The Scandal (Single in Seattle #2) - Kristen Proby

Prologue

Stella

Ten Years Ago

* * *

“You literally have tattoos all over your body,” I point out and prop my hand on my cocked hip, glaring at my ridiculous father. “I just want a little flower on my rib cage, where no one can even see it unless I’m in a bikini.”

“No tattoos, and no fucking bikinis until you’re over eighteen,” he says. Dad’s voice is calm, but his eyes warn me to drop it.

But I won’t drop it.

“You’re being unreasonable,” I say. “Dad, I’m sixteen. I know what I want. It’s small and hidden.”

“If you’re so sure now, you’ll still be sure in two years when I don’t care what you do. In the meantime, no means no, Stella.”

“But—”

“You might want to quit while you’re ahead, kiddo,” Mom says, not even looking up from the magazine she’s perusing at the kitchen table.

“Do you two understand how much worse this conversation could be? I could be telling you I’m doing drugs. Or that I’m pregnant.”

Now my dad’s eyes narrow, and I know I’m teetering on the edge with him.

But I don’t care.

“You let me pierce my ears. Mom said I could even pierce my navel if I want to.”

“Not permanent,” Mom murmurs.

“Maybe I want new boobs, too.” I glare at my mom, who does have fake boobs.

It doesn’t hurt her feelings. She just looks up at me and raises an eyebrow.

“We’re done here,” Dad says brusquely. “You can be mad all you want, Stella, but you won’t insult your mother. I won’t have it.”

I frown and look down, feeling immediate regret. Why do I always pop off with an insult at someone I love when I’m mad?

“I’m sorry. I really am. I just don’t see what the big deal is.”

“You don’t have to understand it,” he says. “It is what it is. I’ll be in my office for a couple of hours.”

He walks out of the room and down the hall, then closes his door with a firm snick.

“Argh, he makes me so damn mad.”

“I’d say you do the same for him,” Mom says with a sarcastic smile. “It’s two years, Stella. Time passes in the blink of an eye. If you still want the tat then, you can get it. Nate isn’t wrong this time, and you know it.”

“It’s so stupid. Pretty much everyone in this family has tattoos. It’s hypocritical.”

“Hypocritical?” Mom tilts her head to the side. “Name one of your cousins who got inked while still underage.”

I open my mouth and then close it again before letting out a breath and slumping in the chair across from where Mom’s sitting.

“So dumb.”

“Yes, I know. We’re ruining your life.”

“Dad makes me crazy. You know that, right?”

She laughs and picks her magazine back up, flipping the page.

“I can’t wait for you to marry someone just like him.”

“Oh, hell no. That’s never going to happen.”

“Right.” She shows me a page from the magazine. “What do you think of these boots? I think they’re cute, but maybe I’m too old to pull off the thigh-high boots these days.”

“Are you kidding? You have killer legs. You can pull off anything.”

“Even with these fake boobs?”

I huff out a breath. “You know I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I was trying to prove a point.”

“All you did was piss off your dad, and you knew that would happen. You were just mad. I know we’ve given you just about everything you could want, but there are times in this life that you’ll be told no, Stel. Shocker, I know.”

“I don’t like being told no,” I decide after a moment of contemplation.

“None of us do,” she agrees with a laugh. “But that’s life. You’ll survive it. What do you think of these jeans?”

“Too short,” I reply as I move from the chair and snuggle up next to her. “Your legs are too long. But this top would be awesome on you.”

“I think it would be awesome on you,” she says and kisses my cheek. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I should probably apologize to Dad.”

“Good idea. You do that, and I’ll order this top.”

I walk down the hall of our condo to Dad’s office and knock on the door.

“Come in.”

“Hi,” I say as I poke my head in. “Can I come in?”

“Yes.”

He sets his pen down and just watches me as I walk around his desk and wrap my arms around his neck, kissing his rough cheek.

“I’m sorry I’m such a jerk.”

Dad sighs and hugs me back. “You’re not always a jerk.”

I grin and sit on his desk, letting my