Planning on Prince Charming(7)

By: Lizzie Shane

Something jogged loose in his brain. “You’re the wedding planner, aren’t you?”

“That’s me.”

“You know, you and I have the same job.” Maybe he could do that when he was fired for matrimonial failure.

“How do you figure that?”

“We both watch other people get paired off, knowing all the while that most of them aren’t going to make it.”

She shook her head, still smiling. “I always believe they’re going to make it.”

He almost laughed. “Naïve.”

“Cynical,” she accused without heat.

“So why come on the show if you don’t want to be Cinderella?”

“It isn’t a question of want. Just because I don’t know how to be the princess doesn’t mean I don’t want my own happy ending. Something just always seems to go wrong translating the dream to reality when it comes to my own love life.”

“Maybe it will work out this time.”

“Thank you for saying that. Even though I know you’re too cynical to believe it for a second.”

“What do I know? Maybe you and Daniel can fall in love in the middle of a three ring circus.”

She went still, then rose with studied nonchalance and crossed to the bar to get more ice. “You don’t believe in the show?”

“I’m not one to judge.”

“Who better than you? You’ve seen dozens of hopeful Suitorettes come and go. Every season another batch of us.”

“And most of you leave in tears.” At the disappointment on her face, he back-pedaled as he took the ice from her and refilled his own glass. “Don’t mind me. I’m just the World’s Biggest Hypocrite. The man who peddles love for a paycheck until the seasons start blurring together even though I’ve sworn off love and marriage and the entire damn mess.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

”About the blurry seasons?”

She held up her hand and he squinted. Gold glittered, a shiny band hooked over the tip of her index finger.

His wedding ring. He’d forgotten it on the bar in the rush to get her away from the shattered glass.

He’d need to wear it tomorrow. Another season of Marrying Mister Perfect started filming in the morning and he needed to still be Josh Pendleton, Happily Married Host, when the cameras started rolling, but tonight it had felt like the fucking thing was cutting off circulation to his finger and he would lose the digit if he didn’t get it off.

Now it hung on the end of her finger, an incriminating wide gold band.

Her teal eyes were somehow sympathetic without being pitying. He’d have to see if he could copy that look. It would come in handy in his line of work.

He took his ring, setting it on the coffee table, and met those eyes—seriously, who had teal eyes? For a moment the world around them seemed to fade out of focus. She was beautiful—not just pretty, but there was a quality about her, an openness and a sweetness. At least until the show corrupted it.

Suitorette. Off-limits, jackass.

She was about to go on a reality show looking for love on national television. His reality show. At least until they fired him.

He followed her gaze to the ring. And then he said it. Said the words out loud for the first time since he’d told his parents. “I’m getting divorced.”

Only there was no getting. He was. It was final. As of three o’clock this afternoon. Marissa was officially free to run into the arms of the man she’d been screwing behind his back for the last year and half.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured.

He shouldn’t have told her about the divorce, he realized belatedly. If she told his bosses he was screwed. But it wasn’t just the alcohol that had loosened his tongue. There was something about her. She was too easy to talk to, this long, leggy blonde with the impossible eyes.

“You can still believe in happily ever afters,” Sidney said softly.

“Yeah?” Josh tore his gaze off the ring, lifting his drink. “How does that work?”

She shrugged. “You just do. Every broken heart is another step in the road to your happily ever after.”

“Wow, you’re like a Hallmark card. No wonder the producers cast you.”