Two Wrongs Make a Right

BOOK: Two Wrongs Make a Right
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Two Wrongs Make a Right

 

By

 

Ann Everett

 

Two Wrongs Make a Right

 

Copyright © 2015 Ann Everett. All Rights Reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events locales, or persons is entirely coincidental. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without the written permission of the copyright owner or the publisher.

 

ISBN-13: 978-1508602866

ISBN-10: 1508602867

 

Images purchased from
Deposit Photos
by
Octagon Lab

 

Cover design:
Octagon Lab

 

Editing: Stephanie Painton

 

Formatting:
AnnMarie Stone

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

My heartfelt thanks to the many wonderful critique partners from
thenextbigwriter.com
that helped me with this book.

Connie Baber, Jeanne Bannon, P. Byrd, Nathan B. Childs, Lucy Crowe, Dagny, John DeBoer, Stefanie Dubois, Irene Hamilton, D.A. Lampi, Linda Lee, J. P. Lundstrom, Gray Martin, Simi Monheit, Mz.Piddles, GPyrenees, Janet Reid, Janet Taylor-Perry and Ashley Wilde.

AND, members of my local critique group, Emily Biasini, Richard Hollingsworth, Noelle Hood, Caryl McAdoo, Ron McAdoo, and Andy Skrzynski.

Big, big thanks to beta readers, Rebecca Ball and Jaclyn Parks.

Thanks also to Tarot readers, Psychicdivined (Denise DivineD), genuineguidance (Juli), ruth666 (Ruth) Any mistakes in readings are the author’s and not the Tarot readers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

EPILOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

 

Quinn Dorsey had kissed her share of toads, and now, months before her thirty-fifth birthday, her efforts would finally pay off.

Brad squirmed in his seat and didn’t complain about money or work. Yes, tonight, he’d pop the question. Why else bring her to Chez Suzette in the middle of the week?

Not that she was counting, but after dating for three years, two months, and twenty-one days, she expected a ring. It didn’t matter that hot desire no longer shot straight to lady-town when he kissed her, or she didn’t get googly-eyed when she saw him. She was too old for that. Those emotions ran rampant in her twenties.

A vivid image of Andrew popped into her head. He could kiss and burn her to the ground in a split second. But when Andy moved on, Quinn swore off men for a while. Until Kevin. She’d not thought of him in a long time, and wondered why these former lovers came to mind. Maybe because she was about to be off the market and a trip down memory lane made it that much sweeter. After devoting three years to Kevin, he dumped her for a twenty-year-old yoga instructor. Girls with the flexibility of a Slinky got a man’s attention.

Quinn cast a loving look at Brad while he studied the menu. An attorney with a prestigious firm, no doubt he’d make partner someday. Quinn’s mother had been quick to point out that his condo near the University campus was a more upscale location than Quinn’s apartment. Yes, Brad was the complete package in her mother’s eyes.

He shot hoops with his buddies on Sunday afternoons, and took part in charity events, but he also treated
every
dime as if it were the last one he’d get. No, not perfect, but close.

Smiling, he tilted the menu down and peered over it. “What are you having? Oh, never mind. You always get the same thing.” He closed the folder, placed it on the table, and leaned in close. “But if you want to try something new, go for it. Tonight, the sky’s the limit. You should even save room for that dessert you love so much.”

Meringue and caramel floating in a pool of Crème Anglaise. The image made her mouth water. Could the night be more perfect? Candlelight shimmered and reflected off the crystal chandeliers. Soft music drifted through the room, carrying wonderful aromas on every note. Red roses in silver vases sat on tables draped in black satin. Yes, there was romance in the air, and a ring in Brad’s pocket.

The waiter brought wine and took their orders. Brad rattled off the choices in perfect French. Perhaps if she got him to recite food items during sex, it would be hotter because that was the one department in which he needed help. He’d become more interested in his own satisfaction than hers. But she’d never find a man who looked more handsome in a suit, or one with better grooming. Every hair in place. Coal black, with a natural wave skimming his forehead, just right. With his square jaw and blue eyes, if he donned a cape, he might leap tall buildings.

When she pictured their children—because she wanted kids—they got his looks and her personality. Her original plan: Married by thirty, two little ones by thirty-five. She’d given her best shot with Andrew and Kevin. But as the saying goes, third time’s a charm, and with the family curse of early menopause looming, an engagement couldn’t happen at a better time.

Questions jumped in her brain. Location of the ceremony? What china pattern? Where would they live? Well, that was easy. Since her apartment was a rental, his condo was the only choice. It wasn’t as convenient to her work, but she submitted her newspaper column electronically so fighting traffic one day a week when she went to the office wouldn’t be a big deal.

The waiter returned with their food. Quinn took her first bite, and wondered if she should mention the brochure she’d seen in Brad’s open briefcase. She hadn’t snooped, it was in plain view. New York City. She’d never been, but wanted to go, and said as much when the subject of vacations came up at the last Christmas party. She scolded herself for not giving him enough credit in the romance department. Here she was at her favorite restaurant. The one he never chose because of the expense, and he planned a honeymoon in the Big Apple. She forked a spear of steamed asparagus, dripping with butter.

He swirled the wine in his glass as if judging it, then focused on her again. “Have I told you how nice you look tonight?” Holding her gaze for a moment, he sipped the Cabernet Sauvignon.

