Only With You

By: Lauren Layne

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS




Only with You is not my first published book, but it is the first book I ever sold, and for that, I have a whole slew of thank-yous:

Anth: You were there since the very beginning when this book was little more than a gangly document written in the back of an airplane hangar. You never doubted that I’d get here. I love you.

To my agent, Nicole, who read the first five pages of this book from the slush pile and asked for more. Without you, I’d be lost.

To Lauren Plude and the entire Grand Central Publishing team: thank you for believing in this story from the start and making my dream of becoming a published author a reality.

And to all of my friends, families, and colleagues, who upon learning that I’d sold Only with You, said, “Well, of course!”: your unwavering confidence was and is my rock.





CHAPTER ONE



If only the boots had come with some sort of warning label.

Perhaps a succinct sticker reading, HOOKER.

Or even a tasteful note card indicating, “These shoes will change your life.”

But the knee-high, rhinestone-covered boots said neither of these things, and so Sophie Claire Dalton made the most crucial decision of her life without having all the information.

Not that Sophie realized the magnitude of the choice she was about to make. If someone were to ask her about the important decision of her life, the feminine dilemma of shoe choice probably wouldn’t have been on her radar.

She might have thought it was the tearful junior prom date decision between Adam and Gary.

(Adam. Way cuter. Less acne.)

Or perhaps the melodramatic soul-searching about whether to pursue soccer or cheerleading.

(Cheerleading, totally. Boxy athletic shorts hadn’t stood a pubescent chance against a flippy little skirt.)

It could have been her long-deliberated college destination.

(Stanford. Yep, Sophie was one of those girls.)

Then there was the choice that had nearly ripped her heart out. Jon McHale had dropped to his knee their senior year of college with a diamond ring the size of her face and the promise of yuppie housewife security.

(Answer: No. Although that decision had been particularly rough. The ring had been Tiffany and the man had been sweet.)

Or perhaps most likely, Sophie might have guessed the proverbial fork was the debate over whether to finish her stint at Harvard Law or drop out and pursue a life of, well…aimlessness.

(Current occupation: cocktail waitress.)

And yet, none of these decisions would be as life-altering as the choice she was about to make.

Classic strappy black sandals, or…The Boots.

Clueless to the magnitude of what she was about to decide, Sophie teetered over to the full-length mirror of her Las Vegas hotel room, tugging at the hem of her black miniskirt. She extended the black sandal on her left foot for inspection and winced. Surely that white, flabby and unshaven stump wasn’t her leg.

Damn. The testicle-shaped birthmark above her left knee said the limb was definitely hers. And the pasty complexion looked just about right for a lazy Seattle native in the middle of January.

As for the shoes, the delicate high-heeled sandals had potential. Sexy but understated. Very Audrey Hepburn. Very Jackie Onassis.

But on the other hand…

Sophie pivoted awkwardly to extend her other leg and inspected the boot option. They’d been an impulse buy (okay fine, a slightly tipsy impulse buy) from the Lover’s Package sex shop for last year’s Halloween costume of Sexy Space Girl.

Alas, due to some unflattering Halloween-day bloating, the Sexy Space Girl had never made an appearance, and Sophie had tackled Halloween as the green M&M for the third year in a row.

The boots had sat abandoned and unworn in her closet, awaiting their destiny.

Sophie chewed on her lip and considered. The boots were certainly tacky, but wasn’t that kind of the point of a bachelorette party in Vegas? Particularly a bachelorette party for which the slightly unhinged bride had declared a theme of Totally Trashy? These boots were practically the poster children for trashy.

Not to mention they’d cover the glow-in-the-dark-white shade of her calves.

Decision made, Sophie flipped off her old standby black sandal. There’d be plenty of time to channel first ladies and iconic movie stars at job interviews and bridal showers.

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