Page 21 of Buying the Bride

7

Sylph




I straighten up, try to adjust my clothes. Damnit. Heath was just about to kiss me. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him since what happened between us last night. Actually, if I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him since our first kiss on our pretend first date. Heath Starre has completely taken me by surprise.

Heath opens the door and standing behind it is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s young, early to mid-twenties, long auburn hair, long limbs. She’s wearing a body contouring dress that fits just right. When she smiles it’s with full lips and straight white teeth. This is the kind of girl I imagine Heath would’ve dated before he started fake-dating me. Jealousy roars through my veins, and I hate myself for it. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t real with him and it’s going to end the moment he no longer needs my services.

“Hi,” the woman says cheerily.

Heath rolls his eyes. “What are you doing here?”

“You weren’t really going to make me wait until dinner to meet my future sister-in-law, were you?” she says.

Sister-in-law? She must be one of the twins. Relief washes over me.

Reluctantly, Heath steps aside and lets her in. He glances at me with a look full of apologies. “Sylph, meet my sister. This Arora.”

She wears a smile, but there is something very unpleasant about the way she’s studying me. This must be what it feels like to be a hen stalked by a fox.

“Sylph, it’s so nice to meet you.”

I stand up and give her a hug. In the folder Heath gave me about his family, I’ve learned that Arora doesn’t hug. She’s not a physically affectionate person. She’s more a giver of gifts. Which is exactly why I hug her: to throw her off her game the way she has thrown me off of mine by showing up out of the blue.

It seems to work because when I step back she looks bewildered and ready to flee the scene.

“Um,” she says and looks at Heath. He shrugs and smiles at me because he knows what I’m doing and seems amused by it.

Arora is quick to recover and plasters the fake smile back on her face. “I was hoping to take you dress shopping. You haven’t found your wedding gown yet, have you?”

“Not yet, but I can’t go without my best friend. She’s my maid of honor,” I say.

Though I haven’t yet asked Mandi to be the maid of honor, it seems a given, fake relationship or not.

“Text her,” Arora says.

“Right now?”

“Of course, silly. You have to get your dress as soon as possible before all the good ones have been taken.”

I look at Heath for help. He shrugs like he doesn’t know what to do either.

So I furiously text Mandi in the hopes she’ll come with us and defuse this bomb. I tell her that I’m about to go dress shopping with Heath’s sister who may or may not be Satan herself. Mandi texts back that she wishes she could but is busy with work.

What the hell? She got me into this mess. She was supposed to be here for me when I needed her, but it seems like she’s been avoiding me.

I take a deep breath and steel myself. “She can’t make it. Looks like we’re on our own.”

Arora gives me a predatory grin and says, “Perfect. I have a car waiting for us downstairs.”

I try on all the dresses that Arora picks out for me. They are all beautiful, but none of them feel right. This isn’t your typical dress shop where you can find something affordable yet still beautiful. This is a place where royalty would shop if they were getting married. Everything is custom made, one-of a kind, couture. They serve champagne and cater to our every desire. I’m thankful for the alcohol. It settles my nerves a little. Very little.

Arora asks me a lot of questions. It’s starting to feel more like an interrogation than a dress fitting. I’m careful to keep to the story that was laid out for me by Heath. I don’t think she’s buying any of it.

I try on the last dress in the stack. It’s beautiful. All of them are. But this one is especially beautiful. Hand beaded, high neck with lace, but short capped sleeves. Very modern, like nothing I’ve ever seen before, which must be why the price tag is so steep. And though I love the way it looks, and it fits me like a glove, it still doesn’t feel right. I’m not sure if anything will.

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