The Consequence of Revenge
ALSO BY RACHEL VAN DYKEN
The Consequences Series
The Consequence of Loving Colton
The Bet Series
The Ruin Series
The Elite Series
The Seaside Series
The Ugly Duckling Debutante
The Seduction of Sebastian St. James
The Redemption of Lord Rawlings
An Unlikely Alliance
The Devil Duke Takes a Bride
London Fairy Tales
Upon a Midnight Dream
The Wolf’s Pursuit
When Ash Falls
Seasons of Paleo
Waltzing with the Wallflower
Every Girl Does It
The Parting Gift
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 © 2015 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 Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.
Book design by Kerrie Robertson Illustration Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014960264
To the Rockin’ Reader group!
Without you guys I wouldn’t have been able to write Colt’s and Max’s stories—thank you so much for your incredible input and encouragement!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
How hard was it to make a cup of coffee?
I checked my watch again and tapped my foot against the cement floor. When it was finally my turn, my voice caught in my throat.
Well, well, well. New barista. Have I mentioned I have a weakness for a girl in an apron? No? Well. Now you know.
Smiling, I placed my hands onto the cool countertop and leaned forward, “Hey, girl.”
The barista’s eyebrows shot up and then a scowl I assume she reserved for rapists, terrorists, and people named Max appeared, rendering my balls a little shaky and my confidence a bit stunned. “What can I get for you?”
I allowed myself a few seconds as I slowly took in her form and then finally settled my gaze on her pretty brown eyes and cropped golden-blond hair. “Blonde roast.” I smirked. “With a bit of honey.”
“Honey’s on the side counter,” she said through clenched teeth, tapping her fingers against the register. “Is that all?”
My smile fell. “Stand still.”
“What?” Her hands froze in midair. “What’s wrong?”
“Stand still . . . so I can pick you up.” I winked and waited for her response. Yeah. I was a badass.
The girl’s arms fell against her sides. “Really?”
I interrupt your regular programming in order to tell you some vital information. I’m not that guy. The one who actually thinks cheesy pickup lines work on girls. They don’t, at least not in the way normal guys think they do. But more on that later. Continue.
Was I losing my edge? By this point the girl usually laughed or at least rolled her eyes in amusement. I tried again. “Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be what they call fine print.”
All that was left was her swooning across the bar into my waiting arms.
“Next!” She looked behind me.
“Wait. I didn’t even pay!”
“It’s fine.” She nodded. No amusement flashing across her pretty face, just irritation and a possible right-eye twitch. “Really. Go.”
“Aw, our first date.” I leaned in and licked my lips as she quickly poured the coffee and handed it to me.
“Sure.” She nodded enthusiastically and pointed to the end of the bar. “Now go away.”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I blew her a kiss.
“Oh, let’s hope not,” she said through clenched teeth.
Ah, rejection. Oh, well, it’s not like I was really turning it up or anything. For crying out loud, she looked like a clinger anyway. The type of girl who would gorilla me to the bed and then pound her chest and roar when I lied and told her I had to go take care of my sick Chinese grandmother.
Clingers always saw through the lies.
That’s why I’d suddenly develop a sickness so horrible that she didn’t want to be near me for fear of dying in two weeks.
Swear to all that’s holy, last year I had swine flu for a month. It was touch and go—really touch and go.
With a sigh I grabbed my coffee from the counter and made my way toward one of the empty tables. I was meeting Jason, who just so happened to be my best friend Milo’s brother. Jason and I had slowly, and I do mean painfully, excruciatingly sl
Of course that happened after I spent an entire weekend convincing their entire family that Milo and I were engaged. At various points I was gay, attacked by their horny grandmother, and imprisoned, but that’s another story that I’m pretty sure will need to be censored if ever retold in public, feel me?
The point? I might have lost my best friend to marriage, but I’d gained Jason in the process, though his only goal during the last few months, since I’d graduated college, had been to get me off my sorry ass. But let’s be honest, I have a really nice ass, why not sit on it? Am I right?
Plus, work bored me.
