Read Call Me Irresistible Online

Authors: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Women

Call Me Irresistible (2 page)

BOOK: Call Me Irresistible
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Meg tamped down a mounting sense of anger. “You’re brainwashed.”

“The three of us grew up with famous parents. You, me, and Ted . . . But Ted made his own fortune.”

“Not a fair comparison. You’ve been working in nonprofit, not exactly a launching pad for multimillionaires.” But Lucy still had the ability to support herself, something Meg had never managed. She’d been too busy traveling to remote locations on the pretext of studying local environmental issues and researching indigenous crafts, but really just enjoying herself. She loved her parents, but she didn’t love the way they’d cut her off. And why now? Maybe if they’d done it when she was twenty-one instead of thirty she wouldn’t feel like such a loser.

Lucy propped her small chin on the edge of the pillow so that it bunched around her cheeks. “My parents worship him, and you know how they are about the guys I’ve dated.”

“Not nearly as openly hostile as my parents are about the ones I date.”

“That’s because you date world-class losers.”

Meg couldn’t argue the point. Those losers had most recently included a schizoid surfer she’d met in Indonesia and an Australian rafting guide with serious anger-management issues. Some women learned from their mistakes. She obviously wasn’t one of them.

Lucy tossed the pillow aside. “Ted made his fortune when he was twenty-six inventing some kind of genius software system that helps communities stop from wasting power. A big step toward creating a national smart grid. Now he picks and chooses the consulting jobs he wants. When he’s home, he drives an old Ford truck with a hydrogen fuel cell he built himself, along with this solar-powered air-conditioning system and all kinds of other stuff I don’t understand. Do you have any idea how many patents Ted holds? No? Well, I don’t, either, although I’m sure every grocery store clerk in town does. Worst of all, nothing makes him mad. Nothing!”

“He sounds like Jesus. Except rich and sexy.”

“Watch it, Meg. In this town joking about Jesus could get you shot. You’ve never seen so many of the faithful who’re armed.” Lucy’s worried expression indicated she might be concerned about getting shot herself.

They had to leave for the rehearsal soon, and Meg was running out of time for subtlety. “What about your sex life? You’ve been annoyingly stingy with details, other than the stupid, three-month sexual moratorium you insisted on.”

“I want our wedding night to be special.” She tugged at her bottom lip with her teeth. “He’s the most incredible lover I’ve ever had.”

“Not the longest list in the world.”

“He’s legendary. And don’t ask how I found that out. He’s every woman’s dream lover. Totally unselfish. Romantic. It’s like he knows what a woman wants before she does.” She gave a long sigh. “And he’s mine. For life.”

Lucy didn’t sound nearly as happy about that as she should. Meg pulled her knees under her. “There has to be one bad thing about him.”


“Backward baseball cap. Morning breath. A secret passion for Kid Rock. There has to be something.”

“Well . . .” A look of helplessness flashed over Lucy’s face. “He’s perfect. That’s what’s wrong.”

Right then, Meg understood. Lucy couldn’t risk disappointing the people she loved, and now her future husband had become one more person she needed to live up to.

Lucy’s mother, the former president of the United States, chose that moment to stick her head in the bedroom. “Time to go, you two.”

Meg shot up from the couch. Even though she’d been raised around celebrities, she’d never quite lost her sense of awe in the presence of President Cornelia Case Jorik.

Nealy Jorik’s serene patrician features, highlighted honey brown hair, and trademark designer suits were familiar from thousands of photographs, but few of them showed the real person behind the American flag lapel pin, the complicated woman who’d once fled the White House for a cross-country adventure that had led her to Lucy and her sister Tracy, as well as Nealy’s beloved husband, journalist Mat Jorik.

Nealy gazed at them. “Seeing the two of you together . . . It seems like yesterday you were both college students.” A sentimental wash of tears softened the steely blue eyes of the former leader of the free world. “Meg, you’ve been a good friend to Lucy.”

“Somebody had to be.”

The president smiled. “I’m sorry your parents couldn’t be here.”

