Forever in Cape May

Page 61

“No! I’m sorry, Samantha, someone’s, um, knocking at my door and I have to go. I’ll call back—thanks.”

She hung up quickly and threw the phone on the table like she’d been burned. The realization that Pierce was already moving on shook through her. Samantha was her replacement—a friend who could turn into something more. Yes, she wanted Pierce to be happy and eventually settle down with a woman who could give him everything she couldn’t. But not so soon after they’d experienced a joy and passion she used to believe was only possible in the movies.

She’d given him up for the greater good because she loved him too much to hurt him later. The sacrifice had taken all her strength. Yet he’d happily picked up the pieces without even grieving her.


The betrayal ate at her insides, like a mouse gnawing on a piece of string, and she dropped her face into her hands, overwhelmed and lonely and terrified that she’d lost not only the love of her life, but her beloved best friend.

For the first time in a long while, she cried.


“You’re home!” Avery screeched, throwing her arms around Taylor’s neck. “We missed you!”

Bella was right behind, getting in on the hug, and Taylor laughed. “Guys, I love you, too, but you’re strangling me.”

They jumped back. “Sorry,” Avery said. “I just got excited.”

“Where’s Mom and Dad?” she asked, dropping her bags.

“Out with Zoe at the beach. We’re having a big dinner tonight, though, to celebrate your amazing art-show success, and everyone will be here.”

Taylor’s heart pounded, and she turned away so her face was hidden. “Oh, was Pierce able to reschedule to make it?” she asked casually.

“No, I’m sorry, babe. He called and said he’s out of town, and there was no way he could get home in time.”

“Yeah, he told me,” she lied. “I was just double-checking.” She forced a smile and walked into the kitchen. “I can’t wait to catch up with everyone. Are you set for the rehearsal dinner tomorrow night?”

Avery’s eyes sparkled. “Yes. I put Nora in charge of all the outstanding details, and she’s done amazing. I’m not even stressed. I thought about what you guys said and really began to enjoy the wedding planning again instead of looking at it as a job. It’s going to be perfect.”

Bella sniffed. “We know it is.”

“Oh no. You will not start crying before the ceremony,” Taylor warned, jabbing her finger at her sister. “Seriously, I’ll kick both of your asses. We will not be one of those weepy, wimpy families that blubber over a bride in white. We have a reputation to uphold!”

They laughed. “You’re right,” Avery said. “We’re professionals and will act as such. We can cry later in private—a happy cry, of course.”

“Deal.” They stuck out their pinkies, made the swear, then sat in the kitchen, catching up.

“Avery, are you sure you don’t want a crazy bachelorette party with strippers and dancing and cocktails?” Taylor teased. “I hope you know Ally gave us a hard time about you refusing to celebrate.” Ally was Carter’s younger sister and Avery’s best friend in college. They’d dubbed themselves the double A’s, which Carter had disapproved of back in the day, when he believed Avery was too wild. Avery and Carter had fallen in love with each other while fighting throughout planning Ally’s wedding last year. Which was hysterical, since it was right out of one of those rom-coms her sisters adored.

Avery waved her hand in the air. “I swear to you, I’ve been to enough of those things over the years and don’t want it. I’m looking forward to our pajama party tonight. I want to watch romantic movies and eat goodies and do shots at home!”

Bella laughed. “Simplest wish to fulfill. It’s almost embarrassing how easy you’re making it on Taylor and me.”

“I think Ally was craving some time to cut loose since she was the first one married. She wanted the double A’s to ride again,” Avery said.

“Well, Carter chose her as his best woman,” Bella said. “She could go to his bachelor party if she wants.”

“Carter’s just hanging with the guys tonight, too,” Avery said. “I guess we both wanted to enjoy some special downtime with family and friends.”

“Fine with me. I’ll concentrate all my spectacular bleach-worthy bachelorette party ideas while planning Bella’s,” Taylor said.

Her sister widened her eyes in horror. “God, no. Just . . . no.”

“We’ll see. Now, did I tell you what Luis said about the next exhibit?” she asked, deftly maneuvering the subject.

Taylor filled them both in on her work and routine in Paris, then prodded a bit to find out more about Samantha. “I called Pierce this week, and Sam answered his phone. Do you think they’re dating?” she asked breezily.

Avery frowned. “I’m not sure. They’ve been out and about a lot together, but it looks like they’re strictly friends to me. Babe, are you holding out on us? Did anything else happen between you and Pierce?”

She looked at her sisters and felt the resolve inside begin to crumble. God, she just wanted to tell them the truth and ask for their opinion. She felt so isolated, trapped in her own lies, but she didn’t want to ruin Avery’s wedding with the selfish problems she’d brought on herself. But she’d made a vow to tell them if she needed advice. Maybe during their pajama party there’d be a good opportunity to open up.

She forced a smile. “No, we’re both good—just been very busy. We’ll have plenty of time to catch up this weekend. I was just curious.”

Avery breathed out in relief. “Oh, good. I got scared. What a nightmare it’d be if you two were having issues during my wedding, right?”

She kept her smile and hoped it didn’t look frozen to her face. Thank God, she hadn’t said anything. She’d wait until her sister returned from her honeymoon. Avery didn’t need any additional stress. “Right. That’d be just . . . awful.”

“I’ve always admired the closeness you both shared,” Bella said. “And you proved it again to us! You were able to have amazing sex, then flip right back into friendship. I’m so happy you’ve achieved everything you want, Taylor. It’s finally your time.” She jumped up and glanced at the clock. “Now, I’d better get started on dinner, and aren’t we lucky you’re back? You can set the table!”

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