“I’ve been better,” I admit. “Damn it, ladies, I feel like I owe you all a big apology.”

“What?” Abbi squeaks. “Why?”

“Are you kidding? Look at this mess.” I tick off the reasons on my fingers. “You all already bought your bridesmaid dresses.”

“They’re sexy, red, and knee-length,” Savvy says, waving a hand. “Totally usable elsewhere.”

I go to my second finger. “You took time off work for my bachelorette party.”

Stella holds up a hand. “What? Why’s that canceled?”

“God, you’re so pretty,” Savvy says, shaking her head.

Stella sticks her tongue out at Savvy. “Shut up. I’ve been looking forward to getting trashed in Atlanta with you bitches for months.”

“There’s no wedding,” I say. “No wedding means no bachelorette party.”

“So we call it something else,” Stella says. “No reason to change plans altogether.”

“Girls’ weekend,” Abbi agrees, nodding and pointing to me. “I like it. And you need it.”

“Oh my God, you guys are spending all your free time cleaning up my messes.” I look toward the bar, totally ready for Smithy to save the day with a pitcher full of vodka.

“Yeah, a weekend drinking with you would be a hardship,” Savvy deadpans.

“You know what I mean,” I say. “I feel awful, and God only knows what’s going to happen to The Orchid now.”

Abbi frowns and studies me. “But you don’t regret it, do you?”

“No. I don’t. I regret agreeing to marry him in the first place. I regret not listening to my gut—”

“Was that your gut saying don’t do it?” Savvy asks. “Because I could’ve sworn that was me.”

“And I regret whatever reckless instinct made me marry Marston in Vegas and then forget it. But I—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Stella shakes her head. “I don’t think so. I call bullshit.”

My eyes go wide. “What? If I hadn’t forgotten, I wouldn’t have been able to say yes to Julian, and then I never would’ve been in this mess.”

She waves a hand. “Not that. The part about marrying Marston? I call bullshit that you’re regretting that. I think this whole thing with him has been a blessing in disguise. He showed up, and suddenly you had to take a real close look at what you were doing with Julian. He saved you from that disaster, and now you get to consider if maybe there’s still a chance for you and Mars. Zero regrets.”

“Is that what you all think?” I ask.

The other girls are suddenly very interested in their manicures.

But leave it to Stella to speak her mind. “You weren’t marrying Julian for yourself, honey. Everyone knows that. Even Julian knows that. He was the choice you should want. Your parents like him, he’s financially stable, and you’d get to play savior to everyone at The Orchid.”

I guess that’s probably partly true, but again, embarrassing.

“But Marston,” she says, her smile growing devious. “Even in the beginning, back when you were sixteen and innocent as a nun, Marston was one hundred percent for you.”

I swallow. I don’t want to think about that too much. As much as I’d like to give me and Marston a chance, I don’t want to leave Orchid Valley, and he doesn’t want to live here. I’ve worked too hard to make my life my own to surrender it now, and even if the whole living situation weren’t an issue, I don’t know if I want the kind of intensity and passion that come hand in hand with loving Marston. It scares me. “Anyway,” I say, weaving around that landmine. “I’m really sorry.”

“Have you told Cami yet?” Savvy asks gently.

I nod. “Yeah, and I don’t think any of it was real to her. It was like we were planning to have this fancy party, and now the party’s been canceled.” Thank God I never let Julian ask her to call him Dad. He’d been pushing for that for a while, and I said it wouldn’t be fair to Roman. But again, I think part of me knew. “Mostly, I think she’s worried about me.”

“She’s a good egg,” Savvy says.

“But what I want to know is have you told Marston yet,” Abbi says, leaning forward.

I laugh. “Actually, Julian told him when he got shitfaced and tried to take a swing at Marston.”

“Did Marston beat the shit out of him?” Savvy asks. “Julian must’ve been plowed if he thought he could win that fight.”

I rub my temples. I don’t like to think about it. Julian’s been acting out of character all week, and I can’t help but feel responsible. “Marston said he dodged the swings. I think he was too focused on getting to me to hand Julian’s ass to him.”

“Wait, Marston came to your house last night?” Savvy asks, eyes wide. “Details, please.”

Oops. I scan the table, willing our martinis to appear. “I’m gonna need a drink first.”

“Oh my God!” Stella cups her hands around her mouth and shouts across the bar, “Smithy, who do I have to blow to get those drinks?”

Tags: Lexi Ryan Orchid Valley Romance
Source: www.StudyNovels.com