Paige rewritten, p.1
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       Paige Rewritten, p.1

           Erynn Mangum
 
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Paige Rewritten


  “I love Paige more and more with each book. Just when I didn’t think it was possible to love her more!”

  — BEKAH HAMRICK MARTIN, author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting, and God’s Purity Plan

  “Paige Rewritten is a shining example of Erynn Mangum’s signature character development of witty and relatable characters. With a strong and genuine voice, she uses humor and smile-evoking romantic tension to reveal a surprising depth of biblical insight. Her superb plotting and believable twists keep readers engaged until the final, nail-biting page.”

  — XOCHI E. DIXON, freelance writer; speaker; Bible teacher

  NavPress is the publishing ministry of The Navigators, an international Christian organization and leader in personal spiritual development. NavPress is committed to helping people grow spiritually and enjoy lives of meaning and hope through personal and group resources that are biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and highly practical.

  For a free catalog go to www.NavPress.com

  or call 1.800.366.7788 in the United States or 1.800.839.4769 in Canada.

  © 2013 by Erynn Mangum O’Brien

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from NavPress, P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935. www.navpress.com

  NAVPRESS, the NAVPRESS logo, TH1NK, and the TH1NK logo are registered trademarks of NavPress. Absence of ® in connection with marks of NavPress or other parties does not indicate an absence of registration of those marks.

  ISBN-13: 978-1-61291-321-6

  Cover design by Studio Gearbox

  Cover image by CSA Images

  Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

  Mangum, Erynn, 1985-

  Paige rewritten : a Paige Alder novel / Erynn Mangum.

  pages cm

  Sequel to: Paige torn.

  Summary: Paige is still overcommitted but making more time for God when Preslee, the sister she has not spoken with in almost a year, returns wearing an engagement ring, the youth pastor asks her to take a job at the church, and an old boyfriend resurfaces.

  ISBN 978-1-61291-321-6

  [1. Christian life — Fiction. 2. Responsibility — Fiction. 3. Dating (Social customs) — Fiction. 4. Sisters — Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.M31266532Paf 2013

  [Fic] — dc23

  2013011791

  Printed in the United States of America

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 / 18 17 16 15 14 13

  OTHER NOVELS BY ERYNN MANGUM

  PAIGE ALDER SERIES:

  Paige Torn

  LAUREN HOLBROOK SERIES:

  Miss Match

  ReMatch

  Match Point

  MAYA DAVIS SERIES:

  Cool Beans

  Latte Daze

  Double Shot

  To you, my dear friend — may you learn with me as I discover how big our God is, how much He loves us, and how perfectly He provides for us — even when we don’t see it at the time. I love you and I’m praying for you!

  Acknowledgments

  To my Lord and Savior — may this book bring You honor and glory and be used to draw people closer to You.

  To my loves — Jon and Nathan — I adore being your wife and mama. You two make every day exciting and meaningful. ;) I love you more than I could ever say.

  To my family — Mom, Dad, Bryant, Caleb, Cayce — I love you all. Thank you for bugging me about my deadlines, bringing me coffee, and watching my crazy kid. Sundays with you all are the highlight of my week.

  To my in-law family — Greg, Connie, Allen, Vicky, and Tommy — I am blessed to be a part of this crazy bunch!

  To my friends — Shannon Layer, Kaitlin Bar, Jen Fulkerson, Leigh Ann Trebesh, Eryn Beechem, Melanie Larson, Thalia Chan, and Jamie Poore — I treasure you so much. Thank you for the love you have shown me and my family. I love you all!

  To my amazing publisher and my incredible agent — the NavPress Super Squad and Tamela Hancock Murray — you guys are the best!

  Chapter

  1

  My mom likes to say that good things come in threes. “Remember that time we went to see The Phantom of the Opera, Paige?” she always says to me. “Not only did our seats get upgraded for free, but we won those tickets to go see Wicked and we met Mariah Carey!”

