This Dare You to Hate Me excerpt introduces you to Aiden and Ivy, and will have you hooked from chapter one!
If you’re a fan of sports romance—especially football—then you’ll want to pick up the Lindon U series by B. Celeste. Dare You to Hate Me is a heartfelt second-chance romance between Aiden and Ivy, former friends turned almost-strangers.
The gorgeous new covers for these books grabbed my attention, as did the premise. As someone who has discovered a newfound interest in football, I’m excited to dive into this series and put my knowledge to the test.
Plus, after reading the Dare You to Hate Me excerpt of chapter one, I have to admit that I need to know how these two finally come together. Once you devour the first book, you’ll be happy to know that the second, Beg You to Trust Me, is already available as well!
About ‘Dare You to Trust Me’ by B. Celeste
When I asked my best friend to run away with me at sixteen, I knew he’d say no.
He had football, an amazing family, and a happy home to go back to every day.
So the night I snuck out of his bedroom window after hugging him goodbye, I’d accepted I’d probably never see him again.
Then we both wind up at Lindon University four years later.
I’m barely picking up the pieces of my life when the boy whose initials I used to doodle hearts around approaches me at work.
Aiden Griffith. Lindon U’s star tight end.
Still as attractive. Still as dedicated.
With rumors of him being drafted to the NFL coming to fruition, I know it’s only a matter of time before we have to say goodbye again.
But he can’t seem to let me go no matter what I say, and I don’t think I want him to.
‘Dare You to Hate Me’ excerpt
Two Years Later
The pounding headache in my temples matches the loud thumping of my housemate’s headboard smacking into the wall above me. Covering my face with the stained, flattened pillow does little to drown out what’s going on upstairs. What’s always going on. That’s what you get when your rent is dirt cheap—four hours of sleep a night in a party house that I heard had a spare room through the grapevine at work.
I didn’t realize when I showed up with two measly bags and the clothes on my back that I’d be shoved in the dank, musty, half-finished basement that smells like old socks and lavender Febreze and brushed off with barely a second look from the six other girls I live with. Or that most of them like to party, drink, and screw, usually in that order, whenever they get the chance to.
But I’d endure. I have nowhere else to go in this godforsaken town thanks to my spontaneous decision to get my life together, and I have no room to judge what Sydney is currently doing in the confines of her bedroom. I’ve done far worse, far more times, I’m sure of it.
Groaning when I drag myself out of bed, I throw on my typical Bea’s Bakery attire, blue jeans and a black long-sleeve shirt that has the business’s cartoon bee logo flying around a cupcake across the chest, and slide a brush through my faded blue hair. I’m lucky Beatrice Olsen, the elderly woman who owns the bakery here in Lindon, New York, hasn’t asked me to dye it back to my natural color. The copper-brown color my hair used to be had natural red and caramel highlights in the sunlight, a unique mixture my mother used to tell me she envied because it took a lot of money at salons to produce the same results.
No longer is my hair a mixture of my parents’—my mother’s pretty copper and my father’s chocolate brown. The long locks I desperately need to cut soon are one of the few things I can change about myself. It’s a chance to be someone else even temporarily, an identity of my own, unattached to my past or the people I walked away from.
It’s barely seven in the morning when I slip upstairs, ignoring the moans coming from the only other door off the kitchen besides mine, and focus on grabbing my Starbucks iced coffee from the fridge and leaving before my housemate and her hookup are done.
People have rarely bothered me since I moved in back in July. The large white two-story Victorian is well known around campus as the place to party. Unfortunately, that means a lot of guests stay overnight; hookups, people too drunk to drive, and the occasional significant other pop up from time to time when I’m not locked in my room.
Raine, the only girl here who acts like I don’t have fleas, and her boyfriend, Caleb, are two people I tolerate. The few times I’ve been hassled by one of my roommates’ hookups, it’s always Caleb, the laid-back but charming running back for Lindon University’s football team, who gets them to leave me alone. Since words aren’t my forte, I thank him with homemade baked goods that he takes to his place, which is rumored to house a handful of other football players.
