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Charming the Cheerleader (Bet Duet #1)

Charming the Cheerleader (Bet Duet #1)

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The trick to winning the bet and thawing the ice queen? Don't fall for her first.

After an epically bad first day at a new school, Conner's faced with a future as the school's biggest outcast. Unless he can find a way to turn this situation around.

So when his stepsister throws out a challenge, it's a no brainer. Everyone says the head cheerleader is an untouchable ice queen, but if Conner can thaw her mean girl facade, he'll have it all—popularity, bragging rights, and his stepsister's money.

But then again, if he wins the bet, he'll lose her. Rosalie. The ice queen cheerleader who's really not cold at all when you get to know her... 

In fact, she's actually kinda perfect. And really...what's the use of having it all if he loses the only thing that matters? 

Main Tropes

  • New School
  • Fake Dating
  • Mean Girl


Will the new guy in school be the one to win the bet and thaw the ice queen? Maybe. But only if he doesn't fall for her first.

Conner and his stepsister are new to town, new to Talmore High, and very new to this whole step-sibling situation. As of three weeks ago they were only children...and now? Well, now their parents' newly wedded bliss is wreaking havoc with both of their lives. 

Not that Conner is worried. He might be the new kid but he's never had a problem being the big man on campus. Until now. No one at this school seems to have gotten the memo that he's beloved. The girls aren't swooning and the guys are looking for any excuse to kick his butt back to California. When his stepsister throws out the challenge, it's a no brainer. If he can make head cheerleader Rosalie "The Ice Queen" Farlow fall at this feet, he'll have it all.

But then again, if he wins the bet...he'll lose her. And what's the use of having it all if he loses the only thing that matters? 

Author's Note: Though this is the first book of a duet, the romance is standalone and features a satisfying, swoonworthy HEA.

The timelines of these two books intersect, however, so be sure to read book one first to avoid any spoilers!

Intro Into Chapter 1


Aww, how cute.

I stopped short in the kitchen doorway to take stock of the scene before me. My mom was hovering over a griddle full of pancakes at the stove, my stepdad was flipping through the local paper, and my stepsister Harley was bent over a piece of paper and fidgeting with a glass of orange juice at the kitchen table.

If a stranger walked into this kitchen they’d see a freakin’ Norman Rockwell painting. Portrait of Domestic Bliss.

Except they’d be wrong. Because here was the thing—this whole scene? It was weird. Everything about this scenario was sketching me out. My mom and Frank seemed determined to act like this whole blended family thing was no big deal, that it wasn’t strange at all that I was suddenly sharing a house with some weirdo artsy chick who, up until a few months ago, had been just another girl in my class.

Harley glanced up at me, her dark hair a curly explosion that seemed to be trying to escape the bun on the top of her head. Her brows were drawn together in a frown as she glowered at me through her thick, black-rimmed glasses. At least she and I seemed to be on the same page. 

This new situation? It was weird. Coming down to breakfast and finding Harley Brooks sitting there was weird enough, but add in the fact that my mom and Frank were trying to make it seem normal and that was just annoying. 

Like, my mom for example. She didn’t cook. Like…ever. “What are you doing?” I asked, going over and snatching the spatula out of her hands. 

“I thought I’d make you and Harley breakfast for your first day of school.” She said it with a happy smile, but I caught the glimmer of relief as I took over at the stove. 

Cooking chilled me out for some reason, but for my mom? The act of boiling water turned her into an anxious stressball. 

As for Frank… I glanced over to where he had his head buried in the local paper. Well, for all I knew he was a news junkie and this was his norm. But it was still weird for me to see this balding stranger in his undershirt and boxers.

Ugh. No, thanks. 

I turned back to the stove and flipped a pancake, fiddling with the dial on the range to get the right flame going on. If we were back home in our old house in our former town I would have dialed it in on the first try, not even having to look. Our old stove was a piece of junk, but I’d known it like the back of my hand, unlike this new, modern, way too elaborate oven.

We’d moved in on Friday so there were still boxes everywhere and the odor of fresh paint hung in the air, threatening to ruin the pancake smell, which was definitely the best part of this ridiculous morning. 

“You kids had better hurry or you’ll be late on your first day,” Frank said.

“It’s not my fault Harley took forever in the bathroom,” I said.

Oh yeah, and the fact that I was now sharing a bathroom with a girl who used to be ‘that freaky chick’ back at our old school? 

Nope. Not weird at all. 

She looked up from whatever she was reading long enough to glare at me. “I get sick when I’m nervous. I can’t help it.”

I’ll admit, I had felt sort of bad for the kid when I’d heard her retching earlier this morning. I mean, I was grossed out, but I wasn’t heartless. I tossed a pancake on a plate and set it down in front of her with a little ruffle of her messy bun, which I knew would annoy her. Ever since our parents started dating six months ago, I’d teased her that she was my little sister and it drove her nuts. 

She liked to point out that she was technically older than me by two months, and we’d been in the same grade ever since she’d transferred to our old school back in fifth grade. Whatever. She still seemed young to me, and quite frankly, she was kind of a mystery. Maybe because she was a loner at our old school, all into her weird art projects and only talking to the other outcasts. After years of going to the same school, all I really knew about this chick was that she didn’t party and she didn’t hook up with the guys in our class. She was all…innocent or whatever. So yeah, she might have technically been older, but she seemed like a little kid to me. She might have even been cute if she wasn’t such a pain. Very holier-than-thou, my new little step-sis.

