

He rolled his eyes. "Alright. It's because my parents have seen most of the girls that I bring home, awkward, I know. They would know right away that we weren't actually dating. You are a respectable girl and I decided to ask you because you obviously have an interest in me."

"Interest?" I sputtered. "In you?"

The smirk returned. "You checked me out today."

I shook my head. "How would this even work? How long would this be for? Like one dinner?"

"You wish, sweetheart. My cousin goes here, she'd know it was all fake and she'd just looove to rat me out."

"So I'm stuck pretending to date you at school and your home until they leave? When would that be?" I asked him, sighing. I hadn't agreed to anything j ust yet, but I was curious.

His body tipped off the wall he was leaning against and he walked toward me until he was right in front of me. My breathing speed increased and I cleared my throat. "They get here next week and leave two weeks after that. So, you get three whole weeks with the pleasure of being my girl. And when I say pleasure, I mean it." I almost choked on my own saliva. What the hell? I must have been staring with wide eyes because he chuckled. "Don't worry Mad, your virtue is safe for the next three weeks."

I couldn't hold myself back anymore, "my virtue?"

"Uh huh. Your Virginity, babe. You‘re safe with me kid," he smiled proudly.

I almost choked again. But I was so not getting into a conversation about my virginity with Ace Craige. I turned around without another word and walked to the door.

"See you tomorrow, Mad!" He yelled with amusement clouding his voice. I didn't even have enough energy to correct my name again.

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