Authors: Nazarea Andrews
A University of Branton Novel
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of any wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction including brands or products.
Copyright © 2013 by Nazarea Andrews.
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN by Nazarea Andrews
All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by A&A Literary.
Summary: When Dane Guillot lets his best friend’s sister move in when she’s released from rehab, both of them struggle to let go of the past.
1. New Adult. 2. Romance. 3. Contemporary Romance.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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A&A Literary, 14207 Ridge Court, Upatoi Ga, 31829
Edited by Rachel Bateman,
Cover design by Melissa Stevens,
The Illustrated Author
Cover art copyright©: Nazarea Andrews
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Paperback Formatting by Caitlin Greer
Books by Nazarea Andrews
After the Fall
Edge of the Falls
Chasing the Wind (March 2014)
University of Branton
Perfect Ruin (February 2014)
World Without End
The World Without a Future (December 2013)
For all the broken lovers,
And lovers of broken things.
A University of Branton Novel
It's dark in his dorm room. He pauses as he enters, his gaze sweeping the other bed. It's notably empty. Atticus must be with Nik. And Scout....he shakes his head, trying to dislodge the name.
The blanket on his bed shifts and she sits up.
Fuck. He's too drunk for this tonight. He isn't ready to deal with fifteen-year-old Scout, with her too big eyes and a body that is finally beginning to look like a woman's and not the skinned-kneed little girl he'd dealt with his entire life.
"Scout, what are you doing here?" He sighs, toeing off his shoes.
A soft noise, half a sob, jerks his attention up, and he looks at her again, studying her intently. Her eyes are big and scared, her shoulder bare, and he can see red marks on her pale skin. Her dark hair is a tangled mess—the way a girl's hair looks after he's screwed her.
Fury fills him, and he stalks over to the bed, jerking the blanket back and pulling Scout from it. She fights him, her shriek filling the room. "Let me go, let me
Stunned, Dane releases her, and she falls to the floor, curling into herself and sobbing. He drops down next to her and touches her, gently, on the shoulder. She shudders, pulling away. "Scout, your scaring me," he says, his voice cracking. "Tell me what to do. What's wrong?" Masculine voices drift in from the hallway, and she scrambles backward, away from the door. Dread fills him.
No. Not to Scout.
"What happened?" he asks, his voice icy.
"Don't," she whimpers. "It's over and—don't leave me here alone."
The words are a punch to the gut. She was here, alone. He'd been out with some of the frat brothers, drinking and hooking up. She'd been alone—because who the hell was going to keep her from coming to UB? Atticus was too wrapped up in Nik to even notice that Scout slept in his bed more often than she didn't.
He should have been here.
"What do you want me to do?" he asks, sitting back on his heels. Not touching her.
"I just...I want to go to sleep. I want to forget it ever happened."
And because he’s the biggest coward in the world, he nods. He stands, pulling her up with him. Tucks her into his bed, covering her with his blanket, and when that doesn't ease the shaking that's wracking her entire body, he pulls the one from Atti's bed and covers her with that, too.
They both smell like men—cologne and sweat. But it's his scent, and her brother's, and it doesn't seem to bother her much.
When he starts to retreat to his desk, she makes a squeaky noise of protest.
"Don't go." she says, not looking at him.
He can't climb in bed with her. Not right now—not ever. It's a thousand different kinds of wrong. But she's Scout, and she's broken and asking him to stay.
So he does.
She gets out today.
I'm not sure how I should feel about it. My threat—which I meant—forced her into here. It’s been almost three months. I scrub a hand over my hair and curse. Rehab has never worked for Scout. She rebels at being told what to do—probably why she got involved in drugs to begin with.
Okay, that's bullshit. I know
why she got involved in drugs. It doesn't make it easier to accept.
My phone rings, and I fish it from my pocket.
. "What's up, man? Bears eat you yet?"
"I'm in Branton, you idiot," he grumbles. "Traffic was hell coming back. Do you have her?"
"No. Pickup is in ten minutes. Quit worrying—I'll handle the kid."
Atticus laughs. "Last time you tried to handle my sister, she handed you your balls on a platter."
"And yet," I say, lazily, "I'm here, and you’re hiding in Branton."
He laughs again, like he's supposed to. Because there are some things I’ve never told him, and why Scout trusts me is one of them. I half listen to him talking—he’s stopping by his apartment for Avery and a shower. "I’ll take her back to my place," I say before he can suggest otherwise. I’m scanning the other people waiting to pickup their patients. It’s weird, being here, waiting for her like this. Most of them are clearly parents, but one bothers me. I study him—dirty jeans, too thin, smoking a cigarette, smirking.