Meg wasn’t. “They can’t stand being separated for long, and this was the only time Mom could get away from work to join Dad while he’s filming in China.”

“I’m looking forward to his new movie. He’s never predictable.”

“I know they wish they could see Lucy get married,” Meg replied. “Mom, especially. You know how she feels about her.”

“The same way I feel about you,” the president said, too kindly, because in comparison to Lucy, Meg had turned out to be a major disappointment. Now, however, wasn’t the time to dwell on her past failures and dismal future. She needed to mull over her growing conviction that her best friend was about to make the mistake of a lifetime.

Lucy had elected to have only four attendants, her three sisters and Meg. They congregated at the altar while they waited for the arrival of the groom and his parents. Holly and Charlotte, Mat and Nealy’s biological daughters, clustered near their parents, along with Lucy’s half sister Tracy, who was eighteen, and their adopted seventeen-year-old African American brother, Andre. In his widely read newspaper column, Mat had stated, “If families have pedigrees, ours is American mutt.” Meg’s throat tightened. As much as her brothers made her feel inferior, she missed them right now.

Out of nowhere, the church doors blew open. And there he stood, silhouetted against the setting sun. Theodore Day Beaudine.

Trumpets began to sound. Honest-to-God trumpets blowing a chorus of hallelujahs.

“Jesus,” she whispered.

“I know,” Lucy whispered back. “Stuff like this happens to him all the time. He says it’s accidental.”

Despite everything Lucy had told her, Meg still wasn’t prepared for her first sight of Ted Beaudine. He had perfectly bladed cheekbones, a flawlessly straight nose, and a square, movie-star jaw. He could have stepped down off a Times Square billboard, except he didn’t have the artifice of a male model.

He strode down the center aisle with a long, easy gait, his dark brown hair kissed with copper. Jeweled light from the stained-glass windows flung precious gems in his path, as if a simple red carpet weren’t good enough for such a man to walk upon. Meg barely noticed his famous parents following a few steps behind. She couldn’t look away from her best friend’s bridegroom.

He greeted his bride’s family in a low-pitched, pleasant voice. The trumpets practicing in the choir loft reached a crescendo, he turned, and Meg got sucker punched.

Those eyes . . . Golden amber touched with honey and rimmed with flint. Eyes that blazed with intelligence and perception. Eyes that cut to the quick. As she stood before him, she felt Ted Beaudine gazing inside her and taking note of everything she worked so hard to hide—her aimlessness, her inadequacy, her absolute failure to claim a worthy place in the world.

We both know you’re a screwup,
his eyes said,
but I’m sure you’ll grow out of it someday. If not . . . Well . . . How much can anyone expect from an overindulged child of Hollywood?

Lucy was introducing them. “ . . . so glad the two of you can finally meet. My best friend and my future husband.”

Meg prided herself on her tough veneer, but she barely managed a perfunctory nod.

“If I could have your attention . . .” the minister said.

Ted squeezed Lucy’s hand and smiled into his bride’s upturned face, a fond, satisfied smile that never once disturbed the detachment in those tiger quartz eyes. Meg’s alarm grew. Whatever emotions he felt for Lucy, none of them included the fierce passion her best friend deserved.

The groom’s parents were hosting the rehearsal dinner, a lavish barbecue for one hundred, at the local country club, a place that represented everything Meg detested—overindulged rich white people too fixated on their own pleasure to spare a thought for the damage their chemically poisoned, water-guzzling golf course was inflicting on the planet. Even Lucy’s explanation that it was only a semiprivate club and anyone could play didn’t change her opinion. Secret Service kept the international press corps hovering by the gates, along with a crowd of curious onlookers hoping to glimpse a famous face.

And famous faces were everywhere, not just in the bridal party. The groom’s mother and father were world renowned. Dallas Beaudine was a legend in professional golf, and Ted’s mother, Francesca, was one of the first and best of television’s celebrity interviewers. The rich and prominent spilled from the back veranda of the antebellum-style clubhouse as far as the first tee—politicians, movie stars, the elite athletes of the professional golfing world, and a contingent of locals of various ages and ethnicities: schoolteachers and shopkeepers, mechanics and plumbers, the town barber, and a very scary-looking biker.

