Ripped (Real, #5)

Ripped (Real, #5) by Katy Evans

To second chances, especially the chance to do it right


“MAGIC” by Coldplay

“WILD HEART” by Bleachers “ANIMAL” by Neon Trees “CARRY ON WAYWARD SON” by Kansas “ALONE TOGETHER” by Fall Out Boy “IF YOU SAY SO” by Lea Michele “THE LAST SONG EVER” by Secondhand Serenade “HEY BROTHER” by Avicii “SPECTRUM” by Zedd


“LIKE A VIRGIN” by Madonna “SWEET CHERRY PIE” by Warrant “MISS INDEPENDENT” by Ne-Yo “I BELIEVE IN YOU” by Kylie Minogue “BEAUTIFUL” by Akon

“YOU FOUND ME” by The Fray “SWEET CHILD O’ MINE” by Guns N’ Roses “TAKE A BOW” by Rihanna “YOUR SONG” by Elton John “BROKEN” by Lifehouse


? ? ?

Have you ever had a secret?

One that tears at the deepest part of your soul, that’s so overwhelmingly painful you cannot speak of it for fear it’ll break you apart, limb by limb, cell by cell . . . becoming real, and frightening, and saddening . . .

Or have you had a secret that makes your chest swell like you’ve just been pumped with helium, and you want to shout your secret to the world, but shouting it would mean the world would take your precious secret away from you?

I’ve had both. The secret you love, and the one you hate.

And for the last six years, I’ve carried both . . .

? ? ?




I’m the only person in my apartment building that still gets a newspaper. It sits on my doorstep this morning, and I love the way it smells. I love the crackling noise when I drop into my dining room chair and slap the sucker open. This sound, this smell . . . they remind me of lazy Saturday mornings reading the paper with my dad, his cologne scent engulfing me. By the time I was seventeen, he was gone. As was his morning rumple of my hair and his cologne—but not the smell of the paper. It’s been almost a decade and I still find an incomparable little joy in the smell of this freshly printed newspaper. Until now . . .

Now . . . when the headline of the entertainment section stares back at me, mocking me.

Mackenna Jones Is Back in Town! the headline says, and just reading that feels like a punch in the gut.

I squeeze my eyes shut and open them, my stomach trembling uncontrollably.

Mackenna Jones is back in town!

Fuck, I really need to stop reading that.

Mackenna Jones is back in town!

God. Still reads the same.


The name curls around me like smoke in my insides, and butterflies I didn’t even know I still carried crash into the walls of my belly. I thought it impossible that a single one of these butterflies had survived Mackenna Jones.

He’s coming to town, Pandora. What are you going to do about it?

The thought of him being in the same state makes me scowl bleakly. “Seriously, *? You had to come here?”

I begin reading the article about Crack Bikini, how the band has revolutionized music. How even Obama has openly said this band is responsible for turning young kids back to the music of the masters—Mozart, Beethoven. But it doesn’t end there. It’s just getting started turning up the schmooze. The reporter keeps going on and on about how this tour has sold out Madison Square Garden faster than Justin Bieber’s first show, and how it will be the concert of the year, if not the decade.

Briefly, the band’s breakout song flits through my head. For a time, this song played on every radio station in the country, and it made me loathe music with a passion—hell, the mere thought of it angers me all over again.

My hands shake as I set down the newspaper, fold it, and try to move on to another section. I live with my mother and my cousin, and I’ve always had an appreciation for my quiet time on Saturdays, when Magnolia has ballet and my mother has errands. But now, my precious Saturday—time I get our apartment to myself—has officially been ruined. Not only my Saturday, this just ruins my entire f*cking year.

Mackenna. In Seattle.

My hands tremble as I go back to the entertainment section and slowly scan for the date of the concert. I find myself clicking open Internet Explorer on my phone and navigating straight to Ticketmaster. Yep, the show is already sold out. So I head to eBay, where I discover the staggering prices the best tickets command.

I don’t know why, but for a moment, I imagine myself in one of those pricey seats, calling him the world’s greatest * from up close so he can hear through all the noise he and his band members make.

I don’t know what I’m doing. Or maybe I do know. A cold chill is settling in my body. The show is sold out. The tickets cost a fortune. But no. I won’t miss this opportunity. It’s been almost six years since I last saw him. Almost six years since seeing that hard, perfect man-butt as he jumped into his jeans.

The first time he took me, I could almost see my V card nicely tucked into his back pocket. He told me he loved me and asked me to tell him that I loved him. He was still inside me when he asked if I wanted him to be with me. I cried instead—because something is wrong with me, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t say it back. But I know that he knew.

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