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J. Lynn



  Jennifer L. Armentrout

  Copyright © 2015 by Jennifer L. Armentrout

  Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.

  Spencer Hill Contemporary, an imprint of Spencer Hill Press

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

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  Contact: Spencer Hill Press

  27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102

  New York, NY 10011

  Please visit our website at

  First Edition: June 2015.

  Armentrout, Jennifer L. 1980

  Scorched: a novel / by Jennifer L. Armentrout – 1st ed.

  p. cm.


  A college student’s blossoming relationship with an amazing guy is threatened by her personal demons.

  The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Dinobot, Dr. Phil, Durango, Facebook, Folgers, Grindr, Holy Cross Hospital, Imodium, Intervention, iPhone, Lexus, Louis Vuitton, Lowe’s, Mack truck, Mercedes-Benz, Miller Lite, My Little Pony, One Direction, Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Redd’s Apple Ale, Sallie Mae, Snapchat, Sonata, Target, Thermos, Tinder, Titanic, Toaster Strudel, Tom Hardy, Transformers, Tumblr, Tums, US Weekly, The Walking Dead

  Cover design by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations

  ISBN 978-1-63392-016-3 (e-book)

  ISBN 978-1-63392-015-6 (paperback)

  Printed in the United States of America

  Also by Jennifer L. Armentrout (J. Lynn)

  The Covenant Series

  (Spencer Hill Press)

  Daimon (novella)




  Elixir (novella)



  The Titan Series

  (Spencer Hill Press)

  The Return

  The Power (2016)

  The Lux Series

  (Entangled Teen)

  Shadows (novella)




  Obsession (Entangled Covet)



  The Nephilim Rising Series

  (Entangled Edge)


  The Dark Elements Series

  (Harlequin Teen)

  Bitter Sweet Love

  White Hot Kiss

  Stone Cold Touch

  Every Last Breath

  The Gamble Brothers Series (Entangled Brazen)

  Tempting the Best Man

  Tempting the Player

  Tempting the Bodyguard

  The Wait For You Saga


  Wait for You

  Trust In Me

  Be With Me

  Stay With Me

  Fall With Me

  Dream Of You (novella)

  Standalone Titles


  (Spencer Hill Press)

  Don’t Look Back



  (Spencer Hill Contemporary)

  This book is for you, the reader,

  for making this story possible,

  and for anyone who has pulled themselves

  free of life’s darkest moments.

  Chapter 1


  This had to be the absolutely stupidest thing I’d ever seriously considered agreeing to take part in. That was admitting to something pretty epic, because I’d done a lot of stupid in my twenty-two years strutting around on planet Earth. And I mean, a lot of stupid.

  At the ripe age of six, I’d shoved a fork in my pappy’s toaster when my Toaster Strudel got stuck—though I’m pretty sure even back then I knew that wasn’t a clever thing to do. That ended in a trip to the emergency room and a near heart attack for the dear old man, who, after that, refused to babysit me again. Then, when I was ten, I allowed my older brother—older by barely a year—Broderick to convince me that jumping from the porch roof into the pool down below was a totally cool idea and not dangerous at all. That also ended with a trip to the ER, a broken leg, and a summer-long grounding for Brody.

  Not all my stupid actions resulted in hospital visits, but that didn’t make them any less dumb. When I was fourteen, I was positive that I could take my parents’ car around the block without them ever finding out. Unfortunately, in the excitement of doing something naughty, I’d forgotten to lift the garage door and ended up driving through it.

  In their shiny, new Benz.

  Then I’d dated Jonah Banks, all-star quarterback in high school, and while that didn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing, he’d been under the impression—and probably still was—that the sun revolved around the Earth. And because everyone else was doing it, I’d given him my v-card, and had immediately wished I could grow that damn hymen back, because the awkward fumbling in the back of his truck and all that sweating so hadn’t been worth the pain and weirdness.

