Hooked on the Game (The Sterling Shore Series #1)

By: C.M. Owens

Chapter 1

Grounded



Great. Just frigging great.

The bills stare at me from the counter and I glare back with disgust. When I moved in here, I had two roommates to help pay the bills. My part-time job at the coffee shop isn't going to be of much use. I'll never cover their half of the rent with it, and my monthly scholarship isn't going to cut it either.

They'll cut my power off tomorrow if I don't manage to come up with the money for the outrageous electric bill. This wasn't supposed to happen. I had it all planned out. My various scholarships would cover tuition, books, and part of the rent, and then I'd find two roommates to cover the rest. It's too late in the year to go shopping for roommates; everyone else already has a place now, and no one is answering my flyers.

Part one was working out. I had my money managed to an exact science. My part-time job was to cover food and clothes. Then my two roommates, Megan and Lana, stupidly broke into the school to pull a prank and they were both expelled, leaving me without anyone covering the rest of the rent.

I've barely slept an ounce for so many different reasons, and I'll lose my scholarship if my grades drop. It's hard to focus on my schooling when life is kicking my ass.

My phone buzzes on the counter, right next to a two-thousand dollar check. I groan when I see a number I don't know flashing across my screen.

"Hello?" I ask, having a good idea about who it is going to be.

"Hey, sweetheart. Did you get my check?" Dad asks, sounding hopeful.

I love the man, but this money is tainted. It has to be.

"I got it, but you know I can't cash it."

"Raya," he grumbles, "I've told you over and over that money is legitimate."

A man from prison sending two-thousand dollars every month is anything but legit. Considering why he's in prison... I have to change the subject and distract him.

"Whose phone are you using this time?"

He chuckles, as though he's amused. "One of the guards left it unattended. I did him a favor. Most of this lot would never give it back. I plan to be a good boy and return it. Don't worry."

Right. I'm sure he left it unattended. It was probably holstered on his hip or snugly tucked in his pocket, but to Ray Drivel, that is considered unattended.

"What is that ungodly racket going on there?" he asks, sounding annoyed.

Quite frankly, I'm annoyed, too. The party going on next door is ridiculously loud, obnoxious and irritating as hell. I hate Kade Colton. Preppy, rich, snobby, son of a bitch. He lives directly beside me in his house that makes my home look like a shoebox. All he does is party.

That massive home was a gift from his parents. I can't accept such lavish things from my dad. There could be jail time involved.

"My neighbor," I huff, finally answering Dad.

Something crashes outside, and I look out to see the drunken fools cackling as they stand up from the broken fence they've just smashed into. Kade has no respect for anyone. This is ridiculous.

"I need to go. I have an early morning," I say, sighing as I tear his check into tiny pieces and toss it into the trash.

"Okay, sweetie. You still coming out soon?"

I smile as I start heading toward the back window, following the idiots who are still trampling over the fence.

"Of course," I mutter sweetly before telling him bye.

It's no surprise that Kade isn't doing anything to stop them from further destroying my yard. He's a selfish prick like that. I'm trying to figure out how to keep from being evicted without touching jaded cash, and he's over there blowing money on booze and who knows what else.

"Dude, let's do it," one yells, slurring his words.

I watch as they clamber into the large bulldozer that is parked in the field directly behind the homes. That's another reason I don't sleep much. Those bulldozers start early - four in the morning most days. They're trying to add more houses behind ours to make more money off campus students.

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