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Authors: Meg Jolie

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BOOK: Holding On
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It had a sweetheart neckline with exquisite beadwork adorning the bodice. The bottom was created of soft, flowing
chiffon. Because it was to be an outdoor wedding she was skipping high heels. She settled for comfy, white silk ballet flats since no one would see them anyway. She’d also opted to forego a train. Instead, the dress was simplistic yet elegant. It was perfect for the outdoor wedding that they had planned. When she’d first held it up nearly two months ago, Carly had frowned. However, when Quinn had emerged from the dressing room Carly’s eyes had brightened.

And that
had been that.

The bridesmaid’s dresses were in a similar style but they were ordered in a vibrant shade of sky blue. The color complimented each of their very different
coloring. Lily with her creamy complexion and golden ringlets. Carly with her soft, glowing tan and strawberry blond tresses. Jemma and her cinnamon colored skin and long, ebony locks.

“It really is perfect,” Carly said, all teasing aside.

“I’m getting married,” Quinn muttered as she stared at her reflection. This was the weekend that Jake had originally set aside for his proposal. Before fate decided to hurry things along. The last few months had flown by. Quinn had been plenty busy with her part-time job as a bank teller, school, finals and wedding planning.

“Yes, sweetie, you are
definitely getting married,” Lily said, looking amused.

Tomorrow you are going to be Mrs. Jake McGrath,” Jemma announced in a sing-song voice as she made a show of sizing Quinn up. “All these years I always figured you’d be Mrs. McGrath. Just not Mrs.
McGrath,” she teased.

Having been one of Quinn’s best friends all through high school, Jemma was
entirely aware of how severe and how long-lasting Quinn’s crush on Luke had been. In fact, all three of the young women that had crammed themselves into the fitting room were well aware of it.

Quinn was not the least bit surprised that Jemma was the only one that felt the need to bring it up.

She scowled playfully at her. “No talk of that! Please!” she said.

She was sure Jake had no idea how she’d felt about his brother at one time. No need to tell him. Not now. Maybe when they were old and gray and sitting on the porch, rocking their days away. But not now. Now, it just felt kind of embarrassing. And more than a little bit wrong. And since nothing
ever, or
ever, come of it, she saw no point in embarrassing herself by bringing it up. She was sure Jake would find the whole thing funny. Funny enough to share with Luke. And well…that would be mortifying.

Especially because lately
Luke hadn’t been acting like himself around her. In fact, if she was going to be honest with herself, it seemed like he’d been going out of his way to avoid her. She found his behavior hurtful but hadn’t wanted to bring it up to Jake. Doing so would’ve felt like whining about Luke behind his back. She had often wondered if maybe Luke didn’t like the idea of her and Jake together. It wasn’t as if she’d actually thought to ask him his opinion.

She and Jake had happened out of the blue. She’d fallen hard and fast.
And now, well, it was too late to wonder about whether or not Luke was okay with that. But they were going to be family and she wanted desperately for this awkwardness between them to go away.

He hadn’t been back to town for a while or she would’ve talked to him about it. It just didn’t feel like the old days of their friendship when she could just pick up the phone and call
him anytime. That didn’t mean that she hadn’t tried. He’d simply refused to take her calls. Not only didn’t he answer but he’d never called her back. So she’d stopped asking him to. It pissed her off and hurt her feelings all at the same time.

She’d finally decided that his attitude
to have something do with Jake. He probably felt uncomfortable that she was dating his brother. But he could have just talked to her about it. He didn’t have to be such an ass about it. He was acting childish, leaving town like that.

She had decided that she would try to g
et him alone this weekend. Marrying Jake should bring them closer, not cause such a huge chasm between them. If he was upset with her she wanted to try to make things right.

If she could.

Or maybe the whole thing was in her head.

Doubtful. But possible.

“Our lips are sealed,” Lily assured her. She had mistaken the frown on her face for fear of her secret getting out.

Quinn murmured.

took a few deep breaths as she stared at herself in the mirror of the oversized fitting room that the four of them had crammed into. No alterations were needed this time around. The empire waistline was seated comfortably high on her stomach. This was it. She was bringing the dress home. Tomorrow, she would be wearing it.

Usually the final fitting would’ve been scheduled in advance but just to be cautious, due to her “condition” the owner of the small boutique offered to make an exception. She kept the dress until the day before the wedding in case any emergency alterations needed to be made.

They didn’t. The dress was quite lovely on her.

“You look like a freaking princess,” Jemma said with a grin. She was standing behind Quinn, looking at her reflection over her shoulder. “With the up
-do you picked out and the dainty little tiara, you’re going to look like you just walked out of a fairy tale. Jake’s going to be blown away.”

Quinn had begun to carefully wiggle out of the dress. “Thanks. Now if the weather holds up, everything might be perfect.”

They were getting married at the park. The same park where Jake had proposed so that they would have the lake as a backdrop. A huge tent would be set up. That way they had protection against the sun or the rain, whichever the case may be. Quinn was desperately hoping for sun.

“The forecast looks good,” Lily said decisively. And so far, it did.

Carly took the dress from Quinn and carefully placed it on the hanger while her sister squirmed back into her shorts and top.

So now what? Lunch?” This coming from Jemma.

Quinn’s stomach growled at the mention of food. She sc
runched her face up in apology as a blush stole across her cheeks.

“I guess we’re going to lunch,” Carly said with a laugh.




“I’m just saying,” Jemma continued on, “that I don’t think I ever want kids. First pregnancy? I’ve heard you get hemorrhoids, gas, stretch marks. You can’t walk without waddling—”

“Hey!” Quinn said as she cut her off. She wasn’t really offended. It was just Jemma being Jemma. “I do not waddle!” she said as she pointed a French fry at her friend.

pointed her fork at Quinn and raised her eyebrows. “Not yet! But you’ve been warned!”

