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Nerdy Girls Can Rock

Nerdy Girls Can Rock

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Neighbors aren’t supposed to fake a relationship.

They’re also not supposed to kiss like it’s real.

Eighteen months ago, an accident didn’t only take their friend, it took their friendship too.

Nari can’t remember the last time she spoke with Avery, the last time she thought of him without anger. He’s mean, cruel, he sits atop the food chain at school, looking down on nerds like her.

Nari is a nerd in looks only. When falling grades set her back, Avery proposes a deal. Pretend to be his girlfriend to get back at his ex, and he’ll make sure she passes math.

It sounds easy enough, and there’s little risk. She’s too focused on sinking grades and the rock band no one can know about to fall for the boy next door.

But this boy next door… well, he might just fall for her.

Main Tropes

  • Secret Rockstar
  • Hate to Love
  • Boy Next Door
  • Sweet Romance
  • Nerdy Girl/Popular Guy
  • Fake Relationship


Neighbors aren’t supposed to fake a relationship. 

They’re also not supposed to kiss like it’s real. 

Eighteen months ago, an accident didn’t only take their friend, it took their friendship too. 

Nari can’t remember the last time she spoke with Avery, the last time she thought of him without anger. He’s mean, cruel, he sits atop the food chain at school, looking down on nerds like her. 

Nari is a nerd in looks only. When falling grades set her back, Avery proposes a deal. Pretend to be his girlfriend to get back at his ex, and he’ll make sure she passes math. 

It sounds easy enough, and there’s little risk. She’s too focused on sinking grades and the rock band no one can know about to fall for the boy next door. 

But this boy next door… well, he might just fall for her. 

Get lost in this sweet and clean young adult romance where the nerd is sometimes a secret rockstar and old friends can become new flames. With heartwarming characters and a guaranteed happy ending, Nerdy Girls Can Rock is a standalone romance in the About That Girl series, perfect for fans of Kasie West and Huntley Fitzpatrick.


Nari Won Song, nerd extraordinaire, was a secret rock star. Or at least that was what she told herself.

A bead of sweat trailed down the curve of Nari’s cheek as the bright lights blared down on her. A steady drumbeat pulsed through her, shooting a wave of energy down her arms. Her fingers pounded into the bone-white keys of her keyboard, sending its song out over the audience, mixing with the sounds coming from her bandmates.

Julian stood to the right, a grin stretching his lips as his nimble fingers shifted between the strings of his guitar. She’d known Julian for a long time now, but she hadn’t seen true joy enter his gaze until stepping onto the stage for the first time with him a few months ago.

Wylder kept them on beat with her drums at the back of the stage.

And Becks. He looked over at Nari from his place at the microphone. His guitar hung on his back, and his long fingers wrapped around the microphone stand. He winked as he belted out the chorus of their current song. Nari leaned into her mic, her voice joining his as they’d done so many times before.

The bar they played in tonight was larger than their usual spots. It sat outside their hometown of Twin Rivers, drawing a crowd from the neighboring towns. It always made Nari nervous to use the fake IDs they needed to book gigs like this one. Julian was the oldest band member at nineteen. Becks and Nari had both already turned eighteen, but Wylder was three years younger. Together, they were known as the band, Anonymous.

Nari let her voice fade off, allowing Becks to take them home.

Adrenaline pumped through Nari as they said goodnight. Even after months of being in a band, she didn’t think she’d ever get used to feeling so…free. On stage, she forgot about the expectations of her family and the struggle to keep up with school. Memories didn’t assault her, reminding her of the pain she’d once faced with her friends.

Under the bright lights, no one cared who they were or that the four of them would barely acknowledge each other come school on Monday. On these nights, just for a few short moments, they belonged together.

Becks wrapped an arm around Nari’s shoulders and let out an excited howl as they rushed from the stage. Julian and Becks had their guitars, but the drum set and keyboard belonged to Charlie’s, the bar that was home to the drunks currently calling for more songs.

But, that was the thing. They never did encores. Not if they were going to make it home in time for their parents to remain in the dark.