“No. But thank you. You clean up pretty well yourself.” How odd he was dishing out compliments, which convinced her he was putting forth extra effort to make this night special.

“Is that a new dress?”

“Yes. I splurged.”

As much as she appreciated the pleasantries, conversation wasn’t going the way she’d imagined, but he was probably nervous. She waited for him to say something else, but he didn’t. He poked another bite into his mouth and chewed it, as if making sure he got his money’s worth. Slumping in the chair, she reassured herself. No need to rush things. Let him take his time. It’d already been one thousand, one hundred seventy-six days since their first date, so what were a few more minutes?

Holding his fork in midair, he bobbed it up and down to punctuate his question. “What are you working on?”

Unbelievable
. He never asked about her articles. Never even read her column. This was an opportunity to steer him in the right direction. “Since Valentine’s is coming up, I’m doing a piece on love, romance, and happily-ever-after.”
Perfect. What better segue into a proposal?

Her mind raced. Since he’d brought up dessert, perhaps he’d made arrangements to have the ring hidden in a pastry? So unlike him, but so creative. Her heart fluttered. The anticipation was killing her, so she concentrated on less talking and more eating.

Brad must have had the same idea because he gave full attention to his food.

Once they finished, the waiter came to take their plates, and asked for dessert choices. Quinn opened her mouth to order, but Brad held up his hand. “Can you give us a few minutes?”

“Yes, sir. Signal when you’re ready.”

Alone again, Brad stared into Quinn’s eyes. Her heart hammered against her rib cage. This was it. The moment she’d waited for. The one to erase the years she’d wasted on Andrew and Kevin and all the other toads. She sat up straight, licked her lips, and gazed back at Brad waiting for the question.

“I’ve had something on my mind for days.”

She pulled her brows together. An odd way to start a proposal, but this was a big step.

“We’ve been together a long time.” Now it was his turn to take a deep breath. He leaned forward. “I’ve been offered a position in New York. I’m taking it.”

Inside her head, the world went silent. No more chatter. No more music. Just her brain trying to process his words. She searched his face for the slightest hint of love and there was none. “I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you asking me to move with you? Because I can’t leave Dad right now. I mean, he’s not finished with chemo, and when he is there’s no guarantee he’ll go into remission.”

“I know.”

She hesitated. Waited for him to talk her into it, or suggest joining him at a later date, but he didn’t. She dropped her hands into her lap, laced her fingers so tightly they tingled. “Well, I must be the dumbest smart girl in the world. I expected a proposal. But you’re breaking up with me.”

“I don’t see a choice. You can’t move and long distance relationships never work.”

Her throat closed off the same way it had the day her dad told her he was moving out. “What was this all about?” She waved her hand around the room. “You assume breaking up in my favorite restaurant would make everything okay? I’d say, oh, great, Brad. Good for you. Go to New York and have a wonderful life—without me.” There was bound to be a good argument to offer, but for the life of her, she couldn’t think of anything else to say. She scooted her chair away from the table and stood.

He rose from his seat. “Wait. Please, sit down. This was a hard decision.”

“Oh really? Which part? Taking the job or dumping me?”

“Both.”

Collapsing back into the chair, she tried to keep calm but her emotional investment pounded in her head. It was over without a payoff. No proposal. No marriage. No family. Just a penny-pinching-good-looking-ladder-climbing-fool. No, she’d have to claim the fool part because the one thing she knew in life was, men leave. Andrew left. Kevin left. Dad left. Why’d she think Brad would be different? But there it was, that tiny glimmer of hope. He could still come through and at least try to convince her to go. But he didn’t. He stood there as if waiting for her to make the next move. “I can’t believe this. I thought you loved me.”

He sat again. “I did—I mean, I do.”

From the look on his face, it’d been over for months. Maybe he had never loved her. Tears burned her eyes, but she wouldn’t allow him to see her fall apart in public. Probably why he’d brought her here. Well, if he thought he could rip her heart out with no consequences, he was mistaken. “I guess it’s settled. You’re starting over and leaving me behind.”

His eyes wandered to his drink, the flowers, over her shoulder. “I knew you wouldn’t go, and that’s why I never brought it up. But as much as I care for you, I can’t pass up this deal.” His attention landed back on her again, and he smiled. “There is a silver lining. My condo will be available. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get out of that dreadful part of town. I’ll give you a great price.”

The announcement had her blinking and wondering why she didn’t slap him. “Are you kidding me? You want me to buy your condo?” Fire burned in the pit of her stomach like she’d swallowed a hot coal. The nerve of him. Then she got control. “That isn’t going to happen, but thanks for the
generous
offer. Now I’m ready to order dessert. You said money was no object, right?”

“Yes. Get your heart’s desire. I’m glad you’re being reasonable. Didn’t much think you’d take me up on the condo offer, but if you change your mind, I’m not putting it on the market for a couple of weeks.” He motioned for the waiter.

Pushing aside her disappointment, she decided payback would taste sweeter than anything she ordered. She beamed up at the server. “I want a slice of Charlotte a la Framboise, two dozen Madeleine’s, twelve profiteroles, three chocolate crêpes, and six pistachio éclairs.” She closed the menu and stood. “Oh, I almost forgot. Also a Floating Island and three bottles of Dom Pérignon Rose 2002. All to go, please.”

BOOK: Two Wrongs Make a Right
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