Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(10)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(10)
Author: Catherine Bybee

The closer the evening closed in, the more appealing that became. “I need to make sure everything is okay here.”

“No, you don’t. Your dad and I will see that everything is taken care of for you.”

“I can do it.”

She patted his arm. “You were always so independent. Never letting anyone do for you what you could do for yourself. Let us do this for you. This isn’t where you want to be tonight. Corrie’s parents are already gone, packing up.”

“I thought they were waiting for her to come back.” To drag her to the altar, not that Victor would accept that now.

His mom looked at her feet, avoiding his eyes.


“She’s not coming back. Noel, is it? Her friend?”

Victor nodded.

“She let us know that she’s okay. And that she asked her friends to pack all her stuff and send it with her parents, or ship it home.”

Victor turned toward the ocean breeze and caught the last rays of sun on the horizon. What a coward, not even willing to face him. “You were right.”

“I was?”

“Yeah. You said she was too young.”

His mom stood in front of him and forced him to look at her.

On a deep sigh, she said, “I also told you she wasn’t the right woman for you, despite her age. But that doesn’t make today any easier.” She kissed his cheek. “Now, go with your brother. Let your dad and I handle this crowd.”

Victor watched as his mom approached his brother and pointed toward him. Next thing he knew, his brother and friends were pushing him down the beach to a hotel that didn’t house anyone who knew him, Corrie, or the whole sordid mess.

“Runaway bride. I kid you not.” Shannon sat on an abandoned lounge chair outside her hotel, away from the party atmosphere inside the restaurant and bar, and FaceTimed Avery.

“No way.”

“Yeah, I saw her less than an hour before the ceremony, in her dress. She bailed.”

“Dude, that’s rough.”

Shannon sighed. “Yeah, I hope she’s okay.”

Avery moved the phone closer. “Her? What about him?”

Shannon shook her head. “He’s a total tool. Didn’t deserve her. Completely full of himself.”


“Yeah, he reminded me of Paul. Good-looking and knows it. Life is all about work and the next thing that needs to be conquered. Only she refused to be one of them. We could all take a lesson.”

“Still, what happens when someone flees on their wedding day?”

“I’m guessing they’re both getting drunk right about now.”

“Probably,” Avery said.

“Anyway . . . I can’t wait for you to get here.”

Avery grinned. “Meet anyone you might want to have a baby with?”

Shannon stretched out on the beach bed. “I haven’t even looked.”

“Not at all?”

“No,” she admitted. “I’ve been wrapped up in this wedding . . . or lack thereof. Besides, I told you I wanted to wait until we’re at the other hotel to look. People here will recognize me.”

“Right, right. When are you going to the new place?”

“The day after tomorrow, when you fly in. I’m planning to spend the whole time on the beach until you get here. Can you believe I’ve been here a full day and haven’t touched the water yet?” She turned the camera around in hopes she could capture the way the moon danced on the sea. “It’s remarkable here.”

“I’ll be there before you know it. I’ll call when I land.”

“Sounds good. Safe flight.”

Avery blew her a kiss and disconnected the call.

What a day. Very few that compared.

“Look who we have here!”

Shannon jumped, the voice behind her familiar.

“Good God. You scared me.”

Victor stood behind her, his shirt unbuttoned to midchest, pants rolled up and damp from barefoot walks on the water’s edge. The flower that once was upright on his lapel was now smashed against his shirt, with what looked like duct tape holding it on. The perfect picture of the wounded groom.

Turning away, she sat back on the lounge chair and watched the small waves push against the shore.

“Ms. Annoyed is scared,” he mocked her.

Yup. He was drunk. Shannon couldn’t blame him for that. “You should probably find your room and sleep that off.”


“Bossy,” she corrected. “And sober. So you might wanna listen. You wouldn’t want to stumble on the wrong beach into some kinda drug cartel situation.” She glanced over her shoulder. Saw him swaying as he stood. “Good Lord. Where is your brother? Isn’t he watching out for you?”

Victor shook his head. “I told him I was going to bed.”

She looked around. “Did you get lost on the way to your room?”

He glanced left, then right. “Misplaced.”

Another look around and she knew she wasn’t going to find any help. Pushing off her comfortable perch, she made a come-hither motion with her hand in an effort to direct him to his room.

Halfway there, he turned toward the noise of the bar. “I want another drink.”

“That’s a bad idea.”

“I think it’s a great idea.” His words exited his mouth in a slow, steady pace.

She remembered her morning and the need to phone a friend for a hangover cure and paused. The image of Victor spending his morning cussing the world probably wasn’t a horrible thing.

She smiled, started toward the bar. “I’m going on record that this is your idea.”

He grinned. “I’ll blame you in the morning.”

With that comment, she would see that he did.

They worked their way into the bar. It was late for the resort town, even on a Saturday. Seemed the town wanted to close up before midnight. So things were winding down but not completely empty at eleven thirty. Shannon slid onto a bar stool while Victor did the same with a little less grace. “My friend here would like a shot of mezcal,” she said for him.

Victor’s eyes opened a little wider. “Two,” he said, pointing to the two of them.

Shannon grinned. “I’ll take a vodka soda.” And when Victor turned his head away, she motioned for the bartender to hold the vodka. With a wink, the man went to fill their order.

“I did not get married today,” he said, as if that was news to her.

She couldn’t help but be amused by his drunkenness. “I know that.”

“Flew the coop without saying goodbye. Left a-afloat in the sea all alone.”

“Dramatic much?” she asked with an eye roll.

“Hey, you don’t know.” His elbow slipped on the side of the bar, but he managed to correct himself and look her in the eye. “She could have told me.”

“Maybe she worried you’d talk her out of it.”

“Of course I would have. I’m a very good negotiator.”

“Is that right?”

The bartender brought their drinks, setting two shots of mezcal in front of her unexpected drinking partner.

“Then she was right to leave the way she did.”

He frowned. “Hey, whose side are you on?”

Shannon lifted her hands in the air. “I’m just the photographer. I’m not on anyone’s side.” But if she had to pick . . . Team Corrie would win.

He lifted his drink and brought it to his lips.

His expression matched how she’d felt the night before when she’d tasted mezcal for the first time.

“What the hell is that?” He set it down and stared at the oversize shot glass.

She pushed the glass closer to him. “It’s a specialty. Trust me, it gets better.”

He picked it up but didn’t taste it right away. “I’m just saying, she could have done it different.”

Shannon sipped her club soda. “According to the song, there are ‘Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,’” she said, remembering the lyrics.

Victor laughed, concentrated really hard for a few seconds, then said, “She just slid out the back door.”

Catching on, Shannon smiled. “Now it’s time for you to make a new plan.”

Victor hummed the chorus, and they both took turns butchering the lines to the song.

The bartender chuckled at their barroom singing.

They finished the chorus laughing.

Victor tipped the rest of his shot back, squeezed his eyes, and shook his head several times. “You’re right,” he squeaked out. “Not that bad the second time.”

Those wouldn’t be his thoughts in the morning. “I guess this means you’re going home early.”

He took a lazy look around the bar. “No reason to stay,” he said. “This might come as a surprise to you, but I don’t vacation well anyway.”

She mustered up the best look of sarcasm she could. “You don’t say?”

His scowl was lost with the half-mast eyes and his elbow sliding off the bar. “You know . . .” He licked his lips. “You’re bitchy.”

She placed a hand over her chest. “I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me. Coming from you, I’ll take that as a compliment.”

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