Authors: Tiffany King
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance
Praise for the Woodfalls Girls Novels
“Tiffany King pours her soul into each book. She captures the hearts and minds of her characters perfectly, weaving tales of angst, hope, and redemption.”
New York Times
“I absolutely loved this book . . . With quirky, unforgettable characters that will make you laugh and swoon,
needs to be at the top of your must-reads!”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Come to Me Softly
“If you are looking for a New Adult filled with fun, fandom, romance, and the perfectly sweet kind of opposites attracting, then
is the book for you.”
New York Times
bestselling author of the Marked Men novels
“A beautifully woven story of a love that can withstand anything.”
New York Times
“Funny, real, moving, and passionate,
is a MUST-READ for New Adult contemporary romance fans.”
New York Times
“Sweet and sexy! Great characters and an intriguing romance . . . So good!”
New York Times
“Super sweet and swoon-worthy!”
—Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1
New York Times
“Allow me to summarize
: Great story. Amazing characters. Awesome read.”
Book Freak Book Reviews
“Readers will spend the first half of this story on the edge of their seats and the last half hugging a box of tissues.”
—Priscilla Glenn, bestselling author
“Sweet, beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking all rolled into one amazing story.”
“The story itself is heartwarming, which really is a characteristic of a Tiffany King book. Her stories always turn struggles into strength and her characters always find the good. That’s one of the reasons I love to read her books. They’re real. They’re emotional. They’re heartwarming.”
Stuck in Books
will leave you more than a little attached to Ashton and Nathan.”
Book Angel Booktopia
“Absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful.”
Once Upon a Twilight
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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A Penguin Random House Company
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
Copyright © 2015 by Tiffany King.
A Shattered Moment
by Tiffany King copyright © 2015 by Tiffany King.
Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-15875-7
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Contradictions / Tiffany King.—Berkley trade paperback edition.
p. cm.—(A Woodfalls Girls novel)
ISBN 978-0-425-27480-4 (paperback)
1. Love stories. 2. College stories. I. Title.
Berkley trade paperback edition / January 2015
Cover photo by Greg Daniels / ImageBrief.
Cover design by Lesley Worrell.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
To all the readers, for your overwhelming support. Thank you, Kevan and Kate, for your guidance. I truly adore working with you. To Jennifer, I may never be able to repay you for all the help and advice you have given me, but you have my gratitude forever. Finally, to my family, because there is nothing better.
“Where’s Chuck?” Cameo asked, handing me a beer she had snagged from the coolers that lined the floors in the kitchen of the frat house we were hanging out in. The house was Gamma Phi something or other. Honestly, I couldn’t remember, and I didn’t care. They were all the same to me anyway.
“Who knows? Playing darts with the guys, I think.” Hopefully, they were using his head as the dartboard.
“You two make up?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“I think you misunderstood me, sweets. When I said, ‘who knows,’ I meant, who cares. I hope someone throws a dart that sticks right in his egotistical ass,” I corrected her, not feeling very appreciative of the guy who was supposed to be my current boyfriend. Of course, after only two dates, it didn’t seem right to fall into that trap, as far as I was concerned.
She laughed, taking a long drink from her beer before answering. “Another one bites the dust,” she continued, holding up her bottle to toast.
“Cheers,” I answered, clinking my bottle to hers without further comment. I twisted the cap off my beer as I surveyed the rowdy crowd around us. The decibel level at frat parties was always nothing less than near deafening. Not that I was complaining. I was in my element—the louder it got, the better. This was the kind of scene I didn’t see when I still lived at home and went to community college near Woodfalls. Going to an actual university was like stepping into another world. A world that I took to immediately. I was loud and raucous, so what?
Cameo and I left the kitchen and headed outside to the patio, which gave us a front-row seat to all the action. The guys were entertaining the crowd by trying to one-up each other with one crazy stunt after the next. We’d already seen some idiot jump from the balcony on the second floor, hugging a mattress. Cheers erupted on the front lawn as people hooted and hollered, yelling scores for his landing. He stood up with his arms raised in victory before bowing at the waist and tossing his cookies splendidly on two unsuspecting girls who stood off to the side. Both girls shrieked with disgust, which only invited more cheers from the onlookers.
Not to be outdone, a group of girls decided to get in on the action when the guys initiated a girl-on-girl mud-wrestling tournament. Within minutes of being soaked by hoses spilling water at full blast, the front lawn of the fraternity house was a sopping mess. Judging by the steady line of participants that had quickly formed, the nominated contestants seemed to be too drunk to care about being subjected to male gawking, or the fact that it was too cold to be rolling around like pigs in shit.
“You going?” Cameo asked.
“Hell no,” I answered, choosing to keep my seat on the sidelines.
