Authors: Carlie Sexton
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2015 by Carlie Sexton. All rights reserved.
Published by Carlie Sexton Romance
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Cover Image by Najla Qamber Designs
Editing by Marion Archer
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this book of fiction:
Andre’s Restaurant, BMW, Cache, Claim Jumper, David’s Bridal, Dillard’s, Dexter, Facebook, Fashion Valley Mall, Friends, Ginger Ale, Lafayette General, Lahaina Fish Company, Mesa College, Napili Kai, Nordstrom, Pinterest, Starbucks, The Sea House, Tiffany’s, Youtube, Tylenol PM, UCSD, White House Black Market
To all the wonderful readers who have enjoyed my books. Thank you for inspiring me to write my stories.
So many people have helped me, taught me, listened to me, advised me, and loved me through this incredible venture. Of course, none of this would have come to fruition if not for a dear friend at work, Darren. Thanks, Darren, for not knowing the meaning of anonymous and sharing so much with me so I could realize this dream of being an author.
To my amazing friend, Raine. You have inspired me and taught me more than I could ever imagine. Thank you for your support and love. You are a gift to everyone who knows you.
To my dear friend, Jacelyn. Writing books alongside of you has been more incredible than I could have imagined. Being able to talk to you every day about our characters, developing our stories, and fulfilling this dream has been extraordinary. I am so grateful to have you in my life.
To Najla Qamber, thanks for making another gorgeous cover.
To my spectacular editor, Marion Archer. You have helped me in ways that are immeasurable. You have taken my words on the page and not just tidied them up, you have shown me how to breathe life into them. I’m so grateful for you.
To my street team. You’re tireless in your efforts to share my books. Thank you for your love and dedication to me and the books I have written. You all are such a blessing to me.
Finally, to the bloggers who have read, reviewed, shared, supported, and become treasured new friends. Thank you for reading my work and posting on your phenomenal pages! Without you, I don’t think anyone would know I’m alive!!
I love all of you so much!
Chapter 1: Trace
San Diego, CA
Staring out my office window, I pondered the life I was about to embark upon with my soon to be bride, Angelina. For several months we had been planning the most important day of our lives, our wedding day. I had no idea how much went into all of this, but I’m a guy, so I kind of went along with whatever my bride wanted. It seemed like the most sensible thing for me to do because I hadn’t been planning this day since I was ten like Angelina. She knew exactly what she wanted for every aspect of the wedding and I knew I wanted to make her every wish come true. That had been my number-one goal since we became engaged and would continue to be my goal in the years to come. I wanted to make her as happy as she had made me.
“Man, daydreaming again, Trace?” Derrick asked, as he barged into my office. “I thought it was only customary for the bride to daydream.”
I laughed at my best friend and business partner. “Yeah. Hard to believe I’m going to be a married man in a couple of days.”
Before Derrick could reply, Angelina came in. “What are you two talking about?” she asked with a sly grin.
“Getting hitched,” I said, gazing at my beautiful girl. Her long, dark hair cascaded down, touching the tops of her breasts. She smiled, her big blue eyes lighting up. She was so stunning and all mine.
God, how I love this woman.
“I can’t believe you’re going to make an honest man out of Trace here,” Derrick said, patting me on the shoulder.
Angelina chuckled, but I caught an intense look between them. A connection. It made me wonder…was something going on I wasn’t aware of? It was a quick flash, but it didn’t escape me. It wasn’t the first time I’d had this feeling when being with both of them. Goose bumps appeared on my arms just thinking something could be going on. We’re all good friends, and she loves me. I’m being stupid. No way would either of them betray me.
“We both know Trace is the most honest guy around,” she retorted. “He’d never deceive anyone. I just came in to give you this file then I’m off to finalize wedding details with my mom.”
Angelina leaned down to kiss me after placing the file on my desk. I kissed her back, but something definitely was different. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. “Okay, babe. Have fun with your mom. I’ll call you later.”
“Thanks,” she said and strolled out.
I would have asked Derrick if he thought something was unusual, but he was watching her walk away, which didn’t sit well with me at all. Why was he watching my girl walk away? I know it was a great view, but wasn’t that only reserved for me? What the hell was happening and why did I feel so…paranoid? Just pre-wedding nerves. Man up!
Derrick and I went over the contracts we’d been working on to acquire Hines Electronics. We were on the verge of expanding our company, TEK Medical.
