Authors: Kristin Billerbeck
Tags: #ebook, #book
Other Books by Kristin Billerbeck
Ashley Stockingdale novels
What a Girl Wants
She’s Out of Control
With This Ring, I’m Confused
Spa Girl Series
She’s All That
A Girl’s Best Friend
Calm, Cool, and Adjusted
© 2006 by Kristin Billerbeck.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version. Public domain.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A girl's best friend / by Kristin Billerbeck.
p. cm. — (Spa Girls collection)
ISBN 978-1-59145-329-1 (trade paper)
ISBN 978-1-59554-375-2 (repak)
1. Socialites—Fiction. 2. Rich people—Fiction. 3. San Francisco (Calif.)—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series.
Printed in the United States of America
08 09 10 11 RRD 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Jeffrey Yao, who keeps my handbag “issue” from becoming one, and to his wife, my great friend, Jackie Yao. She is my voice of reason, the antonym of me, and I’m so thrilled we’re friends. One can’t replace a friend who’s willing to meet you at Pho Hoa every time you’re in town, nor one who tells you that you are incredibly wrong when you are. With all the college degrees between them, you’d think they’d be smart enough not to hang out with me. Love you guys!
Once again, I must thank my posse of support: My critique group of Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt. My agent, Jeana Ledbetter. And special thanks to Leslie Peterson for editing this manuscript.
“I am come that they might have life, and
that they might have it more abundantly.”
here are plenty of fish in the sea. But really, there’s not. It’s not just our imaginations. It would be great if decent men were as plentiful as jumping salmon in a rushing river, but they aren’t. For every Mr. Darcy (and he’s married, incidentally) there are a hundred Mr. Wickhams. Or in more contemporary terms, for every one of Colin Firth, there are several thousand Hugh Grants. The odds are against us. But what can I say—I’m a romantic, and I can’t abandon the fantasy of Prince Charming altogether. What girl with a heart can? I mean, I’m not asking to feed the five thousand; I just want one good fish!
I should give up the dream. Especially now, when common
sense dictates that anyone possessing an IQ might want to take serious stock. If I were in battle, the general would yell, “Retreat! Retreat, stupid!”
I did graduate from college—a good one in fact, so I definitely know better. I read that women’s brains have their neurons more tightly packed than men’s, and consequently we process things faster. Apparently, I’m currently experiencing a bad circuit. Or complete and utter synapse failure. I’m not quite sure which.
I scan the newspaper’s headline again and then clasp my eyes shut, hoping when I open them this will be all over. But I open one eye slightly, and then the other, and I feel my strength leave me when I catch sight of the words again.
“This is not happening.” I slink down into the overstuffed sofa and focus on the chenille texture. I hear myself cry out, though I have nothing left for tears. It’s sort of a dry heave of sobs, a pathetic remainder of what was once a full-blown emotional wave. I suppose it is time to be moving on from this existence. It’s too much work to cry anymore.
“I hope now you’ll listen to your father when he suggests a man. He only has your best interests at heart.” Mrs. Henry, our family maid, grabs the newspaper from me and crumples it before shoving it in a black plastic bag. She has always spoken to me like I’m four. But in her defense, I often leave the thinking to those around me. Why be bothered with petty issues like my opinions?
“No, please don’t!” I reach out for the paper, and she pulls the bag away. I try to show her my pink, puffy face for a little sympathy, but she just looks away. Mrs. Henry probably wouldn’t be moved by the average steamroller.
“Enough. We all make mistakes; now you get over yours.”
Mrs. Henry has never had a first name, though she’s been a fixture in our home for over twenty years. She dresses like Mrs. Doubtfire, exudes the warmth of a chilled cactus, and is under the distinct impression this is her home. Not ours.
I don’t have the strength to fight her today. I allow her to pick up my feet from the coffee table and pluck the graveyard of balled-up Kleenex into her bag, her hand pecking like a determined chicken.
I wish I could just get over it. I’d relish the opportunity, but I’m not made of hearty German stock like Mrs. Henry. I feel everything far too intensely. That’s always been my problem: an inordinate amount of emotions and guilt. A powerful combination of fuel to the explosive mental fire.
As Mrs. Henry drops the garbage bag for another task, I pull the newspaper back out and stick it under a decorative pillow. I smile at her when she looks at me and the bag. “The place looks great,” I say, feeling a tad guilty. Just a tad. Part of me still wants to run through the house dropping Kleenex like the bread crumbs in “Hansel and Gretel.” I am human.
