King:Las Vegas Bad Boys(2)

By: Frankie Love


“So she isn’t a gold-digger?”

“Hardly. She’s a pull-herself-up-by-her-bootstraps kind of girl.”

“Okay, I’ll dance with her. I just can’t deal with a clinger right now.”

“Then Claire’s your girl. And, fuck, looking around this reception, you don’t have many other options.”

“So you don’t mind me leaving with Claire tonight?”

“Shit, dude,” Ace says, laughing. “I said dance with her, not fuck her.”

“Ace, hate to break it to you, man—but one dance with me and she’ll want me for more.”





Claire


Don’t get me wrong. I like happily-ever-afters, and this Ace and Emmy thing is a freaking Cinderella dream-come-true. I don’t begrudge them their happiness. They went through so much crap to get here today. I want them to go off on their honeymoon in Tahiti riding a freaking unicorn.

It’s just not always sugar plum fairies in the real world, and I can’t help but wonder what happens next for them? Because I’m the freaking poster child for dashed dreams and grin-and-bear-it, crash courses in reality.

But who wants to listen to my sob story right now? I sure as hell don’t. Especially when this wedding is about my friend.

And, okay, I call her my friend ... but I am a pretty shitty one.

I haven’t been honest with Emmy ... like, at all. Not even a little. But she counts me as one of her closest friends—heck, I’m a bridesmaid in her wedding—and eventually I will open up and tell her and Tess my not-so-little secret.

I’m a private person. And, as a rule, I don’t mix work with my personal life. I didn’t expect to take this job and meet these girls who see me as a sister.

So, I will tell them ... it just hasn’t been the right time yet.

The last few months have been the Ace-and-Emmy whirlwind, and then they planned this wedding in like ten days. And the truth is, I do think they are a teeny bit insane.

Like, maybe take the next year and be engaged and actually get to know one another. Like, maybe don’t rush down the aisle before you live together for a month and learn about the terrible habits your partner has. Like, maybe spend a year figuring out if this guy is actually the person you want to make babies with.

You know—all the things I should have done before I got pregnant.

This afternoon while we were at the spa getting our entire bodies waxed and shined and sprayed for the wedding, I kept checking my phone, and it was driving Tess and Emmy nuts.

They kept asking who I was texting. And I should have just said it right then and there. But I didn’t, because it felt weird to tell them after spending three months in their company when I hadn’t dropped any hints.

Now it would just be awkward.

So I made excuses.

“My mom doesn’t now how to figure out her refinance loan and she keeps texting, asking what APR means.”

Which was true. I was been texting my mom, but not about a refinance. And sure, she is refinancing and doesn’t know what an APR is, but that wasn’t why she was texting right then. She was texting because Sophia was sick, and she wanted to know if I knew where the children’s Tylenol was.

They know I live with my mom in her condo, and that I’ve lived in Vegas my whole life. What they don’t know is who else lives with us.

Emmy sits with me, after her and Ace’s first dance. I slide my phone into my clutch and then squeeze her hand.

“It’s all been so perfect, Emmy.”

“Thanks, Claire. I don’t understand how there hasn’t been one single catastrophe today. It’s all been seamless.”

I can’t help but think when they’re able to throw thousands of dollars at everything they do, things do seem to happen without a hitch.

“I can’t believe you’re going to Tahiti,” I say, picking up my flute of champagne. I catch Landon looking at me from across the table and I turn back to Emmy without pausing on him. Or his chocolatey eyes, or his chiseled jawline.

Ace’s friends are not my type ... I need regular. I want a guy who spends his weekends fly fishing or working in the garage on a car. Not these bad boys.

I’ve had enough bad boys in my life. Well, I’ve had enough of one particular bad boy, and I will never fall for another one as long as I live.

“I can’t believe you’re not dancing, Claire,” Emmy says. “You’ve been so wound up lately.”

“What do you mean?” I ask. “I’m chill. I’m smiling.” I flash her a tight grin that’s not at all sincere. “Sorry, things have been stressful. You know that. And my mom is trying to refinance her condo, and she keeps asking me how to make the Internet work. Like, those are the actual words she used.”

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