Authors: Melanie Shawn
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
Cover Design by Hot Damn Designs
Published by Red Hot Reads Publishing
Copyright 2013 Melanie Shawn
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing from Melanie Shawn. Exceptions are limited to reviewers who may use brief quotations in connection with reviews. No part of this book can be transmitted, scanned, reproduced, or distributed in any written or electronic form without written permission from Melanie Shawn.
This book is a work of fiction. Places, names, characters and events are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Table of Contents
Rachelle Thomas watched her hand tremble as she carefully set her mascara down on the vanity table in front of her. The shaking fingers looked like they belonged to someone else. It was as if she were watching this all happen on a movie screen instead of experiencing it live and in person. She felt like she was floating outside her body.
Still feeling strangely removed from herself, she noticed that tears were forming in her eyes. She tried to blink them away. But a few errant drops escaped and slipped down her cheek.
She stared at David’s reflection in the round mirror. He didn't look real, either. She wondered if this were all a dream. She felt numb...paralyzed.
As she looked into her fiancé’s eyes, she desperately tried to see within them the man she had planned on spending the rest of her life with, had planned on having children with…but she couldn't find even a trace of that man in what she saw in front of her now. This man was a stranger, she recognized nothing about him. The eyes that looked back at her in the mirror were cold and distant.
“So let me get this straight,” Chelle began, her voice sounding hollow and strange to her ears. It didn't matter, though. She needed to say it out loud, to solidify the situation in her own mind. She hoped that, by hearing the facts spoken in her own voice, maybe she could connect the bizarre words that she was saying to reality - that it wouldn’t seem so ludicrous.
After taking a deep breath, she calmly repeated what David had just told her. “You have been having an affair with your 18 year old secretary for the past six months, now she’s pregnant, so you’re going to marry her.”
He nodded briskly.
She continued, “And...just to clarify...you decided that the best time to tell me this was ten minutes before we are supposed to leave to go to my best friend’s wedding...in which I am the maid of honor.”
He stared at her, his piercing blue eyes icy and detached. “Look, I’m sorry if you’re upset by this, but we’re all adults here…”
“One of us just barely made the cut,” she shot back sharply.
“Don’t be petty,” David snapped.
“Petty is just about all I've got right now,” she said angrily, to which David rolled his eyes, making her feel about two inches tall.
Chelle wasn’t sure what she was having more of a problem coming to terms with, the fact that, A – she was finding out that the man she had devoted years of her life to was a lying, cheating pervert...or that, B - he was being such a dick about it.
I mean, sure. She had always known that David wasn’t the sweet, teddy bear, cuddly type but he had never been
...at least not to her.
“Look Chelle, there’s no need to be dramatic about this. These things happen,” his patronizing, condescending tone was pushing her right to the edge of losing her (admittedly tenuous) grip on her sanity and self-control.
“Are you being serious right now?”
“That was not a rhetorical question, David,” she said slowly and with just the slightest razor edge to her overly-serene voice, “I am literally asking you if you are being serious right now.”
Disdain was pouring off of him as he rolled his shoulders back, “Come on, now. Do we really have to draw this out with high school dramatics?”
“Really...'draw this out’...‘don’t be petty’...‘no need to be dramatic’...‘these things happen’...who
you right now?”
She shook her head in disbelief, still seated at her vanity, her back to David, looking at him through the mirror she sat in front of. Chelle didn’t trust herself to turn around and face him. She might do something she would regret.
Plus, she admitted to herself reluctantly, she couldn’t really feel her legs right now...so she wasn’t even sure if standing and facing him was an option.
The alarm on her phone beeped, alerting her that it was time to head over to the church.
Okay, so she wasn’t going to be able to deal with this now. Just as well. The wedding would give her a good excuse to shove this down, put it inside a mental box,
let it take her over.
Straightening her shoulders she realized, that might be easier said than done. But, it didn’t matter. She needed to pull it together. She was not going to let David's little bombshell take away from her best friend Katie’s big day!
Bracing her hands on the edge of the solid wood of the vanity, she used every last ounce of strength she had in her arms to push off and help balance herself. She carefully stood. Her legs felt shaky beneath her but they didn’t give out causing her to fall flat on her rear.
Thank God for small blessings.
She made a point to modulate her tone so that her voice came out sounding as neutral as possible, “I have to go David, I want you gone when I get home.”
David snorted. “I’m still going to the wedding. I’ve known Jason since we were kids.”
He then continued, his tone indicating that he was stating the obvious, “And my name’s on the lease, too, if you recall. I’m not moving out.”
He huffed indignantly, sounding more like a rebellious teenager than an almost thirty year old man.
Hey, maybe he and ‘secretary girl’ had more in common than Chelle had originally thought.
Finally, she turned to look at him. It was surreal, almost as if she were having an out of body experience. She stared at him and saw him,
saw him, for maybe the first time in her life.
She had known David since middle school, and she had dated him off and on since they were in high school. They had gotten serious a few years ago, and had been engaged for about a year. Before this moment, she would have said that - without a shadow of a doubt - she knew him,
knew him, through and through.
But now, as she stood staring at him with his arms crossed in a combative stance, she couldn’t believe how different he looked to her.
Everything went eerily quiet for a moment. The only sound she heard was a loud buzzing in her ears. Her world was narrowing in around her, as if a camera lens were zooming in to take a close up. She felt as if she were not really
any of this, but rather that she was outside looking in. She had the oddest sensation that she was merely a viewer of her own life, watching the drama unfold like she would on an episode of CSI.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she burst out laughing. She had no idea why. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew this must seem like the behavior of a crazy person...hell, this must
the behavior of a crazy person!
