Paige torn, p.1
“Erynn has such a warm, witty, and winning writing style. These are the sorts of characters who become your dearest friends and you feel a little sad once you’ve left them. Fortunately, this is only the first book in a very promising series, which definitely lessens the sting.”
— CHRISTA A. BANISTER, freelance movie and music critic;
author of Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers
“Erynn Mangum gives voice to another twentysomething determined to make her mark on the world — or at least the state of Texas! Erynn never fails to infuse her books with wit, joy, and enough angst to keep the sugar at bay. Readers have much to look forward to!”
— REL MOLLET, book reviewer, Relz Reviewz
Check out what readers are saying
about Erynn Mangum and her books:
“You are my all-time favorite author. I’ve read every single one of your books. I have to tell you that you are the only author capable of making me laugh out loud! Your books are uplifting, funny, addictive, and personable. I am super-excited for your latest book to come out!”
— MADISON, reader
“Once I started reading your books, I couldn’t stop! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing books with a Christian emphasis for young women. I love your books. They have helped me make it through what seems to be the busiest time of my life! With so much going on, your books let me know that someone understands what I’m going through.”
— SARA BETH, reader
“I’m a huge fan of your novels! I absolutely adore them! I read them in my free time at school. After my friends saw them and read the summary on the back, all of a sudden I was sharing my brand-new books with twenty other friends! And I’ve led five friends to Christ because of the lovely mentions of God you add in there.”
— KAITE, reader
“I’m so glad I came across your books. I love the characters, the themes, and the humor! You had me laughing out loud many times!”
— GRACE, reader
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
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Cover design by Studiogearbox
Cover images by Thinkstock, Shutterstock, and CSA Images
Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.
Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Other versions used include: 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 torn / Erynn Mangum.
pages cm. — (A Paige Alder novel ; book 1)
Summary: “When Paige meets Tyler — a fun-seeking, Jesus-loving, easy-going guy who thinks it’s crazy that she is so busy all the time — will Paige see that staying busy for God is not the same thing as spending time with Him?” — Provided by publisher.
[1. Christian life — Fiction. 2. Responsibility — Fiction. 3. Dating (Social customs) — Fiction.] I. Title.
[Fic] — dc23
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
LAUREN HOLBROOK SERIES:
MAYA DAVIS SERIES:
For my grandmother Eloise Terry —
I am so blessed to be the granddaughter of a woman who loves the Lord so much. What an amazing legacy I have been given! I love you so much, Nama.
To my Lord — thank You will never be enough. May every breath I breathe serve to give You glory, even in the midst of pain and questions. I love You, Jesus.
To my little family — Jon and Nathan — I love you both more than words can say. Jon, you are my best friend. I love how you make me laugh and hold me when I’m crying. Nathan, sweetheart, you are the light of my day, and being your mommy is the biggest honor God has given me.
To my family — Mom, Dad, Bryant, Caleb, and Cayce — God blessed me beyond comprehension when He put me in this family. I don’t think I even realize how blessed I am that my parents and siblings are some of my closest friends. I love you all.
To my in-law and extended family — Nama, Greg and Connie, Allen and Vicky, Tommy, my aunts and uncles, and my dear cousins — thank you for being there for me during this last year. Your prayers and love kept me going! I love you.
To my dear friends — Leigh Ann Trebesh, Eryn Beechem, Melanie Larson, Jamie Poore, Thalia Chan, Shannon Layer, and Kaitlin Bar — I love you with all my heart. I can’t imagine a sweeter circle of friends. Thank you for everything.
To my incredible NavPress team and my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray — I am so grateful to each of you for making this book a reality! Thank you for pushing me outside my comfort zone and making Paige a real character.
To you, my dear reader, I pray daily that God will bless you with His presence and that He will flood you with His love. May we both “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Living in Texas can be awesome. Or awful.
Like during the winter. I turn off the car and sigh at the blinking bank billboard across the street from the Starbucks parking lot that keeps repeating: 5:34 p.m.… 74˚ … 5:34 p.m.… 74˚.
So I am late, and snow is nowhere near in the immediate future. It’s January, for goodness’ sake. I climb out of my used Camry that I’ve scrimped and saved for two years to buy and trudge into the Starbucks where my best friend, Layla Prestwick, is waiting for me.
She has an enormous smile on her face, and she doesn’t even bother with a greeting or volume control when she sees me. “Paige! I am getting married!” she screeches, grabbing me in a hug so tight I can’t even choke out a congratulations.
