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Eden O'Neill

They the Pretty Stars

They the Pretty Stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1036 5-Star Reviews

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A town full of secrets. A dark elite.
A girl who crossed the wrong king.

They call them the Court, an elite boys club who rule Windsor Preparatory Academy like gods among men. And, of course, they’re led by Hercules himself.

Royal Prinze—yes, that’s actually his name—walks around both the school and the town like he owns them. His affiliation to the prestigious Court only gives him more clout. These boys do anything they want. They take anything they want, and they screw anything they want... in that order.

Then there’s me.

I came to Maywood Heights to live with my virtually indifferent father because my sister went AWOL. She chose to move with him after our father decided to uproot years ago and forget anything related to our late mother. I stayed with our aunt, but my sister and I had always remained close.

She’d never gone off the grid.

The new girl, I arrived at Maywood Heights to find her. The last thing I imagined when enrolling at her school was that she'd be connected to a group like the Court, and boys like Royal. She's nothing like them and so much better than Royal and his elitist attitude...

So, why then are they saying he's her best friend?

Warning: This enemies-to-lovers, high school romance contains some dark themes and light bullying. The book is not a standalone and is book one in a four-part series of full-length novels. Royal Prinze is the only hero of this tale... good luck getting him to share. 

*Hardcover and Paperback books purchased after 1/26/24 will include author's stamped signature

