Frenched Series Bundle(2)

By: Melanie Harlow



“This was more than just a mistake. I deliberately ignored any sign that I was making the wrong decision. All I could think about was pulling off the dream wedding. And it was nothing but a stupid fantasy.” Anger at myself knotted with my wrath for Tucker, pulling my stomach muscles so tight they ached.

“See? That’s what I’m saying,” Coco soothed. “You knew this was coming, deep down inside. Better to know now before you married him, right?”

I squeezed my eyes shut and lifted the cup to my lips. The bitterness of the French roast laced with the sweetness of Bailey’s tasted so good, I took two more big swallows before speaking. “I know. Rationally, I know what you’re saying is true, but all I can think about are the thousand little details that were supposed to make this day the biggest, bestest day of my life.” I gestured toward my closet door, where a wedding dress still hung, wrapped in its protective bag. “That’s my wedding gown over there. Which I paid for myself. Which I should be wearing tonight at five o’clock when four hundred-plus people watch me walk down the aisle on the rooftop of the Ritz. Oh, God—” I gave Coco a panicked look. “Tell me someone called the Ritz.”

She rubbed my hand. “Those things were taken care of. And you do so much business with all those vendors, most of them didn’t even keep your deposit.”

Relief loosened the tension in my shoulders. I’d been so out of it over the past week, I wasn’t sure what had been done. I’d had clients cancel a wedding once or twice in my career, but never with only a week to go. “It wasn’t my deposit. They can keep Tucker’s money, for all I care. He won’t miss it.” I took another glug of coffee. “What about the guests?”

“Done,” said Erin. “You’ve got nothing to worry about except moving forward.”

“I’m totally doing that.” I lifted up a pillow with a hole in the case. “See?”

Erin paled, not easy for a girl with her fair Irish complexion. “I’m just gonna take that gown out of here, OK honey? Be right back.” She set her coffee cup on the tray and grabbed the dress, scurrying from the room with a worried expression.

I watched her go, a vise squeezing my heart. “That dress was the one, Coco. I felt it the moment I put it on. Now I’ll never wear it again.”

“You might,” Coco said hopefully. “You never know.”

“I won’t. I’ll die an old maid, cold and alone. I won’t even have cats because I’m allergic to them.”

She rolled her eyes. “Mia, please. You’re twenty-seven.”

“But I wanted to be married by twenty-eight, and now that’s impossible! I wanted to start a family by thirty, and I’ll have to scrap that plan too!”

“Now you just sound ridiculous. Your uterus is not going to shrivel up and die at age thirty.”

“Sorry for being ridiculous about my dreams.” My chin jutted out. “But that’s how I feel.”

She rubbed my back. “You want to talk about it some more?”

“What’s left to say?”

“I don’t know. Are you…are you sad about losing Tucker? Or just about the wedding?”

I swallowed hard. “Both, I guess.”

“Do you still love him?”

My first reaction was revulsion, but then his handsome face swam before my eyes. And I could still smell him on the sheets. He always smelled so good, and dressed so impeccably. And he could be thoughtful and generous and fun. We’d had so many plans together, starting tonight. Tucker, how could you do this to me? My throat tightened. “No. Yes. I don’t know.”

“I wish you would have said something about those doubts you had. I feel awful that I didn’t sense them. I see you every day. We talked about this wedding nonstop.” Her blue eyes were full of guilt.

“It’s not your fault. I put on a good show.” I shrugged. “People were always saying what a perfect couple we made. I was trying to be that.”

“You looked perfect,” Erin clarified as she returned to the bed. “But no one knows anything about anyone else’s relationship for real. Look at my parents—married for twenty years before my mom got sick of his closet alcoholism and mean behavior and left. People were shocked. I can’t tell you how many of her friends said to her, ‘Your marriage seemed so perfect.’” She shook her head. “They were clueless, even her best friends, because in public he was so charming. She kept it all in because she was embarrassed.”

I grimaced and brought my coffee to my lips. “I know that feeling.”

Coco toyed with her coffee cup. “How was it between the two of you when you were alone? Did things feel right?”

