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The Pretty Boys

The Pretty Boys



Zariah McCalister, has no idea what's she's getting herself into when she transfers to Cambridge Over-Sea's Academy. The only reason why she transferred second quarter of her Senior year was to be with her twin brother Zac. Once she steps foot into the luxuries academy, her perspective of high school changes forever. The Pretty Boys, are five gorgeous bad boy sex gods, who have nothing but the bad boy vibe. These Pretty Boys give the bad boy definition a whole different title. So Welcome to Cambridge Over-Seas Academy, you just entered The Pretty Boys territory.
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Two MonthsAgo

Seven Oaks Farm, Bridgehampton, NY

“I told you to stay the hell away from my sister!”

The growled threat from her brother rumbled over Vanessa Hughes’s ears a second before her Argentinean lover blocked the fist coming toward his chin.

Damn. She’d landed in the middle of a mess. Again. No surprise, since she’d always been the official family screwup. And now, she’d dragged polo player Nicolas Valera into her chaos for the second time in a year.

“Stand down, Hughes,” Nicolas warned, his accent thickening. Desire and sweat still slicked her skin from their steamy encounter. Thank goodness they’d picked up their hastily discarded clothes and dressed again rather than risk being seen together in towels or robes.

Nicolas tucked Vanessa firmly behind him and faced her pissed-off brother, Sebastian, who’d somehow found out about their surprise encounter. A feat in and of itself, since neither she nor Nicolas had planned on bumping into each other in the sauna room at Seven Oaks Farm’s lavish gym.

They certainly hadn’t planned on stumbling back inside together for an impulsive hookup.

Thank goodness the place was all but deserted, with most everyone at the charity fundraiser Sebastian should have been attending, the one she’d blown off to come here, only to find Nicolas had ditched the gala as well.

Sebastian pushed forward. His gaze tracked along their hastily

donned clothes, his jaw flexing. “I’m not backing off until you’re no longer in Vanessa’s life.”

“Nicolas, look out!” she interjected, hoping to forestall another blow.

Nicolas raised his forearm to block the punch. Vanessa could hardly blame Sebastian. He was right, after all. They had been doing exactly what her brother suspected, even though she and Nicolas had broken up a year ago, bitterly and publicly.

Again, her fault. Her mess.

Pivoting, Nicolas flattened Sebastian against the wooden wall with the speed and agility expected given his world-class reputation on the polo fields. He had her brother pinned with an arm across the chest, but Nicolas wouldn’t be able to use his athlete’s edge indefinitely. Sebastian’s forehead throbbed with an angry vein.

“Calm down, Hughes,” Nicolas said quietly again. Of course, he never lost his control. Except during sex. “We do not want a scene here, especially with your sister involved. Vanessa, close the door, please.”

She shut the door softly.

Given that the Hughes family’s Bridgehampton Polo Club sponsored the polo season at the Seven Oaks Farm, it was considered bad form for her to date any of the players. She’d made plenty of mistakes in her life, but she’d made that particular error only once before, with Nicolas.

After their breakup last year, she’d sworn never again. Until she saw him. Tonight. On the worst day of her life, when she’d been at her weakest. Not that she was renowned for demure restraint even on her best day.

Her brother stared at Nicolas with steely determination. She and Sebastian were alike in that at least, even though they didn’t resemble each other, with her being the only blue-eyed blonde in her family. And oh, God, how it hurt to think about that. How it hurt to know her parents had lied to her—

Sebastian pushed free abruptly, his tuxedo tie knocked askew. “Stay the hell away from my sister, Valera.” The two men faced off. “Or I swear, I’ll bury you.”

Vanessa tamped down bitter tears and slid between the two battling bundles of testosterone. “Oh, cut the drama, Seb. There’s no law that says I can’t see him. Besides, I’m twenty-five years old. It’s my business who I choose to spend my time with. I don’t appreciate your following after me like I’m some underage kid.”

She stomped her foot, tangling it in a discarded towel she and Nicolas had left behind.

Sebastian cursed softly and grasped her arm. “There are plenty of things that aren’t against the law that you still shouldn’t do. Nessa, if you won’t look after yourself, you leave me no choice but to intervene for your own good. I’m taking you home—”

“Hughes,” Nicolas growled, his chest expanded, his onyx eyes narrowing. “I cannot just turn away, not until I am certain Vanessa is safe. So listen to me carefully. Let. Her. Go.”

She winced. Talk about fuel tossed on a fire in a room already heavy with heat. She wasn’t sure she could deal with this, too, not while she was still so off balance from coming face-to-face with Nicolas again, with the scent of him still all around her, the feel of his touch still tingling along her skin.

Sebastian stared down his nose at Nicolas. “Don’t you dare insinuate I would harm a hair on Nessa’s head. You’re the one who’s hurting her, cruising back into her life when you know damn well you have no intention of staying.”

