Genre: YA Romance
Release Date: February 21st 2017
Tessa O’Connell is a girl as ordinary as they come-or so she thinks. Her aim for senior year is to keep her head down yet somehow manage to convince her childhood love Jay Stone to love her back. What she isn’t prepared for is for Jay’s brother, Cole to return to town and change the life she’s always been seemingly content to live. Tall, gorgeous as all hell and a bad boy with ocean blue eyes and the perfect edge of adorability, he was her greatest tormentor, her number one enemy.But the guy that’s come back is like no one Tessa’s ever come across. He challenges her, he tests her limits, he forces her to bring out the girl she’s long ago buried under a veil of mediocrity and most of all he compels her to consider that perhaps the boy that infuriates her to the point of no return might just her guardian angel.
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Mom and Dad are at it again and I can hear their shouts through our thin, almost paper-like walls. They are still under the impression that if they shout downstairs, I won’t be able to hear them. Yet sadly for them, and for me, I can hear each and every word crystal clear.
But that’s what they do. They fight up to the point where they want to tear each other’s hair out and then go to their room. Lately, however, my dad has taken to sleeping in the guest bedroom, which he sneaks out of every morning before I go to school.
He thinks I don’t know, but I do.
I’m aware that things are bad between my parents but they’ll never leave each other. They’re stubborn like that. I get that from them, the stubbornness, but I really do hope I’m never put in a situation like theirs. Though I don’t have to worry about finding someone I love and then ending up hating them, because the guy I love will never love me. He’s too busy being in love with Nikki the Ho. Oh wait, let me rewind and tell you exactly why Nikki’s a ho.
Nicole Andrea Bishop, also known as the reason behind every bad thing in my life, is my ex-best friend and vice-captain of the varsity dance team. I’ve known her since kindergarten when everything was rainbows and butterflies, and sharing a cup of Jell-O meant that we were BFFs.
Truly, that’s what Nikki and I were for about ten years. Then high school happened and turned her into the spawn of Satan.
Gone was the girl with missing front teeth who used to braid my hair because I was physically incapable of doing so. Gone was the girl with severe acne who stayed up all night with me, helping me prepare for the nightmare that was my French final in junior high. Gone was the girl who’d become a sister to me, who had dinner with my family every Saturday night before we started our weekly Gilmore Girls marathon.
By the time freshman year ended, she had been possessed by the spirit of Regina George and I was that pesky fly that kept hovering near her. I fought to keep our friendship alive, I truly did, but there was only so much my pride could suffer.
This is the part where I tell you that I used to be fat. Oh, and when I say fat, I don’t mean the kind of fat where you could wear skinny jeans and crop tops yet still find it in yourself to criticize those few extra pounds.
I weighed a whopping two hundred and thirty pounds. I was that girl who wore sweatpants and XXL hoodies with my Converse all day, every day, and didn’t think twice about it. But before you begin to pity me, let me assure you that I was never conscious about my weight. In fact, I was pretty okay with it. I didn’t diet, nor did I exercise (much to my mother’s chagrin), and I didn’t sacrifice small animals so that the gods would miraculously make me shed all the extra weight. I ate what I wanted, I stayed inside watching Gossip Girl on my laptop, and in school I was ignored, never bullied, but ignored.
Then Nicole joined the dance team and suddenly everyone hated me. I can still hear them, you know, the catcalls and hushed, well, not completely hushed, whispers as Nicole and I would pass the other students.
“What’s Nicole Andrea Bishop doing with a girl like her?”
“How is Fatty Tessie blackmailing Nicole into being her friend?”
“Why doesn’t Nicole just get rid of the extra weight?” Yeah, that one was hilarious.
Suffice it to say Nicole realized that I was damaging her reputation. So after months of avoiding my calls and not “having time” to hang out with me, she made it clear that I was now a bother to her and that we couldn’t be friends anymore.
I swallowed my pride and agreed. Just like that, ten years of friendship went down the drain, all because my best friend was too big of a coward to stand up to the people who questioned our friendship. Now, if she’d stayed a coward, I would’ve been okay with it, but she decided that one humungous character flaw wasn’t enough. Oh no, apparently the prerequisite for popularity is becoming some sort of twisted villain you find in the classic western movies. Which Nicole did.
While I returned for sophomore year eighty pounds lighter, she returned with a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend at that. Nicole returned as the girlfriend of the boy I’d been crushing on since I was eight.
Jason “Jay” Stone was the first boy who ever got me flowers. Well, if you consider a single, roughly plucked dandelion a flower. He did this when we were in the third grade and I came to school wearing my favorite bow. He told me I looked pretty and that was it—I was in love. As time went on we became good friends. Well, he was a good friend to me. I simply became tongue-tied in his presence. He was your typical All-American Boy with his blond hair, blue eyes, and enviable baseball skills. However, as I added pounds to my body, I became shy about my association with him. I was overweight and carried prepubescent awkwardness. I told myself that I wasn’t the kind of girl who deserved to spend time with Jay Stone, and I distanced myself from him.
