Only With You(118)

By: Lauren Layne


“But Brynny, it’s just not your time,” Sophie said softly. “And I thought things with James were going great? He’s looking for you, by the way.”

James.

Right. She felt even more ridiculous for stressing about her marital status when she had a perfectly wonderful boyfriend. A boyfriend who was currently stuck making small talk with people he barely knew because she was lamenting the lack of a shiny ring on her fourth finger.

She was pathetic.

“Listen,” Sophie said, helping herself to the sugar-free gum from Brynn’s purse. “I know you probably have some grand plan of where you’re supposed to be by this exact date. But it doesn’t always work like that. Or you know, maybe marriage just isn’t in the cards for you.”

Again, that tightness in her chest. Dammit. “It is,” Brynn said firmly. “I know it is.”

“Okay,” Sophie said with strained patience. “Then it will happen. Someday. But hiding out in the bathroom isn’t going to get you there any faster. I hardly think James’s going to get marriage-minded with a woman who spends inordinate time in the restroom.”

True. So true.

Brynn gave her sister a spontaneous hug. “I love how you always say the right thing in the weirdest way.”

Sophie hugged her back before tugging at the hem of her flouncy blue cocktail dress and dropping into a small curtsy. “I do my best.”

“You know, you might have given me a hint about this party so I could have dressed accordingly.” Brynn looked her sister up and down. “You’re not supposed to outshine the birthday girl.”

Sophie waved her hand. “Please. Outshine perfect Brynn Dalton? Impossible.”

Brynn gave a forced smile. Because once upon a time it had been very possible to outshine Brynn Dalton. But now wasn’t the time to take a trip down memory lane. Although, come to think of it, the whole hiding-in-the bathroom thing was an all too familiar blast from the past.

A past that involved crying in the bathroom through most of second grade. And third…and pretty much every horrible day up until she’d finally begged her parents for braces, contacts, acne medication, and a regimented weight-loss program.

At fifteen, she’d finally figured out how to do it right. It had been the start of her lists. Lists that kept her from ever, ever being the one that stood out from the crowd to be pointed and laughed at.

Her lists and plans had kept her from ever having to sit alone at lunch, or hook up with a guy who was out of her league.

Her lists were her life. And she wasn’t about to fall off the wagon at age thirty-one.

Besides, coming in second place to Sophie was just fine with her. God knew she was used to it.

Her sister was especially sparkly tonight. Sophie’s blue dress was the perfect color to offset her bright blue eyes. And unlike Brynn’s own boring “brown” pumps, Sophie’s were a shocking orange. The look should have been garish, but instead was completely charming.

Charm was something the younger Dalton sister had in large doses. If Brynn was the smooth and reliable one, Sophie was the fun, alluring sister. Even Sophie’s hair was more fun. Despite the fact that their long blonde hair was almost identical in color and texture, Sophie’s was always styled in a mess of wild yellow curls. Brynn’s own long hair was kept perfectly straight. A style that suited Brynn perfectly even if it did feel a bit…boring.

“Not boring. Respectable,” Brynn reminded herself under her breath. And she’d learned early on that there were a lot worse things to be called than boring.

“Yeah, yeah,” Sophie said as she dragged Brynn toward the bathroom door. “You’re respectable, and you’re beautiful, rich, and successful. Everyone adores you. Blah blah. The only person who RSVPed no to your party was Aunt Philly, and that’s just as well because now we don’t have to hear about her hemorrhoids. But—”

“There’s a but?” Brynn interrupted.

Sophie paused at the door and spun back around. “You have to promise me to loosen up. Forget that damn list for once. Drink too much champagne and have drunk sex with James back at his place.”

Brynn carefully kept her face blank. She and James hadn’t been having much of any sex lately, but there were some things even one’s sister didn’t need to know.

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