Her Accidental Husband(14)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Payton took a deep breath in. Where on earth to start?

Her wedding, she supposed. Was it still on?

An image of Brad’s sleepy bedroom eyes flooded her mind, followed by the cheap image of “Boobalicious’s” envious rack swaying as she handed him the phone.

Payton wasn’t an idiot. There was no way that what she saw was any kind of misunderstanding, no matter how many voicemails Brad left her before she’d finally blocked his calls. He had cheated on her. Lord knew how many times.

There was simply no wedding to salvage.

Some Justin Bieber song was suddenly blaring from the radio, and she couldn’t help but whip her head around to glare at Cruz. Was he playing with her now or did he really have an affinity for horrendous music?

He held his hands up in apology and reached over, flipping the radio off. But now the silence was doubly loud, not just in the car, but on the other end of the line.

What was she going to tell her mother? Her stomach roiled again and bile rose to her throat. Could she tell her mother, now, with Cruz all ears to hear how her once perfect life had suddenly fallen apart?

It was so humiliating.

Her mother, still not having an answer, started again. “Payton? What has come over you? You need to stop thinking of yourself and think of everyone who is relying on you. Me, the planner, your father, and, of course, Brad most of all. What would he think about that little trick you played? He would be as hurt and outraged as I am. To turn your wedding into a joke like that.”

What would Brad think? That was rich. This time she snorted.

Here her mother was accusing her of being selfish when all her life Payton had bent herself into a pretzel trying to please everyone around her—her mother most of all. She’d sacrificed her career trying to become what her mother wanted—essentially someone’s trophy wife. And for what? So Brad could boink some skank when they should be spending a romantic vacation seeing her best friend get married?

She was done. It was over. She was living her life, starting now, on her terms.

That plane trip had offered her more than time to think. It had offered a new start.

“Mother, I’m sorry that you think I’ve been selfish here, but I meant what I told Camille. It’s off. There will be no grandiose reception, no stuffy church wedding, no Christmas stocking with Brad’s name to add to the Vaughn mantle. Unlike you, I am not going to spend the next thirty years ignoring his exploits. And if you want to know what I’m talking about, then maybe you can call Brad and ask to speak to Miss Boobalicious—the giant-breasted Playboy bunny sharing his bed last time I called. For now, I’m heading to my best friend’s wedding, where I am going to at least see someone get their happily ever after. I’ll see you Monday. Good-bye.”

Before her mother could spew any more hysterics, Payton hung up.

The silence was unnerving, and she refused to glance over at Cruz for his reaction. She wouldn’t say she was feeling relief, because she knew she was only postponing another inevitable confrontation with her mother, but she wasn’t going to worry about that now.

The ring bursting from her cell phone again alerted her that her mother wasn’t done.

Inspiration hit her and before she could talk herself out of it, she rolled her window down and, with a surprising burst of strength, threw her cell phone out.

It clattered against the road and landed about fifteen feet away. Still intact, bright and pink and shiny. At least until the large cargo truck ran over it. With some satisfaction, she saw it shatter and fly into pieces across the blacktop.

The car was silent.

Cruz still hadn’t said anything. Probably trying to decide if he should take a detour to the closest loony bin so he could deposit her. She snuck a peek. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she spied the tiniest smile around the lines of his mouth.

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