Not Okay, Cupid ONLY
Hazel McCallister loves her life. Perfect grades. Perfect best friend. Perfect boyfriend. Until her perfect boyfriend cheats on her with her perfect best friend. Now Hazel’s in free fall—until her best friend’s brother, Felix, gives her the perfect idea. Reclaim her power by taking revenge on her cheating ex.
Felix James loves his life. Casual relationships. Loads of surfing. He’s as drama-free as they come. But he can’t stand by when his sister steals her best friend’s boyfriend, and the dude insists it was Hazel’s fault. So Felix vows to help turn Hazel into a girl her ex can’t resist—so then she can break his heart.
With an alliance in place, Hazel’s revenge is all but assured. But with each piece of payback, she feels a stronger attraction to Felix, even though revenge will turn her into a girl Felix could never be with. And soon Hazel has to make an impossible choice: revenge…or Felix, the boy who’s stolen her heart.
Title: Not Okay, Cupid
Series: High School Heartbreakers, #1
Author: Heidi R. Kling
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 257 pages
Release Date: January 2016
Price listed is for the U.S. digital format. Please confirm pricing and availability with the retailer before downloading.
An Excerpt from:
Not Okay, Cupid
by Heidi R. Kling
Copyright © 2016 by Heidi R. Kling. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Seven Days Till Valentine’s Day
Psyche was not naturally either very strong or very brave, but the cruel power of fate made a virago of her.
That day was like any other typical day at Sunny Coast High: the shrill of bells, a quick flirt at the lockers, and my schedule loaded with AP classes so I could get into the college of my choice—hopefully the same one my boyfriend Jay had gotten into. We were inseparable, and if I got into the same college, we could seamlessly transfer our high school romance to college, to engagement, to marriage, to—well, I had it all figured out. And with Valentine’s Day only a week away, I had every reason to believe it would work out just the way I wanted it to. We’d be crowned Cupid and Psyche at the Valentine’s Day Dance, completing our legacy as most in-love couple. It would be the arrow in the cap of our already perfectly planned out year.
I had no reason to suspect that this day would change everything forever.
I spun my locker combination to the right to shake out the code—
“Hey, Basil,” a low voice behind me said.
I jumped—then recognized the voice.
“Hey,” I said without turning around. It was obvious who it was. He was the only person on the planet who called me Basil. Which rhymes with Hazel. Clever, right? Groan. But I couldn’t help the little smile on my face when I heard his familiar voice.
“That’s some way to greet your best friend’s brother,” he said. “Really. I’m hurt.”
I finally turned around, an indignant smirk already in place.
Felix James, my BFF Kimmy’s goofball of a brother, was standing there with his hand across his chest, feigning heartbreak like he owned this piece of real estate. Then, as if that gesture wasn’t dramatic enough, he leaned forward, placed a large palm against the orange locker, and stared at me like I was the chocolate malt his straw was about to slurp up.
Good thing I knew the last girl in the world he’d be interested in was me. And an extra good thing—I had the good taste to fall for boys of a much higher caliber than player Felix James, even though the way he was looking at me made my ears hot.
“What do you want, Felix?” Despite how organically good-looking he was, Felix drove me crazy. Heck, maybe because he was so good-looking. I could never look past how casual he was with girls. Didn’t he want something serious? Something permanent? You know, like me and Jay.
Nope, Felix was like my total opposite. Maybe that’s why we’d been natural-born teasing enemies since we were little kids—he was constantly harassing me and my friends, turning slumber parties into nightmare fests with fake snakes on our pillows and ghostly flashlights on the walls at midnight.
He was bad enough when we were kids, but once we were teenagers, his antics only increased. He was constantly in trouble at school (he couldn’t care less about his grades). And all the stories Kimmy told me about the girls he snuck into his room at night—the ones he made climb out of his window before dawn so they wouldn’t get caught—made me shake my head.
Felix…would he ever grow up?
He kept staring at me.
“Go away, Felix,” I said, avoiding eye contact as my heart thudded with annoyance. You know I heard that one of Felix’s latest conquests not only had to sneak out of his window, she had to do it so fast that she was still half naked? Mrs. Applewood down the block thought she was hallucinating or having an inverse reaction to her medicinal tea for stomach upset when she saw this girl trotting down the road in her panties and a tank top.
“No chance,” he said. “I need your help with a location mission.”
“Location mission?” Arching an eyebrow, I skimmed down his surfer-fit chest (he had lucky genes) to the saggy pants he insisted on wearing.
“They’re new,” he said, my criticism obvious. “Last year’s were starting to fade.” He grinned proudly. “Too much use.”
“No one cares about your stupid theme boxers, Felix.”
“Not stupid, Cupid.” He grinned again.
“Wow. Clever.” I shook my head, forcing a frown.
That was another annoying thing he did. Insisting on seasonal boxers. St. Patty’s Day coming up? Felix’s shamrocks will cue you in. Easter in a week? Guess who will be sporting Bugs Bunny boxers—nonironically, I might add. (He always had a thing for the holidays.)