  By met, Mom meant “saw from a distance,” and to this day, I still swear it was not Mariah Carey.

  And if it was her, then I really feel the need to tell her that cornrows are not a flattering hairstyle for her.

  I’m curious what Mom would say about my current situation. I really don’t think I am looking at three good things.

  Maybe three confusing things.

  But not good things.

  “Well?” My boss, Mark Lawman, is sitting in front of my desk, looking at me expectantly.

  I don’t know what to say. I stare at the paper he gave me that lays out a new job description of my duties, the biggest difference being the huge raise he is offering.

  On the one hand, I am excited about the prospect of more money. Saving is kind of a high priority for me at the moment after a few lean months, thanks to saying yes to too many things.

  On the other hand, it will solidify my role in this adoption agency as a secretary for life when all I really want is to be an honest-to-goodness counselor.

  I don’t necessarily like the mental image I have of myself at ninety-four, sitting at this same desk, answering this same phone in a warbling version of my voice. “Lawman Adoption Agency, this is Paige.”

  Mark must see something in my expression because he clears his throat and stands. “Just think about it, Paige.” Then he hurries down the hall to his office, leaving me with the paper and my cluttered desk.

  I reread the new job description. Basically, all he did is include transcription work, but that is something I already do thanks to a much extended maternity leave our regular transcriptionist has been taking since about two years ago.

  I figure we can pretty much consider her retired.

  I set the paper down with a sigh and go back to my lunch of bagged salad and the text message I was reading when Mark interrupted my lunch break.

  IT’S JUST DINNER BETWEEN OLD FRIENDS, PAIGE.

  Luke Prestwick, my best friend Layla’s older brother, has a very skewed view of the past apparently. “Old friends” implies that there is an ongoing friendship.

  Something he ended nearly five years ago.

  Right then my phone buzzes again, and I look at the message, worrying that it is Luke again.

  HI PAIGE! JUST THINKING ABOUT YOU. HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A GOOD DAY!

  It is from Tyler Jennings.

  “Well, that’s a pretty smile.”

  I look up to see Peggy, one of the two counselors who work at the agency. She is standing in front of my desk, holding a microwavable cup of chicken and rice soup and a spoon.

  I shrug and try to wipe my face clean of emotion. “Soup day?” I ask her, trying to change the subject.

  “I’m not that easily distracted, Paige, and yes. It’s cold out.”

  Cold is a relative term in Dallas. Particularly in March. Really, what she means is that it’s raining outside.

  I peer out the front window and sigh. Nothing like a drizzly day to make you wish you were home watching HGTV shows in fuzzy sweatpants instead of sitting in an office chair in a skirt.

  My phone buzzes yet again. Peggy smirks at me. “Look who is Miss Popular.”

  It’s Luke again.

  REALLY, PAIGE, I JUST WANT TO CATCH UP AND FIGURED THIS WEEK WOULD BE A GREAT TIME S
INCE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY ON FRIDAY.

  I can’t decide if I’m flattered or confused by Luke Prestwick remembering my birthday. Four years ago I would have been overjoyed.

  “So?” Peggy taps my desk with the end of her spoon.

  “What are we so-ing about?” Candace walks in from the hallway leading back to her office. She is absently crunching a celery stick, which means there is yet another wedding or baby shower or some milestone coming up in her ridiculously huge extended family. Candace crash diets before every event.

  “Nothing.” I shake my head. These two are way too curious about my personal life, and having been “shrinked” by them before, I am in no hurry to have it happen again.

  Last time they were critiquing my innate need to say yes to every single thing anyone asked of me. It got to the point where I didn’t even have time to do my devotions I was so busy.

  So, yes, they were right about that, but there isn’t anything to tell right now. Tyler and I have been on one date. Apparently, this is the prime season for software developers, so he is slammed at work.

  I shrug off Peggy and Candace and they finally exchange a look. “Okay, fine,” Peggy says. “We’ll do this your way.” Then they look at each other again and go back down the hall to their offices.