Everything seemed fine, but I decided to make a surprise visit to my fiancée later in the evening to check in and put this prickly feeling to rest. Now was not the time to have any reservations about the woman I was marrying or doubt my best friend, either.
Maybe I was just overreacting due to the bar against sex right before the wedding. How I agreed to that, I’d never know, but she insisted it would make our wedding night all the more special and passionate. I could kind of see her point, so I’d agreed. Maybe the lack of sex was playing with my mind or maybe my gut instinct was out of whack from all the wedding planning.
Derrick went back to his office and my mind ran through a scenario I had recently encountered with the two of them. I’d watched from the doorway. Angelina had been sitting on Derrick’s desk, her long legs crossed, laughing with him. They looked cozy, intimate somehow. I’d almost felt as if I had been intruding on a private moment between lovers. I waved it off in my mind, thinking they are just close because Derrick is my best friend. But after today, I really felt something was up. Perhaps I’m overreacting and it’s something simple like he’s helping her with a wedding gift for me. Maybe jumping to the wrong conclusions was a side effect of my relationship with my high school girlfriend Melissa, ending so badly. The past sure did have a way of rearing its ugly head at the worst times. I hadn’t trusted any woman until Angelina, nor been in any committed relationships. Melissa had done a number on me. I had avoided being hurt at all cost, so I’d kept things casual. That was until Angelina walked into my life, changing everything. She was sweet, honest, compassionate. We’d been together for two years and making her my wife was something I really wanted. She had my heart and I wanted to be the man that made her happy the rest of her life. That’s probably why I hate doubting her so much now.
It was a little after eight when I turned onto Angelina’s street. Parking farther away than I normally would gave me a view of all of the cars. Guilt swept over me as I took the keys out of the ignition. If she caught me, how was I going to explain spying on her?
Oh, honey, that’s right. All of a sudden I don’t trust you.
That would go over well. Maybe I was just having cold feet. Jitters. This could all be in my head and I could just be driving myself crazy for no reason. I’m surely not the first guy to jump to conclusions before the big day.
Then, I saw it. What the fuck? Derrick’s car.
Why was Derrick’s car here?
I couldn’t come up with one good reason why my best man was visiting my fiancée without me at this time of night; why he would be here without telling me. My heart began pounding hard as I attempted to open the car door. My hands were shaking, so it took a couple of tries just to get out of the car. I had to calm down.
Breathe. Just breathe.
There was probably a really good explanation for him being here, even if I couldn’t come up with anything right now. My mind was blank. I was risking making a fool of myself, but hopefully it would turn out to be nothing and we’d all have a pretty good laugh about.
Approaching her house, I decided not to knock on the door. Suspicion drove me to be a Peeping Tom and I went around to the back. I made my way toward the master bedroom. With each approaching step, I felt more nauseous and a little pissed I had resorted to sneaking around her house, behaving like a stalker. This isn’t me. I’m not the jealous type. Of course, I was hurt in high school when Melissa cheated, but that was the past and we were stupid kids. I’d grown up and learned about myself and how to choose the right woman. How had I ended up being so suspicious? If anything, when we went out, Angelina would remark on how many women checked me out. I never even noticed. I only had eyes for her.
I wasn’t sure if I was more upset with myself for not trusting them or with them for seeing each other and keeping it a secret. If they caught me it could create a shit storm, but even with that in mind, I trudged on. Angelina would be pissed to think I didn’t trust her. But I was here and now I had to find out so I could put all of this to rest.
“Yeah, baby, just like that. You…feel…so…good,” she moaned out.
Derrick groaned too, but he didn’t say anything.
Those sounds were all too familiar. Angelina moaning. She was talking to Derrick like she talked to me while we were having sex, telling him just how she liked it. I wanted to cover my ears, but it was way too late, the sounds and words had already permeated my mind.
Peering through the shutters, I could see them. Her on top of him naked, sliding up and down, his hands fondling her breasts.
I wanted to turn away, but I just kept staring at her, at them, in disbelief.
What the fuck was happening?
My worst fucking nightmare was coming true. My mind was telling me to flee, but my feet weren’t cooperating. Taking a few steps back, I sat on one of the lawn chairs. How long had this been happening? How could she do this to me? How could my best friend? They were the two most important people in my life. Every decision I had made for the last two years was based on one of them. I couldn’t think of a day that had gone by in the last two years that I didn’t talk to them, or hang out. Oh, God. This can’t be happening. My breathing was heavy and my heart was crushed. The pain. Is this what a heart attack felt like? Maybe it was all a mistake and my mind was playing tricks on me. I went back to the window. It had to be. I had to be losing it.
