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The Confidant

The Confidant

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From USA Today bestselling author Judy Corry comes a passion and angst-charged romance about star-crossed best friends and the secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

Main Tropes

  • Best Friends to Lovers
  • Forbidden Romance
  • So Much Angst
  • Hidden Identity
  • Private Boarding School
  • Impossible Odds to Overcome
  • Steamy-Clean Kisses
  • Second Chance
  • Forced Proximity
  • Longing
  • Flirty Texts
  • Sneaking Around
  • Thought Provoking with Heavier Themes


From USA Today bestselling author Judy Corry comes a passion and angst-charged romance about star-crossed best friends and the secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

I’m trying very hard not to be in love with my best friend. After all, we’ve “been there, done that.”

Or rather, we dated for three amazing weeks last spring before Scarlett’s overprotective dad found out and made her break up with me.

And now that I’ve left her dad’s church, there’s no chance for us. I’m considered dangerous—a threat.

Though, it’s really the secrets I hold that scare Pastor Caldwell the most.

As long as I don’t talk about why I left The Fold, her dad won’t transfer Scarlett from our private boarding school before graduation.

But when Scarlett is set up with a college guy from their church, I know waiting on the sidelines is no longer an option. I need to break out of the friend zone. Fast.

If only doing that didn’t require telling her the secret I’ve been keeping for six months.

Because when Scarlett discovers the truth, I might just lose her forever.

The Confidant is an angsty YA romance set at an elite private boarding school. While it is a best friend’s romance at its core, it deals with religious trauma and is slightly heavier/darker than the author’s previous work. (For more details, please read the Author's Note below.) If you enjoy high stakes, passionate kisses and raw emotions, you’ll love Judy Corry’s latest book.

Author's Note

Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for your interest in The Confidant! I have wanted to write Scarlett and Hunter’s story for several years, but since it is a deeply personal story, I waited until I was at a better place to tell it.

It is, of course, a work of fiction, and the characters and organizations within the book were created in my imagination. It deals with a cult-like church and religious trauma, which I know can be sensitive subjects.

My purpose is not to make anyone feel uncomfortable about their own belief system. Religion and spirituality are such a personal thing, and I don’t want my readers to feel threatened by how the fictional religion in this book is portrayed or how my characters will interact with it.

In order to convey the trauma/tell the story, there are numerous religious details mentioned, but it was not written with the intent to persuade anyone to go against or for a particular belief, nor is it endorsing any at all. My intent is to set the stage for the issues that can arise when a friend or loved one steps away from a high-demand religion and how big of an impact these changes can have on their relationships.

The Confidant is still a best friend’s romance at its core, but because of the subject, it is heavier/darker than my previous work. The emotions are very raw and real, and I tried to remain authentic to how the characters would react in given situations and circumstances. To say this book was tricky to write would be an understatement, but I hope that Scarlett and Hunter’s journey is one that will stick with readers for a long time.


Chapter One Look Inside

“How’s this week’s article coming?” I walked over to where my best friend, Hunter Blackwell, was typing at his computer station in the journalism classroom Monday afternoon.

The Eden Falls Gazette—our school’s online newspaper—was set to go live Wednesday morning, and since I was the lead editor, it was my job to check in with the newspaper staff and make sure their articles were where they needed to be.

“I’m almost done.” Hunter turned away from his computer to look up at me with his green eyes. “Just writing about the boys’ basketball game on Friday night.”

“Oh, good,” I said, bending over to read what he’d typed into the word processor. 

I didn’t actually need to check in on what he was doing, since Hunter was one of the more responsible students in the class. But because I had so few opportunities to be close to him these days, I checked his article anyway. 

My eyes scanned over the black text. As I read about the game against the New Haven Bulldogs, I resisted the urge to breathe in the scent of his delicious cologne—the cologne I’d bought him last spring when he’d gone from best friend to boyfriend for those few short weeks.

I both loved and hated that he still wore the cologne. Loved it because it was my favorite scent on earth—a scent that smelled especially amazing when mixed with his body chemistry. But also hated because it reminded me of how happy and delusional I’d been back then—to think that I could date the guy who’d been my best friend since sophomore year and not have things get complicated when my dad found out and made me break up with him.