Hmm, she considered, yep, maybe that was it. Maybe she was crazy. Perhaps this burst of hysteria meant that she was smack-dab in the middle of a full blown, certifiable, nervous breakdown. That had to be it.
Instead of having a logical, sane reaction to his rather disturbing news (which she assumed would be to feel sad...angry maybe) she just couldn't stop laughing.
She noticed that David was looking at her with disgust and pity, shaking his head like he felt sorry for her.
"Chelle, you really need to pull it together. I know you're going to miss me but..."
She began to laugh even harder at his ridiculous self-important statement. She
was laughing so hard she was crying. She couldn't stop. Now she began to feel afraid – afraid that if some outside force didn't stop the laughter soon, she would never be able to make it stop on her own. Oh dear God!
Her phone rang, then, answering her prayer. It pulled her out of her hyena-like laughing fit and anchored her to earth. She looked down at her smart phone and Katie’s face appeared on the screen. She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, wiped her eyes, and cleared her throat before answering the call.
She gave her head one final shake to try and snap out of her unexpected outburst before she spoke. She didn’t want to alarm Katie by sounding koo-koo katchoo on the phone, after all. Finally, she pressed the ‘answer’ icon.
“Hey Katie,” she said, and (Happy Dance
!) her voice sounded fairly normal in her ears. Well, she thought, so far so good. She sounded like a completely sane person.
“Where are you?” Katie, however, might be just a little panicked, Chelle immediately realized.
“I’m headed out right now.”
“Oh thank God!” Katie said, relief filling her voice, “Mom had a last minute errand to run, Sophie’s running late, and...well, I love Aunt Wendy and I know she means well, but, she is driving me a
nuts. I need you!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” with renewed determination to keep it all together and be strong for Katie, Chelle hung up the phone.
This was Katie’s day! Nothing would stop her from being there for her best friend – her diamond friend –not even David's shocking announcement. She was not about to let anything take away from Katie's day. Chelle grabbed her bag, and headed towards the front door.
She could hear David’s voice, and on some vague background level knew he was animatedly speaking to her. But, to her ears, his voice sounded like he was underwater, or speaking to her from the end of a long tunnel.
No, I know! He sounds like the adults sound in the Charlie Brown cartoon, Chelle thought to herself. He's talking but all I hear is, “Waah wa waaa wah wa.”
She snapped a lid on that line of thought before it could send her off on another round of hysterical and uncontrollable laughter.
Deciding to completely ignore whatever he was saying (as a tactical maneuver, even though she
have done it just on principal alone!) she brushed passed him to get to the front door. He reached out as she passed him, grabbing her arm roughly.
Immediately stopping in her tracks and without even sparing him a glance she spoke with an authoritative tone – one that quite honestly, until this very moment, she had no idea she possessed – and stated firmly, “Don’t. Touch. Me.”
He must have sensed that she meant business and not been ready to deal with the new steel in her manner, because David released his hold on her arm immediately, and just as quickly, she was out the door.
--- ~ ---
Rushing out to her car, Chelle drove to Harper’s Crossing Community Church on auto-pilot – or, at least that's what she assumed she must have done, because she certainly wasn't consciously aware of the trip! She had so many thoughts running through her head, she couldn’t make sense of any of them. There were so many conflicting emotions competing for her attention that it seemed like they must be canceling each other out. She felt hurt, anger, confusion, and sadness. They were all playing a cruel game of bumper cars in her belly, but because of their intensity, all she could feel were the crashes when they collided.
Getting out of her car in the parking lot of the church, Chelle was immediately accosted by Aunt Wendy, Katie’s well-meaning and slightly eccentric aunt - who also happened to be the wedding planner.
“Great, you’re already dressed, let’s get you into the bridal suite. Katie wanted you back there as soon as you arrived,” Aunt Wendy said as she bustled Chelle quickly off towards the church, barely giving her enough time to lock her car. Aunt Wendy pressed a button on her headset and, in a serious voice, alerted the person on the other end that she was, “En route with MOH.”
Even in Chelle’s anxiety riddled, confused state of mind she was able to clearly decipher one thought - Aunt Wendy’s announcement to whoever might be on the receiving end of her earpiece seemed slightly like overkill.
This was a small and intimate wedding party. It only consisted of Chelle, who was the maid of honor and Sophie, who was the matron of honor. Although Sophie was not blood-related, she had always been like Katie’s little sister. And since Sophie had just married Bobby Sloan (little brother of Katie’s soon-to-be husband Jason Sloan), she was now going to be Katie's actual sister-in-law.
On the guys' side
there were two of Jason's four brothers standing up for him, Alex and (Sophie's husband) Bobby.
That was it. The whole shebang.
Plus, this was a very small town. Everyone knew everyone. She didn’t think whoever was on the other end of that radio headset would have been confused if Aunt Wendy had simply said, “Chelle’s here.”
Chelle giggled and lifted her wrist to her mouth, as if she had a microphone there, secret-service style. In a voice several octaves below her own, she intoned, “Base, the Eagle has landed,” and her giggles transformed to out-and-out laughter.
The sideways glance she got from Wendy told her that she might still be slightly hysterical, not quite in touch with reality, and she made a concerted effort to rein herself in as they headed back toward the church at a brisk clip.
As soon as they opened the large wooden front door to the church, which at capacity seated about one hundred and fifty people, she noticed that it looked to be filling up to the brim.
She took a deep breath. Looked like she'd be giving the performance of her life today, and to a sold out crowd, no less!