  I was also beginning to think changing my major at the start of the new year from pre-med to education hadn’t been a smart choice, because cheese and rice, I was going to be in school forever and when I graduated, I’d be so far in debt that Sallie Mae would be the godmother of any children I had. Not to mention, my parents were still reeling from my latest string of decisions that they didn’t necessarily approve of. Both were doctors, successful ones, and Brody was already in med school, continuing the family tradition like the good child that he was.

  But becoming a doctor…well, it had been what they wanted. Not me. Seeing Kyler, my best friend’s boyfriend, change his major last year had given me the courage to do the same. Not that I’d ever tell him that, though. Or really admit that to anyone.

  However, one of my latest and greatest idiotic decisions to date, and probably the most painful, was allowing myself to be charmed by Tanner Hammond. Because I totally, totally knew better. From day one, I recognized Tanner for what he was—a player’s player. After all, I’d grown up with a brother who’d had the attention span of a gnat when it came to girls. Tanner was no better.


  But I was about to make another epic bad decision, because as I stared into Sydney Bell’s bright blue eyes, I couldn’t tell my best friend no.

  Well, I could tell her no. I’d told her no a lot, but I couldn’t in this situation, because telling her no meant that I would be stuck here by myself, and nothing drove me more crazy than being…well, alone.

  “Please,” she said, clapping her tiny hands together as she hopped, causing her thick black ponytail to bounce. Everything about Syd was small. Standing next to her, I felt like Bigfoot—a redheaded Bigfoot. “Please. It will be so much fun. I promise you. And it’s going to be the last time any of us really have a lot of time to get away. Summer is almost over. Kyler is doing the vet school stuff. My grad school classes are going to suck up all my time.”

  And I’d be puttering around, being lame and useless, still taking undergrad classes like the loser I was turning out to be.

  Plopping down on the edge of the bed in the apartment she now shared with Kyler, I tried not to think about all the indecent things those two had done on said bed. Or think about the constant reminder that all my friends were either paired off, entering grad school, or starting their careers while I was…unchanged.


though I kept changing my mind about, well, everything, I was still stuck.

  “But it’s a cabin in the woods of West Virginia,” I said, shaking off troublesome thoughts before they festered into something I couldn’t ignore. “That’s like the start of every horror movie featuring cannibals.”

  Syd narrowed her eyes. “You had no problem going to the cabin in Snowshoe.”

  “That’s because that cabin is in a tourist town, and this cabin sounds like it’s in the middle of the mountains,” I pointed out. “And may I remind you what happened the last time you went to Snowshoe? You got snowed in and some crazy dude attacked you.”

  “That was a freak occurrence,” she insisted, waving her hand. It had taken her a long time to be so flippant about the event, but I noted that for this trip she and Kyler had rented a different cabin, rather than going back to the one his family owned. I honestly wasn’t sure if Syd would ever go back to that cabin. “And the house Kyler and I rented is actually near Seneca Rocks, so it’s not that remote. It isn’t like you’re going to run into the chupacabra or a pack of aliens.”

  I snorted like a little piglet. “I’m more worried about six-fingered hillbillies.”

  She folded her arms across her chest. “Andrea…”

  Exhaling, I rolled my eyes. “Okay. I know there aren’t six-fingered hillbillies running around.” Truthfully, I’d found West Virginia to be very beautiful every time I’d visited.

  “The cabin is fully loaded and gorgeous. It’s huge. Six bedrooms. Has a hot tub and a pool.” Moving over to the dark cherry dresser, she started arranging the bracelets sprinkled across the top, organizing them by color. What a little freak. “It will be a week in paradise.”

  I lifted a brow in doubt. To me, paradise was lounging on an island in the Caribbean with a margarita the size of a toddler in my hand, but hey, what did I know?

  “And the house is big enough that you won’t even know Tanner is there,” she added as she cast a sly grin over her shoulder. “If that’s what you want to do. Of course, you don’t have to ignore him.”

