Mallory scrunches her nose. “It’s not terrible,” she counters, making me laugh even harder, and her smile widens.

“You got engaged hours ago.” I put the dress back on the rack and look around the rest of the room. There are samples of everything needed for a wedding, and a stack of books to go with them. My apartment looks like a wedding planner’s office. “Did he have this shit in storage, ready to go, for when you said yes?” I think the chances are high, but then again you can get anything at any time when you have money like Miles does.


“You know Miles,” she says.

Yeah, kind of. I know how he is when it comes it her. I came into Mallory’s life because of Miles. He’d hired me years ago to be her secret bodyguard. I fed his stalker habit when he hired me to be her roommate in college and watch over her while she went to school. That quickly changed from her being a job to her being the most important person in my life. The only friend I had, and it had all been a lie. One that blew up in my face when Mallory found out, and I thought I’d lost her.

Though she started out as a job, it wasn’t that way anymore, and she knew it. Even as mad as she was at me, the job brought us together. We never would’ve crossed paths without Miles, and I’m thankful. Two people who didn’t have anyone else at the time bonded quickly, and we’ve been glued to each other since day one. But now she has Miles, my half brother, and that’s the most important thing in her life.

Miles and I were brought together for one common reason: revenge against our father. But I don’t think he’s after that anymore. Now all Miles wants is to let it go and be with Mal, but I can’t. Our relationship revolved around this plan, and it’s all Miles and I have as far as our relationship goes. He was good to me. He pulled me off the streets and gave me a job. He sent me to school and made sure I had what I needed, but our relationship is based on the bond we formed over hating our father. Now we don’t have that anymore, so I’m not sure what will happen in the future.

Miles isn’t the brother who invites you over to hang out. We don’t really talk unless it’s about Mal, and he’s cold to most people. I’ve never gotten that chill to melt, and I’ve given up. I’d tried at first when he came into my life. I had a spark of hope that maybe I could have some normal type of family. But he never let me close, and it probably didn’t help that I’d had some resentment toward him when he found me. He was the other family. His mom was the woman my mother used to cry over, wanting to be her, thinking the grass was greener on the other side. No part of my father was green and happy. I’m sure Miles’s mom, Vivien, didn’t make out much better when she was with him.

Miles and I don’t really do anything together. In fact, now that I think about it, he doesn’t really even have a use for me, and I wonder what that will mean. I don’t think he’ll fire me from his company, but that would only be because of Mal. He wouldn’t do anything that might upset her.

The thought cuts deep, and all of a sudden I feel a little bit lonelier. I put a smile on my face, not wanting to make this moment sad. This is important to Mal. Having grown up in foster care, she has always wanted a family of her own, and this is the first step toward it.

“So he wants to get married tonight?” I tease. She lets out a little huff and I’m guessing I’m right.

“I told him I wanted to hang out with you and talk about the wedding and other stuff. So he had everything brought here for us to hang out and go through.”

“Do you even want all this shit?” I pick up some fancy-looking plate that was part of a dining set.

“No. I mean, who am I going to invite to a wedding? I think he thinks I want to do some big deal. I don’t. I just kinda want to be married.”

I put the plate down. “Did you tell him that?”

“We haven’t done a lot of talking since I said yes.” Her face blushes a cherry red at her own reference to sex.

I shake my head and drop down on the sofa. “Miles doesn’t even like people. I’m sure he’ll be happy with something supersmall.”

She walks over to the stand with all the dresses and pulls out the pink wedding gown.

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