Read So Damn Beautiful (A New Adult Romance) Online

Authors: L.J. Kennedy

Tags: #romance, #coming of age, #womens fiction, #contemporary, #college, #angst, #teen romance, #bad boy, #college romance, #new adult, #fiction about art

So Damn Beautiful (A New Adult Romance)

BOOK: So Damn Beautiful (A New Adult Romance)
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Praise for
So Damn Beautiful

 

 

"A love story that had me as riveted as
The
Notebook
." – Lethal Glam

 

"Honest, raw, emotional, edgy, and fun." – She
Reads New Adult

 

"Chase is one seriously hot bad boy...I was team
Chase from the minute he was introduced." – One Girl Lost in
Romance Books

 

"A journey about beauty and coming of age...[that] is
so well thought out...This story is sexy!  It’s filled with
scenes that are paint splattered with ugly and beautiful at the
same time.  It makes you want to look at things in a different
light and isn’t that one of the best things a book can do for
you!...Read this.  It’s different and it’s fresh." – Up All
Night Book Blog

 

 

 

So Damn Beautiful

A Novel

 

 

L.J. Kennedy

 

 

Copyright 2013 L.J. Kennedy

Smashwords Edition

 

 

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your
favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

For Matt, who encourages me to believe in myself

and dream bigger, when I’m dreaming too small

Chapter One

The sun
filtered in through the stained-glass windows of my art classroom,
the warmth hitting my skin as the colors danced. I could barely
hear Professor Claremont’s words as my attention drifted to the
pretty drizzle of September leaves falling from the trees on
Stuyvesant Street.

I was more accustomed to cooler, crisper,
grayer autumn weather in the town where I grew up (Apple Creek,
Ohio, to be exact), so I was in heaven as I gazed out the window
and saw a gaggle of coeds walking by, hoodies covering their heads,
backpacks in tow, trudging through the piles of leaves. It reminded
me of all the movies about kids in New York that I’d eaten up like
hotcakes when I was younger. And here I was, starting my first year
at NYU, which I’d fantasized about ever since
Felicity
was
taken off the air. I smiled and pinched myself under the desk,
since the last two weeks had most definitely felt like a really
good dream I could be jostled out of at any moment.

There were no two ways about it, though. I,
Annie Green, really
was
in New York, the most magical place
on Earth and the epicenter of the art world. And I knew this was
where all of my lifelong dreams were going to come true. I could
just feel it. My career as a curator was right around the corner .
. . and perhaps, finally, so was a relationship. A
real
relationship (the one with my high school boyfriend didn’t
count).

Granted, I was only eighteen years old, and,
as my mom had reminded me (with her requisite combo of love and
worry) before I’d left home, “Annie Bear, you have your whole life
ahead of you. Stay focused and stay strong, and don’t make the
mistake of getting hung up on some guy.”

Of course, I could read between the lines,
and I knew that what she
really
meant was, “Annie, whatever
you do, finish your studies before you get knocked up, the way I
did.” Well, she didn’t have to worry about that. Whoever my dream
guy was, I knew he’d be smart, sophisticated, and, above all,
chivalrous. He would have my best interests at heart and would
never try to get me to do things I wasn’t 100 percent on board
with.

As if on cue with my daydreams, I gazed
softly out the window and saw something that made me do a double
take. A hot guy with a mop of dark hair, jeans that hugged his
luscious ass, and a T-shirt that perfectly showed off his washboard
abs strolled by. Scratch that. It was more of a swagger. I was so
captivated that my eyes simply followed him down the street, until
he became a speck in the distance. I’d always been an admirer of
obvious beauty, but something about the combination of his face,
his body, and his utterly unself-conscious demeanor momentarily
lifted me into a totally different stratosphere.

I shook my head, as if to shake myself from a
trance. I knew that if I wanted to fulfill my dream of landing a
prestigious internship at any one of the galleries or museums in
the city, which many an art-history student at NYU would give their
firstborn in exchange for, I’d have to focus. In this case, it
meant acing all my first-semester classes, since internships were
typically offered to upperclassmen, students who were at least in
their third year. Which meant no cute boys on the brain . . . or in
my bed.

I frowned at the thought. Oh well.

As Professor Claremont waxed poetic about
Andy Warhol (who had apparently made his art right in the vicinity
of my classroom, in NYU’s storied Barney Building), I felt my
eyelids getting heavier and could sense the onset of an afternoon
food coma. I inwardly groaned. I’d let my new friend Kendra Castro
talk me into getting a rolled-oats smoothie and hemp pasta for
lunch at the raw-food café that had just opened across from our
dorm.

Flipping her long, straight hair over her
shoulder, she had told me, “Paleo might be making a big comeback,
but let me tell you—I was in California when raw started popping
up, and it is here to stay.”

Kendra, who was California-born and bred, was
equal parts hippie-dippy and high-maintenance. How could she not be
high-maintenance, given that she was just about the most gorgeous
girl I’d ever seen? With her dramatic waterfall of dark hair,
perfect tan, full lips, and almond-brown eyes, Kendra was as
devastatingly exotic as I was embarrassingly plain. Well, maybe not
exactly plain, but definitely more all-American, given my
shoulder-length, dirty-blond hair and blue eyes. I was definitely
cute, but my style didn’t announce itself in neon lights; I was all
twinsets and pearl strands, whereas Kendra preferred to rock
midriff shirts, towering platform shoes, and bright-blue nail
polish—with the occasional surfboard (there was one hanging on the
wall of the dorm room we shared) and Valley-girl jargon thrown in
just to remind you which coast she hailed from.

