Authors: Jennifer Miller
Tags: #General Fiction
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products, bands, and/or restaurants referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Cover Designer: Robin Harper, Wicked by Design
Formatting: Elaine York,
Allusion Graphics, LLC/Publishing & Book Formatting
For Jake, my real-life Prince Charming.
Knee deep in clothes when my phone starts ringing, I regret my impulsive decision to clean out my closet. I wonder if climbing the Matterhorn resembles the feeling I have as I move to get my phone. Catching my foot in the neckline of some random cast away garment, I stumble and almost fall on my face. Righting myself and cursing under my breath, I snatch my phone from my dresser and answer breathlessly, “Hello?”
“Hi! My name is Tiffany, and I’m looking for a Miss Gabriella Barrie, please.”
“Yes, this is she,” I respond absently looking at the small round solitaire engagement ring sitting erectly on my finger startled at the realization that it wouldn’t be my name for too much longer. The thought makes my stomach twist uncomfortably and I place my hand on my tummy trying unsuccessfully to knead the pain away.
The voice on the other end, obviously astute to my distraction, reorients me. “Uh, hello…hello…Hi, Gabriella! Like I said before, my name is Tiffany. I’m calling from Fairytale Vacations – where it’s our job to give you a happily ever after! I’m so excited to let you know that you’ve won a complimentary all inclusive vacation to an exclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.”
“Seriously? A vacation? That’s the best you’ve got? Very funny. Katie put you up to this right? It’s not funny,” I tell Tiffany or whatever her name really is with a mixture of disbelief and annoyance. I’ve never won anything in my life.
“Um, no. I’m not sure who Katie is,” she says and I can hear the confusion in her voice, which brings a moment of pause. “You attended a bridal expo last month and visited our booth,” she states. The completely overwhelming experience comes crashing through my memory like a tidal wave. I had reluctantly attended the event at the insistence of Jeremy’s mother Mariel. Hundreds of vendors were all crowded into a small space handing out samples, taking my name, number, and email address for all kinds of things from a free limo ride, wedding cake, even a wedding gown. Mariel was insistent that I participate in every available give-away – she even had pre-printed labels with all of my personal information to enable quick entry. The whole experience left me with handfuls of contacts, and several ideas, but more unsettled about the wedding details I wanted than when I arrived.
“Yes, I remember the expo.”
Do I ever.
“Great! Well we drew your name from over ten thousand entries, and you have won an all expenses paid trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for two!”
“Well…wow. That’s amazing!” I reply feeling speechless and shocked.
She laughs lightly, “I’ll send you an email with details on how to book your vacation, all the resort information, other activities that are available for you to schedule, as well as vouchers for the restaurants on site and the day spa.”
“That all sounds…incredible!”
“It really is. All you need to do is decide when you want to go and then arrange your flight accommodations with us – easy peasy!” She says excitedly and I quietly snort at her expression. “Well of course, you’ll probably want to buy a new swimsuit or two. Or heck, go crazy and get a new wardrobe,” she says laughing at herself.
“Well this is really great timing actually. My wedding is coming up soon and we were still trying to work out honeymoon details. I guess this settles that.” I can’t help but feel excited about going to Cabo - I’ve never been to Mexico before. My mind is already spinning with visions of myself lying in the sun, walking on the beach, enjoying a massage at the spa, and sneaking kisses from my new husband on the beach at night as we bask in the moonlight while listening to the ocean beat against the shore.
“That’s great, but just so you know, the voucher is for two people -
two people. So if for some reason you decide to do something else for your honeymoon… or for any other reason… you can use it for anyone, as long as you are one of the users. And you have a year in which to use the package.”
“Thank you so much, this is really great. Jeremy, my fiancé, won’t believe it!”
“You’re welcome. Congratulations. I just need to verify your email address, please.”
“Sure,” I reply and give her the information.
“Okay, I’ll get that email confirmation sent over. Congratulations again, and may all your dreams come true.”
My vacation started off as a way to escape. I needed to get away and wanted relaxation, but most importantly, I wanted to have some much needed and overdue fun. Where better to get that than a place offering plenty of sun, sand, and the healing powers of the ocean? And I would not do it alone - I’d have my bestie by my side; the person who knows me best and loves me most. How lucky I am to have such a meaningful friendship with her. I knew this time away with her would help heal the cracks of betrayal my heart was carrying. If I were lucky, my wounded pride would also be restored. And god knows I needed a saturating reorientation to the single lifestyle after being in a committed relationship for three years. Or at least
was committed. What I didn’t expect now, two weeks later, was to be returning home more broken hearted than I was when I left.
Walking away, well I guess it’s more like sneaking away, from the man I somehow managed to fall in love with over the last week, feels impossible. After returning my rental car and checking in for my flight home, an overwhelming urge to bend over at my waist and scream runs through me. I want to rant and rave at the unfairness of falling for a man that can never be mine. At having a stepmother from hell that’s in part influencing my decision to leave. For not being brave enough to say goodbye to his face. For letting my heart shred into so many pieces I wonder if it can ever possibly find its way back together again.
Fate is a sick and twisted bitch and I’d really like to give her a nasty catfight. I’d totally pull her hair, scratch out her eyes, kick, and fight dirty. That bitch fate deserves it.