Hellion (The Rebel Series)

By: Elle Casey

DEDICATION

To Rascal.

You opened up my eyes to a whole new world and I miss you more than I can say.





CHAPTER ONE





I HEAR THE FOOTSTEPS BEFORE the voice. It’s my cue to jump up off my bed and lock my door before she gets too close.

“Quinlan! Where are you?”

I love my mom to itty bitty pieces, but if I have to sit through another one of her lectures on proper role-modeling, I’m going to move out. I swear to God, I’ll do it. Now that Teagan, my best bud in all the land, has her own apartment, I actually have options. The fact that she always declines to take me up on my roommate offers means nothing. I can wear her down; I always do. Nobody’s a match for my determination. No one.

“Quinlan?” My mom checks the door. “I know you’re in there. Listen, I need to talk to you about Jersey.”

My little brother. One of the three siblings I’m supposed to be setting an example for. Luckily, he’s the only one still around much anymore. The twins are way too busy with their social lives to bother with family much.

“I’m busy, Mom!” I shout through the door. “Homework!”

“You’re out of school and you’re not taking summer courses. Open up.”

Little does she know, I actually am in the middle of a big project. But I’m going to keep that information to myself because I know what her reaction will be.

I get up and crack the door open. “Mom, seriously. I’m working on some financials right now and I need to focus.”

“Financials? For what?”

“Just a project one of my … uh … professors gave me at the end of the semester. Extra credit stuff.”

She frowns. “How are you going to get extra credit for a class that already ended?”

I roll my eyes and huff out an annoyed puff of air, as if she’s the stupid one. “Mom, would you give me a break, please? It’s not like I’m smoking crack in here or anything. I’m working.”

“Jersey ate another chapstick.”

I smile. “Jersey has a very versatile palate, what can I say? You should be proud he’s so out of the box.”

She puts her hands on her hips. “Jersey is going to get poisoned one day with you leaving your crap all over the house. I need you to be more adult about how you conduct yourself where he’s concerned.”

“Mom, I’m twenty-two. I am an adult.”

“Adults don’t leave things around for babies to put in their mouths.”

“Mom. Jesus. Wake up and smell the coffee. Jersey is twelve years old and obviously as dumb as a box of rocks. Time to stop blaming me for his half-a-brain.” I shut the door in her face and lock it again. I dance a little jig of glee and high-five myself because I know my choice of words is going to light her butt on fire. She knows I don’t mean them and that I’d lay down my life for the little turd, but it doesn’t mean I’m above yanking her chain whenever and however I can. Hot button … pressed. Whoop!

“Quinlan! Open this door!”

“I will if you stop riding my butt.”

“Open it.”

“I’ll tell Dad.”

There’s a pause as she considers her next move. We both know what’ll happen if I drag him into the mix. He’s under no illusions that my little brother is going to be the next brain surgeon on the block. The kid’ll be lucky to graduate the sixth grade, and everyone’s on board with that fact, with the exception of my mom. And my father is not a huge fan of her always blaming everyone else for Jersey’s bullcrap, so she tends to do it out of his presence whenever possible.

“You better be getting a lot of extra credit on that project,” she finally says.

“Oh, I am. Believe me.” I’m going to help my best friend get her damn inheritance back if it’s the last thing I do this summer.

“I need you to take Jersey to his doctor’s appointment later.”

“What time?”

“Two o’clock. I have to go see his therapist and come up with another plan for him. I don’t think he’s responding very well to the one we have in place right now.”

“Fine, I’ll do it. Now leave me be so I can concentrate.”

“Quinlan?”

Her sad voice makes me open the door. “Yes, mommy dearest?” I grin to take the sting out of our conversation.

“Don’t call me that. I just wanted to ask you, in a calm and rational voice, to please be more careful about leaving tempting things out in the open where your brother can get his hands on them.”

I lean out of the doorway with my lips puckered up to get a kiss. When she caves and gives me one, I smile. “Don’t worry, Mom. When I’m rich and famous I’ll pay to put him in a nice home.” I pull my head in and lock the door before she can get to me.

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