I never ask for confirmation, and he never remarks on the double batch of desserts I send his way figuring there are other massive men to feed. He simply brings back the clean dishes for the next time he has to fend off some asshole who can’t take no for an answer.
My shift at the local bakery is like any other when I clock in, tie a small white apron around my waist, and help Bea’s granddaughter Elena get the pastries out for the day. There are early morning regulars, older couples who love the Sunday specials, that I get to greet and make easy conversation with, and a few grad students who don’t totally piss me off when they hang around using the Wi-Fi.
In Lindon, everyone knows everyone even though the college brings in over three thousand students each semester. It’s what I imagine a real-life Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls would feel like if it were a small city. The customers who come in the bakery always have a new slice of gossip to share, and you’re never safe from being one of the topics.
The sixteen-year-old sitting on the back counter with her legs dangling over the side in a swinging motion pokes at my hair. “When are you going to redye this?”
I make a face as I pour myself a cup of coffee since the one I brought didn’t cut it. I’ll need the extra caffeine after the last hour and a half turned into a nonstop morning rush. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what color I want to do next.”
And I’m broke, I silently add, blowing on the steam billowing from the cup. No matter how hard I save up what little extra money Bea not so subtly sneaks into my paychecks each week, it’s still not enough to justify buying pointless little things.
“I can do it,” Elena, or Lena as I call her, offers, sipping on some disgusting concoction that only she drinks.
Setting my cup under the counter so I don’t accidently spill it, I say, “I’m good, Lena.”
Lena is sweet enough. A little too talkative and bubbly for my liking, especially first thing in the morning, but I’ve worked with worse—spoiled teenage brats and older people who are asses. My biggest problem with the social butterfly is how much she reminds me of what could have been before I messed everything up. It’s not her fault that her tender age and obvious naivete trigger something dark inside me that I prefer to bottle up.
It’s something I have to deal with every time she complains about things like her mother refusing to extend her curfew, let her date, or wear certain types of clothing when she’s out. Her nose always crinkles when I say, “I don’t see why you’re so upset. Your mother loves you. That’s why she’s hard on you.”
Lena’s about to say something when her eyes get big and she kicks me a little too hard in the back of the thigh with her favorite checkered platform Vans. “He’s back!”
I know instantly who she’s talking about before I even turn to scope out the entrance. The little bell on the door goes off at the same time every Sunday, and Elena feels the need to point him—and his staring—out each week. He’ll wait to order until the line is down before he gets the same thing as always—a small coffee, no cream or sugar, six milks, and half an everything bagel.
All the bagels are homemade and probably the best things I’ve ever eaten. Bea makes them herself, never trusting anybody else to get them right. She stays late, makes the dough, bakes them, and leaves them for us to heat whenever they’re ordered the following day. They sell out every time.
The only reason I don’t raise a fit about the not-so-mystery-man’s order is because I get to eat the other half, since nobody in their right mind would only order half of the delicious doughy treat.
I manage to roll my eyes without the person I’m cashing out seeing. “Calm down. And no kicking. Your excitement gives me bruises.”
She scoffs behind me, and I’m sure if I glance over my shoulder, I’ll see her arms crossed and her pink glossy lips sticking out in a pout. Sure enough, when I steal a look, she’s doing just that. “It’s not hard to make you bruise when you’re barely a shade darker than white.”
I grin to myself and pass the man his change, coffee, and bag of pastries before turning to her. “Whatever. And he’s just another customer, so chill.”
Now she rolls her eyes, disbelief evident in them like always when I brush off the appearance of Lindon U’s star tight end. He’s a guy who excels at what he does, I’ll give him that. But he’s still just a guy——a guy who orders half a bagel like some kind of carb-hating demon while still paying full price for it.
