Chapter 1


Stunned, I bang my hand against the wall. When my crew stops working around me, I take the phone away from my ear, yell at them to get back to work and walk outside. Once I’m far enough away, I put the phone back to my ear and holler at my brother Ford, “What do you mean you’re bringing my ex-fiancée as your date for the Halloween party?”

He sighs deeply and I instantly know that something isn’t right. Ford would never betray me this way. We may fight sometimes, but he has always had my back, especially when everything went down with my ex, Emily. He finally mutters into the phone, “Look, Jackson, you know I don’t want to do this. All I can tell you is this is something for work. I’m in a situation and I need to go to this party with her.”

Why would he need to do this for work? I think to myself. Emily is a socialite. I used to think she was a good person, but not anymore. Ford knows this; he knows she’s evil. Why would he get mixed up with her?

He must get tired of my silence. His voice is deflated on the other end. “You know that I don’t want to do this, bro. I know how bad this is going to look. But I have to do this. It’s just part of my job… and before you ask, I’ve already said too much. Just know that everything is not what it looks like.”

I release the breath I’ve been holding. “Okay. Fine. But I’m not going to be there to see it. I’ll just skip this party.”

He laughs into the phone, pissing me off more than he already has. “Yeah, right. You’re going to tell Mom that you’re skipping out on her annual Halloween party? Make sure I’m there when you tell her. I would love to see my little brother get his ass kicked by Mom.”

“Fuck,” I mutter into the phone and stroke my hand through my hair. “Keep her away from me, Ford. I’m not joking. Bye, fucker.” I hit the end button and clench my eyes tightly closed.

I hear leaves crackling behind me and I turn around to see my little sister, Abby, staring at me. “I thought I told you to get back to work.”

She laughs. “Yeah, I always do what you tell me to do.” She takes a step toward me. “So, Mom called. I guess you just found out that Ford is bringing Emily to the party tonight.”

I nod my head. “Yep. Is Mom pissed?”

“Yep, but she promised Ford she would be nice. I know this sucks, but you know there has to be a reason he’s doing this.”

I shrug my shoulders at her. I know she’s right. Hell, I thought the same thing, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I haven’t seen my ex since I walked in on her having sex with another man.

Lost in my thoughts, I forget Abby’s still standing there until she starts jumping up and down, clapping her hands together. “I have the perfect solution. You need a date for tonight.”

Interrupting her, I start to walk past her into the house. “I definitely don’t need a date.”

She grabs on to my arm to stop me. “Yes, you do. Hear me out. If you have a date with you, it will totally get your mind off Emily. Plus, she’s not going to approach you if you’re there with another woman.” When I still don’t respond to her, she puts her hands on her hips, cocks her head and says, “This is better than standing in the corner, mooning over Emily all night.”

I put my hands on her shoulders and look her straight in the eye. I know that Abby has been worried about me. But honestly, this is the best thing to have happened. At least I found out before we got married. But Abby thinks I still love Emily. Hell, I’m wondering if I ever did in the first place. “Listen to me, Abby. I am okay. I don’t have any feelings for Emily. I’m over her. I was over her the second I saw her with that man. You need to quit worrying about me.”

She finally nods, and I hope she knows how sincere I am. “But you still need to go with a date. And I have the perfect woman. You remember my roommate from college, Lacy. She’s coming into town tonight. She will be your date. She didn’t want to be a third wheel with me and Derrick anyway.”

I try to remember Lacy. I know she’s skinny with long brown hair. Smart girl. But other than that, I don’t remember much about her. I think about it for a minute and decide that she’s probably right. It would make the night better. “Sure, Abby, if me going on this date with her means I can get back to work, I’ll do it.”