Authors: DL White
© 2016 DL White
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, 2016
As the daughter of a serviceman, I am formerly from all over the place; however I have lived in the grandest city in the south, Atlanta, since early 2003. I'm a northwestern girl at heart but I think I've finally got this southern thing down... the tea is sweet and the fish come with grits!
I'm a lover of technology and a fan of Brunch and am seriously addicted to coffee. I devour books (and Skittles) and blog my reviews and thoughts on writing at
I have been writing for most of my life but began seriously pursuing a writing career in 2009. My debut novel, Brunch at Ruby’s published in 2015. A Thin Line is my third project.
A tall, dark and bulky figure moves easily through the dimly lit bar, his Oxfords announcing his arrival with audible clicks on the wood floors of
, our favorite gathering place. His goatee is neatly trimmed, his hair sports the markings of a fresh cut, and his smile is bright as he approaches our table. He must have come straight from work; he's always in a great mood after a day of destroying people's lives.
What the hell is he doing here? Maybe he's not really here. Maybe this is a nightmare. Maybe I’ll wake up any second… nope.
His hands dwarf my shoulders as he gives me a squeeze and bends over me to brush his lips across my cheek. I angle away from the woody scent of cologne and the hint of minty breath wafting over me.
“Hello, Evangeline. You look tired.”
"I haven't gone by that name in years, Preston. Smart guy like you should be able to pick up on that."
Much to my chagrin, he pulls out the chair next to me and settles into it. I shoot a pained look across the table at Morgan, the bestest friend I have in the world and the only reason I would put up with Preston Reid, but she doesn't see it.
Or she sees it, but as usual she ignores it. Next to her is Nate, the love of her life, and the two of them are so gaga over each other tonight, it's sickening.
An hour ago, my evening was perfect–the usual Monday night date with Morgan at our usual table at the usual place. When she called earlier to ask if Nate could drop by for a few minutes, I thought nothing of it. I've known him as long as I've known Morgan, so I'm always happy to see him. Plus, he always buys a round of drinks.
But Nate is still
and I'm irritated. Now Preston is here and I'm seething with anger. They both know I hate him.
"What's goin' on man?" Preston’s oversized hands envelope Nate's grasp.
"It’s all good,” Nate replies, actually taking his eyes off of Morgan. "Grab the waitress. Order up."
Before Preston can summon her, the waitress drops by to take orders. And flirt. Preston gives off a vibe that women respond to like Pavlov's Dog. She’s young, perky and curvy, her tawny skin on display in a crop top and super short skirt. Her huge rack and long blonde weave make her exactly his type. I can't stop my eyes from rolling at her fake laughter at his lame jokes.
"I'll take another one of these," I say, pointing toward my empty glass.
"If you're trying to get drunk, you'll need something a lot stronger than Chardonnay."
I sigh and roll my eyes, twisting my body in the chair so I angle away from him. "Good advice. Maybe I can drink enough to tune out the sound of your voice."
He laughs like he always does, like it's the most hilarious joke he's ever heard. He orders a fancy craft beer from cute busty waitress and she bounces away, looking over her shoulder to make sure Preston is watching her ass. He is.
"Pig," I mutter, then turn my attention to the beaming couple. "Date night has been hijacked and I am not happy about it."
"Well, you’re both here because we… have an announcement." Morgan hesitates, shifts her gaze to Nate and then back to the two of us. She practically explodes when she lays the news on us: "Nathan and I have decided to get married!"
Morgan was literally a drama queen in high school, majored in Theater Arts at University of Central Florida, and is a Casting Director at Universal Studios. Theatrics is in her blood, but it's not like this news is a grand reveal. Nate and Morgan have been attached at the hip since the third grade.
There are eight of us in our group of friends. Some of us met in college, some of us worked together, but Nate, Morgan, Preston and I are the core group. We grew up on the same street in a quiet Orlando suburb. We all went to the same elementary, junior high and high school. Our parents are all friends.
I went to UCF, then went on to Barry School of Law. Preston floundered at Rollins College for a year and then decided to join Morgan, Nate and I at UCF where, for no apparent reason–because he was never interested in law before– he earned a degree in Legal Studies and joined me at Barry.
He was in nearly every one of my classes at Barry and made sure to sit behind or beside me every day. Probably to copy off of my exams. He chose to work for a firm that directly competes with mine, which I'm positive he did to spite me. His office is across town but we're often in the courtroom, arguing opposite sides of the same case. He has delighted in kicking my ass on every one.
Did I mention I can't
If I’m being honest, we
make a cute couple. At 5'7", I'm the perfect height for him, even in heels. We both have toasted caramel skin and brown eyes, though mine are more a deep espresso and his have flecks of gold. He's always maintained a short, suave hairstyle and I keep my pixie cut on point. We are both well into professional careers with rewarding personal lives.