My boyfriend Jay would never wear Rudolph or pastel eggs on his boxers. Then again, he wore briefs. He was everything Felix wasn’t, aka Mr. Right versus Mr. Wrong.
“So…Baz…” Felix said. As usual, my insults had rolled right off his broad shoulders. “Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. Any big plans with the Crowned Prince?”
Crowned Prince. My boyfriend Jay. Soon to be crowned Cupid.
And he was the perfect boyfriend. Likely he’d made reservations at the little French café we loved. He’d order us a salad to split, maybe the fondue if we were going to go hog wild. We’d split the dessert—he really watched his calories, but this would be a special occasion—and maybe even a café au lait. I couldn’t wait!
“I’m sure we do have big plans. But knowing Jay, it’s probably an elaborate surprise.”
“Lucky you,” he said sarcastically.
“I know. I am lucky. As is he. For I”—I fanned my face like I was shouting from atop Juliet’s balcony—“am the perfect girlfriend.”
“Hey! I am! Just because you’re Mr. Never Commit to Anything Ever, you don’t have to knock down the rest of us. Commitment is awesome. It’s real.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m sure it is.”
“It is! Just because you’d never commit to something real and deep and honest like Jay and I have, doesn’t mean you have to make fun of it.”
“Oh, yes. You know me,” Felix said, but a flash of something crossed his eyes—hurt? No way. Not Felix. “Anyway, I’m sure you are the perfect girlfriend. Lucky Jay.”
“He is lucky.”
“Yeah. I hope he knows he is.” He said that seriously holding my eye for a second longer than necessary.
“Nothing. Not that I’d know anything about that—a perpetual bachelor. That is I.”
“That is me.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’re a bachelor? I thought you were a girl. Then again, those pants are quite conspicuously male.”
He eyed me up and down. My stomach flip-flopped when his eyes landed on my middle. I slugged him in the arm.
He rubbed where I’d hit him like it had hurt, but the smile on his face said otherwise. “So have you seen my fair sister, or what?”
“Pull your pants up, please, if you’d like to continue this conversation. No one wants to see your…little cupid,” I said, getting revenge by glancing down his hoodie and toward his low-slung shorts. I laughed out loud at my hilarious joke.
“Hey! Who says it’s little?” he retorted, insulted.
Score one for the Baze!
“People talk, you know. Even those girls you date have at least a first-grade vocabulary.”
“You’re such a snob,” he said, mock offended.
“And you’re disgusting.”
“Oh, yeah?” He smirked. “Who’s looking?”
“It’s hard not to look when your pants sag to your knees. I’m surprised you haven’t received a referral for that. Oh. I know! Maybe Cupid will bring you a belt for V-Day. Get it? V-Day. No wonder you’re excited to celebrate.”
“Virgin? That’s your department.”
That hit below the belt and he knew it. Who cared if I was a virgin? Me and Jay were waiting for the perfect moment. That’s how Jay was. Gentle. Kind. Patient. Opposite of Player of La Playa.
“You’re an ass.”
“Yeah, well. You don’t get a rep like mine for nothing.”
His eyes darkened a little and darted away from mine. For a second I felt almost bad. But then again, he’d pushed me. The virgin comment was not cool. Even if I had played a little dirty before he pounded that one into the outfield.
He tugged his pants up little, as if this act was a sort of apology, and I glared at him.
“So. Where is Kimmy? Seriously,” he said. “She’s been AWOL all day, and she’s supposed to give me her Econ notes before fifth period. I’m dangling off a cliff in that class, Baze. Seriously precarious situation.”
“Precarious. Big word for such a little cupid.”
“You’re treading on thin ice, sister.”
I laughed. Felix was all bark and no bite. Always had been. Talked a good game, always. Never followed through on a threat. He’d say, “I’ll get you, girls!” And it would be like…the same plastic hand in the freezer again. Ooh, scary. That was his pattern. It was like he never got truly angry about anything! Always the smirk. Everything was always a joke. Que sera, sera.
Whatever, man. I had things to do, plans to make, and a real life to lead after high school. So did Kimmy. Kimmy had plans! We’d spent so many nights scouring the Internet for the Best Possible College Options. We both wanted to major in theater with a minor in a foreign language. We were going to be roommates and have the cutest dorm room on our floor.
Jay would visit on weekends.
It would be perfect.
“Well, I haven’t seen her, either.”
And I hadn’t since yesterday, when we met for coffee before school like we always do at Café Au Lai, the velvet-sofa’d book café a block away from school that we both adored. The one with the indie music and the faerie chimes that jingled when we opened the door. I got warm and tingly inside just thinking about it.
But she hadn’t met me there this morning. And I hadn’t seen her since we got to school today either, which was pretty odd, now that I thought about it.
Maybe she’d sent me a text? We weren’t supposed to have our phones out at school, so I covertly checked it without taking it out of my purse. Nada. “No, haven’t heard from her,” I said.
