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Authors: Kaitlin Maitland

Mr. Wonderful Lies

BOOK: Mr. Wonderful Lies
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Mr. Wonderful Lies

By Kaitlin Maitland



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Published By:


Etopia Press

P.O. Box 66

Medford, OR 97501


Mr. Wonderful Lies


Copyright © 2011 by Kaitlin Maitland

ISBN: 978-1-936751-23-5

Edited by Nicole Hicks

Cover by Annie Melton

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

First Etopia Press electronic publication: March 2011




Chapter One


I’ve never put much faith in anniversaries. Women obsess over them and men forget them. Aren’t they just one more thing for couples to fight about? Or are they another day to tick off on the calendar while simultaneously feeling bad about yourself because the passage of time hasn’t healed any of your wounds?

Okay, I might be sort of biased about anniversaries. It’s hard not to be when they all seem to be bad. My birthday for instance. After turning twenty-one, is there anything good about a birthday? Combine it with the anniversary I was currently celebrating and you got something worse. Not only was I turning a ripe thirty-five on that day, January 17
, but I was still single.

I put my shoulder into the worn wood of the front door at Cheeky’s Bar and Grill while I mulled that happy thought over in my head. The heavy thing gave way and plunged me into a place that was more bar than grill but still felt like home. A haze of cigarette smoke lingered near the ceiling beams. The stained, dull green walls were peppered with the usual neon beer signs and a bizarre combination of sports and movie memorabilia mixed with bits of interesting local paraphernalia. By that I mean weird stuff like stuffed Dalmatians wearing Mardi Gras beads, faded pictures of Clydesdales pulling beer wagons under the St Louis Arch, furry coonskin caps and miscellaneous sports junk featuring Red Fred the Cardinal and fat blue notes emblazoned on hockey pucks. St Louis may be an island stuck between Missouri and Illinois, but we have no shortage of city identifiers.

I glanced at the flat screen television hung at one end of the bar. A big group of college students was watching the Colorado Avalanche whipping up on the St Louis Blues. I got a kick out of the obscenities they constantly lobbed at the television between sloshing beer all over one another but I wasn’t there to join them.

I turned in the opposite direction and passed the shadowy alcove hiding the entrance to the bathrooms, a place one would never go unless too drunk to make it home, and found my usual table near Cheeky’s back corner. It wasn’t crowded inside; during the week it never is. That’s one of the reasons I like Cheeky’s so much. I don’t do the social sardine thing. I want to be able to actually talk to the people I’m hanging out with.

I was early. I don’t know why, because not only do I hate birthdays and anniversaries, I hate parties to celebrate them. It’s uncomfortable trying to pretend I’m happy about time marching right over my hopes and dreams.

I chucked my purse and coat on a stool at one of the high bar tables and climbed into the chair. I settled my butt comfortably in the seat and gained satisfaction from knowing it was just a tad smaller than it was a year ago. I have a ritual I go through on my birthday. Most people do New Year’s resolutions; I prefer to wait until my birthday. At least that way I’m a little less cliché. But if you’re going to make a resolution to change something, you have to evaluate what you’ve got. So every year I start with the same list:

My job was great. I’m my own boss, so I guess I’d have no one to blame but myself if it wasn’t. I have a medical billing business that I run out of my loft in the Soulard area. I’ve been doing it for about five years now, and I like the work. It might seem tedious and detail-oriented, but it’s predictable. I got the initial idea when I was stuck at a really boring family reunion listening to one of my overachieving cousins complain about the cost of billing the clients in his plastic surgery office. Since then I’ve been capitalizing on his complaints to make a pretty nice living for myself.

My personal issues are the same every year. You’d think I’d get a clue. I keep telling myself to become more positive, to see the good in things instead of maintaining a sarcastic slant on things that makes me seem negative though I’m not. The truth is that I’m shy, horribly shy. Combine that and my knack for sarcasm and I have an almost constant case of verbal diarrhea. I’ve been told it’s because I try too hard. Find a solution to that combination of social flaws.

