Home > California Girls(11)

California Girls(11)
Author: Susan Mallery

She searched online for ideas about how to do it and settled on something simple. A couple of minutes on the Vistaprint website later, she had postcards ordered. She paid for rush delivery, then made a note to swing by the post office to pick up stamps.

With that completed, she was ready to be done, at least in the short term. A girl should only have to face so much wedding deconstruction in a day, she thought grimly. She would pick it back up tomorrow. It was a beautiful Sunday. She should go do something, although she had no idea what. Normally she and Glen would have had plans. Or she would have hung out with Finola. If she’d known she would have a free day, she would have made arrangements to spend time with one of her friends. Well, that and maybe back the car over Glen.

Before she could figure out if there were any movies she still wanted to see, someone knocked on her door. She opened it and tried not to look as surprised as she felt.

“Again?” she asked before she could stop herself.

Daniel flashed her a sexy grin. “I’m happy to see you, too.”

He brushed past her as if he always dropped by on a daily basis and walked into her apartment.

“How’s it going?” he asked when she’d closed the door and turned to stare at him.

“I haven’t broken another phone, but only because I remembered in time. Glen is being a dick.”

“Not a surprise. I take he won’t help with undoing the wedding?”

She nodded. “I texted with him and he wasn’t exactly cooperative. He said he wouldn’t do any of the work but he did offer to send me a check.”

“Where are you on things?”

“I’ve made a few lists. Basically it’s planning a wedding in reverse. I’ve read the articles you brought. Thanks for that. They really helped. Now I get to plow through my contracts and figure out who gets what.”

She felt awkward sharing this with him, but figured it was okay—they’d almost been family.

“I also have to let all the guests know the wedding is canceled.” She wrinkled her nose. “Not exactly my idea of a good time.”

“Are you calling everyone?”

“God, no! That would make things worse. I don’t want to have to hear their pity or have anyone tell me they ‘just knew’ something was wrong.” She used air quotes. “I ordered cards on Vistaprint and will mail them out when they get here. I still have the database for the mailing labels.”

It occurred to her she should invite him to sit down, only that felt weird.

“Why are you here?” she blurted. “I mean that in a nice, curious way, but it is, you know, odd.”

“I’m worried about you. What Glen did is unforgivable.”

Which meant what? He was picking up the slack? Acting as a stand-in for her fiancé? Being the good brother?

“Daniel, you’ve been great. The smoothie from yesterday should put you firmly in line for sainthood, but I’m dealing. It’s hard, I feel sad and stupid and angry all at the same time. Eventually the anger will fade and I’ll start to miss him, although that hasn’t kicked in yet.”

“Still want him dead?”

“Not dead so much as mangled.”

“I can respect that.”

They looked at each other. She turned away first.

“So, um, did he happen to say why he didn’t want to marry me anymore?” she asked, hoping she sounded curious rather than pathetic. “He wasn’t exactly forthcoming in his texts.”

Daniel shoved his hands into his jeans pockets. “I’m sorry, but he didn’t say anything other than it was over for him. I wish I knew more.”

“I know. And hey, you hit him, so that was nice. I’m sure when things calm down, he and I will talk and I’ll get some answers. Or not.”

“I’m sure you will. So, I want to help with undoing the wedding.”

“Thanks, but not necessary.”

“You shouldn’t have to do it yourself. Give me something easy, say the contract with the photographer. I’ll call them tomorrow and work things out. If I do a good job, you’ll promise to trust me with something more challenging.” His dark gaze seemed sincere. “I mean it. You don’t have to do this all alone.”

Which sounded really nice, especially when he looked all three-day scruffy with his beard and Sunday-relaxed in jeans and an LA Dodgers T-shirt.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked. “Brother guilt?”

“That and because I want to.”

“Why on earth would you want to help me unplan my wedding?”

He looked at her and smiled. “Because I like you.” He held out his hand. “Give me that contract and no one will get hurt.”

He liked her? He liked her? What did that mean? Nothing, of course, she told herself. He meant in an almost sister-in-law way. Daniel was sexy and dangerous with his motocross business and his tattoos and swagger. She was the kind of woman who attracted the sucky Glens of the world. Besides, no and no. He hadn’t meant it any way other than to be nice. He liked her the way people liked cucumbers. They were acceptable and innocuous. She was like a cucumber.

Okay, that sounded strange, even for her. She sighed. The whole breakup had affected more than her heart, she thought sadly. She was starting to lose her mind.

“One photographer contract coming up,” she said.

He glanced at his watch. “I’ll get it later,” he said. “We need to go.”

“Go where?”

“The Dodger game. It starts in an hour so we have to hustle. Come on. Do you have a Dodger baseball hat? If you don’t, it’s okay. I have an extra one in the truck.” His smile returned. “We’re on the good side of the stadium—the third base line. The sun will be at our backs, so no squinting to see what’s going on.”

She stared at him. A Dodger game? She’d never been into baseball but it beat sitting home alone and moping.

“You’re being really nice to me,” she said, as she grabbed her purse.

“I know. I’m one of the good guys.”

He spoke lightly, as if joking, but his words hit her in the heart and the gut. She’d assumed Glen was a good guy. She’d assumed it so much, she’d allowed herself to fall in love with him and plan a future together. Only he’d betrayed her. He’d abandoned her and their future without even bothering to speak to her directly, which made everything worse.

She tried to shake off the thoughts. No more Glen suffering—at least not today. She’d been offered an afternoon watching baseball, which was an unexpected distraction. She needed to throw herself into the moment.

As they walked to his truck, she hid her smile. “So baseball. That’s the outdoor one with the bats, right?”

Daniel looked at her. “You’re kidding, right? Please be kidding. You understand the concept of the game.”

She smiled as she climbed into the passenger seat. “Of course I’m kidding. I know baseball is the one where they kick the ball.”

“You’re killing me, Ali.”

“Then my work here is done.”

* * *

Zennie arrived at the park a few minutes early. She used the time to warm up and stretch. She’d been a bit aggressive at yoga yesterday, stretching past her comfort zone, and was paying for it this morning.

She was also tired. She hadn’t slept well, probably because she’d been thinking about her abbreviated date with Clark. It wasn’t that she was going to miss him as much as the idea that there was something wrong with her. Which there wasn’t.

Right on time, Bernie pulled up in her sensible sedan. Zennie walked over to meet her.

Zennie Schmitt and Bernadette Schmahl had been roommates their freshman year at UCLA. Bernie had known she was going to be a teacher while Zennie had been equally determined to become a nurse. They were about the same height and size, they loved to work out and they both thought the old Monty Python TV show was the funniest thing ever. It had been roommate love at first sight for both of them. The only difference between them was their looks. Zennie was a boring blue-eyed blonde while Bernie was “the pretty friend” with high cheekbones and dark tan skin.

They’d stayed close after college and Zennie had been Bernie’s maid of honor at her wedding to Hayes. The two friends ran together every Sunday morning—sometimes just the two of them, sometimes in a group. The only time they’d had to take a break from running had been three years ago when Bernie had been diagnosed with uterine cancer. She’d endured surgery and chemo and had survived both. Now she was happy, healthy and moving on with her life.

“I appreciate you showing up,” Bernie said with a grin as they started their run with a slow jog. Their route would take them along the Woodley Park/Lake Balboa loop. It was just over five miles long and relatively flat. Not exactly challenging, but today’s run was about hanging out as much as it was about getting exercise.

The morning was still cool and the sky was clear. Later it would warm up but right now the low sixties felt really good.

“Why wouldn’t I show up?” Zennie asked.

“I saw the surf report. You could be out on the waves right now.”

“I’d rather be with you.”

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