Her brother was right, but it smarted all the same how he blithely assumed no man would want to stick around for the long haul with her. She shrugged off her wounded feelings and focused on the combustible situation in front of her. Nobody had come to investigate the ruckus thus far, but she couldn’t count on that much longer. She needed to end this confrontation ASAP.

Her eyes trained on Nicolas, she saw him trample the urge to let the fight play through. Just a flash of emotion, and then his face was impassive again.

“Your sister and I still have some things to discuss. We’re all adults here.” He gestured to the door. “If you would step outside.”

Sebastian stepped in front of Vanessa, tucking her behind him protectively. “My sister may be twenty-five, but she has never in any way acted remotely like an adult.”

“Hello?” Angry, hurt and about to lose control, Vanessa waved her hand in front of her brother’s face. “Your sister happens to be standing right here, in case you didn’t notice.”

“Believe me,” Seb said, lasering her with a censoring stare, “I noticed.”

“Then let’s talk about this later,” she said soothingly, desperate to pacify him long enough to buy them all time to cool down. “I need to say good-night to Nicolas first, without you glaring at us.”

Sebastian’s face lightened for the first time. He cupped her elbow. “After the scene you two caused last year, don’t you think you’ve had enough playing with fire?”

She squeezed her brother’s arm to soften her words. “That’s not your call to make.”

The polo world had been stunned by Nicolas’s liaison with such a flamboyant woman. Her polo-champ lover had a reputation for complete, cool control, whether on the field or in front of camera shoots for sportswear endorsements. Vanessa was anything but cool and in control.

Her brother’s face hardened again into that of a calculating businessman. “As long as what you do affects our father and the reputation of the Bridgehampton Polo Club, that makes it my call. I’m the one running the family’s business interests in his place. And I’m the one who’ll be picking up the pieces of your wreckage.”

Vanessa gasped at her brother’s low blow, her skin burning as the blood drained away. Their father had cancer and was very likely dying. She might be known as the drama queen in the Hughes clan, but today had doled out even more than she could take. She swayed, growing light-headed.

Nicolas touched her back, his hand calming and exciting all at once. “Nobody wants the fallout from a scene now or anytime. Your family’s reputation will be safe. Your father can rest easy.”

Glancing at Nicolas’s stony features, she found no sign of emotion, not even a hint of the passionate lover of a half hour ago. That shouldn’t sting, but God, it did.

She turned back to Sebastian. “Nicolas and I broke up a year ago and nothing that happened here changes that.”

Her brother studied her intently—she had lied often enough in the past to sneak past the constraints of her family rules—then nodded curtly. “I’ve said what needed to be said, Valera.” He straightened his tux tie. “And Nessa? We’ll talk tomorrow when we’re both calmer. You owe our father peace this summer.”

She bristled at the arrogance of Sebastian advising her on how to please their dad, ready to tell him as much. But he left, taking the anger and outrage with him. Vanessa deflated enough to realize he was right. She couldn’t afford to follow her impulses the way she normally would. She couldn’t say to hell with the world and be her regular headline-making “celebutante” self—not now.

No matter what lies her father had told her, he’d still been her rock for twenty-five years. She owed him a headline-free season.

The sound of the door closing firmly echoed. Sebastian was gone. She was alone in the spa with Nicolas for a second time.

The bench beckoned. But the weight of what they’d done

washed over her. She’d actually had sex with him again—steamy, impulsive sex that left her stunned and a little bit aghast. Not that she had a clue what he felt. Ever.

Where would they go from here?

Nicolas stuffed his hands in his pockets, his eyes as dark as the black clothes he always wore. “I am sorry about your father’s illness.”

Weighing her words, she allowed herself a moment just to look at her enigmatic lover. She hadn’t spent much time looking earlier, simply touching, tasting, savoring. Nicolas.

At thirty-two, he was seven years older than her, and according to the tabloids, far more mature. Leanly fit with muscular shoulders and arms to die for, he filled the room with his magnetic good looks as much as his honed size. His deeply tanned complexion attested to the hours he spent outdoors riding and training. He wore his ebony hair wavy and not quite long enough for a ponytail, just enough to appear bedroom-mussed. Thicker in front, it tended to fall over one eye. With a toss of his head, he cleared it off his forehead and turned away.

That was it? He was leaving? He took reserved to a whole new level.

Nicolas clasped the doorknob. Stunned, she opened and closed her mouth twice before speaking.

“That’s all?” Rage bubbled along with frustrated tears as she kicked a damp towel aside. “You’re walking out after what just happened?”

Slowly, he turned, his black shirt showcasing his too-damn- perfect shoulders in a way she refused to let distract her.