“Is it okay?” Hunter asked in his deep voice, bringing me back to the present.

“It is,” I said, making my gaze focus on the words again. “This is all really good. I think you just forgot to mention who made the winning three-point shot.”

“Yeah…” He lifted his arm to run his hand through his chestnut-colored hair. “I might have left that out on purpose…”

“You did?” I asked. “Why?”

“Don’t you think that would come off as bragging?” Hunter dropped his arm back onto his lap, and I tried not to notice how muscular his forearms looked with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up. “Since everyone will know that I’m the one who wrote the article?”

“It’s not bragging if it’s true,” I said matter-of-factly.

“I guess…”

But when he didn’t make a move to fix it, I slid the keyboard to the side so I could type: With thirty seconds left on the clock, it looked like the New Haven Bulldogs would win the game. Not about to accept defeat, Carter Hastings stole the ball from the Bulldogs’ point guard and passed it to Mack Aarden. Aarden then dribbled it halfway down the court before passing it to Hunter Blackwell. With just two seconds left on the clock, Blackwell aimed for a three-point shot and got nothing but net. When the final buzzer sounded, the Wolves claimed their victory with a final score of sixty-three to sixty-two.

“There,” I said, standing up straight again. “Now it’s more accurate.”

Hunter looked over what I’d written. “You’re the boss, I guess.”

“Yes, I am,” I said with a smile, probably a little too happy to use my power as lead editor. 

But Hunter was way too humble for his own good and deserved to get credit for how well he played on the court instead of always transferring the accolades to our friends Carter and Mack.

“Hopefully, you approve of what I wrote about the girls’ game on Thursday,” he said.

“You didn’t mention the part where I missed all of my foul shots, did you?” I mean, I believed in honest reporting and everything. And I prided myself on how accurate the school’s newspaper was. But highlighting how I’d been way off my game last Thursday certainly wasn’t necessary, right? Especially when my teammates had so many other great moments.

“Nah.” He waved the thought away. “The only time I mentioned your name was when I talked about you stealing the ball from the other team and making it impossible for them to score the shot they needed to win.”

“Okay, good.” I sighed. 

“And I assume you already have your article on the school musical written up and submitted?” Hunter asked with the crooked smile that I loved on his lips.

“I did that Saturday night.” I returned his smile. “Gotta write it up while it’s all fresh.”

“Who needs sleep anyway?” He winked, referencing to how we’d already been up until midnight celebrating an amazing opening night of The Phantom of the Opera with our friends who were in the musical. “Sleeping in is what Sunday mornings are for, right?”

“Right…” I said, even though Sunday mornings weren’t really for sleeping in. Not for me, anyway. 

Not since my dad expected me to stream our church’s Sunday service live at ten o’clock each week—dressed in my Sunday best, no less—so I could be ready for his interview immediately after. 

The mandatory hour-long chat was my dad’s way of testing me and making sure I wasn’t skipping out on my weekly spiritual upliftment while away at boarding school.

Only once he got the spiritual quiz out of the way did he ask me how things were going here at school and if I was still on track to graduate as valedictorian.

Hunter used to join me for Sunday service in my room each week since his family belonged in my dad’s congregation, and that had always made it more fun and less of a chore. But he’d stopped coming last spring—right around the time my dad made me break up with him. 

At first, I had thought he stopped coming because things were slightly awkward during our transition to being just friends again. But even though we’d eventually gotten our friendship back to normal, Hunter still hadn’t been joining me for church this year.

Maybe he just wasn’t a fan of my dad now? 

My dad could be a bit overbearing—very strict and set in his ways. But Hunter had always known all about that because even before we became friends, we’d been neighbors—he’d grown up just down the street from the church property where my dad, stepmom, and I lived in Manhattan.

Was it possible my dad had said something to Hunter that I didn’t know about? 

It was definitely a possibility.

Either way, things were different now. Instead of having someone at the school to complain to about how boring my dad’s sermons were, Hunter was telling me about how nice it was to sleep in on a Sunday, or how beautiful his morning hike was when the weather was nice.

