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Chasing Mia

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Blurb

How does it feel being the little sister of the infamous bad boy known as a celebrity, a legend and even a god around town? Well, Mia Rhodes hates it. Not only has she spent most of her life living in Ryder's shadow, but he's been so protective of her, she's never had a boyfriend or even had her first kiss.

Mia's luck changes when Ryder moves away just before she starts college. But with no experience with guys, she doesn't have a clue what to do when she has three after her at the same time.

Mia has to make a choice, but every choice has its consequences.

Consequences that could change her life forever.

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Chapter 1
I hear my phone buzzing on my nightstand, but I'm having an internal struggle of whether or not I want to answer it. On one hand, it's Saturday; my day to sleep in. On the other hand, it could be my brother begging me to come pick him up from some strange girl's house again. Going with the latter, I turn over and ignore it. While Ryder has more than enough experience with the ladies, I, on the other hand, have absolutely zero experience with boys. Ryder, along with my nephews CJ and Russ, have managed to keep all members of the male species far, far away from me. Which would be fine if I were eleven or twelve. Maybe even if I were sixteen, but I'm eighteen and about to start my first year of college. That's right, folks. Mia Rhodes is going to college in exactly two weeks with no relationship experience to speak of. I'm not unattractive or awkward. I'm not the shy girl or the girl no one notices. Quite the opposite actually. Thanks to my brother, I spent my years at Bellevue High School as somewhat of a legend. Not because of anything I've done, of course. But because of my brother. Girls wanted to befriend me to get closer to Ryder. That's why I never really had any female friends; not any real ones anyway. I've always gotten along better with guys. However, since my stupid brother scared off any guy with just the slightest interest in me, they tended to stay away. Everyone except for Jake, that is. Jake Parker is an exception. His parents are long time friends of my oldest brother, Logan, and his wife, Katie. We've known each other since birth and he's been my best friend ever since. We'll be sharing an apartment at UCF come fall, along with my nephew, Russ. It feels weird calling Russ my nephew since I'm only three months older than him. Logan was twenty-five when I was born. My mom had him when she was only fourteen while Ryder and I came much later. Russ' older brother, CJ, was close with Ryder until Logan's family moved away to Chicago when Katie got a job as the Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University. Russ decided to apply for college here in Florida so he could be reunited with Jake and I. When my phone buzzes again, I decide I better answer. I lazily grab it from my nightstand through my blurry vision, I notice it's my dad that's been calling me all morning, not Ryder. Uh oh. "Hello?" "Mia, I've been calling you all morning!" "Sorry, dad. I thought you were Ryder." "Speaking of the pain in my ass..." I giggle. Ryder drives my parents crazy, making me the golden child. Especially with my dad. "I need you to go help your mom at the bakery. Ryder was arrested last night and I'm on my way to the police station." "What? What did he do to get arrested?" "Fighting. Again." "Of course," I sigh. "I'll help mom. Don't worry." "I never do with you, princess." "Love you, dad." "Love you, too." I take a quick shower before throwing on a pair of jean shorts and one of Ryder's oversized t-shirts. I pull my hair up in a messy bun and decide against makeup. I'll only be slaving away in a hot kitchen all day anyway. "Good morning, sunshine," my mom says sarcastically when she sees me dragging in. I grunt in response before heading to the kitchen. "Whoa, hold up. You're up front today. I have a wedding cake to work on. Didn't your dad tell you?" I turn around and scoff. "No! I look like a hobo, mom! I can't work up front. What if Daniel Crider comes in?" Mom shakes her head. "After what Ryder did to him, do you really think he's coming near you again?" I glare at her even though she's not looking at me. "Don't remind me." I've had a crush on Daniel Crider for as long as I can remember. He's perfect. Literally, perfect. His eyes are an amazing shade of blue and his smile makes me melt. Not only is he beautiful, he's also the nicest guy you'd ever meet. His only flaw? He's terrified of my brother. Of course, not without reason. Back when I worked at the bakery after school, Daniel started coming by pretty regularly. He would hang around and talk to me and I was sure he was going to ask me to prom until my asshole brother threatened him. Mom shrugs. "He's just looking out for you, Mia." "Looking out for me by making sure that I remain a virgin until my death?" Mom chuckles. "Daniel got into UCF too, right? Maybe you'll have a second chance-" "Mom!" I whine. "UCF is just twenty minutes away! Ryder is well known around those parts. I'm pretty sure he's slept with every girl in the Theta Chi house!" She hates hearing about Ryder's endless parade of hoochie mamas, so she covers her ears and begins humming loudly to drown me out. I guess she was hoping he'd turn out more like Logan and marry his high school sweetheart, have perfect children and live happily ever after. But it would be a miracle for Ryder to settle down. We both jump when my dad crashes through the front door. He's pissed. Scratch that, he's furious. My dad looks like the Terminator, except with a beard and tattoos. He's intimidating even when he's not angry, but when he is? Run. "We've got to do something about him. He can't just keep getting