I grin just the same. I knew it was coming. I had an idea after reading her text that brought me here today.
YOU MUST MEET WITH ME @ STARBUCKS ASAP! HERE IS A CLUE: <>O
An inkling, anyway.
“I’m so excited for you!” I say when she loosens her grip
a little bit. “Macchiato is on me today.” I order us both caramel macchiatos while Layla talks a hundred miles a minute about how her used-to-be-boyfriend-now-fiancé, Peter, proposed.
“So we were just sitting there on his couch watching a movie like we always do on Sunday nights and he is like hey Layla I love you and I am
She shoves her left hand over to me — a solitaire, sparkling in the lights.
For all the zero-breaths-taken during Layla’s engagement story, I’m not about to confess to her that I think Peter’s way of proposing is pretty lame.
Compared to all of Layla’s passion and exuberance and romance, Peter is about the dullest person on the planet, maybe right behind that Thinker statue everyone is so enamored with. I just don’t see what Layla sees in him. And I really don’t get the fascination with The Thinker either.
He is thinking. Got it.
It’s about the same reaction I have to Peter. For all intents and purposes, Peter will make a great groom. He is male, he will show up to the wedding, and he will have no opinions about the ceremony or reception. He is like a Ken doll with dark hair but minus the great facial bone structure. I’ve compared him to a head of lettuce before. Obviously, I’ve never told Layla that, but I did tell my mom.
She didn’t think it was very nice of me to compare one of God’s creatures to a head of lettuce. Until I pointed out that a head of lettuce was created by God too.
“Paige, he’s a person for goodness’ sake. You can’t just arbitrarily decide you don’t like someone.”
I’ve known Peter for almost four years. I am pretty certain I’m not being arbitrarial, or however you say that grammatically correct.
You know how there’s always that one person you just don’t like, and you don’t really know why?
Mine is Peter.
All that aside, I’m happy for Layla. She’s been wanting to get married since she was a flower girl in her cousin’s wedding when she was eight.
She’s still talking. “We’ve already set a date.” She grins around her Starbucks paper cup. “It’s going to be this fall. October 25. And it’s going to be outside at that park with the gazebo at sunset. And then we’re going to have the reception somewhere where we can dance. And you have to be my maid of honor.”
I nod, because of course I will be her maid of honor. We decided this years ago.
I take a sip of my macchiato and pull my planner out of my purse. The cover is denim that I’ve sewn and decorated with daisy embroidery.
“Better use a pen to write that one down.” Layla giggles. “Because you are not rescheduling my wedding!”
Layla knows my habits well. I roll my eyes and dig in my purse until I find a black Bic pen and start writing.
It looks weird writing it down. Weird and final.
Like when I finally paid attention to the expiration date on the milk in my fridge and realized I’d been drinking milk a week past due.
Layla is getting married. Married. Like a grown-up does. And instead of being overwhelmingly happy like I always thought I’d be, I suddenly just feel overwhelmed. And maybe a little sad. I am going to be twenty-three in three months. And while my mom likes to remind me that she had been married a year by the time she was my age, I am not ready.
I don’t really know what I’m not ready for, but I’m not ready. For any of it. A wedding sounds fun, but a marriage sounds terrifying.
Layla suddenly seems about twenty years older than me. God, don’t let this be one of those typical friendships where one girl gets married and they stop being friends.
Layla is still talking. “I’m going to have the colors be cream and blue with pops of pink, I think. I want it to be all vintage and shabby chic.”
Layla is my stylish friend. Even now she looks like she’s just walked out of a campaign for Forever 21. Her shoulder-length brown hair curls around a headband decorated with a flower right by her ear. I’ve always envied Layla’s ability to wear accessories like that without looking completely ridiculous, like I do.
I nod at the right parts in her wedding detail monologue. I’ve known this girl for thirteen years. She went through puberty with me. Any friend who sticks by you through acne, braces, PMSing for the first time, and growth spurts that send you flying above every other head in the ninth-grade class — including every male — deserves to be your friend for life.
Thankfully, I haven’t grown another inch since the ninth grade. At five foot eight, I usually feel uncomfortably tall at least once a day. Mostly because the man I work for, Mr. Lawman, is only about half an inch taller than me.
Add any shoe at all, and I am immediately taller.
It is frustrating. And a good reason to wear ballet flats every day.
“What do you think?” Layla asks, and I realize I never heard the question.
