Beautiful disaster, p.36
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       Beautiful Disaster, p.36

         Part #1 of Beautiful series by Jamie McGuire
slower 1  faster

  “The shop?”

  “The ink shop I work at.”

  “You’re tattooing now?”

  He smiled, a deep dimple appearing in the center of his left cheek. “I knew we’ve met before.”

  “We haven’t.” I turned to watch the women on the dance floor, laughing and smiling and watching Travis and Megan vertically dry fucking. But the second the song was over, he left and walked straight over to the blonde who claimed ownership over my table. Even though she’d seen Travis running his hands all over Megan’s sweaty skin two seconds earlier, she was grinning like an idiot, hoping she was next.

  Trenton laughed once. “That’s my baby brother.”

  “I wouldn’t admit it,” I said, shaking my head.

  “Did we go to school together?” he asked.

  “I don’t remember.”

  “Do you remember if you went to Eakins at any time between kindergarten through twelfth grade?”

  “I did.”

  Trenton’s left dimple sunk in when he grinned. “Then we know each other.”

  “Not necessarily.”

  Trenton laughed again. “You want a drink?”

  “I have one coming.”

  “You wanna dance?”

  “Nope.”

  A group of girls passed by, and Trenton’s eyes focused on one. “Is that Shannon from home ec? Damn,” he said, turning a oneeighty in his seat.

  “Indeed it is. You should go reminisce.”

  Trenton shook his head. “We reminisced in high school.”

  “I remember. Pretty sure she still hates you.”

  Trenton shook his head, smiled, and then, before taking another swig, said, “They always do.”

  “It’s a small town. You shouldn’t have burned all of your bridges.”

  He lowered his chin, his famous charm turning up a notch. “There’s a few I haven’t lit a fire under. Yet.”

  I rolled my eyes, and he chuckled.

  Raegan returned, curving her long fingers around four standard rocks glasses and two shot glasses. “My whiskey sours, your whiskey straights, and a buttery nipple each.”

  “What is with all the sweet stuff tonight, Ray?” I said, wrinkling my nose.

  Trenton picked up one of the shot glasses and touched it to his lips, tilting his head back. He slammed it on the table and winked. “Don’t worry, babe. I’ll take care of it.” He stood up and walked away.

  I didn’t realize my mouth was hanging open until my eyes met Raegan’s and it snapped shut.

  “Did he just drink your shot? Did that really just happen?”

  “Who does that?” I said, turning to see where he went. He’d already disappeared into the crowd.

  “A Maddox boy.”

  I shot the double whiskey and took another drag of my cigarette. Everyone knew Trenton Maddox was bad news, but that never seemed to stop women from trying to tame him. Watching him since grade school, I promised myself that I would never be a notch on his headboard—if the rumors were true and he had notches, but I didn’t plan to find out.

  “You’re going to let him get away with that?” Raegan asked.

  I blew out the smoke from the side of my mouth, annoyed. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to have fun, or deal with obnoxious flirting, or complain that Trenton Maddox had just drunk the shot glass of sugar that I didn’t want. But before I could answer my friend, I had to choke back the whiskey I’d just drunk.

  “Oh, no.”

  “What?” Raegan said, flipping around in her chair. She immediately righted herself in the chair, cringing.

  All three of my brothers and our cousin Colin were walking toward our table.

  Colin, the oldest and the only one with a legit ID, spoke first. “What the hell, Camille? I thought you were out of town tonight.”

  “My plans changed,” I snapped.

  Chase spoke second, as I expected he would. He was the oldest of my brothers, and liked to pretend he was older than me, too. “Dad’s not going to be happy that you missed family lunch if you were in town.”

  “He can’t be unhappy if he doesn’t know,” I said, narrowing my eyes.

  He recoiled. “Why are you being so pissy? Are you on the rag or something?”

  “Really?” Raegan said, lowering her chin and raising her eyebrows. “We’re in public. Grow up.”

  “So he canceled on you?” Clark asked. Unlike the others, Clark looked genuinely concerned.

  Before I could answer, the youngest of the three spoke up. “Wait, that worthless piece of shit canceled on you?” Coby said. The boys were all only eleven months apart, making Coby just eighteen. My coworkers knew my brothers had all scored fake IDs and thought they were doing me a favor by looking the other way, but most of the time I wished they wouldn’t. Coby in particular still acted like a twelve-year-old boy not quite sure what to do with his testosterone. He was bowing up behind the others, letting them hold him back from a fight that didn’t exist.

  “What are you doing, Coby?” I asked. “He’s not even here!”

  “You’re damn right he’s not,” Coby said. He relaxed, cracking his neck. “Canceling on my big sister. I’ll bust his fuckin’ face.” I thought about Coby and T.J. getting into a brawl, and it made my heart race. T.J. was intimidating when he was younger, and lethal as an adult. No one fucked with him, and Coby knew it.

  A disgusted noise came from my throat, and I rolled my eyes. “Just . . . find another table.”

  All four boys pulled chairs around Raegan and me. Colin had light-brown hair, but my brothers were all redheads. Colin and Chase had blue eyes. Clark and Coby had green. Some redheaded men aren’t all that great-looking, but my brothers were tall, chiseled, and outgoing. Clark was the only one with freckles, and they still somehow looked good on him. I was the outcast, the only child with mousy brown hair and big, round, light-blue eyes. More than once the boys tried to convince me that I’d been adopted. If I wasn’t the female version of my father, I might have believed them.

  I touched my forehead to the table and groaned. “I can’t believe it, but this day just got worse.”