I was doing pretty well in the body department. Not because I’d grown dedicated and sprouted willpower that defied the draw of things like cheese and sugar but because of my relationship status. I’ll get more into that later. As to my body type, I’m what people refer to as big boned. So, aside from things I can’t change, i.e. my uncooperative long curly brown hair and boring brown eyes, I was pretty satisfied with my physical self at that moment.

“You alone tonight, Megan?”

Robbie’s voice snapped me right back into reality. I frowned, glancing at my watch. “I wasn’t supposed to be alone. Did Anna call or anything?”

He shook his head and sat a Bud Light down on the table. “Nope. Did you forget to charge your phone again?”

I blushed. “No, I’ve been really making an effort.”

“How many chargers did you buy?” Robbie’s knowing gaze made me laugh.

“One for every room?”

“Well, they say the first step is to admit there’s a problem.”

“Good advice.” I thought about how true that really was.

After all, just a year ago on my thirty-fourth birthday, I hadn’t thought there was a problem at all. I’d been riding an anniversary high. Birthday, relationship, in fact, I’d gone so far as to think I was going to get engaged. Yup, that’s what I thought up until the moment I walked into my prospective fiancé’s apartment to find him in bed with not one but two pretty blondes from his Freshman Behavioral Sciences class. He was a professor at Washington University, a fact he mentioned several times while trying to convince me it was all a social experiment.

I didn’t buy it.

At least my bout with post-traumatic relationship stress syndrome didn’t leave me with roomfuls of empty ice cream containers. I’m not like that. Food just makes me feel worse. I’m a big girl already, and I consider myself lucky to have figured out that adding ten pounds to my frame for every failed relationship is counterproductive. So I do the opposite. I go to the gym and punish myself on the treadmill or in the pool until I’m too exhausted to think about it anymore.

A commotion at the front door made me lose my train of thought. In fact, there was so much commotion at the front door that everyone inside Cheeky’s lost their train of thought. Only one thing I knew of could draw that much attention. My friend Anna had arrived.

Her entrance was heralded by a gaudy bunch of Mylar balloons in some of the weirdest shapes I’d ever seen. There was even a sparkly, purple-and-red Cupid-shaped balloon she’d managed to dig up. One hand anchored the balloons and the other clasped a brightly colored Louis Vuitton handbag, her favorite. Anna Thompson was nothing if not expensive. But her fun loving and quirky nature made up for her little idiosyncrasies. Nobody on the planet could smother you to death with love and good intentions like Anna.

Tall, leggy, model-thin with wispy pale blonde hair, a voluptuous chest, and sporting a fabulous pair of five-inch Jimmy Choo heels that perfectly complimented her black designer skirt and jacket ensemble, Anna had every man in the room wondering if she was single even before they remembered if they were single. She’s just that gorgeous. Of course, she’s my best friend so I might be a little biased. In fact, she’s so pretty you’d hate her if she wasn’t so unassuming and fun to be around. It’s sort of a knock out combination.

The gentleman holding the door for Anna was Jared Walker. Anna might have garnered most of the attention in the room, but that was only because the audience was predominantly male.

As I always did when seeing Jared for the first time after a few days, I reminded myself all of the reasons he was completely undateable. It wasn’t his looks. He’s tall with broad shoulders and fabulous wavy dark blonde hair that never needs more than a quick run through with his fingers. His eyes are an incredible shade of blue that manages to be both bright and cool at the same time like the sky on a clear evening. Oh, and did I mention that Jared co-owns a gym and is a personal trainer? So, if you have that kind of imagination, you’ve probably got an idea of just how incredible his body is.

But, like I said, there are plenty of reasons Jared is undatable:

1. He has a tattoo covering his back. I’m looking for a grown up, clean cut guy.

2. His left nipple is pierced. I don’t care how sexy that is, see reason 1.

3. He is gorgeous. Gorgeous men get too much attention from other women.

4. He is my friend. Dating friends is fine, breaking up with them means weirdness.

5. Jared has a long-standing reputation around the gym of being a player. He changes women like underwear, and while he might show them a good time, I think I’ve had enough of cheaters and players to last me a lifetime.

