I closed the door with a groan. If our window antics from the night before hadn’t already ruined our reputation with the neighbors, this certainly wouldn’t help.

I turned toward the kitchen and ran straight into a cluster of inflated penises. Battling through the pile, I found the invitation and ripped it free of the balloon bouquet.

“Well, life is never boring,” Easton said wryly, retaking his place at the counter. Hunched over his plate, he took a bite out of the ham and cheese.

“No,” I agreed, taking the stool next to him. “It’s not.” I flipped over the invitation, reading the neatly printed and gold-embossed details. “It says dress code is funeral-appropriate. What the hell is that?”

“Let me call Aaron and see if he knows anything about this.” Easton reached for his cell phone and I followed suit,

dialing Chelsea’s number and listening to it ring. It continued for a half dozen times before her voicemail came on. I hung up and watched as E did the same. “No answer?”

“Nope. Voicemail. It’s what—Saturday morning? He’s probably at the gym.”

“She’s probably riding one of the cowboy delivery team,” I said, only half in jest. “Who the hell could she be inviting to this thing?”

E didn’t respond, his attention back on his food, and I picked up my keto-friendly wrap and took a bite. “I can’t believe she didn’t tell me about this.” The words came out muffled, and I forced myself to chew slowly and completely before I choked. Chelsea didn’t have an interesting bowel movement without calling to tell me. Why would she put all this together and keep me out of the loop? Where were the nonstop text messages, wanting opinions on calligraphy font and entertainment? Where was the constant phone calls to discuss the guest list and theme?

“She’s a showman. Wants the biggest impact.”

A valid idea, and one that didn’t calm my irritation at being treated like any other guest. I was her best friend. I was supposed to know things first, be involved in the planning. Enjoy the headaches and excitement that were part of monumental acts.

Though, I had just had the most monumental act of my life, save my wedding, and she hadn’t been a part of that.

Not that she should have been a part. Still, I felt a little as if I was lying to her by omission. And that guilt was misplaced and unjustified if she was planning a full-out Chelsea Pedicant party without my involvement. I called her again, my hackles rising, but only got voicemail.

I ended the call and ripped off another bite. What the hell was happening?

8

Monday came before I was ready for it, and I squandered the first hour of it following royal drama on social media. There was a lot of drama, most centered on Meghan Markle, who had managed to piss off an entire army of followers over merching, a Wimbledon box, and something having to do with godparents. It was both disturbing and fascinating, and at ten I closed the browser, conflicted with emotions on the newest royal.

Reluctantly, I picked up the folder Tim had given me with the De Luca’s information. Flipping open the top page, I studied the home’s scant MLS history. It’d only been on the market once before, back in 2000, when it sold to Brad De Luca for two point four million dollars. I flipped through the listing photos from that time, which I studied without too much enthusiasm. In twenty years, he could have done anything to the house. Still, the bones of it looked good. Airy and open. Some nice architectural features and a huge yard. A rentable guest apartment overlooking the pool, though no one on OLT would rent. Assuming it wasn’t a train wreck of decor, Tim’s projection of a four-million-dollar sales price had been about right. Maybe even a little low.

I reviewed the rest of the pages, noting that a quitclaim deed several years ago had added Julia De Luca as an owner. They were up to date on their taxes and had filed five permits over the last two decades on various renovation projects, so it couldn’t be in too rough of shape. Setting the folder on the desk, I picked up my energy bar and took a bite, crunching through a chocolate and almond bar that contained no sugar, no carbs, and no fillers. I gagged a little on the swallow and washed down the bite with a sip of coffee. Opening a fresh Internet browser, I did a quick search on Brad De Luca.

The attorney had been a very high profile and busy boy. I clicked on a photo result and hummed in appreciation. Okay… not a boy. All man. He’d probably gone through puberty while most boys his age were getting fitted for braces. In his photo, he glowered at the camera with a handsome face that would fit in well between my thighs. I flipped through the photos, surprised to see an image of him and a brunette on a yacht with Hollywood It couple Cole Masten and Summer Jenkins. Zooming in on the brunette that was cozied up to Brad’s side, I studied her wide smile, the photo catching her mid-laugh.

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