  “Aw, c’mon, Camille. You know you love us,” Clark said, nudging me with his shoulder. When I didn’t answer, he leaned in to whisper in my ear. “You sure you’re all right?”

  I kept my head down, but nodded. Clark patted my back a couple of times, and then the table grew quiet.

  I lifted my head. Everyone was staring behind me, so I turned around. Trenton Maddox was standing there, holding two shot glasses and another glass of something that looked decidedly less sweet.

  “This table turned into a party fast,” Trenton said with a surprised but charming smile.

  Chase narrowed his eyes at Trenton. “Is that him?” he asked, nodding.

  “What?” Trenton asked.

  Coby’s knee began to bounce, and he leaned forward in his chair. “That’s him. He fuckin’ canceled on her, and then he showed up here.”

  “Wait. Coby, no,” I said, holding up my hands.

  Coby stood up. “You jackin’ with our sister?”

  “Sister?” Trenton said, his eyes bouncing between me and the volatile gingers sitting on each side of me.

  “Oh, God,” I said, closing my eyes. “Colin, tell Coby to stop. It’s not him.”

  “Who’s not me?” Trenton said. “We got a problem here?”

  Travis appeared at his brother’s side. He wore the same amused expression as Trenton, both flashing their matching leftsided dimples. They could have been their mother’s second set of twins. Only subtle differences set them apart, including the fact that Travis was maybe an inch or two taller than Trenton.

  Travis crossed his arms across his chest, making his already large biceps bulge. The only thing that kept me from exploding from my chair was that his shoulders relaxed. He wasn’t ready to fight. Yet.

  “Evening,” Travis said.

  The Maddoxes could sense trouble. At least it seemed that way, because whenever there was
a fight, they had either started it, or finished it. Usually both.

  “Coby, sit down,” I commanded through my teeth.

  “No, I’m not sittin’ down. This dickhead insulted my sister, I’m not fuckin’ sittin’ down.”

  Raegan leaned over to Chase. “That’s Trent and Travis Maddox.”

  “Maddox?” Clark asked.

  “Yeah. You still got something to say?” Travis said.

  Coby shook his head slowly and smiled. “I can talk all night long, motherfu—”

  I stood. “Coby! Sit your ass down!” I said, pointing to his chair. He sat. “I said it wasn’t him, and I meant it! Now everybody calm the fuck down! I’ve had a bad day, I’m here to drink, and relax, and have a good goddamn time! Now if that’s a problem for you, back the fuck off my table!” I closed my eyes and screamed the last part, looking completely insane. People around us were staring.

  Breathing hard, I glanced at Trenton, who handed me a drink.

  One corner of his mouth turned up. “I think I’ll stay.”

  Acknowledgements

  I am so incredibly thankful for my best friend and sister, Beth. Without her encouragement, I would never have embarked on this journey. It’s because of her enthusiastic cheerleading that I am living my dream. I cannot say thank you enough. Thank you to my children for their endless patience, hugs, and understanding.

  To my mother Brenda for her assistance in any way she could, whenever I asked. Many thanks to fellow authors and dear friends Jessica Park, Tammara Webber, Tina Reber, Stephanie Campbell, Abbi Glines, Liz Reinhardt, Elizabeth Reyes, Nichole Chase, Laura Bradley Rede, Elizabeth Hunter, Killian McRae, Colleen Hoover, Eyvonna Rains, Lani Wendt Young, Karly Blakemore-Mowle, Michele Scott, Tracey Garvis-Graves, Angie Stanton, and EL James for their overwhelming support, love, and advice. You are the best thing to come from my writing career. Truly.

  Thank you to my agent Rebecca Watson, who is as brilliant as she is funny, and my agents at the Intercontinental Literary Agency for their diligence and hard work.

  Enormous gratitude to Judith Curr at Atria Books for your unwavering support, and to my editor Amy Tannebaum, who has been passionate about this project from the very beginning. Thank you for believing in this story. And thanks to everyone else at Atria who made this happen so quickly, including: Peter Borland, Chris Lloreda, Kimberly Goldstein, Samantha Cohen, Paul Olsewski, Isolde Sauer, and Dana Sloan.

  Thank you to Dr. Ross Vanhooser for your invaluable advice, and for believing in my talent before even I knew I had any.

  Thank you so much to Maryse and Lily of Maryse.net, and reader Nikki Estep for loving Travis and Abby’s story so much, that they made it their mission to share it!

  Last, but never least, endless love and appreciation to my darling husband who’s infinitely supportive and patient, and loves me even when I’m ignoring him for fictional people. He is my everything, and I wouldn’t think of doing any of this without him...I wouldn’t want to. It’s because of him that I know how to write about intense love. Jeff, thank you so much for being everything that you are.

  Photo credit: Trisha Johnson

  Jamie McGuire is the New York Times best-selling author of four novels: Providence, Requiem, Eden, and Beautiful Disaster. McGuire studied radiography at Northern Oklahoma College and Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma, during which time she wrote her first novel, Providence. She and her husband Jeff live with their children just outside Enid, Oklahoma, with four dogs, four horses, and a cat named Rooster.

  To learn about Jamie, visit her at

  www.jamiemcguire.com.

  First published in the USA by Atria Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2012

  This edition published by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012

  A CBS COMPANY

  Copyright © Jamie McGuire 2011

  This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.

  No reproduction without permission.

  ® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

  The right of Jamie McGuire to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

  Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

  1st Floor

  222 Gray’s Inn Road

  London WC1X 8HB

  Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney

  Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

  www.simonandschuster.co.uk

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  ISBN – 978-1-47111503-5

  eISBN – 978-1-47111504-2

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.

 
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