  Finally.

  I glance at the clock. I have five more minutes in my lunch break, so I text Tyler first.

  THANKS! HAVING A PRETTY GOOD DAY. I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A GOOD DAY TOO!

  It sounds horrible. I stare at it for three of my five remaining minutes before finally just sending it because I can’t come up with a different way to word it without sounding even more like a chirpy little girl.

  Then I click over to reply to Luke and just stare at the touch-screen keyboard for the next ninety seconds.

  I WILL THINK ABOUT IT.

  I push send. No smiley face, no exclamation point. Maybe he’ll get the message and recant his constant pleading over the last two weeks.

  That is another thing. He can’t bother to visit for two years, but now that he came back for his parents’ anniversary party two weeks ago, he can suddenly stay in town? He tried to talk to me the whole night of his parents’ party, but things just got crazy.

  And I’ve been doing a great job of avoiding him since then.

  I’ve been doing a great job of avoiding a lot of people.

  Including my sister.

  I finish the last bite of salad, throw the bag away, and sigh, thinking of Preslee. She and Luke must have tag teamed this because I’ve gotten almost as many texts from her as I have from him. And they could have been sent by either one of them, the messages sound so alike.

  I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU.

  I KNOW I HURT YOU IN THE PAST, BUT I HAVE CHANGED!

  I think about that last text I got from her three nights ago. I have changed. What does that even mean to Preslee? Or Luke?

  No, the past is where it should stay. In the past. I’ve moved on from both of them, and I am content now. I am doing great in my walk with God, I am good with the awkward are-we-dating-or-just-really-good-friends teeter-totter I’m riding with Tyler, I am happy hanging out with Layla and occasionally helping her with wedding stuff, and I am okay with my current job situation. So what if I don’t use my college degree and am not doing anything to counsel people like I’ve always dreamed about?

  Okay, I am sort of okay with my job situation.

  Regardless, I don’t need any more speed bumps in the road. I am finally at a good place. I just want to stay here.

  The rest of the workday passes by slowly since I spend the majority of it on hold with the people who service our copier. The stupid machine goes out at least once a month, and rather than pay for a new one, Mark just prefers to have me call in the repairman, Flynn, who is never available until at least four business days after the copier breaks.

  “I just need someone to come by Friday,” I say, eyeing the teetering stack of papers waiting to be copied. Today is Wednesday. “Friday at the latest,” I annunciate.

  “We’ll do our best, ma’am!”

  That means they will be here by next Tuesday.

  I hang up, feeling useless and thinking about how a lot of people would kill for a gigantic raise for a job that essentially consists of answering the phone, waiting on hold, answering e-mails, doing paychecks, and getting prospective adoptive parents and birth parents bottles of water or coffee.

  It is a no-brainer job.

  At the moment, I can’t decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

  “Well, I’m out of here,” Peggy announces at five o’clock, coming down the hallway and pulling on her raincoat and a wide-brimmed hat.

  I look out the window and it is barely drizzling.

  I think Peggy misses her hometown of rainy Seattle a little too much sometimes.

  I dig my purse out from the desk drawer, turn off my computer, and stand too. Normally I teach Bible study on Wednesday nights to a bunch of high school girls, but this week is spring break in Dallas, so Rick, our youth pastor, took most of them on some sort of retreat and canceled Bible study.

  “You really should come with us, Paige,” he told me at Layla’s parents’ anniversary party.

  “I can’t take a week off work.”

  “It’s only four days.”

  Rick does not understand what a normal nine-to-five job looks like.

  I follow Peggy out, looking forward to a nice, quiet night at home. Just me, Westley, Buttercup, and a takeout container filled with General Tso’s chicken from one of the local drive-thru Chinese places. It is three dollars for a huge box. Which sort of scares me because it is so cheap and the kid working the drive-thru always looks like he is plotting someone’s murder, but that’s why I drive through instead of going inside.

