Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(6)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(6)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Shannon couldn’t stop from laughing. “So that is him,” she said more to herself than the stranger standing beside her.

He gave her a sly look out of the corner of his eyes. “You must be a friend of Corrie’s.”

“I’m the photographer, actually.”

He sat down. “Then you’re not friends with either of them.”

“You could say that.”

When their drinks arrived, he lifted his glass and said, “Cheers.”

She took a healthy drink and tried not to cough. They poured their tequila with a heavy hand in Mexico. Something Shannon was sure Avery would enjoy, once she arrived.

“I’m Justin, by the way.”

She shook his hand. “Shannon.” His eyes crinkled as he looked at her.

Cute. Had to be in his midforties, with a tiny amount of gray showing up in his hair. He’d be someone she might try to get to know better if she wasn’t first, working, and second, looking for a baby daddy who could never learn her name.

She instantly removed him from her list of prospects.

He turned his attention toward the bride and groom as they walked around the room. “Since you don’t know either party well, what are your thoughts on the happy couple?” The sarcasm that laced his question had her answering honestly.

“To start with, he’s too old for her.”

Justin nodded and sipped his drink.

“And then there’s the fact he’s an asshole.”

Justin choked on his cocktail, spitting some of it on his shirt.

Shannon handed him her napkin while he recovered.


He was laughing. “I thought you said you didn’t know him.”

“I don’t.” Over the next five minutes, she explained how he’d sat next to her on the airplane and his behavior the entire time they were on the flight. “He never told me his name, so I had no idea he was the groom.”

By now she had Justin’s full attention.

“That sounds like Victor.”

“Is that his name?” He looked like a Victor.

“You really don’t know anyone here.”

“Only Corrie and her mother.”

He twisted in his seat and encouraged her to do the same. “Okay, then. Let me point out the party. Beverly Harkin you know, beside her is her husband, Dale. They like to act like they have money, but from what I can tell, they don’t. I’m guessing they want this marriage more than anyone to somehow elevate their world by their daughter getting married to Victor.” Justin paused. “Dale seems to like a stiff brandy, or three.”

“I take it Victor has money.”

Justin shrugged. “Yeah, you could say that.” He continued around the room. “Grandparents of Corrie, I don’t remember if they’re Dad’s family or Mom’s. I don’t know them. The giggling girls continually taking selfies are Corrie’s wedding party, Barbie, Bitsy, and Bimbo.”

Shannon’s mouth dropped open wide.

“Sorry,” he immediately said, looking anything but. “They all arrived last night like they’d just been to a frat party. It’s just their age, I suppose.”

Shannon let the insult slide. “Who are those people in the corner?”

The older man she’d pointed out seemed to know she was talking about him from across the room and looked their way. Justin lifted his glass to the man and smiled. “Parents of the groom. Scott and Renee Brooks.”

They didn’t fit the groom. “They seem so normal.” Unlike Victor.

“About as American grown as they get.” He paused, took a breath. “And those two guys over there are old-time friends of Victor’s.” He went on to point out a grandmother and an aunt on Victor’s side, along with a few cousins.

Altogether there were eleven people there for the groom and at least twenty for the bride. A large group for a rehearsal dinner.

Justin turned around and ordered more drinks.

“No, I shouldn’t.”

“Why? You’re not taking pictures tonight, right?”

The bartender hesitated.

“Okay, but just one more.”

“There you go. We’re laying bets on how long the marriage will last. Did you want to join the pool?”

“That’s mean.”

“No, it’s real. I give it six months.”

Shannon licked the salt on the rim of her glass. Considered her bet. “I’ll be surprised if they make it through the honeymoon.”

“Wow, that’s rough.”

Not really. Her memory of the earlier airplane ride and the conversation she’d overheard with Victor on the phone surfaced. “Do you know where they’re going on their honeymoon?”

“Somewhere here in Tulum. Why?”

“For how long?”

“A week. Then they’re off to Cozumel, or maybe it was Grand Cayman . . . I’m not sure.”

Then how was Victor going to make his Tuesday meeting back in California? Ditch his wife? “Such an asshole,” she whispered.

Justin laughed again.

Annoyed, watching as Victor and Corrie walked the room, Shannon turned around in her seat and sipped her cocktail.

She’d seen enough to know what to anticipate the next day if they moved everything inside. The space would be tight, and she’d likely have to block someone’s view of the ceremony in order to capture the right photographs, but there wasn’t a way around that. With any luck the rain would stop and give them more space outside. And by this time tomorrow, it would all be over and she could add a shot to her margarita and move on with her own personal plans.

“You never told me who you were to the bridal party,” Shannon said once Justin turned around to join her in their drinks.

“I’m the best man.”

It was Shannon’s turn to spit out her drink. “What?”

He took a napkin from the bartender’s stack and handed it to her with a wink.

“Yeah. Sorry. Maybe I should have said that first.”

Shannon pushed her drink aside. “You think? I’m dishing out crap on your best friend and you’re playing along.” She wasn’t sure who the bigger jerk was now . . . him or the groom. Or maybe it was her.

“You’re only speaking the truth. We all know Victor’s an asshole, but we love him anyway. I mean, c’mon, a destination wedding? Who does that? Pretentious and self-centered people who could care less about what the guests have to go through to get there.” Justin smiled with a wink. “Not to mention Mexico. Half of his family refused to come because they were worried the cartel would somehow kidnap them and hold them hostage or some such stupid shit.”

“Things like that do happen.”

Justin rolled his eyes.

She stood from her bar stool and straightened her shirt. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go back to my hotel now and avoid putting my foot any farther down my mouth.” She grabbed her drink, needing it now more than ever, and turned to make her exit.

Then slammed straight into Victor, the asshole’s, chest.

Her drink went flying, soaking the man’s dress shirt. The glass hit the floor but, surprisingly, didn’t shatter.

Once again, her lack of grace coupled with humiliation, and Shannon found herself apologizing. “I am so sorry.” She reached behind her, past a laughing Justin, to the stack of napkins. She dabbed Victor’s chest. “I didn’t see you.”

“I’m fine.” He took napkins from her hands and worked the moisture off his shirt while she continued to wipe with napkins Justin handed to her.

“You shouldn’t sneak up on people.”

Victor paused. “You pour your drink on me and it’s my fault?”

She kept dabbing, not really hearing his words. “You snuck up on me.”

Justin laughed harder.

Shannon looked over her shoulder. “Stop it.”

That didn’t work.

Victor brushed her hands away.

She stood back and realized half the room was watching them.

Her cheeks warmed. The need to make a graceful exit crushed down.

“Oh, man, little brother. You sure know how to piss off the women.”

Shannon’s head swiveled so fast she saw double. “Little brother?”

Justin’s playful grin had her seeing red. “Didn’t I tell you that?”

No. And if she had a glass with another drink, she might channel her inner frat girl and pour it on him. “It must have slipped your mind.” Somewhere between betting on his own brother’s divorce and spooning out the gossip on the wedding party.

The waitstaff moved in around them and cleaned up the floor.

Mrs. Harkin approached the three of them with a frown. “Oh, dear. What happened?”

Victor smiled at his future mother-in-law. “An accident.”

She frowned. “We’re going to get started. Do you want to find a clean shirt?”

“I’m okay,” he told her, catching Shannon out of the corner of his eye.

“We can wait. You are the groom, after all.”

Mrs. Harkin sure knew how to pour on the sugar.

“Not to worry. It matches the soaking from the rain outside.”

Mrs. Harkin dismissed the worry as quickly as she had adopted it as a problem and moved on. “I see you’ve met the photographer.”

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