  “You had to invite him, didn’t you?” Needing to move, I popped up from the bed and stalked past her, heading into the bathroom—the ridiculously clutter-free bathroom with its deep-blue floor mats and matching toilet seat cover. Ugh. Couples. I leaned against the sink and stared into the mirror. Yikes. My eyeliner was trying to mate with my cheeks. How had Syd failed to mention that?

  “I didn’t invite him.” Her voice carried from the bedroom. “Kyler did. And what’s the big deal? I thought you two were getting along now.”

  Swiping my fingers under my eyes, I dropped my hands to the cool rim of the porcelain sink with a sigh. “Just because we’re getting along right now doesn’t mean we’ll get along tomorrow or next week or an hour from now. He’s…he’s moody like that.”

  There was no answer from the bedroom.

  Rising onto the tips of my toes, I peered into the mirror, and then cursed under my breath. Was that a zit forming on my chin? A huge one, too. I puckered my nude lips. At what point would my face outgrow the pimple phase? “And why would Kyler even invite him? Tanner is as interesting as getting my eyebrows plucked. Speaking of which…” I pulled back from the mirror, wrinkling my nose. “My eyebrows look like caterpillars, Syd. Hairy and bushy caterpillars.”

  Syd cleared her throat. “Um, Andrea—”

  “Actually, let me rephrase that.” Settling flat on my bare feet, I smoothed my hands over my shoulder-length ringlets. My hair was a deep auburn in normal light and much redder out in the sun. Syd thought I looked like old-school Little Orphan Annie since I also had the matching freckles. “Plucking the hair off my chin would be more interesting than spending a week with Tanner. And why do we get hair on our chins? Don’t answer that. You’ll probably have some kind of logical explanation, and I’m against all things logic right now.”


  “But plucking any piece of body hair would be less painful. God.” Yep. I was getting riled up, like I always did when I thought about Tanner. “Do you know what that dickhead told me after you and Kyler ditched me at the park the night of the fireworks? And I don’t even need to guess what you two were doing behind those trees. Perverts,” I went on, anger resurfacing as I remembered what Tanner had said. “He told me I drank too much. And he said this while holding a beer in his hand. What kind of fucked-up double standard is that? Plus, I need to drink so I don’t want to punch him in the gonads.”


  I stiffened, eyes widening as I recognized a voice way too deep to belong to Syd, unless she had been keeping a major secret from me. Two pink splotches formed on my cheeks as I turned toward the open bathroom door.

  That was definitely Kyler’s voice, and if he was home, there was a good chance he wasn’t alone, which meant…

  Oh, for fuck’s sake.

  Face burning and most likely matching my hair, I briefly considered hiding behind the shower curtain, but that was weak and would be really weird. I walked out of the bathroom and quickly discovered that I’d just inserted foot and my entire leg into my mouth.

  Kyler Quinn was in the bedroom with one well-defined arm draped over Syd’s slim shoulders. Her cheeks were flushed pink, so I was assuming he’d given her a heck of a greeting with his mouth and hands. He was a multitasking kind of guy. Right then, he was grinning at me like a cat that had devoured an entire box of mice. Kyler was hot. With his messy brown hair and Prince Charming kind of smile, he was a perfect match for Sydney, who sort of reminded me of a living, breathing Snow White.

  Sydney and Kyler? Gah, they made me want to puke rainbows of the My Little Pony variety.

  Their whole story was a thing of fairytales, what little girls dreamed of—what I still kind of dreamed of in a really pathetically sad sort of way.

  Growing up together, basically best friends for life, they both had been secretly in love with one another, and last year, while snowed in together at the cabin in Snowshoe, they’d finally fessed up to their feelings. They’d been together ever since, and even though I was a wee bit envious of their love for one another, I couldn’t be any happier for them. Those two deserved their happy ending.

  The walking penis leaning against the doorframe? Another story.