Quinn looked down at the
half-eaten cheeseburger and serving of fries on her plate. She’d been starving. Now she wondered if she should’ve ordered a salad. Or at the very least, the grilled chicken breast. She did
want to be a waddler.

“Come on Jemma,” Lily nagged. “It’s not all bad. I’ve heard your boobs triple in size. Not to mention an increase in sex drive.”

Jemma’s eyes fell to Quinn’s chest. She immediately crossed her arms. Lily winked at her. Quinn started to laugh.

“Well I think you look fabulous,” Carly threw in.

“I’m not even showing yet!”

“You’re not showing but you’re glowing,” Carly assured her.

“Hey,” Lily said from beside her as she gave her a nudge. “Isn’t that Tabby?”

Quinn glanced over her shoulde
r. The petite redhead that had walked up to the counter to pick up a to-go order was indeed Tabitha, Luke’s current girlfriend.

“Yeah,” Quinn agreed
. “It’s her. I should probably go say ‘hi’. I’ll be right back,” she said as she slid her chair back.

She swerved
her way through the lunch crowd. She walked up to Tabitha just as she was turning, ready to leave.

“Oh, hey, Quinn,” she said. She looked
less than excited at having run into her.

“Hi Tab. When did you two get to town?” Quinn asked. She was startled by Tabitha’s less than enthusiastic greeting but didn’t want to show it.

Tabitha gave her a tight smile. “I’m here by
. I’ve been here a few days. My sister came home for the weekend. Since she lives out of state now I try to coordinate my visits home with hers.”

“Oh…” Quinn said with a frown. When she’d spotted her she’d been under the assumption that Tabitha was here for the wedding. She’d thought Tabitha was Luke’s date for both the groom’s dinner tonight and the ceremony tomorrow. “You’re not here with Luke?”

“No Quinn. I’m not here with Luke. In fact, I’m not with Luke
at all
,” she said. Her voice was cold and her expression had hardened.

“Oh,” Quinn said again. She was
totally taken aback and rendered speechless by the unexpected behavior. She and Tabitha had never been friends exactly. But they knew each other and Tabitha had always at least been civil to her.
Maybe she’s upset because of the break-up and since Luke is about to become my brother in-law, maybe that makes me the enemy by default
, Quinn reasoned. Instead of asking she simply said, “I’m really sorry to hear that.” She tried to keep her voice calm and sincere because she was truly sorry. Tabitha was obviously upset and Quinn did feel bad about it.

“Are you?” Tabitha demanded
. “Are you sorry?” Her eyebrows were raised high in question. Her tone had turned sarcastic and her posture rigid.

“Yes,” Quinn said softly. She was
trying to avoid the scene she suddenly felt rushing her way. “Of course I am. I had no idea the two of you broke up. When did that happen?” she asked, trying to show her concern.

“Oh, let’s see,” Tabitha said with a frown. “About a week after Jake announced you two were getting married.”

Her tone was accusatory and Quinn had no idea why. She looked at her, completely bewildered. She couldn’t imagine how her relationship with Jake would have any impact on Luke’s relationship with Tabitha…

…Her mind started spinning, trying to weave a reasonable excuse out of nothing.
Maybe Tabitha started pressuring Luke? Maybe she thought marriage should be in their future too and he didn’t agree?
She found herself wondering it but there was no way she would ever ask. Not about something that personal when she really didn’t know Tabitha that well.

Instead, an uncomfortable silence spread between them
. Quinn desperately found herself wishing that she’d never left her seat.

really don’t know, do you?” Tabitha demanded with a rude scoff. Her eyes narrowed and an unpleasant smile spread across her cheeks. She was studying Quinn intently.

” Quinn said calmly. “I don’t think I do. You seem like you’re really upset with me and I have no idea why.”

You don’t know that Luke has been so completely in love with…” She shook her head and pursed her lips for a moment before continuing. “Never mind. Let’s just say that no other girl has ever had a chance. I didn’t have a chance when we dated in high school. And even though you’re getting married to
his brother
…I still don’t stand a chance now. Let’s just say that after Jake’s big announcement Luke was beyond unbearable. When he’s miserable, it makes me miserable. I mean…yeah, he tried to hide it…But I’m not blind or stupid. I’m not going to be anyone’s second choice. Not back in high school and certainly not now.”

Are you implying that Luke…?” Quinn trailed off. There was no way that Tabitha meant that the way it came out. Or if she did mean it, she was very much mistaken. “Because if that’s what you think…you’re wrong. Luke and I are friends. We’ve always only ever been friends. In fact, lately, he won’t even talk to me. I don’t even remember the last time I talked to him,” Quinn admitted, hoping it would help.

“That’s because it just about kills him every time he has to hear about how happy you are with his brother, Quinn.
You would’ve probably caused him less pain if you’d cut his heart out with a butter knife.” Tabitha said this as if it should be obvious. She shifted uncomfortably as she tried to cross her arms. The brown paper bag she was holding got in the way and she had to drop them again. “Dating his brother when he’s been in love with you for years? And now getting knocked up and marrying him? It was bad enough when they shared an apartment and you two would come back there together at night. Their rooms were side by side,” she said pointedly. Quinn felt her cheeks burn. “That was just cruel. Didn’t you ever wonder why he moved away? Believe me; it wasn’t because he wanted to follow me. I wish it was. But…I’m not that lucky. I’m certainly not that important to him.”

Quinn shook her head subtly, trying to form an argument.
She opened her mouth but nothing came out. She felt the stinging prickle of tears behind her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she could blame the latest on hormones. It was nothing short of Tabitha’s accusations, cutting her deep and burning her to her core with her hatred.

BOOK: Holding On
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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