Home > Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(8)

Faking Forever (First Wives #4)(8)
Author: Catherine Bybee

Let him deal with her bill.

The incidentals of her trip were supposed to be handled by the wedding party, anyway.

By eleven, room service had delivered a replacement drink and toast. Shannon felt seventy percent better, which was sixty-five percent more than she expected.

Unlike the wedding guests, her outfit for the event was about blending in and becoming invisible. In the past, that meant wearing dark clothing, often pants, since kneeling to get the right shot was easier in flexible clothing.

She’d thought ahead and bought tan cotton pants, a simple loose shirt that would breathe while she ran around in the sun, and sneakers. Although she saw herself ditching the shoes if sand getting inside of them became a thing.

Unlike the night before, the way to travel from one location to the next was along the beach.

A vast span of white sand spread for as far as the eye could see. The clear turquoise water faded into deeper shades of blue and disappeared on the horizon. It was spectacular. The gentle waves came on shore like an invitation. Speedboats rushing by or Jet Skis buzzing around didn’t interrupt the peaceful scene because that kind of activity was forbidden in the waters of Tulum. It was one of the reasons the location was ideal for beach weddings. In Cancun, where the hotels were bigger and the venues could hold hundreds of people, you had to contend with traffic on the water and more people wandering on the beach during the ceremony. Here, those things simply didn’t happen.

Still, it was a destination wedding, and like Justin had said the night before, it was presumptuous to ask guests to travel such a distance to watch someone get married.

This was the kind of place a couple escaped to when they wanted to elope. Or maybe the BFFs came along and everyone hung out for a long weekend while two people just happened to get married.

Shannon pushed the thoughts from her head and angled down the beach to the site of the wedding ceremony.

Already chairs were set up and a florist worked with a team of three people, decorating the space. On each side of the chairs, long benches sat framing the ceremonial space. Shannon frowned as she tried to maneuver the cramped area.

Ida, the event coordinator, was instructing several men when Shannon found her.

Shannon introduced herself and got straight to the point. “The benches are going to get in the way of me moving around to take the photographs the couple want.”

“Without the benches, we don’t have enough seating for the guests. I explained to the bride that seventy-five to eighty was the perfect number. We could accommodate up to a hundred. Somehow that turned into a hundred and twenty-five.”

Shannon looked over the space again.

She’d have to make it work without walking past the guests on the outside lane. Which meant she’d be walking up and down the aisle quite a bit. A distraction to those attending. Hopefully Corrie and Victor wouldn’t notice.

The thought of the bet she’d made the night before gave her head some peace. Even Victor’s own brother didn’t think the marriage would last, which meant the work she was doing would be burned when the divorce papers were signed.

Not that she would let that stop her from doing the best she could.

“I’ll make it work.”

Shannon walked over to the hotel where Corrie, her wedding party, and immediate family were staying. The party at the beach bar was in full swing. Everyone except the staff was clothed in as little as possible to beat the heat and bronze their skin. It was obvious that not all the guests at the hotel were there for the nuptials.

The paths between the bungalow-style rooms were dotted with palm trees and tropical flowers, all of which would work beautifully for pictures with the bride right before the ceremony. She timed it to arrive an hour and a half early, leaving the last thirty minutes while the guests were arriving to take a few snapshots of Victor and his party. Which Shannon wasn’t looking forward to. But she would hike up her big girl panties, paint on a smile, and make nice with the man.

And then photoshop out his horns in the pictures when she returned home.

She found the two-bedroom bungalow that shared a small courtyard. Corrie and her girls took one room, and Mr. and Mrs. Harkin had the other. She heard the girls chattering before she reached the door.

Her knock was answered with a shout. “If you’re the groom, go away!”

“I’m not him.”

Laughter preceded the door opening.

The room was an explosion of clothes, shoes, half-empty suitcases, and old trays from room service. The girls were in all states of undress. Two wore strapless bras, while Corrie and her maid of honor wore corsets.

Corrie sat in front of a mirror while a stylist worked to add tiny flowers to her hair.

