I am very excited about this Book Blast!!! Elle has kindly provided chapter one of Shine Not Burn!!!! Be sure to visit Jacqueline's Reads tomorrow, where I will be posting my 6 star review, interview with Elle and giveaway + signed swag maybe? We shall see.
IT HAPPENED IN VEGAS.
I can't be held responsible. Things that happen there are supposed to stay there, right? Right? Yeeeah. Not so much.
Andie's just days away from tying the knot, but there's just ooooone little glitch. Apparently, she's already married. Or someone with her name is married to a guy out in Oregon of all places, and the courthouse won't issue her a marriage license until it's all cleared up. Tripping her way through cow pies and country songs to meet up with a man who gets around places on horseback is her very last idea of how to have a good time, but if she's going to get married, make partner at the firm, and have two point five kids before she's thirty-five, she needs to get to the bottom of this snafu and fix it quick ... before her fiance finds out and everything she's been working toward goes up in flames.
They call me party girl. That’s who the invitation says I am, anyway.
Yo, Party Girl! We. Need. You. Be at the airport tomorrow at 1pm on the dot at the Delta ticket counter or you will henceforth be known as Mud. We’re not kidding. Don’t let us down. And remember, you have permission to have fun and forget about your bullshit boyfriend PUKE because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Over and out. Love, your best friend, Kelly. And no, Candice is not your best friend, I am. Love, Kelly. Your best friend.
I put the invitation down on my desk. “No way,” I said out loud into my office, “not gonna happen.”
“What’s not gonna happen?” asked Ruby, my assistant. Really she’s more like a mother, next door neighbor, confessor, and general pain in the butt all rolled into one, but the nameplate on her desk says she’s Ruby. Executive Legal Secretary at Harvey, Grossman, and Cantor, LLP. She came in carrying a piping hot mug of coffee, and like she does every day, earned my undying gratitude for her uncanny ability to know exactly what I needed when I needed it. Nine a.m. and I was ready to mainline the caffeine at this point.
Bachelorette party invites do that to me.
“I’m not going to this stupid thing,” I said, tucking the invitation under my desk blotter. I could already imagine what Luke would have to say about it. That would be Luke with an L and not with a P. My girlfriends weren't fans.
“For Kelly? Of course you are. She’s your best friend. Do you want me to RSVP for you or are you going to handle it?”
I frowned at her, not quite snatching the cup out of her hands but letting her know she was making me cranky. “No, miss busybody, I do not want you RSVPing for me.” I put the mug closer to my face so I could smell its contents, wishing the act of snorting coffee steam could get the caffeine to go in deeper or make its effects last longer. “I told you. I’m not going.”
She pursed her lips at me in her patented Ruby-ain’t-playin’ look. “Mmm-hmm.” Two head bob-n-weaves later and I was folding. She had serious guilt-trip power, and she wasn’t afraid to use it on me regularly.
“But I don’t want to go,” I whined, getting my pout on and working it with everything I had. “I have two briefs to finish by Tuesday and three hearings this week on motions to dismiss and that’s just the tip of my unholy awful iceberg.” I kicked my desk lightly, wanting to do it harder but loathe to damage my Louboutins. They’d cost me almost a week’s pay.
“You finished those briefs last week, as you well know, and you can send Bradley to the hearings.” She said Bradley with that tone - the one that conveyed how irritating she found him. She always did. I had to really resist the urge to do it myself. He had this way of getting under a person’s skin. Creepy crawly and seriously, ew. Gorgeous clothes and a pretty face could only do so much for a guy when his personality was so gag-worthy. Think snake crossed with honey badger and you’d be close to understanding his style.
I rolled my eyes. “You really need to stop snooping around in my computer files, Rubes.”
“Why? How else am I’m going to keep up with you? If I wait for you to ask me for help I’ll be old and gray before that happens.”
“You already are old and gray,” I said, smiling behind my mug. The glee I was feeling at this point was totally rude, but that’s how I roll. Rockin the Louboutins while harassing senior citizens. Classy with a capital K.
She pointed a very long, very polished fingernail at me. “Girl, you are so lucky you’re sitting behind that desk and not out there in that mess of secretaries with me, otherwise …” She wrinkled up her mouth at me and shook her head slowly a few times.
“Otherwise, what? You’d mess me up? We’d throw down in the copy room?” My grin got bigger.
“Count on it, baby girl,” she said. She turned to leave the office, her panty-hosed legs making loud swishing sounds like they always did. I swear one day the friction between her thighs was going to start a fire in the office.
“Who do I send the RSVP to?” she asked without even looking back at me. “Candice or Kelly?”
I sighed heavily, putting the mug down on the desk blotter.
Ruby wins again. As usual.
“Kelly,” I sighed out. “Send it to Kelly’s work email.”
I spun my chair to the side so I could face my computer, clicking on the keys that would take me to my client files. The impending doom of Kelly’s upcoming bachelorette party hung over my head. I was supposed to be figuring out how I was going to work my way around the 4th DCA’s latest ruling, but the words on the document I’d just opened swam in front of my eyes.
My eyes glazed over and I was fifteen again, in a small back room of my mother’s house with the hulking figure of her boyfriend standing over me, a belt raised above his head.
It crashed down again and again on my back, head, and shoulders. Nasty, hateful words streamed out of his mouth, dank ugliness that coated my skin.
I trembled not with fear but with anger. This had gone on for way too long. The bruises were taking longer to heal. I had to get away. With every beating the words had gotten more hateful, and the belt had come down harder. If I didn’t find a way out of this mess I’d be dead and buried in the backyard before I hit eighteen. Wishing my mother would step in and help me was a waste of my time.
When he left the room that day, I’d drafted the first version of what became known as my lifeplan, the document that laid out the route that would lead me to my goals: independence, safety, and financial success. I couldn’t depend on my weak, co-dependent mother to save me, so I had to save myself.
I shook my head, pulling it out of the clouds and bringing it back to the present. No. I refuse to let those memories ruin my best friend’s party. I took a deep breath and expelled the ghosts haunting the recesses of my mind. I was twenty-five now and my life plan had gotten me this far. Taking a small break to go to Vegas wouldn’t change anything. Taking a little two-day trip to Vegas with my best girlfriends presented zero risk to my lifeplan. I could do this. I would not allow Fear to be my constant companion anymore.
I clicked my mouse, bringing up the document that had to be finished before I got on the plane.