I blink at her. “I’m so sorry, Layla, I am — ”
“I knew you weren’t listening.” She smiles though, so apparently it’s okay. “I was telling you why we’re putting it off for ten months.”
That is a good question. “Why are you putting it off?” I ask. Layla doesn’t wait ten months for anything.
“My parents’ twenty-fifth anniversary is February 22. Remember? We’re planning a surprise party for them.” Layla waves a hand. “There’s no way I’ll be able to plan that and a wedding. Will you help me with it?”
“With the party or the wedding?”
“Both. You’re super crafty, Paige. And have you seen my apartment?”
She has a point. Her apartment is white. White walls. Tan carpet. Nothing decorative anywhere. Any style sense Layla has goes right to her outfits.
At six thirty, Layla looks at her white watch and declares that she has to go because she is supposed to meet Peter and his equally boring parents for dinner. She doesn’t say the equally boring part; I add that in.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Or trees, in this case.
If nothing else, at least Layla will add some color to their black-and-white family.
We walk out to the parking lot together and she gives me another hug. “I can’t believe it!” she squeals, getting all giddy again. “I’m so excited!”
Whether she means the wedding or the marriage or the anniversary party we haven’t even begun to plan, I’m not sure. But I hug her back. She climbs in her brand-new Jetta that her dad bought her last year when she graduated college and drives away with a wave that sends sparkling rainbows from the new diamond bouncing off the window.
I look at my planner again. Today is Wednesday. Which means I have thirty minutes to run home and change out of my office clothes, eat dinner, and get to church for youth group. I teach the ninth-grade girls.
There is a special place in my heart for acne-stricken faces, thanks to one too many taunts back in the day from the awful kids at my school. Though the girls I am currently working with seem to be drinking some kind of wonder water, because rarely is a zit present in the room. I remember feeling a lot uglier and way more awkward than any of these girls look or act.
I drive to my tiny one-bedroom apartment. I live alone. I don’t even have a plant, and while sometimes the silence gets to me, most of the time, I’m not there to listen to it. Before I graduated, it was close to school. Now, it is close to work. And it is well within my price range.
And the management has overlooked a glue-gun-accidentally-burning-the-carpet incident with barely a slap on my wrist. So it is all good.
I change into jeans and a T-shirt, yank on a pair of sneakers, run for the door, and grab a cheese stick on my way out. For tonight, it will have to be dinner. I glance at my hair and makeup but decide there is nothing I can do about my hair. It is way too long. It’s time for a drastic haircut, but I haven’t had a chance to schedule an appointment yet. I attempt to use a comb on it, which just makes things worse. I always wanted hair that fits int
Mine is brownish-reddish-blondish and some weird disaster of curly, wavy, and straight.
Maybe a dye job is in the works too.
I give up on styling my hair and head out the door.
I drive straight to church and park in the already-crowded parking lot. The youth pastor, Rick, is standing by the door, joking around with the kids and greeting people who are coming in. He sees me and shakes his head.
“You missed the leaders’ meeting, Paige.”
“What leaders’ meeting?”
“The one I told you about last week. I want all the small-group leaders to start meeting before the kids show up so we can pray.”
Now I remember. I rub my forehead. “Sorry, Rick.”
He sighs soberly. “I’ll have to dock your pay.”
“You’re finally going to start paying me?” I wave at one of my girls, Tasha, who just walked in.
Rick grins. Rick is a great youth pastor. He is a big man with a bald head and probably the cutest little wife ever. She is about three weeks away from having their first baby, so Rick bounces between being so excited he can’t sit still to being so panicked about Natalie being in labor and him being a father that he just sits in a chair after teaching Sunday school and stares at the empty stage.
I alternate between being excited with him and being scared for him. And I am more than a little worried about tiny Natalie giving birth to huge Rick’s most likely large child.
“Since you missed the leaders’ meeting, you missed meeting the new guy in charge of the ninth-grade boys.” Rick waves over a tall, curly-blond-haired guy who is leaning against one of the walls by the door to the youth room, talking to a few pimply faced boys who tend to squeak like a vacuum cleaner needing a new belt when they laugh.
If I am honest, it is one of my favorite reasons to talk to those particular boys. I love the squeak. On the boys. Not necessarily on vacuum cleaners.
“Paige, this is Tyler Jennings. Tyler, Paige Alder.” Rick makes the introductions and Tyler shakes my hand. “Paige is in charge of the ninth-grade girls.”