“Good afternoon,” Shannon said to everyone as they buzzed around.

Corrie smiled briefly at her through the mirror.

“How are you feeling today?” she asked.

“I’m fine. Nervous. But no rain, so that’s good.”

Shannon kept a smile in place. “I was just next door. Everything looks fabulous.”

The wedding party introduced themselves, but the names that stuck in Shannon’s head were Barbie, Bitsy, and Bimbo. Their high-pitched singsong voices didn’t help. “How close are you to putting on your dresses?”

Melia was the name of the girl she’d met the night before, Corrie’s maid of honor, who answered, “Ten minutes.”

“Perfect. And your parents, Corrie?”

“Dad’s ready, but you’d think my mom was the one getting married today.”

Shannon encouraged the girls to clean up the room enough so that she could get a few pictures of them getting ready without the distraction of panties in the background.

One by one, the bridesmaids slipped into their gowns and helped the stylist with Corrie’s.

Shannon focused in on the bride as she watched the others working around her. Her tight smile made the shots fall flat. “Your dress is beautiful,” Shannon complimented, focusing closer to capture a true grin.

“It is, isn’t it?”

“Perfect. Is it what you always pictured?”

Corrie turned and lifted her arms while Melia helped with the buttons up the back. “Yes.”

Still no smile.

“Look over your shoulder,” Shannon instructed. “Smile.”

She did, but it didn’t last. “I think I need to sit down.” She lifted a hand to her head to fan herself. The color in her face started to drain.

Shannon grabbed a chair and pushed it close. “It might be the corset.”

Corrie slid down, her breathing jumping up a few notches.

“Melia, turn the air on high.” Someone handed Corrie a glass of water.

The door to the room opened and Mrs. Harkin stepped in. She frowned when she saw her daughter sitting down and everyone huddled around her. “What’s going on?”

“I think she’s just overheated,” Shannon said.

The door opened wider and Mr. Harkin joined them. “You okay, honey?”

“I’m nervous. Everyone is staring at me.”

Her observation had her girlfriends backing up a step.

“Tell you what. I’ll take the girls outside, get a few pictures of them. We can wait to get shots with you after the ceremony. I’m sure you’ll settle once it’s all done.”

Corrie nodded a few times.

Shannon exited the room and dragged the girls to the spot she’d scoped out earlier. When she returned, Corrie was feeling better but wanted to wait for the very last second to join the humidity outside.

With her work there done, Shannon left the girls in search of the men.

Unlike the women, the men were propped up on a deck, feet on the railing, wearing shorts and T-shirts.

Shannon saw Justin first and shook her head. “You do know there’s a wedding in an hour, right?”

“If it isn’t the sassy photographer.”

She had to own the title. “That’s me. I’m bossy, too.”

Victor stuck his head out the sliding glass door. He, at least, was dressed. Gray dress pants and a button up shirt. “Looks like someone knows there’s a timeline to this thing,” Shannon quipped.

“In an hour,” Victor said.

“Yeah, I heard. I need you guys dressed in fifteen. I have what I need from the women, and now it’s your turn.” She didn’t have any trouble asserting herself when it came to doing her job. In her experience, on their own, men waited until the last second to get ready, or for someone like her to bark an order.

Justin pushed off the chair he was sitting in. “You heard the lady. Let’s get moving.”

Ten minutes later, the men filed out of the room. Hair combed back, dress pants, white shirts. Light jackets. Shannon took the liberty of snapping a few pictures of them standing and joking around with each other. She caught Justin sucking on his finger, a smirk on his face.


Using the ocean and a lone palm tree as her backdrop, Shannon posed the men in a series of shots that were both serious and whimsical. Much like Corrie’s, Victor’s smile for her camera felt forced. She couldn’t help but think it was her. It wasn’t like she’d tried hard to make a good impression on the man or put him at ease with her instructions.

Then again, she had a fifty-dollar bet with the brother on how long the marriage would last. Maybe he was having second thoughts.

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