“He’s coming over,” she squeaks, cheeks turning red like they always do in his presence. It’s why, as much as I want to pass him off to her to avoid any conversation, I have to handle it so she doesn’t make a fool of herself.
I know some of the guys on Lindon U’s football team from my intro classes this semester, making it easier to handle the mostly overbearing team members better than some when they come in. Biological anthropology is where a lot of athletes wind up because of the professor’s reputation for giving out easy As. I guess it makes sense that sports team members would flock to classes like that since their GPAs are required to be over a 2.5 to stay on any team here, but their presence makes it harder to concentrate. They’re all stupidly attractive, and considering their cocky smiles and flirty winks at the female (and male) students who notice, they know they are too.
I’ve seen some of the players use the attention to their advantage, making me scoff every single time they convince some poor victim to help them with homework or papers or buy them something here at Bea’s.
Maybe if I were any other person, with any other experience, I’d succumb to their looks as well—give them free things when they approach me at the counter or agree to study and wind up with my shirt up and jeans down in the stacks at the library or pinned between a wall and a bulky body in the locker room. Attractive people make you do stupid things out of human need, but it’s the ones who have the whole package that are the most dangerous.
Especially the one stopping in front of the cash register right now.
According to ESPN, the man towering over my five-nine stature is close to six six. Tall. Powerful. Authoritative. I’ll never forget the day he walked into Bea’s with his normal group of friends all bellowing over something stupid. His head was down, his shoulders hunched, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his red Lindon U sweatshirt like he didn’t want anybody to bother him, but somehow I knew.
I knew I’d be met with electric blue eyes when he looked up——the kind impossible not to be enamored with. And if I looked close enough, I’d see a formation of freckles on the right side of his face that resembles the Big Dipper.
What I didn’t expect was how defined his jaw became, slightly squared and clean of any scruff most of the time, a patrician nose free from any breaks despite his aggressive sport, and a set of lips that are enviously fuller than mine.
He’s the perfect type of football player in my eyes. Tanner from the summer sun, built but not overly so despite all the training he does, and a smile that’s so white I hear Crest reached out to him on his Instagram to be featured. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I don’t have social media these days, just housemates who love to gossip. Especially about the football players who have made a splash on ESPN and local news stations with talk of going pro.
“Your usual?” I greet him, careful to keep my tone even despite the way my skin tingles as he towers over the register.
One of his brows, dark brown like the hair on his head, quirks. “Am I that predictable?”
It’s Elena who chirps out a “Yep.”
He chuckles, swiping one of those huge hands through the tresses of thick hair that are longer on the top versus the sides. “The usual then.”
I try not to focus on the low, husky tone of his voice, which causes bumps to rise over my arms. He’s twenty-one, but he doesn’t sound it. Before I settled for a half-renovated basement, I couch surfed with strangers. Most of them were men older than my twenty years with every intention of making me pay them in some way, and usually not with money.
Aiden Griffith doesn’t give me the same vibes those guys do though. I’ve had limited interactions with him since the day he walked in and stared in my direction until every inch of me felt the lick of flames from his burning blue gaze. He’ll order, I’ll tell him it’s ready, and he’ll give me a generic “have a good day,” knowing I’ll never offer an opportunity for more. One time, he told me my shoe was untied, which I’d already figured out after almost falling on my face with a tray full of breakfast for table three-who happened to be his buddies. Most of them besides Caleb and DJ, a guy from my anthropology class, laughed at my clumsiness until Aiden shot them a look. They shut up quickly.
It makes no sense to me why a player so sought after would be at a school like Lindon. We’re not Division I. If anything, we’re the misfit college—once thriving, now barely making ends meet if not for the championships the football team wins. I’ve heard people say that athletes who blow it at other schools come here to redeem themselves. Some of them make a future for themselves in the pros after their second chance, and others fizzle out.
I wonder which the man in front of me is.