Meg watched Ted move through the crowd. He was low-key and self-effacing, yet an invisible klieg light seemed to follow him everywhere. Lucy stayed at his side, practically vibrating with tension as one person after another stopped them to chat. Through it all, Ted remained unruffled, and even though the room hummed with happy chatter, Meg found it increasingly difficult to keep a smile on her face. He struck her more as a man executing a carefully calculated mission than a loving bridegroom on the eve of his wedding.

She’d just finished a predictable conversation with a former television newscaster about how she didn’t look anything like her incredibly beautiful mother when Ted and Lucy appeared at her side. “What did I tell you?” Lucy grabbed her third glass of champagne from a passing waiter. “Isn’t he great?”

Without acknowledging the compliment, Ted studied Meg through those eyes that had seen it all, even though he couldn’t have traveled to half the places Meg had visited.

You call yourself a citizen of the world,
his eyes whispered,
but that only means you don’t belong anywhere.

She needed to focus on Lucy’s plight, not her own, and she had to do something quickly. So what if she came across as rude? Lucy was used to Meg’s bluntness, and Ted Beaudine’s good opinion meant nothing to her. She touched the fabric knot at her shoulder. “Lucy neglected to mention that you’re also the mayor of Wynette . . . in addition to being its patron saint.”

He didn’t seem either offended, flattered, or taken aback by Meg’s crack. “Lucy exaggerates.”

“I do not,” Lucy said. “I swear that woman standing by the trophy case genuflected when you walked by.”

Ted grinned, and Meg caught her breath. That slow grin gave him a dangerous boyish look that Meg didn’t buy for a moment. She plunged in. “Lucy is my dearest friend—the sister I always wanted—but do you have any idea how many annoying habits she has?”

Lucy frowned, but she didn’t try to derail the conversation, which spoke volumes.

“Her flaws are small compared to mine.” His eyebrows were darker than his hair, but his lashes were pale, tipped with gold, as if they’d been dipped in stars.

Meg edged closer. “Exactly what would those flaws be?”

Lucy seemed as interested in his answer as Meg herself.

“I can be a little naive,” he said. “For example, I let myself be roped into the mayor’s job even though I didn’t want it.”

“So you’re a people pleaser.” Meg didn’t try to make it sound like anything other than an accusation. Maybe she could rattle him.

“I’m not exactly a people pleaser,” he said mildly. “I was just taken by surprise when my name showed up on the ballot. I should have anticipated.”

“You’re sort of a people pleaser,” Lucy said hesitantly. “I can’t think of a single person you don’t please.”

He kissed her on the nose. Like she was his pet. “As long as I please you.”

Meg left the border of polite conversation behind. “So you’re a naive people pleaser. What else?”

Ted didn’t blink. “I try not to be boring, but sometimes I get carried away with topics that aren’t always of general interest.”

“Nerd,” Meg concluded.

“Exactly,” he said.

Lucy remained loyal. “I don’t mind. You’re a very interesting person.”

“I’m glad you think so.”

He took a sip of his beer, still giving Meg’s rudeness serious consideration. “I’m a terrible cook.”

“That’s true!” Lucy looked as though she’d stumbled on a gold mine.

Her delight amused him, and once again that slow grin claimed his face. “I’m not taking cooking lessons, either, so you’ll have to live with it.”

Lucy got a little starry-eyed, and Meg realized Ted’s self-inventory of flaws was only making him more winning, so she redirected her attack. “Lucy needs a man who’ll let her be herself.”

“I don’t think Lucy needs a man to let her be anything,” he countered quietly. “She’s her own person.”

Which showed how little he understood this woman he was planning to marry. “Lucy hasn’t been her own person since she was fourteen years old and met up with her future parents,” Meg retorted. “She’s a rebel. She was born to cause trouble, but she won’t stir the pot because she doesn’t want to embarrass the people she cares about. Are you prepared to deal with that?”

BOOK: Call Me Irresistible
4.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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