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When hate leads to love next door…

My dad is protective. Scratch that. He’s like the person who would grab a chair, place it on the lawn, and watch me walk across the street just to deliver an apple. So, when a bet between the rude, good-looking guy across the way becomes a full-on battle, it turns into absolute chaos.

He says my degree is useless and that I’m a rich, spoiled princess.

I say he’s an idiot who only knows how to fix motorcycles and is incapable of having a clean-shaven face.

He gives me a tiara. Thanks.

I buy him a razor. Perfect.

He follows that up with a book… Like. I. Can’t. Read.

I then give him soap—explanation easy there.

The following day, I receive a pink princess blanket that I may or may not have burned and tossed on his front doorstep, not realizing his dad is a cop. Now, both dads want the war to stop between us, forcing us to go on a camping trip to bury the hatchet—which I’m convinced he actually brought.

He’s a hazard to my health.

But it’s only a weekend. I honestly don’t know if we’ll make it out alive, but the dads are tired of it all. Regardless, I’ll come out, and prove I’m not the princess he thinks I am. Maybe he’ll end up lost in the woods—one can only hope.

One thing’s for sure. I will never, ever fall for him.


A bet with the boy next door? Challenge accepted. I’ll be waiting for my trophy at the finish line.


Rachel Van Dyken


An all-new enemies to lovers romance is out this week from Rachel Van Dyken, a spin-off story from The Bet, and I have a hilarious little sneak peek for you.

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Once my parents were asleep, I shoved the mask on and stared into the mirror. Oddly enough, I looked like a cross between a gorilla and a man with a bit of dinosaur dropped in.

My zip-in costume was covered in plastic fur, I had gloves with claws, and my mask was huge over my head. I nearly tripped over the threshold when I tried to quietly close the door. Ohhhh, that’s why I felt like a dinosaur. I had T-Rex arms that flapped in the wind as I ran across the yard and crouched in front of his house.

Dad had their code since we’re friendly neighbors like that, so typing it in was nothing. 2021? Okay, who had such an easy passcode?

I typed it in and…success.

It flashed green.


I slowly crept across the floor. His dad wasn’t home until next week, at least according to my sources, and his mom was asleep. And August? Oh, he’d be upstairs in his room, sleeping soundly until I scared the crap out of him.

Man, I wished I had a partner in crime to take a picture of him shitting the bed, but alas, all I would have was the memory of his fear.

I slowly crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees, still nearly blind from the mask slipping, and made it to the final step. It creaked as my right paw hit it. Wincing, I looked around as much as I could out half my right eye and waited, my breathing labored.

Nothing happened.

Smirking behind my plastic mask, I crept along the hall until I found his room. His door was open. Aw, he was sleeping soundly, a lump in the bed, though I couldn’t see his face again on account of my stupid costume. Still, this would be incredible.

I crawled into his room and leaned by the side of the bed. This was my moment, my crescendo. I stood to my full height and raised my paws into the air, only to feel a searing pain as I collapsed against the bed and was forced onto my back while a body fell on top of me. “Stop or I’ll call the police.”

A muffled “Huh?” came out of my mask. “Why the police?”

“Intruder. And my dad’s a retired cop so you should probably settle down, you sick creep. Who dresses like this and sneaks into people’s homes?”

This was the part where I probably shouldn’t have raised my hand, but I did.

He slapped it away. “Seriously? What’s wrong with you?”

“YOU!” I roared. “You’re what’s wrong. And I can read. Well, in fact.” I just couldn’t let go of that note he’d left with Jane Eyre.

His green eyes squinted briefly before he tugged off my mask and threw it to the floor. “Hazel?”


Lips pressed together, he sighed. “Wish I was, but actually, no. No, I’m not surprised.”

“Liar, you were terrified.”

“Nope, just trying to abide by the law when it comes to someone trespassing on private property. You’re lucky I didn’t tase you.”

“Aw, you need a Taser? Can’t even use your fists?”

“I can use my fists.”

“It’s okay.” I patted him on the shoulder, then squeezed as much as I could with my plastic claws. “Some men just can’t use things. Admit it, you’re one of them.”

“I admit nothing.” He pushed me down against the mattress. “And you smell like melted plastic.”

“Some might call that romantic.”

“Some might call you psychotic.”

I stuck out my tongue. “You started this battle, but I’m pretty sure I’m winning the war. Now, I can sleep in peace.”

“Bet you have a teddy bear,” he taunted, still on top of me.

I laughed and leaned up, so close to his face that I could see the flecks of gold in his green eyes. “Bet you’re a virgin.”

His nostrils flared. “Bet you’ve never had a good kiss in your entire life.”

“Bet you don’t even know how.”

“Challenge accepted.” He leaned down so aggressively there was no way I could stop the onslaught of his perfect mouth before it pressed against mine. My hands had ideas of their own as they tried to pull at his hair while my lips parted for him.

His groan literally gave me no choice but to follow suit as my hands—aka gloves—stroked the back of his neck. It was a good, deep kiss. Such a good kiss that I hated him even more for proving me wrong.

His tongue slid into my mouth and then, sheer pain again, this time in the form of what felt like electrocution as I went limp beneath him.

“Are you okay!?” a male voice shouted. “I heard groaning. Holy shit, is that a bear?”

“Dad.” August jumped up, then sat back down, pulling a blanket over his lap. “What the hell?”

“I thought you were getting mauled.”

“I was doing the mauling. Her fault. And now you’ve tased her.”

What? I’d been tased? My shaky eyes looked over at my arm and leg. Oh, look at that…tased. Was my tongue supposed to feel so heavy?

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NBJ WEEKLY RECAP – 14 May 2024
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