Authors: Sara Hubbard
Copyright © 2014 Sara Hubbard
All rights reserved.
Cover Design: Stephanie White of Steph’s Cover Design
Editing: Rhiannon Morgan
This book is for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be resold, given away, copied, transmitted, stored in a retrieval system or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations contained in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental and not intended by the author.
The following novel contains strong language and sexual situations. It is recommended for adult readers.
For my angels, thank you for supporting mommy’s dream.
ONE MINUTE YOU’RE blissfully happy and planning a future with the man you love, and the next…you’re lying on your best friend’s couch, depressed and homeless, after your fiancé cheated with your sister on your wedding day. I clutch my chest at the mere thought of it. I’m trying to be strong but it’s not easy when I feel so damn broken. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.
My face is hot and sticky, but at least I’m not crying anymore. I haven’t cried in at least twenty minutes and I think I’m all cried out. Today is day six without Jason and though I thought it would get easier, that clearly isn’t the case. Unless you consider numb better than broken, and I’m not really sure that I do.
The door to Amy’s apartment slams shut, and I hear her high heels clicking on the tile as she approaches. She appears in the doorjamb to the living room wearing a fitted blazer and skirt. Her hair is curled and hangs to her shoulders. In her left hand, she holds a briefcase. Amy Gillis, PR extraordinaire, home from a hard day’s work at seven o’clock at night. She stares at me with furrowed brows, as if she’s deep in thought.
She feels sorry for me. Of course she does.
feel sorry for me.
“You know, I love having you staying here, but if this is going to work then you’re going to have to start showering.” Her voice is soft and soothing. “Daily.” She quirks a smile.
She’s trying to make me laugh and I don’t think I have it in me. Instead, I nod. When I sniff my underarms it almost knocks me out. I’m wearing the same pajamas I put on the first night I moved in here—and that was a week ago. I haven’t left her apartment, and I’ve been avoiding work.
Before moving in with Amy, I’d lived with Jason, as I’d done since freshman year at university. Our lives were on track. He graduated from law school last year and we had plans to have a house and a baby within the year. My life was all mapped out. Of course, that was before I knew he had a thing for my sister. But who doesn’t? With her blonde hair, porcelain skin and baby blue eyes; Jason was the only person who I thought was oblivious to her charms, but then he went and proved me wrong.
I hate it when that happens.
“You gotta snap out of this,” she says as she removes her heels and sets them down on the floor. “He’s just not worth it. He cheated on you, for crying out loud! With your sister!” She folds her arms across her chest; her tone has clearly graduated from sympathy to annoyance.
“Mom said Mia said it was the one time,” I reason. “And she said Mia initiated it and he was taken by surprise.”
She pads across the floor and sits on the other end of the couch, putting her feet up on the coffee table. Her red pedicured toenails are as perfect as they were when she had them done last week. Mine had been honeymoon-ready, but I’d since picked half of it off.
“You're an idiot if you believe it was a onetime thing,” she says.
Sugarcoating is not one of Amy’s specialties, and it’s perhaps what I like most about her. She tells it like it is, even if she delivers it like flaming arrows aimed at my head.
“Now get your skinny ass off my sofa before you put a permanent dent in it. Get in the shower and get dressed. We’re going clubbing.”
I snap my head over in her direction. She said clubbing, right? I can’t go to a club right now. Not only am I a fun sucker, but I just can’t imagine being around a busy room full of strangers.
“Don’t look at me like that. You need to get out. Maybe find another guy…hook up.”
“Hook up! Why would I want to do that?”
“Because you need to get your mind off Jason. Easiest way to do that is to focus on someone else.”
“No. Another guy is the last thing I need. In fact, I think I’m done with guys. For good.” Instinctively, I raise my hand to cover my chest again, right where I feel the stabbing pain that never seems to let up. “But …I miss him, Amy. So much.” And I do. I crave the sound of his voice. I didn’t just lose my relationship when he cheated—I lost my best friend too.
She tips her head back and groans. She can’t understand why I would still want to be with someone that cheated. She’s never been in a long-term relationship, so how could she? She expects me to get over seven years with the snap of her fingers. It’s just not going to happen, whether I want it to or not.