“Anyway,” I said, pushing away my thoughts, “if you could email your article to Mrs. Donlan, she can proof it before we upload it to the website tomorrow.”

While our journalism teacher was pretty hands off and let our class take care of a lot of the preparation on our own, she still proofread all the articles before I pushed the button to make the online newspaper go live on Wednesday mornings.

I left Hunter’s station to check on what Ben and Casey were doing. Ben and Casey were the two senior guys in charge of the lifestyle and entertainment section. After last week’s article on “How to Date Two People at Once Without Getting Caught” had been a huge embarrassment, I needed to make sure they’d come up with something better.

“We’re still in the brainstorming stage,” Ben said, the slight smirk he wore telling me he and Casey had been goofing off all period as usual.

“Yeah,” Casey said. “We’re just narrowing down all the options—” He cleared his throat. “The many options that we came up with over the weekend. But you can bet we’ll have something epic by the end of the day.”

“I hope so.” I sighed. “Because I really don’t have time to write your articles for you.”


I was pretty sure Casey and Ben had only signed up for this class because they heard Mrs. Donlan was retiring and thought it would be an easy A. Which, yeah, she seemed to have checked out of teaching us anything about two months ago. But just because our teacher didn’t care about the quality of the gazette anymore, it didn’t mean I was going to let it crash and burn under my watch.

“We did come up with one idea, actually,” Ben said, glancing sideways to his friend.

“You did?” I was skeptical of whatever these creative geniuses had come up with.

“Yeah.” Casey nodded. “We were actually thinking that it would be cool if you asked the girl who writes The Confidant to post her stuff in the paper. Her stuff would fit in the lifestyle and entertainment category easily enough. Plus, you’d get the hottest column and wouldn’t have her competing with the gazette anymore.”

“And do you know how I might reach her?” I folded my arms across my chest. “Have you figured out her identity yet?”

“Well, no…” Casey ran a hand through his curly, blond hair. “But she has her email listed on the bottom of each post. You could probably email her and ask.”

He thought I could just ask nicely and the person behind the most popular advice column I’d ever seen in a high school setting would hand over all her content to us?

I had no idea who was behind The Confidant, but whoever it was had to be a shrewd businesswoman. She’d started the online publication almost a year ago, giving advice to students who wrote her with their problems and doing a dang good job at it, too.

When it first popped up, I had been curious and even been a fan since this “Confidant” girl seemed to really know her stuff. But when the Eden Falls Gazette started getting less and less hits each week as The Confidant gained thousands of readers, along with sponsored ads from companies I’d actually heard of before, I knew the competition was steep.

“No, that’s okay,” I said, annoyed that they were trying to get out of doing their assignments. “I think I’d rather have you two actually write your articles and give our classmates something juicy enough to wipe out our competition.”

The school newspaper might be a tiny publication in the grand scheme of things, but it was my responsibility. And I wouldn’t have it failing because some know-it-all had suddenly decided to post her advice and thoughts on life at the boarding school for everyone to read.

I left Ben and Casey to their own devices and headed to the back corner of the room where our graphic designer, Addison, was sitting at her computer.

“How are things coming?” I asked, taking the empty seat beside Addison. “Were you able to fix the typo we found in the ad for the Valentine’s dance?”

“Just fixed it.” She clicked over to her photo-editing program and twisted her monitor so I could see it better. “It now says it’s on February twelfth instead of the fourteenth.”

“Perfect.” I inspected the rest of the ad. It was a pretty simple design—a light-pink background with a silhouette image of cupid shooting an arrow at a big, dark-pink heart. All of Addison’s designs were clean like that. Minimalistic but beautiful. “It looks great. And I really love the color scheme you used.”

“Thank you,” she said with a smile. “I just hope the typo from last week didn’t mess up too many people.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Most people expect the school dances to be on the Saturday before Valentine's Day, so I don’t think it was too big of an issue.”


“Are there any other designs you needed to submit?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure she’d already uploaded all the others. Addison was the opposite of Ben and Casey and usually had her work done days ahead of deadline. Which was why, aside from Hunter, she was the person I talked to most on the newspaper staff.

