“You’re getting married.” Miranda Rose choked on the words, her throat constricting, stomach twisting, and soul shriveling like a lone grape forgotten on the vine.
“Tomorrow.” Callum Kerr’s voice held more excitement than she’d heard since their law school graduation, when he’d transitioned from student to textile mogul. From the stillness in the background, he was most likely closed in his office just like she was, only his feet were probably on the desk. And he was smiling. She could tell from the warmth in his voice.
She cleared her throat, refusing to betray any emotion. He didn’t know she’d spent nearly a decade in love with him, and now was obviously not the time to share that unnecessary tidbit. “Do you want me to review your prenuptial agreement?”
“You’re a probate attorney. Besides, I’m not bothering with it.”
She sat up straighter, fear for him filling the cracks of her broken heart. “You can’t do that, Cal. If this woman doesn’t want to sign one, then she’s only after your money.”
“Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. So, you’ll come to Vegas for my wedding?”
“You’re getting married in Las Vegas?” Oh, his mother must be thrilled. But if Bridie Kerr couldn’t keep her only son from eloping to Vegas, what hope did his friend with benefits have? Benefits about to be revoked, permanently.
“Tomorrow at eight. Bring the dress you wore to Dave and Tina’s wedding.”
“You want me to drop everything and fly to Nevada to watch you marry a complete stranger without a prenuptial agreement while I wear an old bridesmaid dress? Have you lost your mind?”
“I need my best girl standing beside me. Besides, you said you’d wear it again. That’s why I had the zipper fixed and sent it back to you.”
She dropped her forehead to her desk blotter, just how that zipper had been broken flashing through her mind. For almost ten years, they’d been enjoying delicious trysts whenever a wedding or christening put them in the same city. Their liaisons were the only kind of relationship she had time for if she hoped to make partner next year. And now he’d ripped them away, and wanted her to watch as he put up a white picket fence to keep her out.
“Which flowers were your favorite?”
Miranda looked up, seeing the dozen different vases of blooms perched on every available surface of her office. When she’d picked up the phone to call him it had been to ask why her usual birthday bouquet had arrived a day early and morphed into collection of mismatched arrangements. Had it really only been minutes ago?
Her throat tightened, as if he were choking the hope from her. “They’re all lovely, thank you.”
“You must have a favorite.”
She did. Him. The way things had been. Drama-free rendezvous and a birthday tradition of exchanging flowers for pizza since their birthdays were only two days apart. “The bouquet of multicolored roses you usually send is my favorite.”
“Truly.” The scents from the melange of flowers clashed, the air in her office growing thick and sickeningly sweet. “Since you’ll be in Vegas for your birthday on Saturday, should I send you pizza there? Or will your bride object to gifts from former lovers?”
He laughed, rich and full. “You can take me out for pizza since you’ll be there.”
“We’re not going on a date during your honeymoon.” She got up from her desk, needing to move her limbs to let out the feeling of being trapped, forever in love with a man who’d never even considered loving her back.
“It’s going to be a great weekend. I’m flying everyone in for the wedding, but I’ll make sure we get plenty of time to ourselves.”
He couldn’t have hurt her deeper if he’d punched her in the stomach.
“Cal, if you do this, if you get married, our relationship has to change.” She nearly choked on the words. She wished she could threaten never to see him again if he went through with it, but they shared three godchildren and dozens of friends. He’d gifted her with a future of having her feelings scraped raw like knuckles on a cheese grater.
“It’s a change for the better. Do you think Anna is old enough to be a flower girl?”
“She falls as much as she walks. It might be nice for Rob and Molly to have some alone time before the new baby comes. I could watch her so they could have a night to themselves.” Having her favorite baby girl around would be a welcome distraction.
“You’ll be busy taking care of me, not babysitting. We’ll make the wedding no kids.”
“You could use some time getting to know your goddaughter. At some point you may want to introduce her to your new bride. Assuming you keep the new Mrs. Kerr around after she fleeces you of your inheritance. No point in showing the kids your mistakes.”
Silence hung in the air and she hoped her words hit home.
“Jealousy does not become you.”
She didn’t bother denying it. “You’re a fool to rush into marriage without a prenup so soon after losing your father. Was this gold digger even interested in you before you went from heir to principal?”
“I have this handled. I just need you there to handle me a little bit.”
She grit her teeth and shook her head. She cared about him too much to let her own grief get in the way of his future. “I’ll be there, but I’m serious: I won’t put my hands on a married man. I’m only going so I can talk you out of this.”
“My mind is made up, doll. Though I look forward to all the ways you might persuade me to see things your way.” His low rumble of a laugh vibrated through her and a shiver of uneasy anticipation straightened her spine.
She tightened her grip on the phone and cleared her throat. She couldn’t let him know his little announcement had flattened her hopes like some kind of emotional drive-by. “You go ahead and dream about how you’d like me to convince you to stay single. Because if you go through with this Cal, I swear on all that is holy, those dreams are all you’ll ever have of me.”