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  PRAISE FOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN “The Consequence of Loving Colton is a must-read friends-to-lovers story that’s as passionate and sexy as it is hilarious!” —Melissa Foster, New York Times bestselling author “Just when you think Van Dyken can’t possibly get any better, she goes and delivers The Consequence of Loving Colton. Full of longing and breathless moments, this is what romance is about.” —Lauren Layne, USA Today bestselling author “The tension between Milo and Colton made this story impossible to put down. Quick, sexy, witty—easily one of my favorite books from Rachel Van Dyken.” —R.S. Grey, USA Today bestselling author “Hot, funny . . . will leave you wishing you could get marked by one of the immortals!” —Molly McAdams, New York Times bestselling author, on The Dark Ones “Laugh-out-loud fun! Rachel Van Dyken is on my auto-buy list.” —Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author, on The Wager “The Dare is a laugh-out-loud read that I could not put down. Brilliant. Just brilliant.


  ALSO BY #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN: The Players Game Series Fraternize The Consequence Series The Consequence of Loving Colton The Consequence of Revenge The Consequence of Seduction The Consequence of Rejection The Wingmen Inc. Series The Matchmaker’s Playbook The Matchmaker’s Replacement Curious Liaisons Series Cheater Cheater’s Regret The Bet Series The Bet The Wager The Dare The Ruin Series Ruin Toxic Fearless Shame The Eagle Elite Series Elite Elect Enamor Entice Elicit Bang Bang Enforce Ember Elude Empire The Seaside Series Tear Pull Shatter Forever Fall Eternal Strung Capture The Renwick House Series The Ugly Duckling Debutante The Seduction of Sebastian St. James An Unlikely Alliance The Redemption of Lord Rawlings The Devil Duke Takes a Bride The London Fairy Tales Series Upon a Midnight Dream Whispered Music The Wolf’s Pursuit When Ash Falls The Seasons of Paleo Series Savage Winter Feral Spring The Wallflower Series (with Leah Sanders) Waltzing wit


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Text copyright © 2018 by Rachel Van Dyken All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher. Published by Skyscape, New York Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Skyscape are trademarks of, Inc., or its affiliates. ISBN-13: 9781542048439 ISBN-10: 1542048435 Cover design by Shasti O’Leary Soudant Cover photography by Regina Wamba of

  To everyone going through the storm—there will always be a sunrise. Joy comes in the morning. —Hugs, RVD

  Contents Prologue MILLER Chapter One KINSEY Chapter Two MILLER Chapter Three KINSEY Chapter Four MILLER Chapter Five JAX Chapter Six KINSEY Chapter Seven MILLER Chapter Eight JAX Chapter Nine KINSEY Chapter Ten MILLER Chapter Eleven KINSEY Chapter Twelve MILLER Chapter Thirteen KINSEY Chapter Fourteen MILLER Chapter Fifteen KINSEY Chapter Sixteen MILLER Chapter Seventeen JAX Chapter Eighteen KINSEY Chapter Nineteen MILLER Chapter Twenty KINSEY Chapter Twenty-One MILLER Chapter Twenty-Two MILLER Chapter Twenty-Three JAX Chapter Twenty-Four KINSEY Chapter Twenty-Five MILLER Chapter Twenty-Six KINSEY Chapter Twenty-Seven MILLER Chapter Twenty-Eight JAX Chapter Twenty-Nine KINSEY Chapter Thirty MILLER Chapter Thirty-One KINSEY Chapter Thirty-Two JAX Chapter Thirty-Three KINSEY Chapter Thirty-Four MILLER Chapter Thirty-Five KINSEY Chapter Thirty-Six MILLER Chapter Thirty-Seven JAX Chapter Thirty-Eight MILLER Chapter Thirty-Nine KINSEY Epilogue MILLER Acknowledgments About the Author

  Prologue MILLER “Our secret, right?” Her worried gaze was not setting me at ease, not in the least. Already my body rejected the idea of keeping secrets, especially from her brother, my best friend, the first-string quarterback for the Bucks, the guy I was supposed to block for and catch balls from—the same one who, years ago, had locked his sister in their house so she missed prom. That dude. “Right.” She licked her lips, shuffled out of the bedroom, and snuck back onto the couch. My body felt her absence. I shouldn’t have kissed her. She shouldn’t have kissed me back. And she sure as hell shouldn’t have crawled onto me. Damn it, I sure as hell shouldn’t have let her! Maybe it was me. My fault. Maybe I was still torn up over the fact that my childhood best friend—the girl I thought I was still in love with—was currently engaged to Sanchez, our wide receiver and basically the only guy in the universe who was hard to hate despite being a cocky shit. I slammed the pillow with both hands