We’d actually been getting to know each other a lot better over the past month, since she’d taken the dorm room next to mine after the Cohen twins moved into their dad’s house. She and her stepbrother were new to Eden Falls Academy this year. They had kept to themselves for the most part, but now that she was getting more comfortable around me, I could see her coming out of her shell and I was liking her more and more.

The fact that she was responsible and didn’t need babysitting didn’t hurt, either.

“I’ve gotten everything besides the ad for the Valentine’s Grams done.” She clicked back out of the program. “But I do have a question for you.”

“You do?”

“Yeah…” She tucked a lock of her dirty-blonde hair behind her ear. “It’s actually about the Valentine's dance.”

“Uh, huh,” I said, wondering why she seemed anxious to ask me about it. Was she worried I’d changed my mind about inviting her to join the group date with me and my other friends? Because I’d already cleared it with the other girls, and they were totally cool with Addison and her date joining us for the day.

“So…” She bit her lip and glanced behind us. My chest started to cave in, because based on whom she’d just glanced at, I had a good idea of what she might be planning to ask.

The question that everyone had been asking me lately—about whether I was going to ask Hunter to be my date to the dance.

“What did you want to ask me?” I sat up straighter, bracing myself.

“Well…” She looked down and smoothed her hands across the red-and-blue plaid skirt of her school uniform. “I—” She seemed to swallow before meeting my gaze again with her crystal blue eyes. “I was wondering if you were planning to ask Hunter to the dance?”


I’d spotted that question from a mile away.

I glanced back at Hunter, my heart panging in my chest the way it did every time I thought about not being able to ask him to the Valentine's dance because of the stupid deal I made with my dad.

The deal was that if my dad allowed Hunter to be my escort for the debutante ball that took place last December, then I would agree to go to the next school dance with a guy of my dad’s choosing. That guy being Xander Pierce—the college senior who had done an internship with my dad over the summer. Also known as the guy he’d been trying to set me up with for months.

So, since I’d been able to enjoy the debutante ball with Hunter and pretend for a night that things were different between us, it was time for me to fulfill my end of the bargain. 

And like it or not, I’d be celebrating the holiday all about love with a guy who, while he seemed nice enough and was admittedly extremely attractive, I still didn’t feel I knew very well.

But I guess that was why my dad kept insisting I spend time with Xander on this date. So I could get to know him better and see that there were other good guys who would make good future husbands besides my best friend.

I’d avoided telling my friends—especially Hunter—about this arrangement because I didn’t want to accept that my dad had so much control over my love life. But with the dance less than two weeks away, I needed to fess up.

Even if that meant officially relinquishing any claim I had on my best friend.

After taking a deep breath, I said, “I’m actually going with someone else this time.”

“You are?” Addison furrowed her brow, a shocked expression covering her face. “Y-you’re really not asking Hunter?”

“No.” I peeked back at my friend who was bent over his keyboard with his tongue poking out the side of his mouth like he was in deep concentration. “My dad has been trying to set me up with this other guy he knows, so I’ll be taking him.”

Did I think it was weird that my dad was setting me up with a college senior who probably had way better things to do than take an eighteen-year-old to her high school dance? 


But for some reason, Xander was on board with this idea that our dads had schemed up and had even texted me yesterday to say that he was looking forward to seeing me again.

Maybe the dating scene at Yale just wasn’t everything I’d imagined it would be, and he was desperate for a date?

That was honestly hard to believe because Xander was gorgeous, wealthy, smart, and charming—things most people wanted in the those they dated.

But perhaps his family was like mine and had rules about only dating people with similar life goals—one of those being to marry someone who was a strong member of our church.

It made sense. You marry who you date. And things were a lot easier if you married someone whom you shared similar values with. Someone on the same path. Someone who’d want to raise your future children in the right way.

It was why I’d never really looked at anyone besides Hunter, since he was the only guy in our whole school who had all the qualities I needed in a future husband.

But while I’d had tunnel vision on my best friend this past year, my dad had apparently sought out Xander to be that someone for me instead.

Someone he deemed more worthy of his only daughter.

Someone who wouldn’t break my dad’s rules and try to steady date or kiss me before I graduated from high school.

