“He’s not a hotel mogul.” I grab the cookies. Trainer Matt can kiss it. “He’s a consultant.”
“Whatever. The interview I saw with him and his business partner in Forbes made it clear he’s hot shit, whatever he’s doing,” Stella says.
“He is hot shit,” I say, giving Savvy a pointed look. “And his hot-shit job means he won’t be around long, so he’s not ‘back in the picture’ so much as visiting the picture. Briefly.”
“Or until you get a divorce,” Savvy says.
“Wait.” Stella hops off the couch and the bag of Doritos falls to her feet. “Why are you planning on divorcing Julian before you even marry him?”
“Before I marry Julian, I need to divorce Marston,” I say, and she blinks at me, her jaw unhinged. “Apparently, I got drunk in Vegas and we got married. The engagement ring I found on my finger the next morning? Turns out it was a wedding ring.”
“How long have you known this?” Abbi asks, plopping down into a chair across from me.
I sigh. “Since he cornered me in the hallway at Smithy’s last night.” Was that just last night? Longest day ever.
She bows her head, and I can practically see her talking herself out of being mad at me. “You’ve had so many chances to talk to me since then.”
“I’m sorry, Ab. I’m kind of a mess right now.”
She nods. “But you’ve told Julian?”
“And how’s he handling it?” Stella asks. Stella, the only one who doesn’t know my reasons for agreeing to marry Julian.
“Not well.” I pop a cookie in my mouth to buy myself some time. When I swallow, I say, “He’s partly justified in his anger, but partly just being an ass.”
Savvy arches a brow. “Sounds like a good reason to cut ties with him and stay married to Marston.”
“Savvy,” I groan.
“You’re already married, goober. You don’t need to marry Julian anymore. Collect your trust and end this sham of a relationship.”
I open my mouth to explain, but Stella holds up a hand. “Wait. Why are you acting like one husband’s as good as any? Like, I get that she and Marston have history—seriously, I was there—but she’s engaged to Julian for a reason. The trust is just a silver lining.” She studies my face for a beat, then frowns. “Isn’t it?”
These girls are my family, and I don’t like keeping secrets from them. But I’ve been keeping one major secret from Stella. She’s been busy with Bobby, so we haven’t been spending as much time together, but that wasn’t the real reason I didn’t confide in her. I knew she wouldn’t agree with my choice. Stella might be a ballbuster, but deep down she’s a romantic. She would want me to marry for love—nothing more, nothing less. “Julian knows I needed to be married to access my trust, and it turned out one of his investments wasn’t going to pan out unless he was married. Remember Ms. Hilton from high school?” I ask Stella, who nods. “She owned an apartment complex with her husband their whole marriage, and she’s determined to sell it to a married couple, not just ‘some slick single guy.’”
Stella nods slowly, like she’s trying to focus on someone speaking a language she can just barely understand. “Okaaaay . . .”
“So a couple of weeks before my birthday, Julian suggested we enter into a . . . marriage of convenience.”
“Like, in a romance novel?” Stella says. “Honest to Christ, I didn’t think that shit actually happened in real life.”
“I know. And I really thought about it before agreeing. But the truth is, we work great together.”
Stella glares at Savvy, then Abbi. “You two knew about this? And you let her do it?”
Abbi hangs her head. “She’s stubborn.”
“You guys, stop,” I say. “I’m not marrying a stranger. I care about Julian. He cares about me. We’ve been friends for years and . . . well, doesn’t it mean something that I always end up back in his bed?”
“Yeah, it means he’s familiar dick,” Stella says. “You don’t marry familiar dick.”
Abbi snort-laughs. “Oh my God, she’s right.”
Savvy shrugs then pours her sugary chocolate concoction between two glasses. “Actually, that makes a lot of sense.”
“Excuse me,” I say, snatching one of the drinks from the table. “Can someone please tell me what familiar dick means?”
Abbi sighs. “You know, the guy you always call when you want sex—not because it’s particularly mind-blowing but because he’s a sure thing and you don’t have to worry about him turning out to be some psycho. Familiar dick. It’s not great dick, but it’ll do.”
“Sounds like a campaign slogan,” Stella says, lips twitching into a smirk.
I take a moment to direct my best “upper-management scowl” at each of my friends, but they erupt into laughter. “You guys are the worst.”
“We’re just jealous,” Savvy says. “What I wouldn’t give for a little familiar dick in my life. Hell, I’d settle for mediocre dick at this point.”