Twin Rivers was a small town. Nari wasn’t from a well-known family, but if people heard Julian Callahan and the two Anderson children spent their weekend nights playing music in bars, it would be all anyone talked about.

They pushed into the storage room where they’d left their things. Julian pulled the cord attached to the single bulb overhead. Becks gave Nari one final squeeze before releasing her and picking Wylder up from behind. She squealed at her brother as he whirled her around.

“That felt so darn good.” Becks was always the most excitable of the group, and his joy was infectious. They all enjoyed performing, but he was made for the stage. People didn’t come to see Anonymous; they came to see Becks.

Nari brushed a hand through her sweaty hair, hating herself for retreating into her shell the moment she stepped off the stage. But she couldn’t help who she was. At school, she only talked to those she knew best. As the lone Asian girl at Twin Rivers High, she was often overlooked yet also overestimated. They all expected her to be something she was not. A genius.

Instead, she struggled just to get through senior year. But she wouldn’t tell them that. She’d let her peers see her glasses and think “smart.” It beat the other term they had for her. Nerd.

Julian was as quiet as Nari but not out of shyness. There was a darkness to him. But Becks… he was the opposite. Standing beside his sister—the only one of them who looked the part of rocker daily—he seemed the ultimate good boy. Boy next door good looks. A strong, lean frame that excelled on the football field. Blond hair. Big grin that never seemed to go away.

As Nari pulled a hoodie from her bag and slipped it on over her head, the door to the storage room burst open, revealing Mick, the weekend manager of Charlie’s. A scowl marred his face.

“Come with me,” he growled.

Becks rubbed his hands together. “Payday.”

Nari wasn’t so sure. She was always good at reading people, and something in Mick’s face chilled her.

Becks pulled her against his side as they walked. “Can you believe we’re getting paid for this, Nar?”

She raised an eyebrow, unable to count how many times she’d said that wasn’t a nickname for Nari. Becks didn’t mean it as anything other than affection though. He was harmless, unlike his best friend, Avery. After getting to know Becks, Nari was confused about the two of them and how they could possibly be friends. She’d once been in his position with Avery, but that was before he turned into a jerk. Before the accident that changed all their lives.

One problem at a time. Memories of the accident could be pushed away, just as she’d done for the last two years. Mick’s obvious anger could not.

They entered Mick’s office behind him, hanging back near the door. He didn’t invite them to sit. Instead, he lifted the IDs they’d given him from his desk and dropped them into the trashcan next to it.

“I have a friend at the police department run all IDs of performers for me.” He pinned them with a stare. “Fakes.”

Nari swallowed thickly and glanced at Becks who’d gone white. Not only had they lied to get a gig in a bar, but Becks calmed his nerves before the show with a beer. Only one. He never went overboard.

Mick moved around his desk. “Have a seat. The police are on their way.”

Nari noticed Becks edging toward the door and pulling Wylder along with him. He counted under his breath. “One.” Step. “Two.” Step. “Three.” All hell broke loose as the four of them turned and sprinted through the crowded bar.

Julian and Becks were the only ones with instruments, but they made it out the front door before anyone could stop them. A bouncer ran after them.

“Get to the car,” Julian ordered. He pulled the keys from his bag as he crossed the full parking lot. The lights of his Jeep Cherokee flashed as he unlocked it. Nari and Wylder jumped into the back. Julian passed his guitar to Nari while Becks hopped into the passenger seat, holding his guitar in his lap.

A police car pulled into the parking lot as they peeled out, leaving the bar behind.

Nari could hardly breathe.

Becks rubbed his face. “What just happened?” He glanced back at the girls, bewilderment in his eyes.

Julian shook his head. “Dude, I think we just ran from the cops.”

A laugh burst from Becks, and before long, all four of them were gasping for air between their fits of laughter. Nari leaned her head back on the seat, reveling in her last few minutes of living a different life. With these people, she got to be someone else. They’d made a pact not to tell people about their band. They knew what the kids at school would think. Everyone at Twin Rivers High had a label. No one escaped the judgment. Becks was Mr. Popular. Wylder was the wild child. They called Julian the loner. And Nari, well, she was the nerd.

But with no one else around, they were a team. Few people understood how much she needed that.