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Chapter One

The air tasted stale here, tasted cold. It wasn’t like California. It wasn’t like home. Contrary to popular belief, my name being December didn’t automatically adjust me to the colder-than-balls Midwestern chill.
I’m going to die when fucking winter hits.
I groaned, seriously questioning my sister’s sanity. She’d somehow managed to live here most of her whole life.
You need to get up.
I closed my eyes instead, delaying the inevitable and my father, who no doubt was moving around downstairs. I hadn’t heard the door click shut yet, my room directly above.
You need to get up. Get up, Em.
My sister’s voice haunted as I pulled myself from warm sheets. They’d been the words she said to me when she left me, left me to move halfway across the country to live with our dad. She left with him after our mom passed, cancer a son of a bitch. I stayed in Cali because that’s where we all had lived, our aunt taking me in to live with her. I’d been eight and Paige had been nine, and I didn’t need any more damn changes in my life at the time, which had been the reason I stayed. Paige hadn’t, though, and it’d been the first time she left me.
This last summer was the second.
I dragged my head up, working my shoulders in an attempt to work the kinks out from an unfamiliar bed. Dad had given me the pick of the house, but I still hadn’t gotten used to the sleeping situation yet. With a lazy reach, I grabbed my phone, pressing a button to check for texts. As predicted, Aunt Celeste had checked in on me.
Aunt Celeste: Just wanted to wish you luck on your first day. Let me know if you hear any changes about your sister, but I don’t want you to get your hopes up.
As I heard all this before I left, I simply texted back, I’ll be cool and thanks. I will.
After doing a quick scan of my social media accounts, I stood onto hard and creaking floorboards. Aunt Celeste’s and my place never creaked, never any give on cheap tiles and dingy carpet. It always worked for us, and lights always stayed on, my stomach fed. Bearing cold creaks with naked feet, I stretched and moved into the bathroom.
Yeah, I have my own bathroom… never getting used to that.
I checked more social media inside, then peeled myself away long enough to get washed up for my first day at a new school in the middle of a term. I supposed that decision had ultimately been mine, but not made because I actually wanted to uproot myself from my aunt, my friends, and everything I loved about my life. If I had things my way, I’d be back in LA on a bus to my own school with a Pop-Tart in my hand.
Paige saw fit to ruin all that.
My older sister better be okay because, if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t be—this I knew and the reason I made myself put some clothes on and trek downstairs in a house familiar to her and not to me. When Dad had been offered a job that took him almost as far away as he could possibly get from our old lives and Paige chose to live with him, I’d been pretty damn shattered for a long time. Paige and I had been more than sisters. We were friends, so yeah, I’d been hella hurt. In the end, I’d been a big girl and eventually gotten over it. There were more opportunities for her with our dad and I got that. She got stuff here with Dad, cars and fancy schools like the one I got to go to today.
“You miss your uniform or something?”
It also got her dad, Dad’s eye, and consequently, his scrutiny. I’d naively hoped he’d take his breakfast in the actual nook designated for that. He had all week since I arrived.
My presence known, I eased into the kitchen, my dad taking inventory of my acid-washed jean shorts and oversize top. He snapped his paper over the breakfast bar. “I had Rosanna leave it out for you.”
The academy uniform I missed, but probably because she’d placed it in my closet and not out in the open. Rosanna was his housekeeper, and I’d been told if I needed anything to go to her—anything to avoid actually dealing with me.
I wet my lips. “She probably put it in the closet or something. I’ll change after breakfast.”
His look was dismissive, the same eyes I had with their deep brown and far less passion for life than he had when he’d been with Mom. My dad had always been a bit of a hard-ass, but when Mom passed, the switch went into overdrive. He didn’t deal with any type of emotions. He just worked, all that easier than other things. When Mom died, it gave him an excuse to fall into the rich and opulent life he’d traded for, basically, my hippy mom. She’d been into herbs and crystals where he’d been into stocks and the sports section. Those stocks and his background in banking got him this big-ass house and a fancy job that allowed him to wear those suits he wore at the breakfast table. Most would say I probably took my looks from my dad, straight dark hair, long nose with a button tip, and curved chin. I got my hips from my mom, though, and poor Paige, she’d gotten the crap end of the stick when it came to that. She was nearly as flat-chested as our dad, but she had been skinny, though. So I guess she got that.
Trying to keep the interactions with my dad quick, I headed toward the pantry to get the Pop-Tarts I brought over with me.
“Don’t bother with those,” he said right as I touched the box. “I’m having Rosanna toss them all out. You don’t need all that sugary crap.”
My jaw working, I got off my tiptoes and returned my feet to the floor. “What am I supposed to eat?”
“I had Rosanna make you a green smoothie and some eggs. You live with me, you’re going to do some changes.”
My peripheral caught the foreign drink on the counter, green and no doubt filled with things that’d make me gag this morning. The thing that definitely would make me gag was next to them, though: the eggs under the glass dome filled with steam.
I gripped the counter, turning. “I told you I’m a vegan, Dad. Have been for three years.” As he tended to listen to every other word, I supposed he missed that.
He moved the paper. “You mean to tell me Pop-Tarts are vegan?”
“Those kind are, yeah.”
“Well, you’re not eating them, and I thought vegans were supposed to be healthy. I swear to God, you and your sister and these alternative lifestyles.”
By “alternative lifestyle,” he meant my sister’s sexuality, something he clearly still hadn’t dealt with and my sister came out in middle school. Dad was old school amongst other things and always, always sought for perfection. That perfection had been my sister’s downfall, and I was sure the reason she left. Dad directed a finger. “Drink the smoothie. You’ll be all right until lunch.”
I supposed, if he had it his way, I wouldn’t eat at all, just so he wouldn’t have to know about my existence. I’d been acting as his little dark cloud on the West Coast for years now, his secret daughter he hadn’t had to deal with. Maybe if he had, I wouldn’t have had to be a secret.
And Paige wouldn’t have really left to protect me from his wrath.
This conversation clearly over, I went to the kitchen pegboard for keys. I’d been given full use of the cars there, which I was taking full advantage of once I changed and could get the hell out of this house.
“You won’t need those for school.” Dad got the jump on me again, folding his paper crisply before standing. “Hubert will take you to school. He’s warming the car now for you.”
Hubert was his driver. “How will you get to work?”
“I’m taking the Rolls-Royce,” he said, grabbing the driving gloves I hadn’t noticed by his own kitchen plate. My dad would have a driver and not even use it. Back before Mom died, he hadn’t quite reached the level of success he had now, something he never failed to wave in front of my aunt’s face whenever he saw her. She had to work sixty-hour weeks as a nurse to put food on the table. He merely had to make a phone call with a few clients. He grabbed his briefcase. “Have a good day at school and be mindful of your curfew. Things won’t be like they were back with your aunt. I have rules here.”
He did have rules, didn’t he? And what happened to me in LA had nothing to do with my aunt, or where I lived. I was sure he’d never see it that way, so there wasn’t a point in defending myself or my geography. My dad had placed me in a tight little box, and as far as he was concerned, that’s where I would stay. Also, something told me his sentiment of me “having a good day” was more for formality than anything. I didn’t believe he actually cared to wish me well. I was an obligation, his daughter, and he had to say things like that.
He started to walk off but stopped. “Let me know if you hear anything about your sister. You know, kids talking or whatever?”
Yes, I’d definitely tell the one person what he wanted to know about the very reason I stood in this house instead of on the way to my own school. Paige not being here now had everything to do with him and absolutely nothing to do with me.
Dad’s lips turned down. “Though, don’t you get your hopes up. She’s probably dicking around like she always tends to do. She’ll make her way back when she feels like it. Have fun waiting around while she gets her shit together.”
I’d blanch if this wasn’t expected, my sister “dicking around” to the point where even my aunt wasn’t concerned anymore. Paige and my dad got into things so much that her just up and leaving had become old hat for years since she came to live with him. It wasn’t unheard of for me to wake up with my sister on my aunt’s couch or even sleeping in my desk chair after she took a red-eye to get away from him. It also wasn’t unheard of for her just to leave town and ghost for days on end after she and Dad truly let into each other. She just needed space sometimes but she always popped up…
She’d never been gone an entire summer, though.

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