“That was a close one,” he said with a smirk. “You were almost caught.”
“Ha friggin’ ha.” But he was right. I was nothing if not a rule follower.
“That’s weird,” he said, eyeing me strangely.
“You two are usually joined at the hip.”
He surprised me. I didn’t think he was that astute.
He leaned closer. Our heads were only inches apart. “But what if you’re lying? You still have a froth mustache from your café au lait.”
“You must be marathoning Sherlock on the BBC,” I said. “Because normally you can’t see the keys in your own hand.”
“BBC?” He winced. “I would never. Saving that fluff for you, frothy.”
He swiped at my upper lip and I ducked.
“You’re disgusting,” I mocked.
“So where is she?” He backed up a little, giving me some much-needed space.
Say what you would about Felix—I’d probably say it first!—for all his faults, he knew when he was taking it too far.
“I’m not lying. I did go to meet her at our usual spot. I waited ten minutes! Nothing. I did get my own coffee drink when she didn’t show up, so you’re right about the froth. But I don’t know where she is. I assume…class.” I shrugged sarcastically. “Oh. Class. It’s this place where we gather together with a teacher—that’s a trained professional who delivers material to students. And students are us. We attend ‘class’—air quotes and all—to ‘learn.’ It’s probably too complicated of a process to explain to you…”
Laughing, I ducked out of his playful slug.
“You’re hilarious, Baze. You’re killing me. Perhaps Comedy Central will pull you up on the panel for a Celebrity Roast of yours truly.”
I put a hand over my heart, faux shock. “A roast of Felix? Now that’s something I’d attend. No. Scratch that. Not only attend, I’d host. I’ll talk to Kimmy about it. Maybe for your next birthday. What do you say? You can get some birthday boy boxers to match.”
I was positively giddy.
We often got like this when we bantered. At first I hated him, then once we were engaged in a full-fledged verbal slugfest, I got a weird high from it. It was so safe to mess around with him. If I said this kind of thing to Jay, he’d be so offended, so hurt. But Felix just laughed. He was like…my practice boyfriend. Safe like a cousin. Even if we were the last two people on earth, there was no chance we’d ever get together, so fighting like this was just…fun.
He was laughing, too. Obviously he felt the same.
He rubbed his forearms, and I noticed his sand-crusted hair. He must’ve come straight in from surfing (hence the desperation for his sister’s econ notes). The light hair on his arms was coated with a powdered sugar-like substance that told me he hadn’t showered after. Which was why he smelled like the beach. Fresh, salty. Amazing.
I shook my head and almost slapped myself. Felix was a lot of things, but amazing?
“This is why I will be an excellent journalist,” I pointed out. “I pay attention to the minute details in life that others miss.”
“It’s a decent fall-back plan. If hosting Sunny Coast’s Roasts doesn’t work out.”
“Maybe I’ll do both. I am quite ambitious.”
“True. Not all of us are Miss AP This and Miss Honor Roll That,” he said. “Though I do find your scholarly quests quite admirable…when they aren’t driving me crazy. So I do need to locate my sister.”
For a second he almost looked sincere.
The way his glacier-blue eyes—seriously, so light blue they were almost translucent—looked at me was making me exceedingly uncomfortable. Maybe he was a vampire? That would explain his affinity for midnight activities and his strange taste in overly eye-lined women…
Heaving my heavy backpack over my shoulder, I planned my escape route. Under the defined biceps, and into the hallway. AP English was about to start, and I had a paper due on my favorite Jane Austin book, Emma. My thesis was that Emma gets the shaft just because she’s the triple threat: attractive, witty, and rich. I thought she was hilarious. And infinitely curious and helpful.
“I need to find Jay before class starts.”
Jay. My boyfriend. My reliable, loyal, good student and prominently athletic boyfriend. The boyfriend who always arrived to school prepared. My boyfriend who always planned our dates impeccably, so I never had to sneak out of his room, slither down his drainpipe, and run home naked, causing old hippie ladies to hypothesize they were having acid flashbacks from their herbal tea.
I couldn’t wait for Valentine’s Day!
I wondered what he had planned for me this year. Last year it was a romantic picnic on the Harbor with non-alcoholic champagne, Brie cheese (splurge!), and gluten-free bread. He even remembered a knife and a red picnic blanket.
Jay was nothing if not detailed.
Bringing up Jay was definitely a smart move. Nothing disarmed another guy like mentioning another. Felix already looked like he was ready to ease off.
“See ya, Tom Cat,” I said.
Sure enough, his arm recoiled and he let me go. “Meow,” he said back, pretending his fingertips were claws.
It was our running gag.
His mother had a thing for this old black-and-white cartoon, Felix the Cat, and had named him after the black-and-white feline. I’d been calling him Cat since I was like, five, just to piss him off.
I pantomimed claws scratching him back, and that was that.
Or so I thought.