So yeah, Preston and I make a really cute couple.
Unfortunately, we make a really cute couple that fights
all the time
. We tried it. It didn't work.
I sip my wine and wait for the happy couple to stop making eyes at each other. Preston takes a long drag off of his beer, his eyes dancing around the semi dark bar. Probably picking out victims.
"I mean, congrats and everything. That’s really awesome but… what does this news have to do with Preston and me? I get one night a week to spend with Morgan without having to hang out with the guys."
Morgan sits up, her freshly twisted locs falling forward. She's glowing as she clasps her hands together in what I can only guess is glee. Inwardly, I groan. There's no telling what she's about to say.
"So we were thinking...and let us know what you think...but we were thinking..." She pauses and turns to Nate for support. Nate softly laughs at her and lays an arm across the back of her chair. Leaning forward, he rests his forearm on the table.
"We're thinking of going away for the wedding."
"Like eloping?" I squeak, choking on my drink. "Like I don't get to see you get married?"
"Oh no, no, sweetheart," Morgan says. "I mean all of us. Our friends, our family, we all go away for a few days. It'll be like a combination vacation–wedding–reception trip. Nate and I would cover the hotel stay. Everyone would just have to get themselves to...wherever. What do you think?"
She stares at me with this look in her eyes that's hopeful and beautiful. She wants me to not only love her idea but
fall in love
with it. She's the dreamer, the one that wishes up things. I'm the bubble buster, the realist, the one who brings her down to earth.
I can't find a thing to complain about, though. It's not like I couldn't use a vacation. Even thinking about time away makes my mouth water. Nate is part owner of a private Pediatrics clinic. He and Morgan live in Vizcaya, a gated community full of NBA players and famous musicians. He's
. If he's paying, I'm in.
But...I have a
bad feeling about why Preston and I, and none of the other friends, are here tonight.
"It sounds like a great idea, actually. Do you have any ideas about where and when?"
Nate gives Preston a look that turns my blood cold. "We thought we'd leave that bit of research and planning up to our Best Man..." He winks at Preston. "And Maid of Honor," he finishes, grinning at me.
No. Nope. No, no, no. I open my mouth to lodge a loud complaint, but Nate cuts me off. "Look, there's a lot of ways we could do this and Morgan could be Bridezilla and I could be the hands–off groom, but we thought it would be fun if our best friends planned our wedding getaway. You know us better than anyone and you'll come up with some stuff that we wouldn't have even thought of. So we thought we’d present the idea tonight and see if you're up to it."
"I'm in," says Preston. "We could do Hawaii on the cheap. Like a luau and a pig roast would probably be–"
"Oh, hell the
I say…well, more like shriek, and much louder than I intended. Half of Prime's finely dressed patrons turn to stare at the screaming girl. I'm sure my caramel complexion has a nice undertone of beet red and I feel like I'm overheating.
"My best friend is not getting married in a cheap grass skirt while a roast pig with a fucking apple stuck in its mouth is the centerpiece. You're out of your mind if you think I’m helping you pull that off.”
"It's an idea, Evangel-"
"Stop calling me that!” I glare at Preston. My hackles are up and he knows it. This is our dance. This has been our dance for the last twenty years. “My name is Angie. You're the only person that calls me Evangeline and I'm sick of it!"
Morgan reaches across the table and lays a hand on mine. I grab my drink and guzzle the rest of it. It barely splashes down my throat before I slam the glass back onto the table and shoot my arm into the air, waving at the waitress from across the room.
"There's obviously a lot to decide and talk about. Morgan and I will let you know what we're looking for. I won't say money's no object, but–" Nate looks at Preston while he says this last part. "Hawaii's played. We want everyone to have a great time and celebrate with us. That's rule number one."
"I know this is a lot to put on you, but..." Morgan sighs. "If you help us with this, after the wedding we'll never ask you to hang out with each other again."
"Promise?" Preston and I ask at the same time. I cut my eyes at him; he glares at me.
The waitress drops by with another drink for me and Morgan and a fresh beer for Preston. Nate doesn't drink when he's on call so she refills his water glass.
I slurp a mouthful of wine. It’s warm going down. I feel a little loose and think maybe this third glass wasn’t such a good idea.
Preston flirts with the waitress some more, pulling a gem from his collection of unfunny jokes. She laughs… loud, long and obnoxiously. Odds on getting her number for a booty call, then avoiding her after that? One hundred to one.
Pig. Not that I care. I hate him.
I don’t know why I let Preston Reid get under my skin.