It took them half an hour to reach the Twin Rivers city limits. The cops hadn’t followed them, but they’d never be able to perform at Charlie’s again. Julian dropped Becks and Wylder off at their small craftsman home, its wide front porch giving it a homey quality Nari had always loved.

She climbed between the seats to sit on the passenger side as Julian pulled back out onto Main. They only lived a few streets apart. Now that the gig was over, there was very little to be said between them.

Almost two years ago, Julian lost his twin brother, Cooper, to a car accident. Cooper, driving drunk, hit a patch of ice and went over the Defiance bridge. His friends, Avery and Cameron were in the car, but they survived. Julian had been driving behind them and jumped into the river to try to save his brother. He failed. He left town after that, returning eighteen months later with parts of himself missing. Gone was the boy who’d held an intensity she’d always been curious about. Now, there was only sadness.

They pulled up outside Nari’s palatial home. It had always felt too large for just her and her parents. She didn’t have any siblings, leaving her the sole focus of her mother. With a sigh, Nari pulled the hood up over her hair to hide the pink clip-on highlights she wore for each performance. If she was lucky, she’d get into her room to wash the makeup off her face and remove her contacts before her mother saw.

“You okay?” Julian asked.

She nodded. “I just… I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah. Later.”

She jumped out of the car with her bag slung over one shoulder. The freezing wind slapped her in the face, reminding her of the oncoming winter in Twin Rivers. It was never pleasant. She’d forgotten her winter coat despite it being the end of November. Hugging her arms over her chest, she stopped when she saw a figure huddled on the steps next door. For a moment, she thought it was Avery, but the boy lifted his head, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

Nari didn’t know why talking to Avery gave her such anxiety. He’d stopped being mean to her over the last few weeks, but he was still Avery St. Germaine, Twin Rivers football god.

“Nicky,” she called.

He stood and jogged toward her, hopping over the low stone wall that stood between their houses. With his cheeks rosy from the cold, he blew out a breath, letting the steam float between them. “Hey, Nari.” His smile was kind. There was nothing similar about Nicky and Avery. Nicky was just…easy. Two years younger, he held his vulnerability in front of him like a shield to keep people away. But, he’d never pushed her away.

“What are you doing out here?” she asked. “It’s freezing.”

He blew into his hands and shrugged. “Pop’s at it again.”

She sighed. Grayson St. Germaine, former NFL player, was a drunk. A mean drunk. Nari’s family could sometimes hear him yelling, but they pretended they didn’t. Her heart ached for Nicky and even Avery.

“Come on.” She grabbed Nicky’s arm. “It’s too cold out here. You can hang out with me for a while.” Despite her exhaustion, Nicky’s grateful smile made it worth it.

It was late, but her mother had a soft spot for the St. Germaine children and wouldn’t make him leave. Sometimes, Nari thought she preferred those two boys over her own daughter.

She flicked her eyes to Nicky’s house once more where the front door had opened. Avery crashed into the night, but he didn’t acknowledge them as he raced to his car. He was probably headed to his girlfriend Meghan’s house to get away from his dad.

Stepping into her house, Nari glanced around for her mom.

Nicky’s eyes widened when he got a look at her in the light. “Did you have a gig tonight?” As a friend of Wylder’s, he was one of the few people who knew about the band.

She held a finger to her lips and led him through the house, turning off lights as she did. Her parents must be asleep. She’d hear about her late return the next morning.

Slipping into her room on the ground floor, she shut the door behind Nicky. “It was at a bar outside town.”

His eyes scanned her from head to toe. “You look awesome, Nari.” He reached out and pushed her hood back, his grin widening. “Why don’t you wear the makeup to school?”

Self-consciousness took hold, and she stepped away from him. “Because this isn’t me.” She turned away to rummage in her dresser. “It’s just an escape.”

As if sensing the irritation in her tone, Nicky softened his voice. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”

She knew he didn’t. Nicky wasn’t like the other kids at school. He didn’t care about her appearance. When she’d first become friends with him, they were tentative around each other. For so long, she was just his older brother’s friend, and he was the kid brother tagging along after them.