He spread his hands, palms and fingers callused from handling horses and mallets. “What do you want, Vanessa? You made it clear to your brother we are through. This was a chance encounter, a fluke, a bit of unfinished business from last season perhaps. Because God knows, you made it clear we were through to the whole world then, on national television, no less. You even accused me of cheating on you, which we both know wasn’t true.”

She winced at the memory of the scene she’d caused on the polo field during the stomping of the divots. Blogs had been ablaze with photos and stories. They’d even been the opening segment of cable TV’s Celeb Tonight. She’d been running scared then. The same fear squeezed her gut now, fear of how deeply he moved her, of how badly she could be hurt. She’d run then rather than take the risk. What would she do now? “I’ve never had any self-control when it comes to you. And after a day like this …”

His forehead furrowed, his first real show of emotion since

he’d pressed his face into her neck after they’d climaxed together. “A day like what?”

A day like this. When she’d learned she was adopted.

She could barely wrap her brain around the fact that her parents had kept her adoption a secret for twenty-five years. Her family would have continued to hide the truth if she hadn’t found out by accident during discussions about whether her brother could donate blood for their father in case of emergency surgery. At first she hadn’t paid much attention, since the levels of her insulin injections made her ineligible. But as she listened to the discussion of different family blood types …something wasn’t right. Once the issue was raised, she’d asked too many questions to avoid the truth. At least she was the only one who knew.

And she wanted to keep it that way until she figured out how to deal with the life-changing information. But she had to do it soon, because her father—the man who’d adopted her—might not have much longer left.

After a private detective verified the truth about her adoption, she’d come to the spa to ease the confusion, not to mention the sense of betrayal. Then she’d run into Nicolas, who’d just arrived for the preseason games, and they’d fallen into old habits as fast as they’d fallen onto the sauna bench.

She pushed back the urge to haul him down with her again and forget everything for another half hour. “Does it really matter what kind of day I’ve had?”

“What is wrong?” His accent thickened with his persistence. He was a determined man who never gave up on the field. Although he’d sure walked away from her fast enough last year, firmly ignoring her apology.

“Drop it, Nicolas. We don’t do the whole serious routine, remember? We were all about keeping it light and uncomplicated. God knows neither of us needs another scene.” She drew in a shaky breath. “I can’t risk worrying my father, and I know you won’t risk your career.”

“Except I already did that here tonight with you. As you said, we never had self-control around each other.” He slid his hand into her hair, slowly, almost as if against his will. “Something that apparently has not changed during the past year.”

She stared up into his face as he loomed over, a full twelve inches taller. His eyes glinted with every bit as much desire as she felt searing her insides. Then his mouth was on hers. Heat and strength and memories—lush and intense memories of all the ways they’d pleasured each other a year ago, and again tonight—rushed through her.

Vanessa plunged her fingers into Nicolas’s hair and held tight.

She moaned her need against his mouth. Now, just as then, he made her forget everything but the bold brush of his tongue exploring, the feel of his hands stroking up her back, drawing her closer. She let herself slide into the convenient amnesia he offered. So unwise, so undeniable.

He eased back. “Vanessa, we can’t. Not here.”

Even though she knew he was right, she shook inside at the prospect of letting him go. When would she ever be able to resist him? How would she watch the games this season, watch him and hold strong to her promise not to bring any stress to her father’s doorstep?

Her father.

The anger rose again, the betrayal of the lies he’d told her every time she asked who she looked like, since she was so different from her brother, her father, her mother. She couldn’t even turn to her mother now, since Lynette had died in a car accident several years ago.

It would be easy enough to say to hell with gossip and rules, but she couldn’t. Not with her father dying. There had to be a way to balance it all without combusting.

“Vanessa? Do you hear me?” Nicolas’s accent stroked her like a sensuous, private promise.

And then it came to her, the perfect plan for keeping the peace in public while finally, finally purging this seemingly unquenchable need for Nicolas Valera.

Vanessa leaned closer, her body molding to the hard, familiar heat of him. Desire pooled low and lush. “I do hear you, and you’re right. We can’t continue this. Not here, anyway. But what if we pick the time and place for you to …romance me? We keep what we’re feeling totally secret.” Forbidden. “No one knows but us. Nobody gets hurt.”

As she urged his head down toward her again, she could almost believe her own words. No one would get hurt …

He stopped just shy of kissing her. “You propose we have discreet sex all summer long?”

His arousal throbbed harder against her stomach.

“Not exactly.” She teased his bottom lip between her teeth, trailing her fingers down his chest. “I suggest that during this polo season, you convince me, in private, that I should have sex with you again. If you don’t succeed, then we’re through. No harm, no foul. We can rest assured knowing we’ve learned to resist each other. And if you do succeed—” she traced his mouth with her tongue, slowly, torturously “—we’ll have one helluva night to finally burn this fire out once and for all.”