Over the top of Harley’s head my mom gave me a pleading look. I rolled my eyes. I’d been kidding about the whole bathroom-hogging thing. Still, my mom wouldn’t be satisfied until I played nice. “You got nothing to be nervous about, sport,” I said to Harley as I headed back to the stove. “You’ve got me.”

She let out a huff of laughter. “Yeah, that makes me feel much better.”

I looked at her over my shoulder. “I’m just saying, I’ve got your back.”

“Yeah, but you’re just as much the new kid as I am,” she said. “We’re both walking into a new school in the middle of the school year—”

“You’ve only missed one month,” my mom pointed out.

“No need to be nervous, kitten.” Frank looked up from his paper to give his daughter a reassuring smile. “You and Conner can look out for each other.” He gave us both the sort of big grin one normally associated with a sleazy car salesman or maybe a creepy clown. 

I held back a sigh. “New or not, I’ll be just fine, so don’t worry about it.”

Harley held up the sheet of paper. “Did you even look at your class assignment yet?”

I stared at her. I was trying to be nice here, and all she wanted to do was show me up? That’s what I got for being a softie. “No, dork, I didn’t get my assignments yet. When did you even have time for that? It’s Monday morning.”

She blinked those owlish eyes at me. “I went on Friday.”

I stared back at her in incomprehension. “While we were moving?”

She sniffed. “I had Frank stop on our way into town.”

My brows drew together in confusion, like they always did when I spoke to Harley for more than second. The girl was weird. Smart, but weird. 

“That was good thinking,” my mom said, her tone just a little too sweet for a Monday morning. My mom still hadn’t quite figured out how to act normally around Harley. She was still trying to be the cool stepmom. Apparently she didn’t care if I thought she was cool because she smacked me lightly upside the head as I sat down with my own plate of food. “You could learn a thing or two from her, young man.”

Harley’s smirk annoyed the crap out of me as she turned to my mother. “Thanks, Lanie.”

It still weirded me out to hear her calling my mom ‘Lanie,’ like they were BFFs or something. Sure, I called Frank by his first name, too, but then—so did Harley. 

Thanks, Lanie,” I mimicked in a sing-song voice. Was it my finest moment? No. It didn’t exactly speak well of my maturity.

But it was kind of funny.

It also earned me another smack from my mom and a snort of amusement from Frank. Harley just arched her brows in challenge. She was always doing this to me, and I honestly had no idea why. She seemed to think we were involved in some sort of competition, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

We might not have been friends at our old school but we’d been in the same class for ages, so I knew what she was about, and trust me when I say...there was no competition. Harley might have been smart, but I was popular. She was a giant nerd and I was…well, let’s face it. Kind of a god, really. 

Not in the King-of-the-jocks way. Nope. That wasn’t my style. I’d never been big on sports, but I didn’t have to be. I played the guitar. Was I a musical genius? No. But I was good enough to be in a band, and the only thing high school girls loved more than a quarterback was the guy in a band. Trust me, I was speaking from experience here.

Anyway, my point was—we didn’t play in the same league so there was no competition. She could have all the good grades and be the goody-two-shoes of this family. I was all for it. She thought there was a competition, but I wasn’t even playing the same game. 

“Conner, you’ll give Harley a ride today, right?” Frank asked.

“Of course.” I met Harley’s challenging look with a smirk of my own. So she had a class schedule. Big whoop. 

I had the car.

My dad gave it to me as a present before we left California for the East Coast. A not-so-subtle bribe to make sure I still thought well of him, even though he’d all but thrown me at my mom after their divorce years ago.

Whatever. I was sixteen—I didn’t need a father figure nearly as much as I needed a car, a fact he seemed to realize when it came time to say goodbye for who knew how long.

Frank cleared the plates and offered to do the dishes so Harley and I could get to school on time. 

Apparently, ‘on time’ for Harley meant early. 

Have I mentioned the girl was weird?

Right. Moving on. 

By the time we reached the school, I’d almost forgotten about how annoying Harley could be because, yet again, the girl was back to being pitiful. I parked my Jeep in the parking lot closest to the front entrance and opened my car door, pausing when I realized she’d made no move to get out as well. “Come on, kitten, time to go,” I said, nudging her elbow and smiling in the face of her glare. 

The easiest way to torment her was to use one of Frank’s stupid nicknames.

“Don’t call me that.”

See? It was almost too easy. 

“You can’t hide out here forever,” I said. “Just walk in there and get it over with.”

“How can you be so calm?” she huffed. But she was getting out of the car, so my job here was done. I looked over to see her eyeing the groups of students who were huddled around cars, talking and laughing as they caught up from the weekend, I supposed.

“They’re just people, Harley,” I said, draping an arm around her shoulders to bolster her confidence. Like I’d said, the girl might have been annoying but I wasn’t heartless. “Just act natural. You’ll be fitting in in no time.”

“Easy for you to say,” she muttered, her little elf-like body all tense against my side. “Everyone always likes you.”

She didn’t say it but the ‘I can’t imagine why’ was very well implied. Unlike me, Harley hadn’t even tried to play nice since our parents had gotten together in a whirlwind romance that was way too nauseating and best forgotten as quickly as possible. 

“They’d like you too if you’d just relax,” I said.

She glanced up at me, surprise clear in her eyes. “That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t be weird about it.”

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