Then he came out as gay, and he looked outside his family for the support they didn’t give him. As his neighbor, Nari had been there to listen to everything he needed to say, and they’d cemented their friendship.

She pulled a pair of sweats out and threw them toward him. “You get the floor.”

He saluted. “Yes, ma’am.”

She smiled to herself as she changed into her pajamas. After the accident that tore her group of friends apart, she’d had no one. Her best friend, Peyton, kept everyone at arm’s length in her grief over her brother, Cooper’s death and Julian’s abandonment. Cam left town. They all assumed he was at an Olympic training center since he was expected to make the Olympic track team in the coming years. They never imagined he left because infection had taken his leg.

And Addison… she’d turned to her cheerleading squad for support, becoming one of the girls she’d always hated. Someone who treated others as if they were beneath them.

And Avery. Nari sighed. He’d blamed all of them for Cooper’s death. The two boys had been closer than any of them. She tried not to hold his douchebagness against him, but it was freaking hard.

Moving to the closet, she pulled a blanket and pillow out, tossing them to Nicky. He settled onto the floor as Nari sat at her vanity, pulling the pink hair extensions free, leaving only ebony locks behind. She cleaned the makeup from her face, watching the girl she truly was reappear. Her vision blurred as she removed her contacts and set them beside the thick-rimmed glasses. Standing, she crossed to her large four-poster bed and climbed beneath the heated fleece blanket, clicking it on. The performance had taken every bit of energy she possessed. As heat wound through the blanket, her body relaxed into the mattress and relief flooded her.

“Alexa,” she said. “All lights off.” The lights flickered off.

Nicky chuckled. “Lazybones.”

She rolled onto her side to look down at him in the dark. He’d pulled the blanket to his chin, hiding his small frame. “Nicky?”


She hesitated for a moment, her gaze going to her window. Behind those blinds, she’d have been able to see Nicky and Avery’s house. When they were younger, Avery, Cooper, and Cam would show up at her window to scare the girls when they were having sleepovers. But that was a different world. She rolled onto her back, trying to quell those thoughts. They wouldn’t do any good.

“Your brother…” She let the silence stretch between them.

Nicky seemed to read her mind. “He’s okay, Nari. Not like he’d ever tell me. But he takes everything with my dad better than I do. He’s able to escape into football and his life among all the pretty people.”

Just like she did with her music. But, as overbearing as her mother could be, Nari knew she was lucky. Her parents cared. They didn’t even yell. Ever.

She could just picture Avery’s sneer if he knew she worried about him. Cam and Peyton eventually started moving on from everything that happened. Even Julian returned. Avery hadn’t physically left Twin Rivers, but some part of him had. They’d all been waiting for him to return, for him to be the boy they knew. Maybe that boy died along with Cooper.

That thought had a tear rolling down her cheek.

“Nari,” Nicky said, his voice quiet.


“What’s it like?”

Just as he had, she knew what he meant. Performing. Becoming someone else. She closed her eyes. “It’s everything, Nicky.” She couldn’t imagine her life as it had been before the band. Music had always been a part of her. Her mother forced her into piano lessons from a young age, but she’d never loved it. Not like she did now. The classical music she’d known her entire life didn’t speak to her as Becks’ songs did.

She could almost hear Nicky’s smile. “You’re lucky. Not all of us have a way to escape the stuff in our lives.”

She didn’t respond because she’d already known. As much as she hated walking into school each morning during the week, she had the weekends to get her through.

* * *

“Nari Won Song!” Her mother’s voice pierced her veil of sleep, and Nari shot straight up in bed. A sharp pain stabbed through her skull, and she gripped the side of her head. A dark curtain of hair fell in front of her eyes to shield them from the light her mother switched on.

“Umma,” she groaned. She may have never visited South Korea where her family was from, but she still had the Korean words and tendencies she flipped on around her family. “What time is it?”

Her mother flicked her eyes to her watch. “Early, Nari. Very early.” Korean flew from her mouth as if she didn’t know she’d switched languages. She probably didn’t. Ji-a Won Song always ranted in Korean when she was angry.