If being a gentleman of leisure could be an actual occupation, I was all for it. That’s what being rich does to people—it makes them lazy. And I was example A.
I had money, so why work?
Apparently getting your hands dirty gave you purpose—but I still wasn’t sure how dirty I wanted to get. Don’t get me wrong . . . I was all for being dirty with the right girl, in the right situation—take mud wrestling, for example. What sane man says no to that type of dirt? But things like farming? Um, no thanks.
Stupid goats. I shuddered and took a sip of coffee, not that all farmers had goats but still, just thinking about them freaked the shit out of me. They had red eyes. Only animals possessed by Satan had red eyes.
Well, animals and Jayne—bitch be cray cray. The run-in I’d had with that particular ex-girlfriend during Jason’s wedding weekend was enough to give me nightmares for life. I don’t want to relive it. Ever. Not even by telling you.
All I’ll say is that I saved Jason from marrying her. I basically took one for the team, and I’m pretty sure what happened is frowned upon by the law in all fifty states, so maybe he wanted to meet me to hand me a trophy or a medal or something for saving his pathetic life. I mean, the whole purpose of coming down that weekend had been to save Milo’s love life, but I also helped keep Jayne away from Jason, whom she’d lied to and told she was pregnant. It was a whole . . . thing. Like something you’d see on TV and say, “That shit doesn’t happen in real life.” Um, yeah, it does. Jason is exhibit A. He’s the prime example of why you don’t have sex with crazies. Hell, if God punishes me by giving me nothing but sons when I’m married, I’ll use him as a prime example of why you don’t have sex ever.
I sighed and checked my watch just as Jason walked by the front door like he was waiting for something. He answered his cell, then smirked.
I waved him over once he walked through the doors.
“What the hell, Jason?” I pointed at his face, the one that was still breaking into the biggest damn grin I’d ever seen. “You have the smile. What gives?”
“Can’t a guy be happy?” He shrugged and looked around the coffee shop, then checked his phone.
“No.” I shook my head, eyes narrowing. “Especially considering said guy hasn’t gotten laid in months and still can’t secure a date from our mutual friend Jenna. Tell me, have the yoga classes improved your flexibility or are you actually turning into a chick after doing downward dog so many times?”
Jason’s stare burned holes through my body. “Thanks, Max, for the reminder.”
“Reminder about your soon-to-be female status?” I nodded. “Anytime.”
“Nope.” He chuckled to himself. “The reminder of why I’m doing this.”
“Doing what?” Damn that coffee was good. Imagine what the blond girl would taste like?
She’d give in. Eventually.
They all did.
I truly bat a thousand. No lie. Wait, okay, so actually that’s a minor fib considering my best friend Milo didn’t fall for my charm. Then again, she thought I was gay when she first met me. I looked down at my Prada shoes. Note to self: rethink footwear.
I rolled my eyes and took a long sip of coffee. The door to the shop opened and a camera crew waltzed in.
Huh, some lucky bastard must have won money or something.
They walked toward our table.
I turned around, so I could get a good view of whoever they were surprising.
“Max Emory.” A soft-voiced man said my name. Why was he saying my name? I turned, slowly, and came face-to-face with orange. No, really, just orange. His face was so orange it was like staring at the sun.
“Uh . . . yeah?” The cameras were directly in my business, all my business. My eyes narrowed, then fell on Jason. He was partially covering his face with his hands and smirking—the ass.
“Congratulations!” Oompa Loompa patted me on the shoulder with his orange hand and flashed a white grin at the camera. “You’re the new Bachelor on Love Island!”
It was then that my eyes fell to the name on the shirts the crew was wearing. “Love Island—Sink or Swim, Season 5.”
“Jason”—somehow I managed to sound calm when my insides were quivering with fear—“tell me this is a practical joke.”
“Oh, I assure you!” For real. If that man hit my shoulder one more time, I was breaking one of his fingers. “This is very, very real! Aren’t you excited? You’re going to be spending the next three weeks in luxury with twenty-five of the most beautiful women in America. And hopefully, you’ll find true love.”
