Authors: Natalie Decker
Tags: #coming of age, #social issues, #love, #brothers, #family, #Romance, #college, #new adult
Book #2 Scandalous Boys Series
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 the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.
Copyright © 2016 by Natalie Decker
GRAHAM by Natalie Decker
All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Swoon Romance. Swoon Romance and its related logo are registered trademarks of Georgia McBride Media Group, LLC.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
EPub ISBN: 978-1-945107-38-2 Mobi ISBN: 978-1-945107-39-9
Published by Swoon Romance, Raleigh, NC 27609
Cover design by Najla Qamber
For those of you who love a little scandal. Ethan and Leeah you’re the best parts of me.
I sling back another plastic cup of beer and chug all the contents down. Cheers fill the crowded room as I discard the empty Solo on the stained rug underneath the beer pong table. This place feels like a sauna from all the heat generating off the crush of people surrounding the game. I wipe a trickle of sweat from my brow. At the other end of the table my opponent stares me down like we’re in a draw or some shit. I have to stifle back my laughter. He twirls the small ping-pong ball in his hand and then it sails through the air.
It bounces twice and dings off the rim of the cup in the front, then rolls off the side of the table. Everyone makes “ooo” and “ahh” sounds. I smirk at the punk. I’ve only put away two cups, which weren’t completely filled, so all in all, one and half beers. Being that I’m no stranger to drinking or a lightweight, I’m practically sober. So his ass is going down. Him and his stupid Sigma Pi brothers. And yes, I’m going to make a show of it because I’m just that kind of person. Competitive and cocky.
I’m about to make my move when a tall blond with a display of cleavage slinks up to me. “Hey, you.”
“Hey, yourself,” I say. Her delicious lips look like they need to be kissed and bitten right now.
She runs her tongue along them, and I gaze like it’s the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen. Someone shouts, “Let’s get on with the fucking game, pussy, or are you wimping out over there?”
Snapping my attention from the sexy blond back to the asshole at the end of the table, I say, “Jealous a pretty girl is talking to me and not you, limp dick?”
He flips me off with a growl. “Better watch it, running your mouth, freshdouche. You’re in our house.” Wow, and to think this is the best insult this troll fuck has, such a shame. Probably wise of me not to keep goading the little bitch on. Seeing as I am in “his house,” as he eloquently put it. But here’s the thing about being me: I stopped giving a fuck a while ago. So this guy and everyone else here can kiss my ass.
I flip him off just to show him how much his piss-ass threat sunk in.
The pretty girl leans into me. Her scent of cinnamon and sugar assaults my senses, and then her lips touch my ear while her hand skims my crotch. “I can be your good luck charm, handsome.”
I turn to her mouth and capture it with mine. Then I pull back. “Damn right you can.” I smack her ass with my free hand and toss the ball. It drops, swoosh like, right into my opponent’s cup.
And this is how my night went. At least that’s how I remember it.
Two weeks later
In my mom’s kitchen, I sit at the breakfast table trying to avoid her scowl. Her left eye twitches; it only does this when she’s really pissed off—we’re talking level-ten-on-the-
-scale ticked off. Yeah, she’s there.
“Do you have any idea the kind of trouble you’re in?” Her arms fling up. By the way, my mom loves using her hands and arms to emphasize whatever the hell she’s ranting about. I think she truly believes it makes her points come across better. Really, it just makes taking anything she says serious.
She slams her palms on the table. “Damn it, Graham! I thought I raised you better than this!”
I have to rein in the eye-roll. What the hell did she want me to do? Go to college and lock myself in a dorm room twenty-four seven. For fuck’s sake, I partied on the weekends in high school, and it was no big deal. Now, she’s giving me the whole “I thought I raised you better than this” speech. What the hell!
“Mom,” I try.
She points a finger at me. “Don’t you ‘Mom’ me. I’ve gotten rid of all the liquor in the house. Bob and I have no clue what in the hell you were thinking. We’re extremely disappointed in you.” I roll my eyes. Bob and her? Really? Who the hell cares what Bob thinks? Certainly not me. This is the first time I’ve even met him. She continues to glower. “What the hell am I going to tell everyone? Mrs. Mayberry probably told the whole town you’re here!”