Nicole knew full well how I felt about him. She even encouraged me to ask him out because she claimed he had a crush on me despite my weight problems. Let’s just say I was very, very opposed to the idea. However, during the summer before my sophomore year, I realized that maybe I’d finally stumbled upon a breakthrough. As I slaved over the treadmill and consumed my body weight in water, I felt that maybe this would be the year. The year when I’d finally have a shot, that I could finally be someone who could possibly flirt with Jay Stone.
I was in for a rude awakening.
The first time I saw Jay after that summer was in the school hallway just before the bell for first period rang. I had worn my best pair of skinny jeans, which coincidentally made my butt look good, a fitted top showing just a hint of cleavage, and some pretty badass biker boots. I’d painstakingly styled my blond hair into beachy waves with my makeup expertly applied. However, my eye makeup ran down my face not five minutes later when I saw him.
He had his tongue down my best friend’s—excuse me, my ex-best friend’s—throat. If I’d eaten anything at all, the contents of my stomach would surely have made their way back up. I remember clearly feeling a viselike grip around my heart, like someone was squeezing it tightly, cracking it up into minuscule pieces. Tears stung my eyes and my throat closed up. It was the worst I’d ever felt.
I had lost Jay Stone, the love of my life, to my ex-best friend, and boy, did she rub it in my face. It was like losing all that weight made no difference to them. I was destined to remain Fatty Tessie, friendless and invisible to the only guy I’d ever wanted.
Fast forward two years and here I am, a senior going into my second week of high school. Not quite shockingly, a senior sitting at home on a Saturday night and stalking the love of her life on Facebook. Yes, I’ve grown into referring to myself in third person because that’s what mind-numbing boredom does to you.
I’m scrolling down his profile, which seems to be filled with photos from his girlfriend in different stages of a selfie. Sickening, that’s what this level of self-obsession is.
His display picture is one of the two of them on the beach. He’s lifted her up around the waist and is kissing the side of her head as she grins that evil, Grim Reaper grin at the camera.
I try blocking out the various pictures of Nicole as I veer deeper into Jay’s profile. He’s perfect, utterly beautiful with his messy golden hair and ocean blue eyes. His smile kills me, those dimples in his cheeks, the freckles on his nose, those sharp cheekbones . . .
How lovesick do I sound? But he won’t even look at me because he’s too busy swapping spit with freaking Nicole Andrea Bishop. They’re the perfect couple. The kind that’s most likely to be voted Prom King and Queen. The kind who would eventually get married one day because it seems like the only logical conclusion. Perfection ends up with perfection, even if said perfection has a rotten, rotten core. Why can’t he see how evil his girlfriend is? How could he be blind to all her faults?
Oh wait, I remember. The fangs only come out when I’m around, and around him she’s as harmless as a Chihuahua. To give him credit, Jay always goes out of his way to say hello to me, and whenever we have class he offers to carry my books. Obviously I never let him because Nicole’s always just a few feet away with fire coming out of her nostrils.
I refresh his profile a couple of times because I’m feeling particularly sadistic. But my fingers freeze midway when I see a post. Not just any post, it’s The Post. The one that makes me want to shriek and throw the laptop fifty feet away. The death decree staring me right in the face says:
“I’m coming home, brother. Better throw me a killer party, Jay Jay.”
Curious to know who on earth could make me cower in fear, tremble in my proverbial boots, and wish that we still lived in the day and age of moats?
Well, the name that’s glaring at me viciously from the screen is Cole, Cole Stone, and it’s a name right up there with Nicole Andrea Bishop. The universe tends to work in mysterious ways, right? Well, at times I feel like with me the universe works with a slightly sickening sense of humor. What else would explain why the two people who have wreaked so much havoc in my life have rhyming names?
But I digress; my problem isn’t rhyming names, it’s the fact that Cole is . . . wait, Cole’s coming back? Oh crudsticks.
Cole, for those unaware of why my skin crawls at the sound of his very name, is Jay’s stepbrother and the one person apart from Nicole who seems to have made a hobby of making me miserable. He bullied me relentlessly all through elementary school and junior high. However, before we started high school, he being the delinquent that he is, inevitably ended up where all the miscreants do. Military school has kept him away from me for three years now.
And now he’s coming back.
Cole Stone, the reason why the nurses in the emergency room and I are on a first-name basis, is coming back to town. Oh my God, now there’s going to be two of them! Cole and Nicole will combine their evil satanic powers to make my life a living, breathing slasher flick.
I gulp and shut my laptop down, tossing it aside like it’s possessed.
Score one for the universe’s sickening sense of humor, and none for the blonde who always ends up dead in the bathtub.
About the Author
BLAIR HOLDEN (@jessgirl93 on Wattpad) is a twenty-three-year-old college student by day and Wattpad author by night. Her hobbies include and are limited to obsessively scouring Goodreads and reading romance novels, with a preference for all things new adult. Her own work usually contains lots of romance, humor, angst, and brooding bad-boy heroes. Caffeine and late-night Gilmore Girls marathons help her find a balance between completing her degree and writing. She writes for herself and also to make readers swoon, laugh, and occasionally cry. Her book, THE BAD BOY’S GIRL, has amassed over 170 million reads, which absolutely baffles her. Her dream is to see her readers holding a published copy of her books and remembering how far they’ve come together!