Author: Gina Ciocca
Pub Date: January 2, 2017
Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby — until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!
Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.
And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation — and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take "cheater" to a whole new level...
I slammed my locker a little harder than I meant to at the sound of TJ’s voice. Who knew being a stalker would make me so jumpy? I pasted a smile on my face.
"Hey, what’s up?"
TJ flashed a huge grin. "I finished it this weekend." He moved his hand from behind his back and held out a black leather belt dotted with silver studs. It was totally gorgeous, and one hundred percent badass at the same time.
"I love it!" I cried, instantly forgetting to regard him as Shady McShadeballs. I took the belt and slid it through the loops of my jeans, loving that it complemented my green shirt, matching flats, and silver jewelry. "What do I owe you?"
TJ scoffed. "You don’t owe me anything."
"No! I can’t take this for nothing. I have to give you something for it, please?"
The corner of his mouth turned up. "You can take my place interviewing Mr. Crossley about the Math League after school today if you want. I’ll even let you write my article."
I smiled back. "Nice try. How about this – I’ll take the belt, but only if you let me order some more of your stuff for the holidays and pay you for it. Deal?"
The locker behind me slammed and the skin on my neck crawled. I whipped around, knowing exactly who would be standing there, and the daggers were already shooting from my eyes before I’d even completed my rotation. The ice in my glare could’ve turned the hallway into a skating rink. TJ must’ve sensed it, because he said, "Fair enough. Um, I’ll catch up with you later," and walked away.
Jordan’s stare stayed fixed on his locker. "Don’t give me that look, Marisa."
I folded my arms across my chest. "What the hell was that about on Saturday? You told me you wanted me at the bonfire, then totally blew me off. How am I supposed to look at you?"
He slung his bag over his shoulder and threw his other hand in the air. "It’s not that I changed my mind about wanting to be friends, okay? It’s like you said – I didn’t know how to react. Things have been shitty for so long that I forgot how to be normal around you. I’m sorry, all right?"
My comeback, "Sorry is a good word for you," would’ve been awesome – if I’d had a chance to deliver it. But at that exact moment, my cell phone rang. And since a phone rarely rings with good news at 7:30 a.m., my attention was instantly diverted to the screen flashing Charlie’s name.
I stepped into the exit alcove and barely got a hello out before she said, "Sorry to bother you, but we need to talk. You’re advertising now?
"I’m hanging up to text you something. Call me as soon as you see it."
The call clicked off before I could say another word. I was still staring confusedly at the screen when it flashed with a text message. Charlie had sent me a link to a website. When I clicked on it, my heart went dead inside my chest.
A website loaded onto the screen. The word BUSTED splashed across the top of the page in bold, fat letters, glinting in red and black stripes, almost identical to the pin I’d made for Charlie. The pin Kendall had specifically mentioned liking. A squat exclamation point punctuated the word, and a jagged split between the S and T made it – along with the heart around it – appear broken in half.
Beneath the heading, in smaller print, it said Don’t hate the player...bust his ass!
This had to be a joke. Only one person could’ve been responsible for this, and I knew exactly who it was.
I called Charlie back, crushing the phone against my ear as I dashed toward the computer lab. My phone was too old and too slow, and the school’s cell service was too spotty to mess around.
"You’re shitting me," I said when she picked up. I didn’t so much sit as crash-land in one of the lab’s plastic blue chairs, and my book bag skidded across the floor and toppled over.
"So you didn’t know?"
I pulled the website up on the computer and scanned the page as fast as my brain could process it. "'Suspect your guy has a roaming eye? Our services are discreet, anonymous, and affordable.’" I almost dropped the phone. "She’s advertising me for a fee?!"
"Keep reading. It gets worse."
"Oh my God!" I moaned. "Fake testimonials? Is she on cra- oh my God. Oh. My. God."
I had reached the spot where Kendall provided contact information for my quote-unquote "services." She’d listed the email address as OnTheMAP17@yahoo.com.
MAP. Marisa Ann Palmera. Not only had she used my initials, she’d followed them with my freaking birth date. Who the hell had taught her the definition of anonymous? To think, earlier this morning I’d felt bad for her. Not anymore.
"Do you want me to throw a bag over her head and take her out behind the bleachers? Teach her a little lesson?" I could practically hear Charlie’s knuckles cracking.
"Don’t bother," I said. "I’m going to kill her myself."
Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood. Gina can also be found online at writersblog-gina.blogspot.com, on Instagram as gmciocca, and Twitter as gmc511.
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