Mrs. Mayberry is one nosy bitch—and my next-door neighbor. She’s the town’s biggest gossip. When we first moved in, everyone here seemed to know our entire history. My dad and mom got a nasty divorce. He was a prick and abused her verbally and physically. He did the same to me. But I still had to visit him because he was friends with the judge. He got two weeks each summer. Of course Mrs. Mayberry ran her mouth and told anyone who would listen what she would have done in our situation.
“Maybe … maybe I should send you to your father’s for a couple of weeks.”
I stare at her. “That’s not happening. The only way I’ll see that piece of shit is in a body bag.”
“Graham! That’s not any way to speak about your father!”
I rub my temples. If there were ever a time I needed a drink or some weed this would be it. I can’t take this shit anymore. “Don’t bring him up then.”
Bob snorts. And I glare at him. I didn’t even realize the dipshit was in the room with us. He lowers the Sunday comics and gives us a sheepish smile. “Sorry. These were funny.”
I almost tell him to keep it to himself. God, I hate being here! This town already sucks the big one. It’s really going to blow with all my friends off on their adventures. Mom and her dumbass boyfriend Bob gave me a lecture last night—well, Mom did. Bob sat there not saying a word, which is good because I would have let him have it.
I tried to tell Mom over and over that I blacked out and don’t remember that night. But the school didn’t care. A video surfaced. Someone had caught it all on camera. Weird thing is, I don’t remember doing any of it.
Now, my own mother looks at me with shame. She rambles on and on about how she can’t trust me, how she’s going to be watching me and driving me places. “Mom, I can drive!”
“You can, but I don’t trust you to keep your appointments. Do you know if you miss one they’ll send you to jail? This is very serious, Graham, and you seem to be handling it as if it’s a joke!”
I scoot away from the table. “Mom, I said I was sorry a million times. I don’t remember that night.”
“It doesn’t matter. We just have to build from here. Go get dressed in some decent clothes. We’re going into town for some groceries, and I’ve got to drop you off at your meeting. Bob will pick you up once it’s finished, and he’ll drop you off at home. You’re not to leave the house. Do you understand?”
I feel like a fifteen-year-old kid trapped in this house of hell. I nod at my mom and head right to my room.
-swipe. This is a big part of my day seven days a week. Working at a twenty-four-hour grocery store? Yeah, this shouldn’t be my life at all. What I should be doing is sitting poolside with a drink in hand and staring at hot men showing off their sexy washboard abs and glistening tans. “Ma’am? Ma’am?” A fat hand waves in front of my face, popping my daydream bubble and bringing me crashing headfirst into reality.
I blink and smile at the woman. “Yes?”
“These were two for five. They rang up $3.99.”
I skim through my screen and find the item she’s complaining about. I also notice she didn’t scan her discount store card. It’s people like this that make me detest coming here in the first place. Seriously? Swipe the card, get the store discounts. It’s not rocket science.
Instead of rolling my eyes and telling her off like I want to do so badly, I say in the sweetest voice I can muster, “It’s on sale, but you have to use your Wineminster card to get the discount. Do you have yours?”
The woman folds her arms and says through gritted teeth, “Of course I have my card. But I don’t use it until the end of my order.”
Resisting the urge to scream at this woman, I bite back my retort and simply smile. “When you scan the card at the end of your order, you’ll see a price difference.”
“No need to get rude, missy. I was simply stating it was ringing up for full price.”
I continue scanning the woman’s order. My shift ends soon, and I can’t wait to cash my paycheck and get the hell out of here. Thirty minutes left. I can go home, take a nice long, hot bath, and soak my hair in this new conditioning cream I got from the salon.
“Hey, Sarah, how about you, me, and some butter popcorn in a dark theater tonight?” Henry says in what he probably thinks is a sultry tone, but it comes off as nails on a chalkboard to me.
I shoot him a glare. “No.” Henry is gross. I’m not saying this to be a snot, he really is the most disgusting form of man I’ve ever seen. First, he’s like, uck, twenty-five, has acne scars, greasy copper hair, and lives in his momma’s house. She still washes all his clothes and packs his lunch for work. Can we say man-child?
Did Henry’s voice all of a sudden turn deep and sexy? No. That’s the voice from my dreams. Did I dose off during this order? I blink. Nope. Still awake and the old woman’s order I’m finishing up on is giving me the evil eye. As I snatch up her corn from my right, I notice a tan, muscular arm dropping three boxes of cereal onto the moving belt.
My eyes widen as I lock stares with the same boy who has haunted my dreams for over a year now. The one guy whose heart I crushed and who will probably never forgive me. “Sarah Morris?”