What the Bride Didn't Know Online - Kelly Hunter

PROLOGUE

Seventeen-year-old Lena West didn’t understand the question. It had something to do with Euler’s formula and complex z but, beyond that, Lena had no clue. Groaning, she dropped her pen on top of her grid paper and put her palms to her eyes so that she couldn’t see the sweep of ocean beyond the screen door. Summer and school work never mixed well. Not when there was a beach a few metres from the house and a swell that had seen her older brother take to the water the minute they’d arrived home from school.

It wasn’t fair that Jared could do his maths homework in his head. It didn’t help that her two younger siblings were bona-fide geniuses—one evil and one not—and could have answered question six in under ten seconds. Fourteen-year-old Poppy—who was not evil—would have helped her had she been around, but Poppy had been seconded to the University of Queensland’s mathematical think tank and spent most of her time in Brisbane these days. Thirteen-year-old Damon wasn’t around to ask either. He was pulling yet another after-school detention—his theory being that if he was unruly enough and sneaky enough, he might just manage to avoid the land of secret-squirrel think thanks altogether. Lena applauded Damon’s initiative, even if she didn’t like his chances.

When you were that bright, people noticed.

Not that Lena had anything to worry about there.

Sighing, Lena opened her eyes and picked up her pen. Question six. There it was. Mocking her. One simple little question that everybody else in her freaky family could do in their sleep.

‘Moron,’ she grumbled.

‘Who is?’ said a deliciously deep voice from behind her and Lena nearly slipped her skin because she hadn’t heard anyone come in. She knew the voice though, and her scowl deepened as she turned to glare at Adrian Sinclair, their neighbour from two doors down and Jared’s best friend since kindergarten. ‘Don’t you knock?’ she asked grumpily and knew it for a stupid question even as it left her mouth. Adrian didn’t have to knock—he practically lived here.

‘Didn’t want to interrupt your thought flow.’

‘And yet, you did.’

Adrian’s grin kicked sideways. ‘You said “moron”. I thought you were talking to me.’

‘Moron.’

‘See what I mean?’

Hard not to smile right along with Adrian’s laughing brown eyes. ‘Smiling crooked will get you nowhere.’

‘That’s not always true. Jared around?’

‘Out there.’ Lena nodded towards the Pacific. It was still blue. It still beckoned. Jared was heading out of the water, board in hand. ‘Why aren’t you out there with him?’

‘Thinking about it,’ said Adrian. ‘Why aren’t you?’

‘I have a maths test tomorrow.’ Lena eyed him speculatively. Adrian had chosen the same school subjects that Jared had. Same subjects she’d chosen, give or take a language or two. He and Jared were a year ahead of her in school. ‘What do you know about Euler’s formula and complex planes?’

Adrian moved closer, edging in over her shoulder. ‘Which question’s giving you trouble?’

‘Six.’

‘The bonus question? You know you can always leave it?’

‘How about we pretend that’s not an option?’ It wasn’t. Not in this household.

‘All right.’ Adrian reached for her textbook and started flipping through it as if he actually knew what he was looking for. Long wrists. Big hands like paddles. Thick, strong fingers with callouses that came of hours spent kite surfing. Lena had the insane urge to put her palm against his and take measure, note down exactly how warm and big and rough those hands of his were...

And then the textbook thunked down on the table beside her, and Adrian’s chest brushed her shoulder as he pointed to a particular section of text, and...damn but it was getting hot in here.

‘You want a chair?’ she asked, the better to put some breathing distance between them.

‘Been sitting all day. ’M good.’

Lena shifted restlessly and got a nose full of Adrian’s body-scent for her trouble. He smelled spicy clean, tantalisingly fine—and this after an afternoon of school sport. As if he’d taken the time to shower before heading over here, which made no sense at all given his tendency to end up in the ocean regardless.

‘So...’ he prompted, his voice gruffer than usual. ‘Question six.’

Right. Question six. Lena dragged her attention back to the matter at hand. No! Not the hands! Question six. ‘So I tried to find a—’

‘What’s going on?’ said a voice from the patio doorway, and she knew every nuance of that voice too, no need to look up to know that Jared was standing in the doorway or that he’d be