“Yes,” I hissed. “Because I’ve been looking so hard for it—love.”
“Oh, we know.” The man nodded. “After the death of your fiancée I imagine you’re just . . . a bit broken inside.”
“My dead fiancée,” I muttered under my breath. “Yes, well, the death still feels fresh in my mind.”
“I’m sure.” The man nodded.
“Almost as if it just happened two seconds ago,” I continued.
“You poor soul.”
I kicked him under the table.
He winced, but the bastard was still smiling.
“Let’s have a round of applause for our new contestant!” The man clapped his orange hands together like a dancing monkey and slapped my shoulder. Again.
“And cut,” another man said. The lights flickered off and the camera was shoved away from my face.
“All right.” The announcer guy grabbed a stack of papers from a person behind them and tossed them onto the table. “You’ll have to sign a few waivers before we get started and take a drug test as well as a few other examinations just to make sure you’re healthy enough to participate.”
I scanned the first page.
“Accidental death?” I croaked. “Are you throwing me out of a plane?”
The guy laughed. “Of course not.”
“We did that last year. Poor bastard landed in shark-infested waters. Of course that season had more of a Survivor theme.”
“Of course,” I repeated, then kicked Jason again. “And, um, if I want to back out?”
The smile on the guy’s face froze. “Why would you back out? You already signed your consent when you applied.”
“When I”—my eyes narrowed in on Jason—“applied.”
“Well,”—the man shrugged—“go ahead and fill these out. We’ll be in touch after your exams, and do try to cooperate with the doctors. They’re only doing their jobs. Here’s your appointment sheet. Don’t be late! If all goes well, we fly out in two days!”
The camera crew left.
Oompa Loompa followed.
“I should kill you for this,” I muttered.
Jason grinned. “You can’t. It specifically says in your contract that serving time in federal prison is against their rules.”
“Oh, I think I’d like to make an exception,” I said, scanning my appointment sheet. I had one for the dentist at noon. Another at the doctor for an STD test, naturally, because what? It was humanly possible to sleep with that many different women and get out alive without getting my nuts twisted off?
“You’ve gotta be shitting me.” I slammed the paper down and groaned into my hands.
“A prostate exam?”
“Just give a little cough and turn your head—it will all be over.”
“Question: How many times have you had to say that to girls in bed?” I asked. “Twice? Three times?”
“You’re a jackass.” Jason pounded his hands onto the table. “And you deserve everything coming to you.”
“How do you figure?” My voice rose.
“Sex isn’t an occupation.”
I snorted. “I beg to differ.”
“Annoying the hell out of me isn’t an occupation either. You need a job, you need to get off your lazy ass and make a man out of yourself.”
“Don’t need to make a man out of myself,” I pointed out. “Erica did that for me when I was fourteen, she told me so.”
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose. “Look at it this way—at least if you die on your trip . . . you’ll be buried right along with your sin.”
“Lust.” He grinned. “Hey, you need a ride to the appointments, time’s wasting. Wouldn’t want to be late for your . . . date with the doctor.”
“I hate you so much that if I didn’t already feel bad about your own sister giving you two black eyes—I’d punch you in the face.”
“Oooh, feisty, the doc will love that.”
I eyed all the creepy skeleton posters in the doctor’s examination room and cringed as the smell of antiseptic burned my nostrils.
“I can’t believe I offered to come with you,” Jason groaned from his chair in the corner. “I should be sainted or something.”
Jerking around to face him, I pointed at his chest. “Friends go with friends to get prostate exams.”
“Um, I think you’ve confused that with the phrase ‘Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.’ ”
I gave him a serious nod. “That too.”
“I’m not staying in here when he touches you.” Jason shuddered.
Wincing, I sent him a glare. “Do you really think I want you to watch me get molested by another male? Seriously? What if you film that shit and it ends up on YouTube?”
Jason’s face broke out into a devious grin.
“For real.” I seethed. “You do anything like that and I’m gluing your nuts together.”
Jason rolled his eyes. “What? Are you going to drug me, strip me naked, and superglue my man parts?”
A coughing interrupted our conversation.