Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(7)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(7)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Victor looked Shannon straight in the eye. “Informally, yes.”

“Shannon Wentworth comes highly recommended.”

Victor rocked back on his heels, his eyes glued to her. “Is that so.”

“Yes. Some of her photographs have even made it into celebrity magazines. Isn’t that right, Shannon?”

“Only if the bride and groom want that kind of thing.” Very few did. She stared back.

“Of course we do,” Mrs. Harkin said on behalf of both parties. “Why wouldn’t we want that? Weddings of the rich and famous should be celebrated and shared. Don’t you think, Victor?”

Why was he staring at her?

“We’ll see.”

“Did you know that Shannon was the first lady of California? We’re so lucky to have her working for us. Don’t you think?”

He seemed surprised. “You’re the governor’s wife?”

“Former governor’s ex-wife.”

“I thought you looked familiar,” Justin said beside her.

Victor’s gaze narrowed, his lips lifted a tiny bit. “Interesting.”

What does that mean?

Corrie approached their little party and tucked her hand into the crook of Victor’s arm. She looked like his baby sister, not his future bride. Shannon actually felt a little ill.

“Honey, we need to get started.”

Shannon took that as her cue to leave. “Looks like everything is under control here. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

“You’re not staying for dinner?” Mrs. Harkin asked.

“No. It’s been a long day. I want to be fresh tomorrow, make sure I take pictures that last a lifetime.” Unlike this marriage.

That’s all the mother of the bride needed to hear. “We’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Corrie pulled Victor away without a second glance.

Justin leaned in and whispered, “Bets are fifty bucks apiece. You in?”

She lifted her hand in a fist. “You’re both assholes. But I’m in.”

Justin bumped his fist with hers and walked to take his place by his brother.

Chapter Five

Maybe the mezcal the hotel provided in the room was a bad idea after all.

The first shot had tasted like motor oil. Not that Shannon had ever drunk motor oil, but she imagined the smoky, oily taste in her mouth was the closest she’d ever come to such a thing. The second shot wasn’t as bad as the first. By the time room service arrived with an order of nachos, the next shots weren’t bad at all. Drinking alone wasn’t something Shannon did on a normal basis, but watching Victor working the room with his fiancée hanging on his arm prompted the mezcal. By the time she fell asleep, Victor and Corrie had left her head . . .

Until the next morning.

She woke up with the sun, even though her head told her to go back to sleep. The time change always made the first night after flying east the hardest. Not to mention the hangover.

What had she been thinking?

Everything about the past twenty-four hours was completely uncharacteristic for her. She was the quiet one, the one who held her opinion to herself until it was absolutely necessary to express it. She didn’t tell strangers off on airplanes or encourage young brides to ditch their fiancés. And for all that’s holy, she sure as heck didn’t talk to the brother of the groom and tell him what a moron his brother was.

Now, to add insult, she was hungover.

Stomach nauseous, headache, dry mouth hungover.

She needed crackers and ice . . . and a full day to sleep this off.

Sun blazed from outside her window.

Sleep would have to wait.

“This is not okay,” she said to her empty room.

Without considering the time, she picked up the phone and dialed.

Avery answered with a groggy voice, “You’d better be dying.”

“I am.”

“What the hell, Shannon. Do you know what time it is?”

“It’s almost seven.”

“No, it’s five.”

Shannon would feel bad about this later, but right now she needed help. “I drank too much last night. I need a hangover cure, fast.”


“You heard me.”

Noise over the phone indicated Avery was talking to her husband and probably getting out of bed.

“You need a hangover cure, so you called me.”

“You’re my youngest friend. I’m not judging . . . help, Avery. I made an ass of myself and can’t be sick today.” Her stomach didn’t like the adrenaline provided by the memories of the previous night.

“Okay, okay. What were you drinking?”

“Tequila . . . wine earlier, and mezcal.”

“Damn, woman. Okay, you need a Bloody Mary or mimosa. Which makes you feel less ill thinking about it?”

“You’re kidding. Hair of the dog?”

“Do I sound like I’m kidding? When does the wedding start?” Avery asked.


“That’s a little time. You could just sleep.”

“I have to start taking pictures of the wedding party at noon.”

“Then put on your dark sunglasses, go down to the restaurant, order a Bloody Mary and toast, and drink plenty of water. If you start feeling sick, drink another one.”

“I can’t do my job drunk.” Shannon could count on one hand how many Bloody Marys she’d consumed in her lifetime.

“Can you do your job tossing your cookies?”

Shannon rested her head in her hand. “What was I thinking?”

“You weren’t, obviously. But it’s kinda nice to know you’re not perfect.”

“Of course I’m not perfect.”

Avery chuckled. “Compared to me, you are.”

“That’s not true.”

“Hey, you’re the one waking my ass up at five in the morning searching for a hangover cure. Babe, you get points for that, I don’t. Bloody Mary. Trust me. Keep a tiny infusion going to ward off all the crap from last night. Then, when it’s all over, sleep.”

Shannon saw the wisdom, and the stupidity, in Avery’s suggestion. “Thanks.”

“Oh, and Shannon?”


“I can’t wait to hear what prompted you to get drunk your first night there.”

Shannon shook her head and instantly regretted it. “By the time you get here, most of those reasons should be gone.”

Avery laughed as she hung up the phone.

With the aforementioned sunglasses covering her eyes, Shannon left her room wearing a pair of shorts, a cotton shirt, and sandals to make her way to the hotel restaurant.

She asked for a table, because sitting at the bar would make her early morning drinking look obvious. And she really didn’t want anyone from the wedding party seeing her.

The good news was the rain had vanished overnight.

The bad news was the rain had vanished overnight and the sun added to the pain in her head.

Note to self: Mezcal bad. Water good!

Her Bloody Mary arrived and she studied it for a good five minutes.

This is a stupid idea.

Best idea ever!


“It’s meant to be drank, not stared at.”

The voice came from behind her. Without looking, she knew the person it belonged to.

And that had her picking up the glass.

“I know that.”

“Mind if I sit down?”

The tomato juice, the vodka . . . maybe it was the pepper. Bad, bad, bad.

“As a matter of fact . . .”

Victor Brooks sat facing her.

“This is becoming a bad habit,” she said, ignoring the roll in her stomach.

“Oh?” He flagged the waiter down, ordered coffee. “What habit is that?” he asked once the waiter left.

“You,” she said. “Invading my air space.”

He leaned forward. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you don’t like me very much.”

The tomato juice wasn’t that bad after the second sip.

She lowered her sunglasses long enough for him to see her peering at him with as much disapproval as she could muster with bloodshot eyes. “You’d be right.” This man brought out the worst in her.

She shivered.

“Shouldn’t you be ass kissing right now? Aren’t I the one paying you?”

She could physically feel gray hair sprouting from her roots. “Actually, Mrs. Harkin hired me.”

“But I’m covering the wedding.”

The sound of reason knocked up beside her temple, but she ignored it.

“Then fire me. I’m sure Corrie’s wedding party with their cell phones will be happy to send you their pictures.”

He leaned forward. “I can see why your ex-husband divorced you.”

Her breath caught in her throat.

There were hits . . . and then there were low hits.

“Does Corrie know you plan on rushing back to LA by Tuesday for your meeting?”

She could tell by the twitch in his eye that his fiancée had no idea.

“Don’t pretend to know a thing about me when it’s obvious I know a few things about you. I’m here for Corrie, Mr. Brooks. I’ll do my best to hide your self-centered, egotistical horns while taking the pictures. But if they pop out, don’t blame me.” She stood, leaving her drink behind, and walked away.

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