I’ve been to a few games in the last year when I was squatting near campus and checking out my financial options for enrollment. Thanks to having nothing to my name and a decent GED score, financial aid pulled through for me when I was accepted. I know a little bit about the game but not what each position is called or what the scoring system is like. Most of what I do understand comes from the sixteen-year-old I work with, who feels the need to read out sports stats from online that are more like code to me than English. But because I want to understand, to learn after he walked in the first time, I try piecing together the little tidbits she always babbles about—who’s the best, who’s going pro, who won’t get the chance. Lena and her grandmother have predictions for the entire team, and like most of Lindon, they’re in agreement that Aiden Griffith can make it to the top.
Elena is the conversationalist in this transaction as I prepare Aiden’s coffee because my tongue is too heavy. “Grandma Bea said the Dragons are going to kick butt all the way to the championships.”
From the corner of my eye, I see the tight end’s lips twitch upward, like he doesn’t want to be cocky but can’t pretend it’s untrue. “That’s the plan. Are you coming to support us?”
According to some of the locals who come in for coffee, the university has broken the records for most wins at home and away because of the team they’ve had the last two years.
“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it! Bea was going to shut down early until Ivyprofen here said she’d stay and close.” Lena snorts while I roll my eyes at her nickname for me. “I don’t know why. Nobody will be here except her.”
A new set of eyes focuses on my face, but I busy myself by spreading the olive oil and sea salt butter he likes over his bagel. “Ivyprofen?” There’s amusement in his tone, but he doesn’t let either of us explain that Elena calls me that because she says I’m a pain and she needs medicine after dealing with me. Instead, he proceeds to ask, “Not a fan of football, huh?”
All I give him is a stiff shrug, and even the smallest upward movement feels draining. I know better than to believe it’s from exhaustion but refuse to acknowledge the real reason behind the tightness consuming my body.
I remind myself I’m here to work, not make conversation with every customer who comes in. Especially not him.
As Elena goes to answer for me, her grandmother walks out from the back. “Lena, I need you to help me take out the bins of dough from the back and set them in the kitchen for me. We have a lot of baking to do today for the week.”
I usually help with the week’s preparations, but Elena expressed interest in learning her grandmother’s recipes, so I took a step back. I want to believe Bea sees me as another grandchild—one of the twelve she lays claim to. But I know I’m not and that I shouldn’t try so hard to be.
You’re here for a paycheck, I tell myself again silently. Not a family.
Feeling my throat close up as I wrap up the bagel and stick it into a bag, I begin folding the top to complete the order when I hear, “Ivy.”
It doesn’t roll off the tongue like he’s testing its sound.
It’s in familiarity.
You’re here for a paycheck, I tell myself once more as I turn on my heels and pass him the white bag and coffee cup without meeting those bright blue eyes. “That’ll be $4.25 please.”
“Ivy,” he repeats, and I wonder if he can hear how hard my heart thumps with the sound of my name coming from his lips again.
“Cash or credit?” I press, staring at the machine’s buttons, ignoring the pumping organ in my chest.
“We also take Dragon Dollars,” I say, cutting him off, gesturing toward the new promotion. Any college student who comes in can pay by scanning their student ID card.
He cusses under his breath. “You’re just going to keep pretending then?” Even though his words are barely more than a hushed murmur under his breath, I feel them deeper than that. They sweep under my skin and squeeze my heart until I hear it crack from the pressure.
All I give him is, “Yes.”
Because pretending is all I can do to get through today without remembering the past or the girl who confided in a boy before he left her to her demons four years ago.
I don’t blame Aiden.
And I’ve never forgotten him either.
That’s the problem.
‘Dare You to Hate Me’ hit store shelves on April 11, 2023
Buy Dare You to Hate Me by B. Celeste through Sourcebooks, BookShop.org, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.
Visit our books page for more reviews and exclusives like this Dare You to Hate Me excerpt.