There's noise from the building and I glance up—it looks like they’re bringing out the patients. "Gotta go, Atti. I'll call when we're on the road."
The doors swing open and she strolls out.
It's like seeing a ghost. This isn't the Scout I've known for the past six years. The skinny, angry, strung out woman-child that has shown up on my doorstep time and time again—she's missing. In her place is a gorgeous young woman, with soft curves, long black hair perfect for sliding my fingers through. Rehab has been good to her—it’s washed away the last remnants of childhood, and exposed the woman.
And that scares the shit out of me.
She sees me and waves, then turns and hugs the guy next to her—something that annoys me for reasons I don't really want to think about. Takes the bag he's holding and descends the steps to stand in front of me.
"Scout, baby." I freeze as the guy I’d been eyeing steps up. Between me and her. I can hear the oily smile in his voice. I go still, watching as the dealer—
dealer—sweeps her into a smothering hug. "You’ve been away too long, baby."
Everything in me is demanding that I step in, that I separate her from him. She’s not ready to face this yet. I’m not ready for her to face it. I’m shaking, my hands clenching and unclenching at my sides.
"Didn’t think you meant it," she says, pulling away.
"I said I’d be here—here I am. The only one who cared enough to show up for you."
I clear my throat, and her head lifts, clear green eyes finding me. She knew I was here the whole time. I stand in silence, and she smirks.
here instead of Atti?"
Hi. How are you. Thanks for coming to get me, and for dealing with my shit for the past six years, and oh, by the way, it's not your fault.
I shove the thoughts down and straighten. "He was busy. I can let you wait for him if it's important to you, though."
She snorts. "Asshat."
I give her a quick grin, ignoring her dealer completely as I take her bag, tossing it in the back of the Viper and stalking around to my side. "Come on. I want to get back home before it gets too late."
She hesitates—not for long, but long enough that my breath catches and I go still, watching. Then she shrugs apologetically at the dealer and slides into the car.
I look at him, at the anger in his eyes, and let a slow, lazy smile slide across my face. And then I join her.
It shouldn't surprise me that Dane is here. But it does—I wanted Atticus to pick me up. I wanted a little time before facing Dane.
Not that time will do anything. It hasn't ever done anything. I sorta hate that he saw that—Kevin, attempting to pick me up. Dane knows dealers, he spotted mine before I even left the building. I’m doing a bang up job at keeping sober.
"Really? Cuz I'm not fourteen anymore, you know."
"I'm an accident lawyer, Scout. Put on the damn seat belt."
I roll my eyes, but I do what I'm told. If I don't, we'll sit in this bloody parking lot all night, and I've had quite enough of New Horizons for, like, ever.
As Dane pulls out of the driveway and we leave the center behind, I release the breath I'm holding, tension slipping from me. I didn't really think the relief would be this acute. But it is—getting away from there is almost as much of a high as coke had been.
My fingers go to my wrist, snapping the rubber band there. Aversion therapy. It's supposed to help with the cravings. Sometimes it does. Not often, but sometimes.
Other times it’s just annoying. I snap it again, and Dane's gray eyes track the motion. It makes me self-conscious. And if there is anyone I shouldn't be self-conscious about, it's Dane.
"What's been happening the past few months?" I ask, twisting to pull my leg under me as I face him. Willing to talk about anything but my time in rehab or Keith’s blatant attempt to bring me back into the dealing world.
Worry flits across his face briefly. "You shouldn't worry about that right now. You need to focus on staying clean."
Anger fills me, followed by embarrassment. "Don't do that," I snap. "I'm not an invalid. You've never coddled me, don't start now."
His lips tighten. "Maybe I should have."
"It wouldn't have changed anything," I say. It's the closest I've ever come to addressing that night—the night that everything changed between us. That changed everything for me.
For both of us, if I'm being honest.
The doctors at New Horizons had wanted me to go somewhere safe—somewhere where nothing would remind me of the reasons I started using. They wanted me find a place to heal. I watch Dane drive and wonder if they realize how complicated that can be.
"Atti's been out of town," he says, and I jerk a little, looking at him. "He got a cabin in the middle of nowhere to hide in while he finishes his book."
"But the semester..."
"Randall gave him a sabbatical. For the rest of the semester."
I can't quite wrap my head around that—my brother loves teaching, and to leave voluntarily isn't like him.
"Scout, things have changed a lot while you were away."
"Is that what we're calling it?" I ask, making a face. Dane's lips twitch, a hint of a smile. "Just tell me."
He glances at me again, hesitating. And then he does.