I’d been there, done that, and I didn’t relish taking an elbow in the nose or having a handful of my hair pulled out to entertain drunken college guys. Chuck, who had finally appeared from wherever he’d been hiding, couldn’t seem to get it through his thick head that I didn’t want to participate. It took me stomping on his foot and threatening to twist his junk into a knot before he finally stopped trying to pull me into the fray.
“Aw, you mean you don’t want to give your boyfriend a show and roll around and get all wet with another girl?” Cameo teased, breaking into my thoughts. She looked halfway past tipsy as she smiled at me.
We had been at the party for an hour and were nursing our third beer each. I could hold my liquor better than Cameo, who was a bit of a lightweight. Chances were I’d be dragging her ass home later since she’d barely be able to walk. She and I had made a pact when we first became roommates that we would never leave the other behind, unless of course a hot guy was involved. Little did I realize when I made the pact that it would be me shouldering most of the load.
Honestly, I didn’t mind. I loved Cameo to death. I had completely lucked out when I found her as a roommate after being accepted into Maine State College’s business program. I got in by the skin of my teeth since I wasn’t exactly what you would call an “academic all-star.” I had taken a full year off after high school because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Finally, my mom talked me into at least trying community college, and somehow, I managed to drill into my stubborn head that if I wanted to transfer to a state university, I would have to work hard. Not that I wasn’t still having fun at the same time. I wasn’t dead, after all. My acceptance letter came at the perfect time. My best friend, Brittni, had moved to Seattle, and I was feeling lost without her. She was the voice of reason I didn’t have myself that kept me in line for the most part. Without her, my antics in Woodfalls had hit an epic scale. After some of the shit I’d pulled over the years, I think the entire town let out a collective sigh of relief when I moved away for school. Even though MSC was only sixty miles away from Woodfalls, at least I was out of their hair. Now, in the almost two years that I’ve been on campus, I’ve managed to bring my reputation as a bit of a hell-raiser with me.
I pulled my thoughts back to Cameo, who was still waiting for my answer. “Please, you know I’d have no problem throwin’ down in there. It’s just too damn cold to roll around in the mud,” I said confidently. “Besides, Chuck’s been working to get in my pants. Little does he know, the Vagmart store is closed to his ass.”
“Ha, your vag-store,” Cameo snorted, setting her beer on an end table that was already overflowing with bottles. “Guys are so predictable. They think all chicks wanna get naked with each other and have pillow fights.”
“Well, I know that’s all I think about,” I said, wagging my eyebrows suggestively.
“Gross. You perv.” She slapped my arm and tried pushing me away.
“Oh come on. You know you want this,” I teased, running my hands down my curvy figure. I had to sidestep a couple who were too busy sucking each other’s faces as they walked to watch where they were going. “Hey, get a room,” I called after them as they stumbled into the wall.
“Where the hell do you think we’re going?” the guy asked, dislodging his lips long enough to answer.
“Sorry, shit, carry on then,” I said, grinning at Cameo.
“See, that’s why we will never have a party at our apartment,” she stated.
“What, you don’t want an orgy to break out on your bed?”
She held up her hand like a crossing guard. “Don’t even finish wherever your perverted mind was headed with that.”
I laughed loudly. Cameo was the perfect roommate in most aspects, but she did have a bit of an obsessive compulsive personality, much to my amusement. Not that I didn’t agree with her. I didn’t want drunken college peeps using my bed to get nasty in either.
“Could it be you’re just bummed that your bed hasn’t seen any action in how many days now?” I teased, wincing as I watched two girls in the mud pit go for each other’s hair. Why did girls always do that? Why couldn’t we fight like men? With fists and punching instead of hair pulling and scratching. I’d much rather take a punch to the gut than have a handful of my hair pulled out.
“Whatever, you whore. It’s been four days,” she answered, watching the fight with interest.
“Whoa, takes one to know one,” I laughed.
“Bite me, bitch. I just like guys.”
“And sex,” I added.
“Yes, so what, Mother Teresa?” She grinned, throwing out her beloved nickname for me.
It wasn’t like I didn’t enjoy sex. She knew that. Lately, I was just more selective about who I fell into bed with. Take Jockstrap Chuck for example. A few months ago, I might have caved and given it up to him. But I was getting sick of the games and acting like someone I wasn’t to keep a guy. I used to be a total boyfriend pleaser, especially back in high school, when I dated the same creep off and on for almost four years. I finally called it quits once and for all about a year ago. The relationship was toxic, to say the least. Years of scathing comments about how I looked or what I did, and then he would push to have sex, only to lay a major guilt trip on me when he felt remorse after we did it. Jackson suffered from a serious case of being a momma’s boy. We’d no sooner done the dirty deed than he would whimper about premarital sex and how disappointed his mother would be. Even after years of putting up with his shit, actually committing to break up with Jackson was difficult. He was my first serious boyfriend. The one I gave my virginity to, or my V-card, as I liked to call it. That was a big deal to me, despite my wild-child persona and the way people perceived me on the outside. It’s not like you can ever get that back, even when the guy turns out to be a douche. Jackson definitely became that and more, telling me when we broke up that I was worthless and that no other guy would ever want me. His words cut me deeply and made me feel like I was lacking. His mom actually threw a party when we were officially over.