  I don’t ask questions; I just hand over the cash and keep my door locked.

  Candace was the first one to suggest the restaurant. “Oh it’s amazing!” She raved for days after she’d been there the first time following one of her niece’s weddings. Really, that is the only time I take Candace’s restaurant suggestions since every other time she is on a diet and looking for low-fat, low-calorie, and low-taste food.

  I wave at Peggy and slide into my car, drive to the Chinese food place, buy my container of chicken with a side of broccoli and rice from the creepy boy, and drive home.

  Layla texts me almost as soon as I pull into my allotted parking space at my apartment complex. PANDA EXPRESS TONIGHT?

  I look at my three-dollar container of mystery meat covered in General Tso’s sauce and am suddenly a little repulsed. Especially when I think of the delicious, no-MSG orange chicken.

  I call her, gathering my purse and the takeout container.

  “Is that a yes?” she answers.

  “I just bought a huge box of General Tso’s chicken.”

  She makes a gagging noise. “From that nasty Chinese place? Gross, Paige. Look, I’m leaving right now. I’ll get you decent Chinese food and be there in … I don’t know. Fifteen minutes?”

  It will at least give me a chance to change into comfy clothes and get the movie going. Layla and I watch The Princess Bride at least once a month. Usually it ends up being just background noise while we talk, and then we both get quiet during our favorite scenes. I walk a few steps over to the Dumpster and toss in my takeout box before going up the stairs to my apartment.

  I open the door exactly fifteen minutes later and Layla smiles at me, her hair glistening with rain droplets. She holds up a sack and the smell of Chinese food takes over my house.

  “Thanks, Layla.” I close the door behind her. I don’t bother offering to pay her back. I will just buy next time.

  She sets the bag on the kitchen table and starts unloading it, talking a hundred miles a minute. Typical Layla.

  “So Peter told me yesterday that he wants me to move into his apartment after we get married and I’m like, absolutely not, you know? I mean his apartment is okay or wha
tever but it’s a guy’s apartment. It’s cold and dark and smells kind of weird if I’m being totally honest. Plus have you seen his kitchen?”

  She looks up at me and apparently that question needs an answer.

  “I’ve only been to Peter’s apartment once, and I definitely don’t remember the kitchen.” I turn on the TV and start the movie.

  “Well, I told him we should move into mine instead.”

  Layla’s apartment, in my opinion, isn’t much to talk of either. The apartment itself is fine, but there’s a long, dark, creepy path you have to take all the way around the building from the parking lot. I call it Murder Alley.

  Layla calls it a relaxing walk after work.

  She hands me the Styrofoam container and sits down on my couch, propping her feet up on the coffee table and weaving her fingers together. “Jesus, thank You for the real food we are about to consume and may any fat contained therein make its way to our boobs and not our hips. Amen.”

  I snort and shake my head, joining her on the couch.

  I nod over at her box of orange chicken. “No more vegetarianism?”

  “It calls to me,” she says, tone sad, spearing a bite.

  “Vegetarianism?”

  “Chicken.”

  I nod. Layla’s strike lasted about three weeks. That is longer than the no-more-bottled-water strike, the I-will-only-wear-100-percent-cotton strike, and the waking-up-early-to-do-Pilates kick. That one lasted two days, and then she decided Pilates was created by someone who hated human beings and their hamstrings.

  We eat our chicken in relative silence, watching the beginning of the movie we know so well.

  “So,” I say, after I’ve finished most of my meal.

  “So,” Layla echoes, looking over at me.

  “I haven’t had a chance to tell you,” I say slowly, thinking about it. That statement is sort of a lie. I’ve had the chance to tell her what I am going to say, but I’ve just chickened out.

  Seems fitting to tell her over a dinner of poultry.

  “What?” Layla looks back at the TV.

  “Luke’s been texting me.”

  Her head snaps over at me. “Are you okay?” she asks, eyes worried. “Oh, Paige, I swear I had nothing to do with this!”

 
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