Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(13)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(13)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Not that it mattered. She’d likely never see either one of them again by morning.

Chapter Eight

Victor noticed Shannon sitting in the open dining area of the hotel the next morning, drinking coffee and reading on her e-reader. He’d spent most of the previous day licking his metaphorical wounds and nursing a headache. Kurt and Arwin flew out the day before, and Justin was an hour away from jumping into a taxi to the airport.

It was Monday, and most, if not all, of the wedding guests had already left the country.

Dressed in cotton pants that went midcalf and a light shirt, she looked like she was dressed for a long plane ride home. As much a pain in the ass as the woman had been, he felt compelled to say goodbye. After all, he was the reason she was there.

He walked up quietly behind her. “If it isn’t the woman who fed me mezcal.”

The sound of his voice made her jump.

Too bad she wasn’t holding her coffee.

“You have got to stop doing that.”

Without an invitation, he sat and smiled. She took a deep breath and looked away, came painfully close to rolling her eyes. For some reason, he appreciated the fact she held back and wondered just how much it would take for her to disregard him with such a gesture.

“Please, sit down,” she said.

He glanced at his chair. “Thank you.”

She set her e-reader aside. “I thought for sure you’d be back at the office by now.”

So did he. “I couldn’t fly yesterday even if I’d found a flight.”


He didn’t miss the tiny shine in the corner of her eye.

“No. I had one too many the other night. Inflicting that on whoever had the misfortune of sitting next to me on the flight home was more than I could take after my flight here.”

She smiled, briefly, and lifted her chin. “I’m glad to hear you’ve evolved since Friday.”

Unable to help himself, he laughed.

Her smile returned.

Victor felt a twist in his gut, a pull to something he didn’t want to name. “I guess you’re leaving today,” he said.

She shrugged. “I am.”

He nodded. “Justin informed me you made sure I didn’t decide to go for a late night swim.”

“It was tempting. But then I realized you wouldn’t be able to pay me if you swallowed too much water.”

“Self-preserving. Very smart of you.”

“It’s a gift.”

When the woman wasn’t tossing barbs at him, she was beautiful. Perfect lines in her face, high cheekbones . . . he couldn’t tell if her olive skin was from an ancestor or the byproduct of living in Southern California. Not anything like Corrie. Nothing like anyone he’d been attracted to before.

What was he thinking? He wasn’t attracted.

Victor shook his head and stood. “Well, I saw you sitting here and thought I’d at least say goodbye.”

She stood with him and extended her hand. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry things didn’t go as planned this weekend.”

Her fingers were long, elegant. Just like the woman. Disappointment saying goodbye was an emotion he had no business feeling. Yet there it was, like a lump in his chest.

“Are you?”

Her smile cracked. “No. But it seemed the right thing to say. I am sorry for the heartache. That’s never easy, even if it’s for the right reason.”

Victor realized he was still shaking her hand and let go.

“Goodbye, Victor. Good luck to you.”

“Goodbye, Shannon.” And because it was the appropriate thing to do once you said goodbye, Victor walked away. When he turned to take a last look, Shannon sharply moved her gaze to her coffee.

Shannon moved up the beach by half a mile and settled into one of only two second-story suites the boutique hotel offered. With the uninterrupted views of the ocean and a private patio that had its own plunge pool, this hotel was exactly what she’d envisioned while staying in Tulum for a vacation. As planned, there wasn’t one familiar face from the Brookses’ wedding party. If any of the family or guests had decided to extend their stay, they hadn’t changed hotels. Most people wouldn’t. Then again, most people didn’t plan on the nefarious actions Shannon had in mind for the rest of her stay.

She was on the balcony when she heard Avery enter the room. Shannon stood from the shady spot she’d propped herself up on to greet her friend. Avery held her welcome drink in one hand and her purse in the other.

“Eeeeek. This place is the shit,” Avery said, tossing her purse aside and offering Shannon a one-arm hug.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

The bellhop placed Avery’s bag in the room and asked if there was anything else he could assist with. Shannon tipped the man and closed the door behind him.

“Look at this room.”

It was pretty nice. A king-size bed and an additional twin was the best they could do without having separate rooms. If Shannon found a baby daddy, it would do well to have a roommate to fall back on if she needed the man to go to his own room when they were done.

“Check out the balcony.”

Avery didn’t need to be asked twice. She wandered outside and tossed her arms wide. “A private pool?”

More like an oversize hot tub, but yeah. “A great place to wash the salt water off after a day in the ocean.”

“This is fabulous.”

They talked briefly about her flight and drive from the airport. Then the conversation turned toward the nonwedding.

“. . . so I had the bartender pour him several shots of mezcal, and before you knew it, he was passed out on the bar.”


“I took great pleasure in thinking he was hungover the next day.”

They were sitting on their balcony, enjoying the ocean breeze and shade of the palapa.

“I didn’t know you had such a merciless side.”

“Me either,” Shannon said. “I kinda like it.”

Avery grinned. “You’re either getting to an age where pretending has grown old or I’m rubbing off on you.”

“I think it’s the former. I don’t want a child of mine growing up feeling like they have to hold their emotions back all the time.”

“Like we did.”

Shannon regarded Avery. “I doubt you did a lot of holding back.”

“Yeah, I sucked at it. Still do.”

“It’s served you well.”

Avery swung her legs over the chaise and stood. “Let’s find our swimsuits and hit the bar. See if there are any eligible bartenders.”

Shannon’s stomach twisted.

Avery hesitated. “Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

“No. Of course not.”

“You can, you know. Anytime.”

Shannon narrowed her eyes. “You came here to help me find a baby daddy, not talk me out of it.”

Avery held up both hands. “I know . . . but if you change your mind, at any time—”

“I want a child, and I’m not willing to wait for Mr. Forever to give one to me when he doesn’t seem to be out there.”

Avery stood. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

Shannon followed her into the room.

Let’s do this.

Victor sat on his perch, watching life go on without him.

Justin had left, the rest of his family . . . people he called friends. And he was on his honeymoon alone.

When he called his office and told his assistant to reschedule all his appointments, the ones he had no right having in the first place, Stephanie asked if he was okay. By now his whole office knew about his lack of a wife. He imagined the place would buzz with gossip while he was gone and turn to silence when he returned.

Hopefully by the time he flew home, he’d have his head wrapped around the entire ordeal and put it behind him.

He attempted to call Corrie once. Needless to say, she didn’t pick up.

Probably for the best. He wasn’t sure what he would say to her. As the days passed, he started to see the wisdom in his family’s words. He looked at pictures she’d taken of the two of them, mainly selfies she’d sent him in texts. Where he was starting to see a little wear around the corners of his eyes, she wouldn’t be looking for Botox for a good twenty years.

What had he been thinking?

His grand plan.

Get married, have a couple kids . . .

Coming home to a large, empty house every night had grown old. He’d managed girlfriends over the years, but few tolerated his busy work schedule. His ambition wasn’t solely on pleasing a woman. He treated them well, the few he’d seen a few months at a time. He wasn’t a cheater. In fact, he never dated two women at the same time, even if they were in a noncommitted relationship. It wasn’t his style.

Truth was, he didn’t have time to juggle women. Dealing with one was time-consuming enough.

Maybe Justin was right.

Maybe Victor needed to take a hard look at his life and see exactly where his priorities were.


It fulfilled him. Excited him to make deals and watch his portfolio explode.

It wasn’t like he’d grown up poor. His mom and dad gave them a comfortable life. Yearly vacations, sometimes road trips and camping, a few times they’d flown to his uncle’s home in Idaho.

When was the last time he sat in front of a campfire and watched the stars?

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