After leaving the Jackson mess behind me, I eventually found the confidence to try my luck with guys again, but after a string of disastrous first dates, I began to believe that maybe Jackson had been right. He was as good as I deserved. If not that, then maybe the dating gods were punishing me for all my past sins. Like the time in seventh grade I talked Braxton Fischer into switching the video we were supposed to watch in Mr. Morton’s science class with a porno he had found hidden in his dad’s nightstand. Mr. Morton made the mistake of leaving the room for almost ten minutes before he came back to see two topless, big-breasted girls washing cars on the TV.
“What the hell?” a shocked Mr. Morton yelled as he turned several different shades of red. The class erupted with laughter, and although none of my classmates ratted me out, Mr. Morton knew better and immediately sent me to the office. I could have argued. He had no proof it was me, but my reputation had already been established.
The principal, Mrs. Jameson, called my dad to pick me up, which I thought was odd considering she knew my mom. I finally understood when he showed up and she handed over the video to my dad with a scornful look on her face, like she was repulsed to even be that close to something so unholy. She thought the video was his, but my dad didn’t skip a beat. He didn’t flush with embarrassment or stammer at being reprimanded. Instead, he thanked her and told her he was wondering where he had left it, leaving Mrs. Jameson looking utterly scandalized.
The only lecture I got on the way home was a reminder that some parents may not want their children to see movies about those kinds of car washes. That was the best thing about Dad. He always understood the person I was, never judging or scolding me. He would simply give reminders and pointers of what a better course of action may have been. I loved both my parents fiercely for their gentle restraints.
I wish I could tell you that was the last prank I ever pulled, but my reign of stunts continued into high school. I would pick a victim and execute my prank with the precision of a surgeon. Dad always said if I would learn to harness that power toward school, I would be a straight-A student. That would have been tragic and a complete waste of fun, in my opinion.
Eventually, I mellowed when I was dating Jackson. He reminded me countless times that his mom would never approve of me if I was always causing trouble. Little did he know, I didn’t want or need his creepy mom’s love.
For that reason more than any other, breaking up with Jackson had been necessary. Our relationship was like a runaway train headed for a brick wall. Unfortunately, none of my relationships after that turned out any better. My friends Brittni and Ashton said I had an uncanny gift of gravitating toward the only jerk in the crowd. I always shrugged off their comments. I dated guys who suited me, which usually meant they were as loud and wild as I was.
“Wow, did she seriously just push that girl’s face into her boobs?” Cameo asked, pulling me back to the present. She stepped closer to get a better look at the two mud-covered girls, who had grabbed the attention of most of the male population at the party. As the crowd cheered the girls along, I noticed everyone watching had their cell phones out to record the wrestling match, so I pulled out mine too.
“You’re not going to post that, are you?” Cameo asked as I moved in closer.
One of the girls shoved the other to the ground and straddled her. “Why the hell not? This is epic on a whole new level.”
“Damn, that’s hot,” a warm male voice said behind me.
I grinned as I turned around, recognizing the voice of my friend Derek. “Really? I can score their numbers for you if you’d like,” I joked.
“Honey, I’m talking about Tall, Dark, and Shirtless over there,” he answered, pointing to a well-toned guy who had removed his shirt so it wouldn’t get splattered with mud.
“Right, here I thought you had suddenly decided to bat for the other team,” Cameo teased Derek, looping her arm through his.
“Sweetheart, you could only wish,” he said, dropping a kiss on her forehead.
“Damn straight,” she giggled. “No pun intended,” she added before frowning up at him. “Why do all the good ones turn out to be gay?”
“So we can have marvelous friends like you two without the mess of a romantic relationship. Just think, if I was straight, we wouldn’t be friends.”
“That’s because we’d be lovers,” I cooed, snuggling up to his free arm.
“I love you, Tressa baby, but you’d scare me in bed,” Derek said, wrapping his arm around my waist.
“Oh come on, I’d go easy on you,” I answered, grinding my hips against his leg.
“Don’t believe her. I swear the wall looked like it was going to collapse the last time she had a guy over,” Cameo teased, sticking out her tongue at me as I swiped at her with my free hand.
“Whatever, Wonder Woman,” I said, reminding her of the last guy she slept with, who had a fondness for comic books. He showed up at our apartment one night with a costume from the Halloween store. Usually, I didn’t mind sticking around when Cameo had a guy over, but I had to leave for that one. The truth was, it had been months since I’d even considered being with a guy.
“Hey, what about the dude with the camera? I’m surprised you didn’t take him up on it,” she returned, talking about the last guy who almost made it into my bed until he wanted to record us. He had to go collect his camera and clothes from the yard after I threw his belongings out the window and kicked his ass out.