“I guess so. I mean, he’s not the most open person in the world. He didn’t talk about his feelings a lot, but he did say he loved me. And he was romantic in some ways, always getting me little gifts—or big ones, even—and taking me places and stuff.”

“Yeah, he loved showing you off, that was obvious.” Erin’s tone was harsh. “And showing off how good he was to you.”

“But what about when you were alone alone?” Coco went on. “Was the sex still good?”

“Not as good as it should have been.” I shrugged. “It was OK. He’s hot, and he got the job done, I suppose, but there wasn’t much variation on the theme.”

Erin laughed. “What was the theme?”

“Fast and clean.”

Coco choked on her coffee. “What?”

“Yeah,” I said, warming to the subject. It actually felt good to finally speak the less-than-perfect truth. “He has two positions he likes, and once we get into one of the Approved Positions, that’s how we stay until he’s finished—which doesn’t take long. He doesn’t like moving around because that causes wet spots on the sheets. He has an aversion to bodily fluids.”

“Oh my God.” Erin’s jaw hung open. “You must be joking.”

“No. And he doesn’t like oral sex for the same reason.”

“Not even blow jobs?”

I shook my head. “Nope. And forget about the other kind. Oh, and after he’s finished, he races to the bathroom to clean himself up. Whether I’m finished or not.”

Both of them sat there blinking at me in disbelief. “Holy shit, Mia,” Coco said. “I’m pretty sure the universe did you a big favor here. You deserve a way better man than that asshole. I don’t care how good looking he is. Or how rich. Any man that jumps out of bed to go clean himself up before making sure his woman is satisfied is a prick.”

“Agreed.” Erin nodded emphatically. “I wish you had said something about this sooner.”

“Why? I wouldn’t have listened to reason. I was too busy planning metro Detroit’s most glamorous wedding of the year,” I said, quoting from the article in Wedding Chic magazine. They’d done a whole profile of me, complete with photo shoot. “Oh, God, that stupid magazine article…all those pictures.” I slammed my eyes shut.

“Forget that. No one reads that magazine anyway.” Erin put her hand on my arm. “And some other scandal will replace you on Facebook.”

I opened my eyes to see Coco glaring at Erin. “It’s on Facebook?” They’d confiscated my laptop days ago, probably so I couldn’t check social media.

My friends both bit their bottom lips, and Coco glanced to her left, which she always does when she lies. “No, no. She just meant people have sent messages on Facebook hoping you’re OK.”

“Christ, Coco. You’re the worst liar in the world.” I set my cup down and flopped onto my back. “It’s OK. I’m sure it’s all over the Internet that Tucker Branch jilted me a week before the wedding. People love gossip. I’ll just have to deal with it.”

Silence.

Propping myself on my elbows, I opened one eye and frowned at their nervous expressions. “What?”

“Well,” Erin began as Coco’s eyeballs flicked to the left again, “it’s not so much the gossip as Tucker’s post. Uh, posts.”

“What posts?”

“He, um, tweeted something about barely escaping a burning building by ditching the ball and chain. And he followed that up with a lot of pics of himself with girls in Vegas.”

My stomach lurched. “He didn’t.”

Coco nodded. “He did.”

Dropping my head back onto the pillow again, I flung my arms over my burning face. Tucker, you bastard. Did you ever really love me? Why did you even propose?

I thought about the night Tucker had given me the ring, a big, beautiful diamond set in platinum, which he’d had the waiter place into a flute of expensive champagne on our one-year anniversary. At the time I’d loved the spectacle of his getting down on one knee in front of everyone at the restaurant, but I had to admit half of the thrill was because everyone had told me what a playboy he was, that he’d never take me seriously, that he’d break my heart into a million pieces. But he hadn’t.

For a solid year we’d had a blast together—whenever we had time, that is. Running Devine Events kept me crazy busy, and he worked a ton of hours as VP of Sales at his family’s bolt and screw corporation. Neither of us was particularly clingy or emotionally needy, so we enjoyed each other’s company when we could and didn’t whine about the times we were apart.

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