We were something of a campus odd couple, but
we’d become inseparable during Freshman Welcome Week, when we found
out we’d be rooming together. While it was my dream to become a
curator for a world-class art institution (which translated to
straight A’s my whole life, a near-perfect SAT score, and a
curriculum vitae that would probably have gotten me into almost any
college of my choice, natch), Kendra admitted to me during the
first week, as we scoped out boys in one of the campus mess halls,
that she’d never really been into school.

“It’s my dream to become a public-relations
guru, and all you need is awesome networking skills for that. I
mean, let’s face it—I’m only here because my mom and dad went to
NYU, and I guess they need to keep the family pedigree clean,” she
had told me while rolling her eyes.

“Public-relations guru?” I had queried,
trying my best not to sound judgmental as I bit into my
turkey-and-avocado sandwich.

“I want to be a hottie whisperer,
specifically,” she told me as she twirled her hair, “the kind of
person who can bring out any wallflower’s sex appeal. You know,
turn a lame hipster into a brooding babe. If I could do that,
Hollywood would be all over me. We don’t need any more Kardashians,
and don’t get me started on the two younger ones—hoochies in the
making! There are plenty of talented people out there who could
just use a slight style tune-up.”

At that point, Kendra began to talk my ear
off about meeting Lady Gaga a few years ago and harmlessly offering
her a few fashion tips. “Clearly, she was listening!” Kendra beamed
triumphantly.
I
wasn’t really listening, but that didn’t
matter. In the same way I knew that I was going to be an incredible
curator, I was certain I’d made my first sterling college friend
for life in Kendra.

“Miss Green, what do you think?”

I was blasted back to the present moment and
startled by the sudden question. I looked up, and there was
Professor Claremont, poised over her MacBook Air PowerPoint
presentation, pointing to the large white screen at the front of
the classroom. Plastered on the screen was a hideous
black-and-white image of eight Elvis Presley cinema stills, some
slightly overlapping the others. Elvis was poised with a gun
pointing at the viewer.

“Um, I, uh, really don’t know that much about
modern art,” I offered, “but it’s . . . kind of redundant, maybe
even a bit gratuitous.”

She looked at me for a moment, and I could’ve
sworn she was going to praise my all-perceptive eye, but Professor
Claremont simply moved on to the next image and didn’t respond to
my comment.

I glanced over at Kendra, who mouthed, “WTF?”
to me, then shrugged and returned to her iPhone. Facebook, I
presumed. Kendra was taking Art 101 only because it fit the school
requirement for a fine-art class, but she was about as interested
as I was, sad to say. Although I respected Professor Claremont’s
expertise, her focus had been almost exclusively twentieth-century
art (minus my favorites, like Picasso and Chagall), which wasn’t
really up my alley.

“Who cares about Jeff Koons or Takashi
Murakami? That’s all just media hype. I mean, what about all the
stuff that really gets people excited and stands the test of time,
like the Sistine Chapel or the Mona Lisa?” I had exclaimed to
Kendra while reading over the syllabus in our dorm room after our
first day of school.

“So take Art 101 next semester—maybe they’ll
do all the old stuff then,” Kendra, uninterested, said as she
flipped through
Vogue
.

But I couldn’t. If I wanted to be one of
hundreds of art-history majors who’d land an internship that would
change my life (which was the entire reason I’d even applied to
NYU), I had to prove my chops—which meant breezing through all my
requirements during my first semester.

I heard a snicker from across the aisle and
looked over to find Elsie Donegan, another girl I’d met during
Freshman Welcome Week, whispering into the ear of the jock sitting
next to her while pointing at me and laughing. Subtle much? I
frowned and turned away. Elsie was clearly
not
going to be a
BFF of mine anytime soon. I barely knew her, and it had been only
two weeks since school had started, but apparently I’d found myself
an arch nemesis.

It had all started when I’d paid a visit to
the College of the Arts a couple days after the beginning of the
semester to ask my counselor, Ms. Blake, a funky Caribbean woman
with a taste for Gauguin (which is how I knew I was going to like
her), about available internships.

“Annie, if you want to be a candidate for an
internship, you have to be willing to educate yourself! That means
no boys, no drinking, no social life! You need to scour the art
galleries and museums in the city and prove to the panel that you
have what it takes. Do you think you’re ready for that?” Arms
akimbo, Ms. Blake almost looked like a stern parent—except for the
plethora of floral tattoos running up her arms and legs, tons of
visible piercings, and a killer accent.

“Trust me, I’ve been working my entire life
to get an internship. I know I have what it takes, Ms. Blake.”

She flipped through my file, eyebrows raised.
“Looks like you’ve done some curating of your own in the past.
Good. But this is New York, not Apple Creek, Wisconsin. It’s a
whole different ball game out here, baby.”

“Ohio . . . Apple Creek, Ohio,” I sighed.
Apparently, if you weren’t from a big city, nobody was going to
give you the time of day.

Ms. Blake smiled at me. “You know what I
mean, Annie. I know how dedicated you are, but galleries and
museums around here have an aversion to anything that reeks of
provincial or middle America. So, as brilliant as you are, you have
a lot of proving you’ll need to do.”

At that moment, the door to Ms. Blake’s
office flew open and a tall, pale girl with short black hair and
legs that were about a mile long came bursting into the room. She
was wearing a T-shirt sporting an illustration of a little girl
being eaten by a dragon—one of those gory designs I’d seen scrawled
across the walls of hipster clothing boutiques—and sequined hot
pants that showed off her ballet-dancer figure. She looked like a
model, except for the ugly grimace plastered across her pretty
face.

“Ms. Blake! I cannot fucking believe it! This
is my second semester here, and I’m on a fucking wait list for that
Art and Urban Theory seminar I’ve been dying to take. Seriously . .
. who do I need to fuck around here to get into the classes I
actually
like
?”

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