Feeling the blood coursing through my body, I wanted to burst in and beat the shit out of Derrick, but I didn’t. My mom had raised me to count to ten before I reacted to anything and I had been doing that ever since I could remember. As I counted, an idea better than beating up Derrick came to mind and I knew just how I was going to play it out.
Taking out my cell phone, I began recording them. Every sordid detail was being captured as they unknowingly put on the show of their lives. I was furious this was happening, but I could already feel the vindication for when I would reveal this footage. Being vengeful wasn’t something I normally resorted to, and I wasn’t proud of myself, but in this case I was willing to make an exception.
Finally, Angelina was done, screaming out, and Derrick was right behind her, finishing a moment later. I quietly maneuvered my way out of the backyard and slowly walked to my car, wondering how this could be real. It couldn’t have actually happened. Looking down at my cell, I saw that I had recorded them for almost five minutes. How had I managed to stand there for that long, I had no idea. It was like I’d had an out-of-body experience, watching myself instead of being there seeing it first-hand. What the hell?
What the fuck?
How long? How fucking long? I have loved her…but it’s all been a lie. If she was going to do this, why my best friend? Why not some random guy I didn’t know and have a business with? A life with. I had to get out of here. I couldn’t stand one more second.
Driving away, my phone lit up with Angelina’s face.
Her fake face.
The face I had fallen in love with.
The face I thought was so beautiful.
The face I had wanted to wake up to every morning for the rest of my life.
The face that had continually lied to me for I don’t know how long.
I let it go to voicemail and continued on my way home. We didn’t live that far apart from one another, only fifteen minutes. In fifteen minutes, I’d be downing a scotch before calling her back. I needed it to steady my nerves. I was going to insist she take the next couple of days off so she could do wedding stuff and offer her a spa day, just so I could have some distance. It was going to be the longest forty-eight hours of my life.
Arriving home, everything seemed so empty. We had planned on living at my place since it was near the beach and renting hers out. I had already been making space for her, rearranging my life for her. All for nothing. She turned us into nothing tonight and the images of her betrayal were seared in my mind. How would I ever get the picture of them together to go away? Hitting the call button on my phone, I could feel the bile rising in my throat just from the thought of talking with her. Hearing the voice that had just screamed out my best friend’s name. She had shattered my world and she had no idea. How had I chosen another woman who would cheat? My stomach was doing somersaults as I listened to the phone ringing.
“There’s my handsome groom. I was beginning to wonder why you didn’t answer my call.”
“I didn’t realize my phone was off,” I said. It was the only thing I could think of. I knew I sounded robotic. I should have practiced what I was going to say. Too late now.
“Are you okay? You sound a little funny.”
“Oh, it’s been a long day. I’m really tired.”
And I just saw you fucking my former best friend. That ought to do it.
“Aww, I wish I was there to make you feel all better.”
“Me too,” I said begrudgingly. No way in hell did I want her here, but I couldn’t say that. “Listen, I think you should take the next couple days off to lower your stress and have plenty of time to do things before the wedding. I also thought you might want to work in some time at the spa.”
Angelina sighed. “That sounds perfect. You always know exactly what I need.”
Apparently I didn’t because if I knew she needed to do my best friend, I would have dumped her a long time ago.
“Well, you know me, I try. It’s my job to make my bride happy.” That last statement made me want to hurl.
“You’re very good at it, baby,” she said.
This was going to be harder than I thought—acting normal. It took every fiber in my being to remain calm. But, I was stronger than my emotions that were fighting to take over. I could do this. No, I would do this no matter what.
“Thanks, babe. I’m really beat. Can we talk tomorrow?”
“Sure, sweetie. You get some rest. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
We said good night and I tossed my phone onto the sofa. I wanted to throw it through the wall, but that wasn’t going to do any good.
I poured myself another drink, drowning myself in the smooth liquid. I really needed to go to the gym and work out my aggressions. My workouts had been intense lately, as I wanted to be in my best form for my bride. She loved my six pack and…who was I kidding? I had been working at perfecting my body, and she had sung my praises, but she had another agenda in mind the entire time. I just couldn’t believe any of this had happened, but all I had to do was access the video on my phone to remind myself of the shit storm from just an hour ago.
How could they do this to me?