  My gaze slid to Tanner Hammond. He wasn’t hot. Oh no. Hot was too weak of a word to describe all six feet and four inches of sexiness packed into well-formed arms, tight abs, and a broad chest, complete with narrow hips and an ass one could ogle for days. His bright, crystal-blue eyes were legit bedroom eyes, always half-hooded, sleepy and sensual. His face was almost perfectly pieced together—high cheekbones and a lower lip slightly fuller than the top lip, his nose faintly crooked from a break he’d suffered long before I knew him.

  I usually liked my guys with a bit more hair, but he rocked the buzzed-at-the-sides and cropped-at-the-top look. Once, when I’d been…well, drunk, I’d gotten the great idea to rub my palm across his head. Probably another dumb idea, but I’d about died over how the prickly softness of his hair felt against my palm.

  It had felt go-oo-od.

  The first time I’d seen Tanner had been in my packed English 101 class, and my tongue had practically lolled out of my mouth and smacked off the floor. He, of course, hadn’t noticed me. Hell, Kyler and Syd thought we’d only met in the last two years or so. Not true. I’d known of Tanner since my freshman year. That year alone, he’d been in two of my classes, and I had crushed on him hard—super hard—right up to the end of spring semester.

  Tanner lifted a brow. “I stand by my word. You do drink too much.”

  My hands clenched as I drew in a sharp, stinging breath. “I didn’t ask for your opinion, Dr. Phil.”

  “All I’m saying is that I’ve seen you puke more times than I would hanging out in an emergency room during flu season,” he added dryly.

  The vein along my temple started to tick while Kyler tipped his chin down, not doing a good job at hiding his smile.
“Oh. So roughly the same number of times you screwed random chicks this week?”

  His lips curled into a half-smile—the kind of grin that would’ve been mind-numbingly sexy if I didn’t want to smack it off his face. “Sounds about right—no, wait. There’s probably been one more random chick than you puking, if we’re keeping count.”

  “Guys…” Syd murmured.

  My shoulders tensed as I readied for a verbal battle, round five million. “So that means you’ve probably caught chlamydia and gonorrhea this past weekend alone, then?”

  He raised one shoulder as he eyed me lazily. “Probably the same likelihood of you vomiting in your date’s lap.”

  Warmth crept over my cheeks. I’d done that before. Once. Wasn’t pretty. “How about this? Why don’t you go fu—”

  Tanner pushed off the wall, turning to Kyler and Syd. “Is she going to the cabin? If so, I need to pack hazmat gear.”

  I was going to hit him. Seriously. Plant my fist in his solar plexus, right at the exact moment he inhaled.

  Struggling to keep a straight face, Syd looked at me. “I don’t know. I was trying to convince her before you two showed up, but now that seems like a giant waste of time.” She shot a dark look at Tanner.

  He smiled broadly. “Sounds good to me.” Clapping his hand on Kyler’s shoulder, he started to walk back into the hall. “I was thinking about inviting Brooke.”

  My jaw hit the floor. Brooke Page? Blonde and big booba-licious Brooke Page who needed a calculator to count to one hundred?

  “You are not inviting Brooke,” Syd said, sighing.

  Tanner chuckled. “How about Mandie?”

  A choking sound came from Kyler.

  I rolled my eyes. Now he was just being silly. “You have such classy taste in women.”

  Casting a long look over his shoulder, he winked. “At least none of them are spoiled little rich girls who couldn’t balance their own checking accounts without Daddy’s help.”

  “I am not a spoiled little rich girl!” I shrieked, and Syd suddenly found something interesting on the ceiling. Okay. Being that both my parents were very successful plastic surgeons, they were well off. The apartment I lived in? Paid for by Mom and Dad. As was most everything inside said apartment and the car—an older Lexus—I drove, but just because I came from money didn’t mean I was spoiled. My parents were never afraid to remind me of just how much they paid for and how quickly all of that could go away—they were making me pay my tuition, now that I’d switched majors, and the loans were already adding up. “And I know how to balance my checkbook, unlike Mandie and Brooke.”