Small-town bridesmaid Marley is out of her element at a Martha’s Vineyard wedding and just has to fall for a moody billionaire groomsman…
Marley Jackson has always known that in order to not end up stuck in the small town of Angler’s Haven, South Carolina, she needs to plan her every move precisely or be blindsided by things outside her control. When she heads to Martha’s Vineyard for a lavish wedding, she catches the eye of cocky billionaire Holden Pierce, who makes it clear that their fling will be flung once the weekend is over.
As feelings develop between them, Marley has to decide if her predictable life is what’s holding her back from being truly happy, and if that happiness means she can finally let go and leave things to chance…
Reader advisory: This book contains references to the death of a sibling, one scene of dubious consent and one of anal sex.
General Release Date: 17th April 2018
Elle and I stared at the gleaming white monstrosity of a house while the Uber we were crammed into maneuvered the circular drive, our mouths hanging open in shock and envy.
“This is the vacation house?” Elle whispered, just in case raising our voices wasn’t allowed when we were several feet away from a huge Georgian mansion, bigger than any house we had ever seen in our lives, on the ocean of the east Atlantic coast.
“Ava told us he’s rich.” I scanned the tall Greek columns and sweeping wraparound porch.
“This isn’t rich, Marley. This is like P. Diddy, gold faucets, sneezing into cashmere Kleenex rich,” Elle said, still whispering, still staring.
“Whatever. The Reed Whitakers still put their pants on one leg at a time, just like us, right?”
“No, I’m sure they pay someone to dress them in their tailored Armani slacks every morning. Two people—one for each leg.”
“Then they’re supporting the local economy! So, they can’t be that bad.” I dragged my honey-blonde hair up off my neck into a low knot, then let it go, deciding against it. I had spent the better part of the morning blow-drying and taming my mid-back-length hair and a ponytail would make it all bumpy and I’d have to start all over again. Playing with my hair had become a nervous habit for me in third grade—I couldn’t seem to let it go. And my nerves were about as frazzled as they could be right then.
Elle and I were both anxious about traveling from Columbia, South Carolina, to the Yankee-wealth-stronghold of the north, Martha’s Vineyard. But our college roommate, and one fourth of the ‘tribe’ we had spent four years sowing our wild oats with, was getting married five years after we’d graduated—to Reed Larrick Whitaker the Second. Ava had been smitten by him from the get-go. He was just the kind of man she’d always wanted—one who would let her avoid working for a living, spoiling her and insisting she stay home to raise their future tow-headed babies while shopping on weekends for couture with his paycheck.
I wouldn’t call it love at first sight. Reed had tried in the beginning to keep things casual, but Ava had wasted no time locking him down with incredible blow jobs and ultimatums, and now we were three days away from her dream wedding at his family’s colossal summer house.
“Good news is that we can steal the silver to pay the rent.” Elle flung her door open and stepped out.
That didn’t seem like a bad idea. We were already two weeks late and our landlord was a creep of epic proportions who’d told Elle to her face that she could work off the rent if she happened to be ‘an ass virgin, willing to let him come in her without a condom’. Word for word, that was verbatim what Mr. Vindap had said when she’d told him we might be a few days late last month. Now we were late again and I swear Elle had started walking backward up the stairs in case he came up behind her, poor thing.
I shoved out of my side of the small sedan and took the bag the Uber driver propelled at me, holding his hand out for a tip.
“Uh, one sec.” I bugged my eyes at Elle over the roof of the tin can he had picked us up from the ferry in, and nodded toward Ivan, our driver.
She gave a loud sigh and dug out a five-dollar bill from her bag. Ivan scampered over to retrieve it, speeding away before we could even call out a “thank you.”
“Fuck,” Elle said, as we stood in front of the steps of the expansive house, craning our necks to consider all three stories of heavy leaded windows and jutting balconies above us.
“Yeah,” I agreed, whispering again.
The door to the house flew open and I heard Ava rather than saw her.
“You’re here! Oh, my lord almighty, you’re here!” she called out, loud enough that no doubt everyone on this side of the Atlantic could hear her. I guess we didn’t need to use our inside voices.
“Hey.” Elle held up a hand and waved.
The porch stretched wide and the steps were formidable, so it took Ava a while to reach us. But when she did, she threw her arms around both of us in typical Ava fashion, and hugged us so hard she almost cut off our airflow. She wore a size four but took her yoga seriously.
“I missed you so much! You both look wonderful! I’m so glad you’re here!” she gushed.
“Missed you, too, Ava.” I said and that was true—we did miss her, though I doubted we looked wonderful after several hours of crowded and humid travel. But we weren’t glad to be there.
Elle and I both liked Reed fine—he made Ava happy and seemed like a decent dude, if not a tad snobby and self-centered, but Ava could be, too, so I suppose they were well-suited to each other. Not to mention they both had cause to be snobby. They hailed from upper class backgrounds and had landed lucrative jobs right out of school, thanks to their families’ connections. But Elle and I came from and had nothing—a couple of girls from a Podunk town in the middle of South Carolina—who now lived less than an hour from where we’d grown up and had jobs that barely paid us enough to afford the rent on a dilapidated two-bedroom walk-up in the red light district. Elle taught preschool and I worked at a non-profit food pantry that paid me so little they told me to supplement my income with free loaves of bread and jars of peanut butter. And I did. I had to.
Ava and our other roommate at Clemson, Sloane Riley, weren’t like Elle and me. Ava was refined and cultured, spending her childhood vacations in Austria and attracting the kind of man whose parents had a beach house the size of an office park. Sloane came from old money, really old money. Her dad is a United States senator, her grandfather was the Secretary of Education two administrations ago and her great-great-grandfather had been a vice president. Both Ava and Sloane were stylish and sophisticated, drawing from padded bank accounts with more money in them right then than Elle and I would see in our lifetimes—combined.
Of course, we hadn’t cared when we’d befriended the two girls who were above our station in life when we’d been eighteen years old and embarking on our higher education, spreading our wings and getting our bearings—and eating the same over-cooked chicken fingers and charred French fries the dining hall offered. But standing up in one of their weddings while spending almost a week with Ava’s upper crust parents and Reed’s affluent family seemed daunting, to say the least. We’d downloaded three etiquette apps on our trip up here and still didn’t know what fork to use for dessert.
It’s gonna be a rough five days.
ML Uberti is a Metro Detroit native who has a degree in English and Film from Wayne State University. She was the copy-editor for three nationally published books by Bottom Dog Press and has been writing since the fourth grade, receiving high praise for her totally implausible but entertaining story about a young girl who turns into a praying mantis. She is currently married to a musician, teacher and Netflix junkie, is a stay-at-home-mom to three mischievous children and a (slightly) overweight beagle named Matilda.
You can follow ML on twitter and Facebook.