So that’s why, even though I’d made a birthday resolution to forget my former potential fiancé and start dating again, Jared would not be making my short list of possible candidates. That might’ve seemed like a downer except that he’s a really great friend.

Now back to the balloons that were currently headed in my direction. I’ve already said I dislike having a fuss made over my birthday. But it’s absolutely impossible to be mad at Anna when you know she’s not doing it to torture you. In her mind, Anna figured she was doing what was best for me, and arguing with Anna is pointless. She always wins.

“Happy birthday, sweetie!” Anna gushed, tossing the balloon anchor to the middle of the table so that the bright balloons could waft back and forth above our heads in the smoky air near the ceiling.

“I told you not to make a fuss.” I fought back a grin.

“You should know by now that fuss is Anna’s middle name.” Jared leaned down to kiss my cheek.

I inhaled and got a nose full of his incredible scent. I have yet to figure out what kind of cologne he wears. I’ve almost permanently damaged my sense of smell in various perfume stores trying to match it. I could’ve asked him, but sometimes I became hyperaware of that invisible line between us that was the difference between friends and scary.

Robbie appeared with an apple martini for Anna, a tall Bud draft for Jared, and a fresh Bud Light for me. He winked at Anna before heading back to the bar. Although Robbie and Anna flirted shamelessly, he knew her too well to have any designs on a relationship.

“Did you think we’d forgotten?” Anna perched her perfect derriere on the seat next to mine.

I finished my first beer and wrapped my hands around the cool glass of the bottle Robbie had just delivered before giving her a shrug. “As if I could get that lucky.”

“You know we’d never forget.” Jared’s earnest eyes caught mine from across the table.

“Those lazy bastards at the party store didn’t have my balloon order ready!” Anna fumed. “Can you believe the nerve? I called almost two weeks ago and placed an order. Why can’t people get organized?”

Jared and I shared one of those looks between two people who know a third so very well. Anna sells real estate, lots of real estate. She’s probably one of the most successful agents in the city, not because she sells million-dollar homes but just because she’s really good at it. I think it comes naturally for her. But it also means that she micromanages her life and can’t understand anyone who doesn’t.

Jared lounged back in his chair, his grin causing his dimples to make an appearance. “Naturally Anna asked for compensation for the inconvenience of having to wait a whole five minutes for a bunch of balloons.”

“Wow, five whole minutes? How dare they?” I wasn’t buying it.

“It would’ve been five minutes if she hadn’t demanded a few extras,” Jared said with relish.

“If I’d known it took that long to blow the stupid thing up, I would’ve said forget it.” Anna sniffed.

I cocked my head, eyeing the bunch of balloons with amusement. It looked like the special shapes rodeo of a Hot Air Balloon Race. Cupid was hanging with a huge misshapen heart that mildly resembled a pair of genie slippers tied together, a smiley face, several happy birthday cupcakes, and a baseball bat with the Cardinals logo on it, not to mention a rainbow of normal balloons.

“Cupid took about five minutes to inflate all on his lonesome,” Jared drawled, winking at me.

“You know, Valentine’s Day isn’t until next month,” I reminded Anna.

“I know that.” She gave me a pointed look. “But in light of the other anniversary we’re commemorating here, I thought he was appropriate.”

I had an aha moment then. Right after my last Mr. Wonderful had turned out to be not so great, I had sworn to Anna that I’d never date again. It wasn’t that I intended to stay single forever; it’s just one of those things you say because you’re so mad you can’t think of anything else. I think it worried Anna a little bit though, because two months ago she started dropping hints that I should get back out there and try again. I blew her off, but it got me thinking.

I’d had this grand plan in my twenties that I would start dating seriously at thirty, marry by thirty-five, and have at least one kid by forty. The idea was to make certain I had plenty of time to be fun and spontaneous. My parents got married really young and started their family right away. They never said it, but I always got the feeling that they sort of regretted not having those wild years between childhood and familyhood to do what they wanted. So I’d resolved not to repeat their mistakes. But when thirty rolled around and I started looking for eligible husband material, I realized that all of the good guys were already taken. Apparently they hadn’t gotten the memo about my life plan.

BOOK: Mr. Wonderful Lies
11.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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