“You’ve been with Jason since tenth grade. You don’t even know what it’s like to be single or to be with someone else. Try it on—you might find out that you like it.”
I sigh and pick up a pillow, holding it over my face.
“Fine.” I toss the pillow at her, which she easily catches. Doing what she wants is the only way I’ll be able to get her off my back.
I take my time in the shower, giving myself an extra good scrub. It takes a half bottle of conditioner to work through the knots in my hair. When I finally get out, I stop at the mirror above my dresser and am shocked to see how different I look. I had curves last week, and now my cheeks look hollow and pale, and I’ve lost my ass. How many pounds have I lost? Ten? Fifteen? I haven't done it on purpose. Every time I've put food in front of my face, my stomach turns and I feel bile climb up my throat. I've survived on water all week and the odd bit of toast. Most girls would be happy for the weight loss, but I don’t feel the same. I was slim to begin with, and now I look like a cancer patient.
I poke through the luggage I’ve yet to unpack. Nothing fits me anymore. After throwing things around the room, I settle on a sweater set and pants. I pull my hair back in a high ponytail and polish myself off with some heels. Already, my heart is racing and I need to sit down.
My phone rings and I grab it from the top of the dresser. I sigh and stare at the name and number: Mia Denton. My sister. I want to chuck it across the room, or better yet, out the open window. I have yet to talk to her, and she calls at least a half dozen times a day. She’d probably be at my door too if she knew where I’m staying. My parents promised they'd keep it a secret. And since I'm not back at work yet, she can't track me down there either.
I'll have to talk to her sooner or later. Thanksgiving is in a few weeks…but I'm not ready yet. It would only end up in a fight. I'll never forgive her and nothing she can do will ever change that fact. I shove my phone in my purse and head back out to the living room, my heart a little heavier.
When I walk in, my friend Megan is sitting on the sofa with Amy. She looks amazing: tights, tall boots and a long, glittery silver top. Her hair is poker straight and falls below her chin. Amy is ready to go too, wearing a similar outfit, only hers is all black.
Megan and Amy size me up, and they force smiles. They see what I see, but that’s okay. I’m going to be better.
We have a few drinks and leave for the bar around eleven o’clock. Without anything in my stomach, most of the alcohol sits, burning, while the rest of it goes straight to my head. I’m a little tipsy, and I need to be. I’m not exactly comfortable around crowds, or people I don’t know. I always say the wrong thing; at least that’s what my mother has told me my whole life. And though I know it’s wrong, I won’t get through the night without some liquid courage.
At the 7
Heaven bar the lineup stretches around the corner, but Amy saunters up front with Megan and I following close at her heels. She and the bouncer hug and she grabs his ass. He laughs riotously at Amy and unhinges the rope so we can enter.
“Hey!” says a girl at the front of the line. She’s arm in arm with another girl who looks like a carbon copy of her: all blonde, all tits. “We were here first!”
Amy fake hisses at them. I feel bad and mouth the word ‘sorry,’ but they must not appreciate it because they give me the finger. Well, okay, then.
“You need to give me your number, girl,” the bouncer says as Amy passes by him.
“Eventually,” she says with a smile.
Amy. She knows absolutely everyone and if she doesn’t know someone, then she knows someone else who does. Because of her job in public relations, she gets cozy with a lot of celebrities, athletes, musicians and politicians. Her reach amazes me. And what’s even more amazing is how she easily managed to pick herself up and dust off the scars of her upbringing to become the amazing, successful woman she is today. She can get us into the choosiest restaurants and parties. Nothing is off limits for her. I’m jealous. If I only had an ounce of her confidence and courage, I know I’d be happier. And I probably wouldn’t be the girl who got dumped on her wedding day.
Music booms from the speakers on the stage and from the ones suspended from the walls. Strobe lights fan out over the crowded dance floor. On stage, a DJ wearing headphones bobs his head to the music, every once in a while waving his hands through the air as if he’s playing the drums. Behind him, the entire wall of the bar is covered in old CDs that sparkle as the strobe lights turn and hit them.