Authors: Belle Brooks
Table of Contents
THIRTY DAYS: Part One
©2016 by Belle Brooks
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Po Box 2302, Yeppoon QLD Australia 4703.
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All rights are reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in past in any form. This edition is published in arrangement with Obie Books Q.L.D.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Po Box 2302
Yeppoon Qld 4701
Cover design by Tracey Weston
Formatted by Max Henry of
Editing and Proofreading by Karen Harper and Emily A Lawrence.
For my husband Michael
Thank you for encouraging the voices in my head to be heard, for embracing my utter clumsiness and lack of direction—both in life and in actually finding my way to any venue without at least a one-hour detour—and loving me regardless. For driving me crazy just enough that I want to vent about it in fictional words.
I’ll love you forever.
A NOTE TO THE READER
This book has been written using UK English and contains euphemisms and slang words that form part of the Australian spoken word, which is the basis of this book’s writing style.
Please remember that the words are not misspelled. They are slang terms and form part of everyday, Australian vernacular.
In a Haze
“Abi, what are you doing on my front lawn? Do you know it’s two a.m. and bloody cold out?” The sound is close.
One eye strains open as what looks like red hair tickles my nose. “Huh,” I slur, unsure as to where the hell I am.
“Are you drunk? Oh crap, you’re drunk off your head, aren’t you? I can smell it, don’t even deny it.” A set of pale blue eyes filled with worry look down at me.
“You could say that.” I giggle.
“So you’re still taking this well, I see?”
“Huh,” I slur again.
“Get off your arse and get inside.”
“I’m a big girl. Now unhand me, lady,” I spit as she drags my body across wet grass.
“Fuck, Abi, you said you were okay now.”
The door slams hard. The carpet is soft under my cheek. Feet stomp past my head, but soon return. A blurry hand shoves a glass of clear liquid in my face. “Drink this. We need to sober you up.”
“I don’t wanna.” My fingers stroke the carpet as I fight the urge to vomit.
“Well, you need to. What were you doing out there?”
“Sleeping. Remembering better times,” I mumble.
“Great. Just great, Abi. What am I going to do with you?”
“Kind stranger, if you could take me home…” My eyes flutter before closing.
“What are your plans for today?” His tone was clipped.
I stood on tiptoe and placed a soft kiss upon his cheek. “Not much, honey. Have a great day golfing with the boys.” I couldn’t keep the sarcasm from my tone, knowing how much he hated golf.
“I’ll probably get my butt handed to me. Abi, tell me, why do I have to rub shoulders with the big boys, exactly?” Stress lines marred his face.
“Because it’s how you’ll land your dream job. Now get going before you’re late.” I tapped his fine arse as he walked away.
“Ouch!” he yelped.
“You were happy enough to do that to me last night, weren’t you?”
His eyebrows rose, his big brown eyes gleamed. He finally smiled. A soft kiss took my lips. There was no passion, no desire. I ignored it. Then he was gone.
Dashing to the car, I stumbled. My dress lifted, exposing my barely contained buttocks as my knee grazed on contact with the cement. There was little blood, but it stung something fierce.
“I’m going to be late.” I hobbled to the car.
Before long, I was driving my VW down the A1 with haste. Sammy, my beautiful best friend, had called shotgun on pick-up, which made her in charge of music as we travelled into Brisbane from the Coast. Ange and Sophie chattered away happily in the back seat as I glanced at the thick bushland that skirted the smooth highway. I enjoyed the drive into the city. The smell of pine wafting on the breeze brought back happy memories of my childhood.
“So did you tell him you were going wedding dress shopping today?” Sophie asked, a grin lifting the corners of her mouth.
A nervous laugh escaped past my own lips. “No, it didn’t come up.”
“Do you have a particular style of dress in mind?”
Ange leaned into the back of my seat as she spoke, her breath skimming my ear.
“No, not really. Something elegant and sophisticated. I mean, if I’m going to be the wife of a possible future mayor, I want to be classy.”
“Don’t roll those big greens at us,” Sammy scolded. I must have rolled my eyes, because she slapped my thigh hard. “It might work on lover boy, but on us, it’s wasted.”
“He will be mayor. You know that, right?” Ange blurted, giving her vote of confidence.
I took a moment to think about her statement. “Well, that’s his dream. We just have to believe in him…”
“You’re getting married,” Sammy interrupted squealing, clapping her hands. “And I’m going to be your maid of honour, so that means I’m in charge of everything…I have the perfect song for this trip.” Her normal cheeky tone calmed me.
A second later, Paramore burst from the speakers. “
Still Into You
. Good choice,” I breathed, relaxing into the leather seat, thinking about our destination—City Bridal. A prestigious boutique in the heart of Brisbane where chandeliers hung from high ceilings and every accessory or dream could be met—if requested. The entire place radiated glitz and glamour.
Twelve wide steps made our entry. Champagne flutes filled with bubbles awaited our arrival, standing tall on an oval tray. Long fingers belonging to Bethany, my consultant, handed each one out. Her kind smile silently confirmed that this was indeed the place where wedding day dresses completed dreams. Each one of the girls headed straight towards neatly placed racks. My eyes were taken immediately to a mannequin. My dress spoke my name. It called for me. There was never a need to look, it was always going to be hanging there.
Butterflies danced in my stomach as my shaking hands draped a one-strap, lace white wedding dress over my pale skin. My reflection made me gasp as Bethany fastened the last button. The first dress I tried on was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
“You look gorgeous, so tall and thin. I think this dress might have been made for you.” Bethany’s golden eyes widened as her lips arched. “I wish I had your height.” Her flattery didn’t go unnoticed.
I walked out of the fitting room. “Are you three ready for me?”
“Hurry up already,” they cried in anticipation.
“Well?” I whispered, stopping in front of them.
Their mouths gaped open. Their tears began to fall.
“Stunning.” My best friend’s pale blue eyes filled with moisture. It was exactly that…stunning.
I stood staring at my reflection in the mirror behind them. I couldn’t believe that girl was me. This dress was amazing. “It’s almost four thousand dollars. That’s too much money to spend on a piece of clothing for one day.” I frowned, turning to walk back towards the fitting rooms, discouraged.