The Rival Roomies (The Rooftop Crew #3) - Piper Rayne

Chapter One

Rian

The shrill sound of my phone wakes me, and my blurry eyes focus on the screen. Only my parents ever call me before my alarm goes off. I’d ignore the damn thing if I didn’t know they’d call right back or have the National Guard come check on their precious daughter.

“It’s early,” I answer.

“You’re not up yet?” my mom asks.

“Why are you calling me so early?” I snip.

“We were out to dinner with the Fredericksons last night,” she says.

I lie back down on the bed, putting the phone on speaker and resting it on my pillow beside my head.

This is going to be a long one.

“Uh-huh,” I say, trying not to let my annoyance be heard.

My mom says, “Johann is working on an equation.”

Johann would be the Fredericksons’ son and the person I’m constantly compared to. The one his parents named after Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, the famous German mathematician. Imagine living in the United States with the name Johann and being the leader of the mathletes—pre bully awareness. Let’s just say by the end of high school, he was walking himself into his locker and shutting the door.

I roll my eyes. “Yeah.”

“Yes,” my dad corrects me.

I say nothing. Obviously I’ve woken up on the defiant side of the bed this morning.

“It’s for a contest the Mathematical Society of America is running,” my mom says.

“That’s great,” I say with a yawn.

“They said he thinks it will take him a while to solve it.” The excitement level in my mom’s voice grows higher and higher while my interest wanes further and further.

“I’m sure he will. No one is better than him,” I say.

“Except you, sweetheart,” my dad says.

The man adds sweetheart when he wants me to do something. It’s a trigger word that says this conversation will suck and I’m most likely going to commit to doing something I don’t want to do. Namely this contest.

I say, “Jo is going to crush it. If he’s already started it, he’s as good as won.”

“The contest is open, and if you win, it’s worth prize money,” my dad says.

“How much?” I ask.

“I didn’t catch the amount. Did you, Larry?” my mom asks. “Not that it’s important. You wouldn’t be doing it for the money.”

Uh, yeah, I would.

“You don’t need money, right, sweetheart? You save a quarter of your paycheck for a rainy day like we’ve always taught you, right?” my dad asks.

“Of course.” How many lies can you tell your parents in your lifetime? I stopped counting.

“That’s my girl,” he says with pride.

Mom continues. “You do it for the notoriety. Your name will grace every conversation in the industry. You could get a much better job and forget Pierson Education. They should’ve had you writing college-level equations by now. Fifth grade math is an insult to your intelligence.”

“Mom, I don’t really have the time for another—”

“Make the time. I’m emailing you all the details now. And don’t tell anyone. I don’t want Johann working day and night to beat you. It’s about time they see how talented you are,” she says.

I roll my eyes. “I’ll look into it.”

There’s a moment of silence, and the scratching on the phone line says one of them is doing something else.

“What’s going on with you, sweetheart?” my dad asks.

I glance at the phone to make sure the connection is still with my parents. Rarely do they show any interest in how I’m really doing, preferring instead to cling to the prefabricated assurances I feed them. “Good. Sierra moved out to live with her boyfriend.”

“The prince,” my dad says. “We saw the footage. The Fredericksons didn’t know what