  Chapter One KINSEY Seven Months Later Two Weeks Before Preseason “You’re being ridiculous.” Jax, my brother, “America’s Quarterback,” and all-around Mr. Perfect with his baby-blue eyes and curly brown hair, wasn’t even looking in my direction! I snapped my fingers in front of his face. With a sigh, he pressed pause on the TV remote and slowly looked at me. “You’re beautiful.” “I gained ten pounds.” He shrugged. “Where?” “Where?” I repeated. “Where?” I was about to say it a third time when a knock sounded at the door. “Good, Miller’s finally here.” Jax shot up from the lounge chair and answered the door while I stood immobile and nearly stopped breathing altogether. Miller. Freaking MILLER was here? I hadn’t seen him since Vegas. I had actually avoided him like the plague until I left for Europe, only to find out that he’d been dating nonstop since I’d left! Not that I’d stalked him, or paid attention to social media, including gossip sites, tweets, and stupid hashtags about his biceps.

  Chapter Two MILLER I was fucked. No other way around it. The words fell from my mouth before I had a damn chance to stop them. But the minute they were released into the universe and I saw Kinsey’s pale expression color enough that I wasn’t afraid she was going to pass out, I felt better. The best I’d felt in months. Because I’d saved her. And the last time I’d seen her? I’d screwed her over. Both times by way of her brother. Shit, this season wasn’t starting so well. “Great!” Jax exhaled and then breathed in and out again. He slapped my back and gave it a semi-awkward rub before jerking away and scratching his head. “I, uh, I appreciate it, Miller, I just—” “Don’t mention it.” No, seriously. Don’t. Because every time the name Kinsey rolled off his damn tongue, my entire body buzzed with awareness and my eyes searched for her. “Tell me more about Dad,” Kinsey pleaded, her lips pressed into a thin line before she crossed her arms and rubbed them. Jax hung his head. “Not now, Kins.” Her

  Chapter Three KINSEY I told myself not to look at him directly in the eyes—something about his blue eyes against his mocha skin made girls like me turn to mush and say stupid things like “We should hang out sometime.” When I had no business hanging out with him at all, ever. Especially outside of our friend group. At least he was a much-needed distraction from the fact that my dad was going in for another treatment tomorrow, and that he was most likely going to be sick all day, and that he didn’t want to see me. Because he was so sick, so weak, he thought it would traumatize me. It was so unfair. And yet I couldn’t yell at him, because he was sick. I sent him a frustrated text only to get a heart back, like everything was fine in the world, when really he was getting injected with chemicals that were slowly killing off all the good parts inside of him. I gritted my teeth. “It’s a push start.” Miller’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “You have to push the button, Waffle.” I would not lau

  Chapter Four MILLER He was six feet two inches and around two hundred pounds and one of the biggest asses I’d ever met in my entire life. I didn’t care if he shit golden footballs and came with a promise of winning every single championship from here on out—I’d still hate him, I’d still want to remove his head from his body and hand it to the kicker with instructions to let it soar. “Miller.” He always nodded, never shook my hand, ne
ver once used any sort of acknowledgment that showed he had good manners. Just a head nod, a quick clip of my name, and football talk. It was either football. Or girls. Mainly the one girl that he just couldn’t shut up about, the girl that got away. Funny, since she seemed to have found herself in my arms . . . and my bed. Bastard. The very girl that I was trying not to squeeze to death. The same one who, if her shaking was any indication, wanted to crawl up me like a tree and hide. Hell. “Where’s Jax?” The combination of his blue baseball hat with his brow

  Chapter Five JAX The bastard wasn’t answering his phone. Of fucking course. I looked at the picture again. I couldn’t stop looking at it—everyone in the world could see my sister attaching herself to Miller like she was under the impression she needed his lungs to aid her in her next oxygen fix. The call went to voice mail again. With a growl, I slammed my hand against the granite countertop and glanced back at the TV. There wasn’t a chance in hell I could watch last season’s tape and take notes. Options. I took a calming breath, in through my nose, out through my mouth, repeated the process five more times before I calmly took a seat on the couch and let the soothing sound of the clock in the background pass time. The silence buzzed. I clenched my fists. My fault. I’d told them to pretend to date. I needed to stop jumping to conclusions. Calm the hell down, and think about what could possibly possess two people who, this morning, looked ready to kill one another, to kiss—like that. I

