Twenty-eight-year old Annabel Green is about to tie the knot with her college love, an aspiring author Jeremy Blake, but her plans for an ideal wedding are rudely interrupted when she catches Jeremy kissing his gorgeous book agent.
Shell-shocked by Jeremy's betrayal, Annabel retreats into the quiet routine of TV dinners and solitary evenings. It is then that Annabel's best friend, fashion designer Lilly Clayton, sets herself on a mission to draw Annabel out of her shell. In an attempt to persuade Annabel to keep an open mind on dating, Lilly takes Annabel for a stunning makeover, but after Annabel passes on a date with a dashing entrepreneur, Lilly decides that more drastic measures are needed. Lilly invites Annabel to see a palm reader who gives Annabel a lucky charm that is supposed to help her find true love.
A few weeks later, Annabel meets a new love interest, and as the two embark on a whirlwind romance, she starts to believe in the power of the talisman the palm reader has given her. But what Annabel doesn't know is that Lilly is hiding a secret that could unravel her faith in her newly found luck in love.
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“Ann, where did all these garbage bags come from?”
Perhaps it was her imagination, but Annabel was certain that she heard a note of apprehension in Jeremy’s voice.
“Those are your clothes.”
Annabel stood facing him, her arms folded across her chest. She hoped that Jeremy would not notice the puffiness that still lingered around her eyes from all the crying.
“My clothes?” Jeremy looked dumbfounded. “But why would you put my clothes into garbage bags? I know that you don’t always approve of my fashion sense, but don’t you think that’s a bit extreme?” Jeremy managed a chuckle, but his eyes darted about nervously.
“That’s right. I never liked your preppy shirts and your corduroy jackets with leather patches on the sleeves.
Why would anyone buy a new jacket with sleeve patches? They are pretentious and full of shit, just like you.” Annabel could barely believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. She had been terrified of bursting into tears at the sight of Jeremy, and yet here she was, sounding tougher than nails, albeit with the help of several shots of Hine cognac that she had downed to dull her anguish.
“Where is this coming from? Baby, what’s wrong? I was going to surprise you with wonderful news, and this is the kind of welcome I get?”
“Let me guess. Athena sold your book?”
“How did you know that?”
“Because I saw you with her, celebrating.”
Jeremy had an excellent poker face, but now it failed him completely as he turned paper white.
“I can explain,” he murmured.
“That ought to be a good one. I’d like to hear how you’re going to explain your tongue in her mouth.”
“Ann, I did it for us…”
“How can you say that?” She stared at him, uncomprehending. “How long have you been seeing her behind my back?”
Jeremy looked away.
“Tell me how long you’ve been sneaking behind my back. You owe me this much.” She glared at him.
“Ever since she started representing me…”
Three months, Annabel thought. Jeremy’s admission stunned her like thunder on a sunny day. She had been made a fool of for three months.
“Ann, she promised to get me a movie deal! Do you realize what this could do for my career?” Jeremy halted. “I did it for us. It was the only way I could get my foot in the door! Now, I can finally give back to you as I’ve promised.”
“You have a very interesting understanding of paying back, Jeremy. If I had known that from the start, I would have never wasted seven years of my life on you.” Suddenly Annabel felt that the tears she had managed to stall off until now were about to unleash themselves with a vengeance. “I’m going to go out for a walk. I’ll be back in an hour. I hope that by that time you’ll be gone.”
“Please, baby! Don’t leave. Not like this!” Jeremy rushed toward her.
“Not like this? Is the timing wrong for you? Sorry I wasn’t blind enough to let you go on with your charade until it would be convenient for you to move over to Athena’s.” By the way Jeremy averted his eyes, Annabel knew that she had hit the nail right on the head. “Are you worried that Athena might not want you for the long term? Well, I’m sure the two of you will figure things out. At any rate, now you should be able to pay your own rent.”
She had meant to hurt him by her last remark, but instead she felt that she hurt herself more. Was that all she had been to him – a convenient means to pay the rent with unlimited sex benefits? She had to get out of there before she broke down in front of him.
“Goodbye, Jeremy.” She was about to walk out, but then she remembered the sapphire ring on her finger, the very ring that Jeremy had proposed with two years ago. She twisted the ring off her left ring finger and placed it on the dining table. Then she was gone, hurrying out into the street before he could see the tears in her eyes.
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels Lucky Charm, Smitten at First Sight, This Tangled Thing Called Love, romantic suspense novel, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window.
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