Read Call Me Irresistible Online
Authors: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Women
SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS
To Iris, Miss Irresistible
Before Teddy knew it, his mom was hugging him and Dallie was hugging her, and the three of them were standing right there in the middle of the Statue of Liberty security office hugging each other and crying like a dumb old bunch of babies.
ore than a few residents of Wynette, Texas, thought Ted Beaudine was marrying beneath himself. It wasn’t as if the bride’s mother was
the president of the United States. Cornelia Jorik had been out of office for over a year. And Ted Beaudine was, after all, Ted Beaudine.
The younger residents wanted him to marry a multiplatinum rock star, but he’d already had that chance and turned her down. Ditto a reigning actress-fashionista. Most, however, thought he should have chosen someone from the world of women’s professional sports, specifically the LPGA. As it was, Lucy Jorik didn’t even play golf.
That didn’t stop the local merchants from stamping Lucy’s and Ted’s faces on some special-edition golf balls. But the dimpling made them look a little cross-eyed, so most of the tourists who crowded the town to catch a glimpse of the weekend festivities favored the more flattering golf towels. Other bestsellers included the commemorative plates and mugs mass-produced by the town’s Golden Agers, with the proceeds going to repairing the fire-damaged Wynette Public Library.
As the hometown of two of the greatest players in professional golf, Wynette, Texas, was used to seeing celebrities walking its streets, although not a former president of the United States. Every hotel and motel within a fifty-mile radius was filled with politicians, athletes, movie stars, and heads of state. Secret Service agents had popped up all over, and way too many journalists were taking up valuable bar space at the Roustabout. But with only one industry to support the local economy, the town had fallen on tough times, and Wynette’s citizens welcomed the business. The Kiwanis had gotten particularly inventive by selling bleacher seats across the street from Wynette Presbyterian for twenty dollars each.
The general public had been shocked when the bride had chosen the small Texas town for the ceremony instead of having a Beltway wedding, but Ted was a Hill Country boy through and through, and the locals had never imagined he’d marry anyplace else. He’d grown into a man under their watchful eyes, and they knew him as well as they knew their own families. Not a soul in town could muster up a single bad thing to say about him. Even his ex-girlfriends couldn’t do more than muster sighs of regret. That’s the kind of man Ted Beaudine was.
Meg Koranda might be the daughter of Hollywood royalty, but she was also broke, homeless, and desperate, which didn’t exactly put her in the mood to be a bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding. Especially when she suspected her best friend just might be making the mistake of a lifetime by marrying the favorite son of Wynette, Texas.
Lucy Jorik, the bride-to-be, paced the carpet of her suite at the Wynette Country Inn, which her illustrious family had taken over for the festivities. “They won’t say it to my face, Meg, but everybody in this town believes Ted is marrying
Lucy looked so upset that Meg wanted to hug her, or maybe she wanted that comfort for herself. She vowed not to add her own misery to her friend’s distress. “An interesting conclusion for these hayseeds to make, considering you’re only the oldest daughter of the former president of the United States. Not exactly a nobody.”
“Adopted daughter. I’m serious, Meg. The people in Wynette
me. Every time I go out.”
This wasn’t entirely new information, since Meg talked to Lucy on the phone several times a week, but their phone calls hadn’t revealed the tense lines that seemed to have taken up permanent residence above the bridge of Lucy’s small nose. Meg tugged on one of her silver earrings, which might or might not be Sung dynasty, depending on whether she believed the Shanghai rickshaw driver who’d sold them to her. “I’m guessing you’re more than a match for the good citizens of Wynette.”
“It’s just so unnerving,” Lucy said. “They try to be cagey about it, but I can’t walk down the street without somebody stopping to ask if I happen to know what year Ted won the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship or how much time passed between his bachelor’s and master’s degrees—a trick question because he earned them together.”
Meg had dropped out of college before she earned even one degree, so the idea of earning two together struck her as more than a little demented. Still, Lucy could be a tad obsessive herself. “It’s a new experience, that’s all. Not having everybody suck up to you.”
