Fair Game Page 1

Author: Monica Murphy

Series: The Rules #1

Genres: New Adult , Romance

“I hate Shepard Prescott.”

“Of course you do. Heaven forbid you’re normal and think he’s hot like the rest of the female population on campus.” Kelli rolls her eyes, flicking her long, perfectly wavy brown hair over her shoulder. I dodge out of the way before all that glossy perfect hair smacks me in the face.

“Do you really think he’s hot?”

The pointed look Kelli sends my way is answer enough.

It doesn’t matter if I think or Kelli thinks he’s good looking because he just is. There’s no denying that fact. But his arrogant attitude and smug personality cancels out the sexiness.

“Seriously. He’s an asshole.” I stare at the back of the asshole’s head. His hair is this streaked golden brown that almost looks like he paid for those highlights, which I really hope he didn’t because, oh my God, that would make him even more pretentious. Though I’m sure he received those naturally glorious blond streaks by sailing on his family’s yacht or whatever. Or perhaps sunning himself on the beach during one of the many tropical vacations he no doubt takes.

To say we run in different crowds is putting it mildly. He’s older than me by two years. He’s in a frat and I’m not in a sorority. He’s rich as hell and I am most assuredly not. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for him to know I exist and I’m fine with that.

Really.

“Even his name makes him sounds like an asshole. And his nickname is stupid too. Shep.” I grimace. All rich dudes have stupid nicknames I swear. “Sounds like a dog’s name. ‘Here boy. Here Shep. Mommy’s got a treat for you’,” I sing song then roll my eyes. “Ridiculous.”

“I just bet Mommy’s got a treat for him,” Kelli says, her droll voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Pfft. Please. He wishes.” I wave my hand, sending a cautious glance in Shep’s direction. I may be mocking his ass but the last thing I want is for him to actually hear me.

“You’re on a roll tonight aren’t you?” Kelli sounds bored. That’s because we are bored. Holed up in a crappy little underground poker palace run by the supposedly legendary gambler Shepard Prescott and all of his rich, asshole friends. Our boyfriends brought us here so they could play against Shep and his gambling posse because they have a reputation. As in, they bet big so they tend to win big. But more often than not, they lose. Really big…

Our boyfriends are counting on the losing really big part.

“I can tolerate maybe two more rounds of this and then I’m walking,” I mutter before I finish off the rest of the warm beer in my requisite red Solo cup. Grimacing, I set the cup on the table behind me and heave a big sigh, earning a quick glance from my boyfriend. Pretty sad he recognizes my irritated sighs but we really haven’t been getting along lately so it’s no surprise. He flashes me a tense smile before returning his gaze to the cards in his hand.

“He looks stressed.” Kelli nudges my side with her pointy elbow, making me yelp. Does she sharpen those things or what? “Joel. Look at him.”

I’m looking at him. And she’s right. Joel does look stressed. What else is new? “He’s been wearing that look a lot lately.” Lack of funds will do that to a person. Instead of saving the money his parents gave him at the beginning of the semester to bail him out since he lost his part time job, he went and blew it on stupid stuff. Like that pair of designer sunglasses he promptly lost when he was at one of those lake parties, got drunk and went swimming with them on. In February.

My boyfriend doesn’t always make the best choices.

“He doesn’t have very many chips left either,” Kelli mentions, leaning in close to me so she can see past Shep. But who can really see past that guy? He has shoulders as broad as a mountain. And all that wild does-he-pay-for-highlights-or-not hair that sort of springs up as if it has a mind of its own.

“Good. Maybe that means we can leave soon.” I grab my cup from the table and bring it to my lips only to realize it’s empty and I frown. Not that I want more warm beer but…

“Get her another.” Shep raises his hand above his head and snaps his fingers, his finger pointed backward.

Right at me.

“How the hell did he do that?” I ask no one under my breath, glancing up at the barely dressed girl who’s suddenly standing in front of me, fresh Solo cup in hand outstretched toward me. I take the drink from her with a mumbled thank you and she flashes me a toothy smile before she bounces away.

“Look.” Another nudge from Kelli’s pointy elbow—that should be an illegal weapon—before she’s pointing at the wall across from us. There’s a mirror mounted there.

And Shepard Prescott is looking right at us, a smug grin stretching his lips wide, revealing perfect white teeth.

“He’s watching us?” I ask incredulously.

His gaze snags on mine in the mirror, those dark brown eyes never leaving me. I’m the one who has to look away first.

Asshole.

“What a creeper.” A shiver moves down my spine but I ignore it. I sip my beer, thankful it’s colder. They must’ve cracked open a new keg.

“Ha. If he’s a creeper then I hope he abducts me in his tricked out van.” Kelli bursts out laughing at her own crude joke.

“Ew.” That we’re joking about being abducted is one thousand times wrong. That we’re joking about Shep Prescott abducting us is a million times wrong. “And what do you mean, his tricked out van?”

“So many creepers have those equally creepy vans. You know which ones I’m talking about.” Kelli mock shudders. “So gross.”

Our conversation has taken a weird turn and I blame boredom. We need to get out of here. But Joel’s not paying attention to me. He’s too busy gnawing on his lower lip and sweating bullets. Kelli’s boyfriend Dane is hunched over his cards, as if he’s afraid someone might catch a peek at his hand. And Shep Prescott is sprawled in his chair, legs spread wide, one arm slung over the back of an empty chair, his other arm resting on the table, cards fanned wide so anyone can see them. He looks just as bored as we are.

It’s a good look for him.

Damn it.

“I’m done.” Dane throws his cards down in disgust and gets up from his chair, moving so he’s sitting on the bench behind Joel. He claps a hand on Joel’s shoulder in a good luck gesture and plucks the beer out of some random chick’s hand, downing it before he grins at her.

I feel Kelli tense up and I can’t blame her.

Sitting up straight, I peek over Shep’s broad-as-a-mountain shoulder to see exactly what he’s holding. And oh my God, he’s holding something amazing. When I was little, my grandpa taught me everything I know about poker and blackjack. My gambling knowledge always impressed Joel even when I tricked him with that irritating game of fifty-two pickup one time. He fell for it completely.

Thanks Grandpa.

Shep Prescott’s hand is about as good as it gets. As in, he’s holding a full house with tens and jacks. Talk about luck. I can only guess by the way Joel is still sweating and muttering unintelligible words under his breath that he’s got nothing. Or he’s the best bluffer ever.

I’m guessing the first option.

“You in?” Shep asks, his deep voice rumbling from his chest, low and intimidating. Joel looks up, his teeth still sunk in his lower lip and I notice all at once how incredibly young and foolish he appears. He’s wearing a faux vintage Mountain Dew T-shirt he got at Target a few days ago with the gift card his mom sent him and his dark hair is buzzed short. Like he’s ready to join the armed services or something. His face is clean-shaven and a little pale though there’s a faint ruddiness to his cheeks. He looks like a baby compared to Mr. Suave Calm and Cool with the broad shoulders and sexy hair. I’m afraid he’s about to get his ass kicked.

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