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Don't Follow Me: A High School Bully Romance (Diamond In The Rough Book 4)

By:Rebel Hart

1

Raelynn


I breathed in the salted air as I rollerbladed down the boardwalk. Despite our small patch of town being attached to one of the biggest cities in the nation, it still felt like this quaint little place. We had our own stretch of beach. Our own boardwalk. No world-renowned restaurants that drew a crowd or nationwide festivals for people to purchase tickets to. The warmth of the sun on my skin felt wonderful as I swerved around people. Couples eating ice cream cones and people walking their dogs. Children aching to get to the sandy shorelines and college kids coming out of the beach stores with bags full of cheaply-made merchandise.

This place would always be home to me.

“Rae!”

Allison’s voice rose above the crowd and I skated across the boardwalk. The wooden planks rumbled underneath me as I headed for the opening of the small shop. She held out her arms for me and I skated right into them, spinning around as the summer sun beat down against my back.

Holy shit, we were officially graduated.

“You’re really getting the hang of those things,” Allison said.

“I’m just glad Mom bought them for me. No offense, but your bike seat practically rides up my crack.”

“Why do you think I never rode it myself?”

I hugged her tighter. “I hate you so much.”

“Me too, Rae.”

The two of us laughed as I took her hand. I skated alongside her as she jogged, and we found the last table with an umbrella to shield us from the scalding rays. I’d never known the California sun to be this hot. I usually never ventured out much in the sun during the summer. I stayed in my bedroom, went to work, and occasionally crashed at Allison’s.

But Clint had gotten me out more during these hot summer days.

“The boys here yet?” I asked.

Allison and I sat down before she sighed.

“I haven’t seen Michael yet, no.”

I nodded. “And I’m assuming Clint’s coming with him?”

“Do you ever know the two of them to go anywhere without each other anymore?”

I paused. “Actually, now that you mention it?”

She giggled. “I mean, it’s sweet, but… do you ever wonder what in the world they’re doing all the time?”

I furrowed my brow. “Have you been tanning?”

“You like it? I’ve been out on the beach a lot with Michael.”

“It looks really nice on you.”

“I mean, it’s not like you don’t have one.”

I rolled my eyes. “I have a nice farmer’s tan going on. I’m not sunbathing in my itty bitty bikinis like you are.”

She gasped. “I don’t wear itty bitty bikinis!”

“Says the girl who wears string bikinis.”

“They aren’t thong bikinis, no. And mine are strapless so I don’t get those lines on my shoulders.”

“Face it, Allison. You're dangling your body in front of poor Michael and you love it.”

She grinned. “Maybe just a tad.”

I laughed. “So do we want to order our ice cream? Or wait for the boys?”

“You know they’re going to pitch a fit if we don’t let them pay.”

“What is that, anyway? We’ve got our own money.”

She snickered. “I think it makes them feel important.”

“Figured Clint might feel that way when I’m riding his dick.”

“Rae!”

I laughed. “Oh, come on. You don’t say so now, but give it a few more weeks with Michael. When we’re all off at college soon. You'll finally give it up and then you’ll be insatiable.”

“Nope. No, thank you. Waiting until marriage.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, it’s true.”

I grinned. “Good luck with that.”

And after a brief pause, Allison spoke.

“Can you believe we’re going to all be in college in a month?”

I shook my head. “It doesn’t feel real.”

“My parents are already helping me pack my things. And I haven’t even found an apartment to live in yet.”

“So they aren’t making you stay in the dorms on campus like they were?”

She shook her head. “No. I finally convinced them to let me have my own place after swearing to them Michael wasn’t moving in.”

I barked with laughter. “You’re kidding.”

“Not one bit. They thought I wanted my own place so he could move in.”

“You’d kill him.”

“You know how I need my space. And he’d never give it to me to study and all that stuff if we were under one roof.”

I grinned. “Though, you having your own place might come with some other perks.”

Her face fell. “Stop it.”

I held my hands up. “I’m just saying!”

“I’m not sleeping with Michael anytime soon.”

“But maybe sometime in the future.”

She paused. “Did he put you up to this? Did he tell you to try and wear down my walls?”

I snickered. “You know damn good and well Michael wouldn’t ever have the guts. I know he respects your boundaries. And you do, too.”

“Then why are you riding me so hard about this?”

I shrugged. “Because I think you’re stuck in a mindset that’s going to hold you back in college. I mean, if you can’t take control of your sex life as a girl, who’s to say you’ll take control of your education?”

“What makes you think that not having sex until marriage is something I’ve been relegated to? Why can’t that also be a personal decision I make because my sex life is mine?”

“Good point. Is it a decision you’ve made?”

She nodded. “Yes, it is.”

“Okay, then. Subject dropped.”

“Thank you.”

I sighed. “Mom’s having a hard time with it.”

Allison took my hand. “Still crying and stuff like that?”

“I think she’s just having a hard time letting go. And instead of being productive, like your parents are, she’s wallowing in her own self pity at night when she thinks I can’t hear her.”

“Not going to lie, sometimes it feels like they can’t wait for me to get out of the house.”

I snickered. “Because you’ve been dreaming about the day you leave for college ever since we started high school. I’m sure they’re happy for you. Proud of you. Same with Michael, especially since he’s going with you to college. The two of you are practically prodigies in your fields. I mean, a full ride, Allison? Come on now.”

“I didn’t think they’d give it to me, you know.”

“Oh, I knew from the get-go they would. They’d be stupid not to. Especially with how hard you busted your ass in high school.”

“Still, I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘prodigies.’”

I giggled. “You’re both going to Stanford, idiot.”

She smiled. “That statement kind of seems like an oxymoron.”

When Allison approached me the day after prom and told me she was applying to Stanford, I couldn't believe it. After getting into what I thought was her dream school, she decided to take a chance for once in her life. She applied, sent in the separate application for their architecture department, and they sent her information on their scholarship programs. With her GPA and her extra curriculars, she was eligible for a slew of their financial aid packages. And after two weeks of trying to convince her to go for the gold, she applied for one of them.

She applied for one of three full-ride tickets they gave out to incoming freshman students.

“Do you regret changing colleges?” I asked.

Allison shook her head. “Not one bit. I never even set my sights on Stanford or anything like that because I figured I wouldn't make it. I mean, usually you have to be related to someone to get into that school. Or from a historical lineage. Or make a massive donation. I didn’t think I’d get in there on grades alone.”

“Are you excited?”

“I kind of feel excited and I kind of feel as if I could puke.”

I giggled. “So, normal. Got it.”

“I still can’t believe Michael applied, though.”

I furrowed my brow. “Is that a bad thing?”

“No! No, no, no. I just--well, he had his ticket secured to the University of California. I didn’t think he’d switch over to something so…”

“Prestigious?”

“I mean, yeah. Expensive. Hard. You name it.”

I shrugged. “Michael’s intelligent. And he’s head over heels for you. Of course he’d switch. He’s in love with you.”

She smiled. “I still can’t believe those words come out of his mouth sometimes.”

“And at least you won’t be stuck where I’m going.”

“Oh, come on, Rae. Cal State is an excellent school. Don’t be such a downer.”

“Says the girl with a full ride to Stanford.”

Her face fell. “I’m serious, Rae. I’m proud of you. I honestly didn’t think you’d do the college thing, you know. Community college, maybe. But four years?”

I shrugged. “I didn’t think I’d do it either. But if I want to do graphic design and things of that nature, all the research I did tells me I need a bachelor’s degree. So why not just start out in the four-year program?”

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