into trouble like this thinking we'll always be there to bail him out," dad growls, pacing back and forth in front of my mom. Mom stands in front of him and places her hands on his shoulders. "Asher, calm down." I don't know how she does it, but my mom is my dad's kryptonite. He's powerless against her, always has been. It's kind of cute, really. He takes a deep breath before nodding. "I'm sorry, Buttercup." "I have to get the cake ready for the Jackson wedding this afternoon. After I'm done, I'll head home and we can talk about Ryder. Mia can close up." Wow. She didn't even ask me first. What if I had plans? I don't, but still. "You okay with that, princess?" Dad asks. I sigh dramatically. "Yes. I'll close up." After closing the bakery, I make the short drive home and smile victoriously when I see Ryder's car parked out front. I love my brother, but I can't say it doesn't make me giddy with excitement when he gets into trouble. I guess it's a sibling thing. When I walk into the house, it's eerily quiet. I go into the living room and freeze when I notice the tense family meeting in progress. Mom and Ryder are sitting on the sofa while dad stands in front of them, looking angry as hell. They're all so involved in what's going on, they don't even see me standing there. "How stupid can you be, Ryder? A cop? A fucking cop? You're twenty-one now, which means your mom and I are done being your 'get out of jail free card.'" Dad yells, using air quotes. "You're going to stay with Logan and Katie in Chicago for a while." "What?!" Ryder as I say at the same time. Everyone's heads snap around to me and my presence to this awkward situation is now known. Ryder looks back at my dad. "Dad, that's not fair! I'm an adult-" "Are you kidding me?! An adult?! You punched a cop, Ryder! You're lucky he didn't press charges! You're going to Chicago and that's final. Maybe your brother can talk some sense into you," dad shouts. This is great. Don't get me wrong, I'll miss my brother, but this could be my chance to have a little freedom. Maybe I can finally be something other than Ryder Rhodes' little sister. Ryder jumps to his feet, giving my dad a look of disbelief before stalking away. He doesn't look at me when he walks by, but I can see the defeat in his eyes. Ryder's life is a mess. He dropped out of college, stays out all hours of the night, disrespects our parents and has slept with more girls than I'd like to know. But dad's right. If anyone can get to him, it's Logan.  I decide to use the rest of the night to finish packing for college. I can't believe I'll be leaving in two weeks. It doesn't seem real. Now that I know Ryder won't be around to watch my every move, I'm excited for the new freedom I'll have. My bedroom door opens and Ryder walks in with his head down. "Can we talk?" I clear off a spot on my bed and pat the space for him to sit down. "Sure, what's up?" "Mia, I'm sorry I won't be around when you go off to college," he says quietly, still hanging his head. He, of course, has no idea that he's a huge pain in my ass. He sees his brotherly protection as a favor to me. "Ry, I'll be fine. Anyways, I'll have Jake and Russ to pick up where you left off." He gives me a bored look. "Do you really think they are going to look out for you like I do?" I hope not. "Jake has his head stuck up Baylee's ass all the time and Russ is just as bad as me when it comes to women. They will be so concerned with themselves, they'll barely notice you." "Wow, thanks for the encouraging words," I deadpan. "Mia, I'm being serious," he says, looking up and glaring at me. "Maybe I don't need someone constantly looking out for me. Have you ever thought that maybe I can handle myself?" I ask. He raises a brow. "Mia, you don't know what guys-" "I know, I know. I don't know what guys are like. And you know why? Because of you, Ryder! You've managed to keep all of them away so I don't have the slightest idea what to expect." "Mia..." Ryder wraps an arm around my shoulder, like he's about to give me some wise, brotherly advice. "I'm sorry, okay? I know I'm over-protective, but it's only because I love you more than anything in the world. I know how guys are and how they think. I mean, look at me. The last thing I want is for you to end up with someone like me." "Trust me, that's the last thing I want too," I say, holding a hand up. "But I'm a smart girl. I'm pretty sure I can figure life out on my own." "I know you're smart. I just don't want anything to happen to you. Especially while I'm all the way in Chicago." He sighs and drops his arm from my shoulder. "You know no guy is ever going to be good enough for you in my eyes, right?" Even though I want to be mad at him, I can't help but smile. "Well, I want to believe there's someone out there that's perfect for me. Someone that even you will like." He smirks. "The day you introduce me to a guy I actually like will be the day I settle down with one woman." I roll my eyes. "Ryder, settling down isn't the worst thing in the world. One day you'll meet a girl that will flip your whole world upside down. And I'll be right there to say I told you so." He rubs the top of my head, messing up my hair.  "I'm sure you will, peanut." He stands and walks towards the door. Before leaving, he turns to look at me. "I promise I'll come back from Chicago a changed man. Someone you can be proud of." I smile. "Ry, I'm already proud of you. You may be a little rough around the edges, but you're my big brother and you've always taken care of me. I love you." "Love you too, peanut," he winks before shutting the door behind him. I fall back on my cluttered bed and let the events of today sink in. Ryder's moving to Chicago. He won't be around to chase guys away from me at UCF. I may actually have a boyfriend soon. It could happen. It could really happen now.

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