From Ex to Eternity(6)

By: Kat Cantrell


Plus, he was curious to find out if she was merely the face of the company. Maybe she had someone else slaving away over the dresses while she took all the credit.

“For your information, bang took eighteen months of sleepless nights and several design classes to accomplish. I got an interest-bearing loan. No one handed me anything.”

Not even her father? Seemed unlikely that John Harris would have done nothing to help his daughter’s business.

“Doesn’t hurt to have Chandler-Harris on the label either.”

“It’s not a crime to have connections. If memory serves, the president of Regent Group’s board is married to a friend of my mom’s. Tell me it’s a coincidence you’re now working for Regent.”

Her gaze sliced into him and he didn’t dare grin. But he wanted to. She’d never had so much attitude. He liked it. “All successful people have connections.”

“Exactly. And I’m going to continue using mine.” The dawn light beamed across her face and caught a wicked glint in her espresso-colored eyes.

Keith filed that fact away—for later, when he might lean on their connection. Though he had no doubt she intended to use her connection to him in an entirely different way than he did. “But wedding dresses?”

“Funny story. I got left at the altar and had this useless dress I’d made myself.”

A flash of memory surfaced—Cara in a white dress with hundreds of beads sewn to the top and a stricken look on her face when she turned to see him at the door of her dressing room. He’d stayed long enough to discover the truth about his fiancée. And then left.

“You made that dress?”

With a withering glare, she plopped down in the sand and pulled on a flexed foot. “If you’d paid attention during the wedding plans, that wouldn’t be new information.”

“If you’d been reasonable about the plans, I might have paid more attention.” She’d been like bridezilla on steroids.

“It was my wedding, Keith.” She closed her eyes for a beat and muttered under her breath. All he caught was the word professional.

It had been his wedding, too, a fact she seemed to have forgotten, but in reality, he hadn’t cared about the centerpieces or the color of the cake. He’d given her free rein. Gladly, and then tuned it all out. A wedding was an event to be endured. Much like the marriage he didn’t ask for but agreed to because it was the right thing to do.

“So, you made the dress yourself. Then what happened?”

She glanced up at him, her expression composed. “Norah asked me if I could alter it to fit her. So I did and she wore it when she got married later that month. Then Lynn asked me if I could make one for her. I have yet to run out of unmarried sorority sisters and friends, so a design business was born.”

Norah and Lynn. Bridesmaids number three and four. He had a healthy bit of distance from Houston now, and perspective on his almost-marriage, but he’d been unprepared for it to feel like weakness to recall details with such clarity.

He should go back to his room and shower. Opening day loomed and nothing productive could come of continuing this conversation. “Do you like it?”

Surprise flitted across her face as she climbed to her feet, pointedly ignoring his outstretched hand. “I do. It wasn’t what I envisioned for myself, but I needed...” She took a breath and he had the impression she’d changed her mind about what she’d been about to say. “It was something to occupy my time.”

Finally, something that made sense. The design business was a time killer for an aspiring trophy wife obsessed with finding a husband she’d been unable to snag thus far. Every woman Keith had ever dated wanted nothing more than a free ride and the prestige of being Mrs. Mitchell. Cara was no different.

Except for the part where she started her own business. It was as perplexing as it was fascinating. And he had the feeling she’d been telling the truth when she claimed to have done it with no help from her rich daddy. Keith was thoroughly impressed, quite against his will.

“You come highly regarded for something you fell into accidentally.”

“I prefer to think of it as providence.”

“So you’d design one-use-only dresses no matter what? Why not something more practical?”

“Ever made a cake?”

“I’ve eaten cake. Does that count?”

Her eyes rolled. “Sometimes when you bake a cake, it doesn’t cook quite right. Maybe it’s lopsided or part of it sticks to the pan. Frosting covers a multitude of baking sins. A wedding dress is like frosting. My brides feel beautiful, even if they don’t feel that way wearing anything else. I’m responsible for that, and it’s amazing.”

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