Her Accidental Husband(13)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Beautiful, cultured, and stuck up as hell.

On meeting her, the first two assumptions had proven correct. Payton was not only heart-stoppingly gorgeous but had that personality that drew everyone to her. Charisma. Enough that he’d stopped in his tracks when he’d first seen her at the flower shop that night, both on their way to Kate’s birthday party and neither knowing who the other was. He’d been captivated. Had even considered asking for her number.

As to the last—her being stuck up—he hadn’t had enough time to confirm whether it was true or not. Although she’d been nothing but friendly toward his family when she met them all—officially—at Kate’s party that memorable night, he’d heard enough from Dominic about how tied up in knots Kate had been under Payton’s mother’s discerning eyes as they grew up, that he’d decided to withhold final judgment.

The muffled music that started ringing from her purse brought Payton a good inch in the air. He knew that tune…

Is that the song from the shower scene in Psycho?

She fumbled in the purse and pulled out the cellphone, trapped in a bright pink case. Only she didn’t accept the call immediately, continuing to stare at the screen instead. She was biting at her lip, almost looking afraid.

His curiosity was piqued. Who on earth had Payton so terrified to take their call?

Finally, she steeled her back and pressed accept, bringing the phone to her ear. “Hello, Mother.”

Since stepping off the airplane, Payton had done a good job—no, miraculous job—of pretending that nothing was wrong with her life, choosing instead to focus on one thing. Getting to Puerto Vallarta and being there for the single most important event in her best friend’s life.

Payton had become a pro at compartmentalizing her life over the years, and today would be no different. Besides, she’d have plenty of time to fall apart when she was alone and in the sanctity and privacy of her luxury suite at the hotel. And she had almost succeeded. Until she remembered the trip to Cabo with Brad, followed by the image of him and that…that very naked woman, doing Lord knew what back in New York.

And now her mother was calling.

Does she know?

What was Payton going to tell her?

But she shouldn’t have worried about providing any kind of explanation to her mother when she answered the phone because the woman wouldn’t let her get a word in for several minutes. Starting first with why Payton hadn’t called as soon as she landed, leaving her mother to hear the news of the emergency landing after the fact and spending the past hour in a panic, before seguing into the “ludicrous voicemail” Payton left for the wedding planner.

Cripes. Payton had forgotten about that hasty message in the chaos that followed. She placed her fingers to the side of her temple and rubbed. What had she been thinking?

“Have you completely lost your mind?” Payton held the phone away from her ear as her mother yelled. “What on earth do you mean leaving some crazy message for Camille saying your wedding is off? I had to have the silly girl play the message for me, since I was ready to fire her, right then for making up lies.”

Payton could almost hear that argument, and see poor Camille flinching under her mother’s passive aggressive tirade. Camille had assured them early on she’d handled many different personalities and nothing would prevent her from throwing them a successful wedding.

But that had been before she met Emily Vaughn.

“Really, Payton. Of all the asinine games for you to play at such a pivotal time in the planning—the girl had been about to call and cancel the ballroom at Grand America before she came to her senses and gave me a call first. What do you have to say for yourself? Why would you do something so reckless? Have you been drinking the water even though I distinctly told you not to? Are you on some sort of mind-altering drug? What is it? And where on earth are you? Are you back in Dallas? Tell me you’re returning home and forgetting the ridiculous notion of going to Mexico alone.”

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