  Chapter Six KINSEY “For the record, I vote that this is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas,” Miller grumbled, raising his hand to knock on the door and then dropping it and shoving me into his place. “You do it.” “Some man you are,” I grumbled back, trying to remind my body, my heart, and my brain that this wasn’t real, that we weren’t really in a relationship, that if he was on my team, he would be the crappiest teammate ever because when I was at my most vulnerable he abandoned me. Mix that in with all of the hurtful things he said to Jax while he thought I was in the bathroom, and I was just done with trying to figure out whatever was between us. Ready to toss in the towel and stop with the farce. But then I’d seen the concern in Miller’s eyes, heard the concern in his voice, and knew that my brother, the guy on the other end, needed me to keep up with it. And while it was completely asinine. I was doing my part in keeping his mind on what he could control—by allowing it to

  Chapter Seven MILLER On the outside, I was calm. On the inside, I was a mess. Because I was being faced with another choice, one I was being forced to make. Date her. Don’t touch her. Protect her. Don’t touch her. Spend time with her. Fall for her. Lust for her. Want her. Do. Not. Touch. Her. I suddenly needed the first preseason game and practices like I needed my next breath of air. The distraction, the pain, the stress would be welcome after spending the last twenty-four hours with a girl I couldn’t have—story of my life—and didn’t deserve. It was the first time since Emerson I felt it. That deep—pull. The connection that you feel without using words. And I wasn’t just confused, but angry as fuck that the one girl who was hands-off was the only one who had managed to pull it out of me. Months ago, I’d slept with her and told her it was just once. I’d lied to her. I’d lied to myself. So I did it again that same night to prove that I had control of the situation, and then I sent her p

  Chapter Eight JAX I woke up with a pounding headache. Harley. What the hell kind of name is Harley anyway? For a girl? I made a mental note to add her to the list of girls I would never speak to again. All she did was insult not only me but my occupation the entire damn dinner. It bothered me that I was still thinking about her, just like it bothered me that the minute she walked in the restaurant I had done a double take and nearly tripped over my own feet before sitting at the table. Her eyes were an electric blue that cut straight through me like a knife, and it was for that very reason that I made myself stare right back. I was rarely challenged in any area of my life, football included, so for her to look at me like I didn’t matter? Like my job didn’t matter? Like I was just another dumb football player? Pissed me the hell off, mainly because it made me realize how highly I must think of myself—of what I did. Humble pie tasted like shit. My phone buzzed, and I wiped my face and gr

  Chapter Nine KINSEY I woke up clinging to Miller like a second skin. The guy slept like the dead, which gave me the perfect opportunity to crawl away. The minute I made a decision to move, his arm shot out and tugged me against him, I was the small spoon to his big spoon. Why did his spoon have to be so warm? I tried to fight it. Not very hard. But it’s the effort that counts, right? We’d slept another hour in each other’s arms, and when my phone went off for the third time with Emerson’s name on the screen, the moment was shattered. I grabbed my phone, he grabbed his. No words were exchanged, but I still felt the heat from his body and wanted nothing more than to shut out the world, to forget about all the promises of friendship and just ask him to hold me. Sometimes that’s all a girl needs, a good holding, a hug, a touch. I quickly called Emerson back. Apparently, she and Sanchez were going down to the practice stadium to work out. “I’ll make protein shakes, if you want to get ready

  Chapter Ten MILLER “He’s literally been on his phone for the past half hour.” Sanchez nodded his head in Jax’s direction. “Dude, I know this sounds insane, but I think . . . I think Jax’s texting.” “It’s definitely something of Armageddon proportions,” I agreed, finishing my set and leaping off the bench so that Sanchez could start his. “He stopped midlift.” “Jax,” Sanchez grunted as he heaved the bar from the rack, “doesn’t stop for shit, you’ve seen the way he works out. Like he’s being chased by fucking flesh-eating zombies.” “Two more.” I had my hands under the bar just in case. “We should probably steal his phone.” “It’s like we share a brain when we bro lift, man, because I was just trying to figure out a way to crack his code.” “Birthday.” Sanchez finished lifting and grabbed a towel. “Shit, man, this is Jax. Do you really think he’d still keep that as his password? He’s not lazy like us.” We both glanced behind us to where Jax was standing a good ten feet away. Jax set his phon