Nari leaned back with a sigh. Her mother was so predictable. It was way too early for her to attempt picking out the words she knew. Nari had grown up in a Korean household, yes, but also in a town where they were the only Korean-American family. She spoke the language, but only roughly in a mixture of Korean and English they called Konglish. When her parents immigrated, they’d had nothing. They were newly married, but young and full of dreams. Nari was proud of what her parents built. Her father made it through university, creating a life for his family that he’d never imagined.

But it made them want the same for Nari. They held on tightly to their Korean heritage but also bought into the American dream, wanting Nari to have every opportunity. And for them, that meant focusing more on English and the lessons of American schools than her Korean roots. From a young age, her parents spoke more English around her than anything else.

She knew it made her father sad, but he wasn’t one to argue.

Her mother stopped speaking and stood at the end of the bed, fuming. Ji-a was a tiny woman with a slim figure. Dark hair stopped at her ears, curling toward sharp cheekbones and an angular jaw. Her small almost black eyes bore into her daughter’s.

A groan came from the floor. Nicky. Nari had forgotten he was there.

Her mother’s face softened when she noticed Nicky’s disheveled hair peeking out from under the blanket. Nari put all her strength into not rolling her eyes. Her mother would adopt the St. Germaine boys if she could.

“Young man, you should probably be getting home. Your mother will worry.”

Nicky scrambled off the floor, leaving the blanket in a pile near the pillow. “Uh, yes, ma’am. Thank you for, uh…” He turned his reddened face to Nari. “Letting me stay.”

She offered him a tight smile, knowing as soon as he left, she was in for a world of hurt from her mother. She had to prepare her verbal boxing skills. “See ya, Nicky.”

He walked by Nari’s mother into the hall. A moment later, they heard the front door open and shut.

Nari’s mother narrowed her eyes. “You missed curfew.” Her words came in slow, controlled Korean.

Nari resisted the urge to sigh. Her mother set a ridiculous curfew of ten at night even on the weekends. “I’m sorry, Umma.”

“I don’t know what to do with you. Your final exams are coming fast. You shouldn’t be out at night. I want you home studying. You will not leave this house the rest of the weekend.”

Nari didn’t tell her mom she didn’t have anywhere to go, anyway. Her mom didn’t care that she was only just now getting her friends Peyton and Cam back after the loneliest two years of her life. Or that they were her only true friends other than Nicky, who was two years younger. Even her bandmates weren’t exactly people she’d call friends.

Her mom didn’t want to hear about her social life. If it was up to her, Nari wouldn’t have one at all. She’d spend all her time studying and preparing for colleges she’d applied for but had no desire to attend.

Because here was the truth. Nari was an idiot. Okay, not really, but she felt like one. School wasn’t exactly her strong suit. Surprise, right? Behind her “smart girl” glasses and quiet, seemingly studious demeanor was a girl who couldn’t understand some of the most basic principles of math or science no matter how hard she tried. Her father was an engineering professor at the prestigious Defiance University in Twin Rivers. Her mother could probably do Nari’s homework in her sleep.

Nari hated the thought of spending the rest of the weekend slamming her head against her desk in frustration, but that was her life.

Her phone dinged from its place on her dresser. Raising one thin brow, her mother walked toward it, taking the phone in her small hand. Her eyes bounced between the words on the screen, because yes, it was unlocked. Nari, of course, wasn’t allowed a password that wouldn’t let her parents watch everything she did.

“Peyton wants you to hang out today.” She met Nari’s gaze. “No phone. I’m taking this.”

“Umma! I have to respond to her.”

“You children. You always think everything needs to be so immediate. Peyton can wait. I want you dressed and in the kitchen. I’ve prepared several banchan for breakfast.”

“Can I just have cereal instead?” She preferred the sugary breakfast she was allowed to eat during the week before school to a traditional Korean one.

“No, you may not. Once you eat, you will practice piano before starting your studies.”

Her mother left, and Nari fell back against her pillows. Piano to her mother meant difficult to play pieces from long-dead composers. Nari couldn’t tell her of the songs she played with the band that were a combination of rock and country. The kind of music that made her want to continue playing.

But who was Nari kidding? Her life had never been her own. She dragged herself from bed and readied herself for another day of living for someone else.

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