“Believe me, no danger of that.” Lucy pushed a lock of light brown hair behind her ear. “At a party last week, somebody asked me very casually, as if everybody has this conversation over a cheese ball, if I happened to know Ted’s IQ, which I didn’t, but I figured she didn’t know, either, so I said one thirty-eight. But, oh no . . . As it turns out, I made a
mistake. Apparently Ted scored one hundred and
the last time he was tested. And according to the bartender, Ted had the flu or he’d have done better.”
Meg wanted to ask Lucy if she’d really thought this marriage thing through, but, unlike Meg, Lucy didn’t do anything impulsively.
They’d met in college when Meg had been a rebellious freshman and Lucy a savvy, but lonely, sophomore. Since Meg had also grown up with famous parents, she understood Lucy’s suspicion of new friendships, but gradually the two of them had bonded despite their very different personalities, and it hadn’t taken Meg long to see something others missed. Beneath Lucy Jorik’s fierce determination to avoid embarrassing her family beat the heart of a natural-born hell-raiser. Not that anyone would know that from her appearance.
Lucy’s elfin features and thick, little-girl eyelashes made her look younger than her thirty-one years. She’d grown out her shiny brown hair since her college days and sometimes held it back from her face with an assortment of velvet headbands that Meg wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, just as she’d never have chosen Lucy’s ladylike aqua sheath with its tidy black grosgrain belt. Instead, Meg had wrapped her long, gangly body in several lengths of jewel-toned silk that she’d twisted and tied at one shoulder. Vintage black gladiator sandals—size eleven—laced up her calves, and an ornate silver pendant she’d made from an antique betel-nut container she’d purchased at an open-air market in central Sumatra rested between her breasts. She’d complemented her probably fake Sung dynasty earrings with a stack of bangles she’d bought for six dollars at T.J. Maxx and embellished with African trade beads. Fashion ran in her blood.
And travels a crooked path,
her famous New York couturier uncle had said.
Lucy twisted the strand of demure pearls at her neck. “Ted is . . . He’s the closest the universe has come to creating the perfect man. Look at my wedding present? What kind of man gives his bride a church?”
“Impressive, I have to admit.” Earlier that afternoon, Lucy had taken Meg to see the abandoned wooden church nestled at the end of a narrow lane on the outskirts of town. Ted had bought it to save it from demolition, then lived in it for a few months while his current house was being built. Although it was now unfurnished, it was a charming old building, and Meg didn’t have any trouble understanding why Lucy loved it.
“He said that every married woman needs a place of her own to keep her sane. Can you imagine anything more thoughtful?”
Meg had a more cynical interpretation. What better strategy for a wealthy married man to employ if he intended to set up a private space for himself?
“Pretty incredible” was all she said. “I can’t wait to meet him.” She cursed the series of personal and financial crises that had kept her from hopping a plane months ago to meet Lucy’s fiancé. As it was, she’d missed Lucy’s showers and been forced to drive to the wedding from L.A. in a junker she’d bought from her parents’ gardener.
With a sigh, Lucy settled on the couch next to Meg. “As long as Ted and I live in Wynette, I’ll always come up short.”
Meg could no longer resist hugging her friend. “You’ve never come up short in your life. You single-handedly saved yourself and your sister from a childhood in foster homes. You adapted to the White House like a champion. As for brains . . . you have a master’s degree.”
Lucy leaped up. “Which I didn’t earn until
I’d gotten my bachelor’s.”
Meg ignored that piece of craziness. “Your work advocating for kids has changed lives, and in my opinion, that counts for more than an astronomical IQ.”
Lucy sighed. “I love him, but sometimes . . .”
Lucy waved a freshly manicured hand displaying fingernails polished the palest blush instead of the emerald green Meg currently preferred. “It’s stupid. Last-minute jitters. Never mind.”
Meg’s concern grew. “Lucy, we’ve been best friends for twelve years. We know each other’s darkest secrets. If there’s something wrong . . .”
“Nothing’s exactly wrong. I’m just nervous about the wedding and all the attention it’s getting. The press is everywhere.” She settled on the edge of the bed and pulled a pillow to her chest, just as she used to do in college when something upset her. “But . . . What if he’s too good for me? I’m smart, but he’s smarter. I’m pretty, but he’s gorgeous. I try to be a decent person, but he’s practically a saint.”