  Chapter Eleven KINSEY I felt better after working out with the gang, and once I finished the rest of the green gunk, which oddly tasted sweeter than I’d expected, I’d forgotten all about the dizziness and was suddenly über focused on Bucks practice. As one of the team captains, it was my job to make sure that all the girls were doing their assigned conditioning and encourage those who were struggling. Last year that had been Emerson. She was a talented cheerleader, but I knew it would be hard for her since she didn’t fit the mold of a typical professional cheerleader. She had a killer ass, gorgeous curves, and boobs that girls would murder her over—my theory still stood that Sanchez was hypnotized by her rack then fell in love with her heart. Both her rack and her heart were amazing, and I was just glad that they’d found each other and it was the perfect fit. I rummaged through my bag in search of the schedule for practice. I wanted to double-check the start times and make sure that ev

  Chapter Twelve MILLER Family dinner. Something I hadn’t done since my mom was alive. The thought of actually sitting through an entire meal with Kinsey’s parents had me ready to run in the opposite direction. It hit too close. Before my dad discovered the love of his life—alcohol—he’d had another. My mom. And although they didn’t have the perfect marriage, they always managed to keep Sundays for dinner together. It was always the same. Pot roast with carrots, and a few potatoes thrown in. Sometimes there was dessert and almost always, we’d finish our meal in the living room while watching Sunday Night Football. Tradition. The word burned. Made my chest feel like it was expanding too fast, as if I couldn’t stop myself from imploding from the inside out. But Kinsey had asked. And then added, like I wasn’t already dealing with enough emotional shit, that it would make her dad happy to see her with someone. Great. If only he knew that I’d hurt her, not once but twice. That I’d probably bee

  Chapter Thirteen KINSEY I was over him. Over it. Until Jax forced the big dum
my back into my life without giving me a choice in the matter. Maybe if we both had kept our distance, it wouldn’t hurt this bad. If he hadn’t apologized. If he hadn’t searched every room in my house for an intruder, if he hadn’t promised he was going to kiss me again once I gave up on the friendship ruse and asked. If he wasn’t such a big giant flirt with his crystal-blue eyes and mocha skin. If he didn’t tell me with his eyes and actions that all he wanted to do was protect me from the world. But Miller did all of those things. Two days. It took him two freaking days to get under my skin again like a disease, to make me believe that maybe, just maybe, I could trust him, trust the words he said. “Hey there.” Jax’s voice was calm, rational, exactly what I needed. “Want help with the pie?” “No.” I jerked it out of the oven and sat it on the granite counter, tossed the oven mitts onto the floor and started cutti

  Chapter Fourteen MILLER Every single person at dinner heard the yelling. Even Harley had sobered, her expression pale while Jax yelled at Kins, while she yelled right back. I’d known them a little over a year. Not once had I ever seen them fight—it used to bother me, the type of relationship they had as brother and sister was scary close. I wasn’t stupid. There was something else there between them. Something that I and everyone else in their lives didn’t get, some bond that was unbreakable. Part of me was afraid to ask. Afraid of the answer. Afraid of what it would make me feel. I was still pissed at Sanchez, but the more I thought about it, the less my anger felt directed at him and more inward, like I was the dick that decided to have a few meaningless one-night stands because I was too chickenshit to admit my feelings for Kinsey were fueled by more than alcohol and lust. “Kins.” It was useless trying to calm the woman down. In the ten minutes since we’d been at her apartment she’d

  Chapter Fifteen KINSEY Two weeks. That’s how long I’d lived with Quinton Miller. And in the entire time we’ve lived together it had turned into a terrifyingly normal thing to not only see him in nothing but a towel at least ninety-nine percent of the time, but get flashes of naked ass when he forgot—right, forgot—to do laundry. In the mornings, he drank milk shirtless, I know because I almost always ran into those muscles every morning in the kitchen. He made his coffee strong enough that I was worried that one day I’d wake up with chest hair. And he bought a special mug for mine. It was pink. It had a K on it. In short, Quinton Miller was slowly killing me. He made protein shakes like a boss, always kept fruit snacks in storage just in case the zombie apocalypse happened and there was a shortage, his words not mine, and he was the perfect gentleman. I’m talking perfect. One night after a double practice, I’d come home to him not only drawing me a bubble bath but asking if I’d like cha

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