Yes, I’m not perfect and only made it to spring of my junior year before I fell to the temptation of the beautiful boy with turquoise-green eyes and the kind of body that had maybe made me think slightly impure thoughts the couple of times I’d caught him doing pushups without his shirt on.

But it wasn’t like we’d done anything wrong. Surely a few make-out sessions on the common room’s couch, and a few more hours of kissing in Hunter’s car, weren’t high enough on my dad’s list of sins that it made any future relationship with Hunter impossible.

You know…if Hunter was even interested in trying again after graduation—after the threat of my dad pulling me out of the school and bringing me back home because I’d broken his rules was gone.

But my dad had been touchy every time I talked about hanging out or studying with Hunter lately—as if he suddenly had something against Hunter after eighteen years of treating him like he was part of the family.

Maybe my dad had somehow found out that Hunter hadn’t been watching the sermons with me anymore? Maybe the same person who’d told my dad that Hunter and I had started dating last spring had also informed him about that, too?

“Do you know if anyone else has asked Hunter then?” Addison asked, interrupting my thoughts.

“Oh, um...” I hesitated. “I-I don’t think so.”

He would have told me if someone had, right?

I might not have told him about Xander, but Hunter would have mentioned anyone asking him out, wouldn’t he? We’d never kept secrets from each other before.

Addison chewed on her bottom lip as if still trying to get up the nerve to say something.

And the feeling of dread took hold of me again. 

Because this was the moment I’d been dreading ever since last spring. The moment when someone else saw a door in the invisible bubble I’d kept Hunter in with me and was about to pull it wide open.

Addison pressed her lips together. I had the urge to bolt away before she could ask permission to do something I knew I had no right to control. But before I could run away, she asked, “Would you be okay if I asked him to the dance?”

Silence fell between us, a silence that I did not want to fill with the answer that I knew I should give.

Addison just stared at me with wide eyes, like she was scared of how I might react.

And I knew I must have looked jealous since I wasn’t the actor my other friends were. But after a few heart-pounding seconds, I forced a smile on my face and said, “Of course.” I patted her hand gently and smiled even wider. “Of course you should ask Hunter. He’d be so fun to go to the dance with.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, like she knew I was internally screaming right now.

“You guys would be so cute together,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic even though I did not mean it.

“Okay, cool.” She let out a long sigh, like she’d been holding her breath. “I just… He’s been so nice, and I thought he would be a fun guy to go with.”

“He is a great guy,” I said. One of the best that I knew.

“Do you think he’ll say yes?” she asked, a cautious look on her face.

“Probably.” He’d gone to dances with other girls when they asked him last year. But those dates had happened before we’d dated. So this time would feel different.

This time would hurt a little more. 

Seeing him dancing with someone else. Laughing with someone else. Being his sweet, gentlemanly self with someone else.

But it wouldn’t be fair to expect him to remain single forever just because I wasn’t allowed to be anything more than friends with him.

“When do you think you’ll ask him?” I asked, knowing I’d need to prepare myself.

“I hadn’t really gotten that far in my planning, actually,” Addison said with a light laugh. “I mean, I wasn’t sure where you two stood since you’re always together, and I heard you dated last year. I was halfway expecting you to warn me not to go within ten feet of him.”

Yeah…I kind of wanted to do that still…

“But since you’re going with someone else,” she said, “I guess I’ll probably ask him after class.”

And I would make sure to not be around to watch when it happened, so he wouldn’t have to feel bad saying yes to someone else.

Would he prefer her blonde hair and blue eyes to my auburn hair and brown eyes? Her short, petite frame to my tall, athletic one?

Would that be his new type?

He’d never asked a girl out besides me, so I’d never had a chance to see what other types of girls he would gravitate to. And the girls who were interested in him before had never all looked the same.

Addison was gorgeous though, so he’d probably think she was attractive.

Why did everyone at this school have to be so beautiful?

“Well, I better go check on some other things,” I said, needing to move. “I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay,” she said. “Thanks for your help.”

“No problem.”

Before she could say anything else, I went to my computer to see if The Confidant had any advice on how to watch your best friend date other people without turning into a jealous maniac.

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