I sneak another look at the picture on the newspaper and my stomach flutters again. I keep waiting for someone to come in laughing and say, “It was all just a joke. You’ve been punk’d!” But that’s not going to happen, and I keep having to stare at his handsome face, trying to reconcile my emotions with what the police have said is the truth.
“There’s a new
if you truly want to wallow.” Mrs. Henry pulls out the morning newspaper, all crisp and pristine in its fresh round of hatred. On today’s front page is the picture of me in a wedding gown, being carried off the fashion show runway.
“Jilted Jewelry Heiress’s Lover Jailed,” the paper shouts at me in charcoal black.
“He was not my lover!” I say to Mrs. Henry.
“But you are the Jilted Jewelry Heiress?” Mrs. Henry gives her best look of disgust and leaves the room.
It’s a good thing there’s nothing within reach for handy throwing!
I look at the picture of me, with a wistful smile on my face as I’m literally swept off my feet, and the corners of my mouth actually begin to turn up at the memory. Even with the way this ended, I still feel joy well up inside me like a perfect soap bubble as it lifts to the sky, its slick rainbow sides glistening with color.
Well, more like the oily dregs in a puddle at the gas station, really.
I look at that picture again, and note I look good. I’m happy. Even if it was brief, and a complete mockery of the emotion, it felt good.
Lilly Jacobs, my best friend and fashion designer, had begged me to do her fashion show.
“You’ll be the talk of San Francisco!” she claimed.
And wasn’t it the truth.
I know people don’t generally think of me as shy, but I don’t like the limelight. It’s been thrust on me daily because of my birth, but I would have been just as happy to be in the back, pinning models and guarding my father’s jewelry, which Lilly borrowed for the show. Really, I would have.
But then on that runway, I saw him. Oh, it was such a perfect, incredible moment. His eyes met mine, and everything that had passed between us was said in that moment.
, my eyes whispered.
There is only our future now.
Maybe if I hadn’t been in the wedding dress . . . But when I’d first looked at myself in the mirror . . . that elegant gown, clinging in all the right places . . . If only I hadn’t had that Grace Kelly fantasy, maybe I wouldn’t be here now.
However, as it was, I jumped into his arms willingly. “You’ve come back for me.”
“I never would have left, but I had to make something of myself,” he said, and we fell into a kiss. A stunning and vibrant kiss that made my body shout with joy.
“I love you, Andy Mattingly.”
It was the last thing I said before he whisked me off into the San Francisco sunset.
From there, things got decidedly worse. I started remembering the returned letters, the disconnected phone numbers, the postage due for my “Dear Morgan” letter. Those types of irritating things, like the bad, itchy tag in the back of a new, luxurious silk T-shirt.
“Why didn’t you answer my letters?” I demanded.
“I couldn’t contact you until I’d made it big, Morgan. You mean too much to me. I had to prove to your father I could provide for you.”
Oh, well, okay.
As he whisked me to the waiting limo, I realized his music contract must have come through. I was going to marry a Christian rock star. How cool was that?
Andy Mattingly wears charm like expensive cologne. It clings to him sweetly, masking his motives and blinding me with its intoxicating power. His words are like honey, and when they drizzled over me that day, I became paralyzed in the sticky film. My brain simply shut down and I wanted whatever he said to be true. It was so good, who wouldn’t want it to be true?
As we ran onto the street, breaking away from the security guards watching my father’s diamond pieces, I thought only briefly about my father’s worried face and Lilly’s fashion show becoming a spectacle. In my mind, I knew they’d rejoice for me and I sang that old Howard Jones song “No One is to Blame.”
Andy Mattingly had rescued me from a life of social drudgery and familial duty. No longer would I have to answer to my father’s every whim or parade around in front of San Francisco matrons so they could inspect my father’s latest diamond acquisition.
I am free!
“Where to, Mr. Schwartz?” the limo driver asked.
“Schwartz? You stole Max Schwartz’s limo?” I was incredulous.
This should have been my first clue. He had indeed stolen Lilly’s boyfriend’s waiting limo and I was his accomplice. Not only had I abandoned Lilly, but I’d left her dream night in a shambles. It had been her turn. Her night to shine.
“What was I thinking?” I say aloud, tossing a Kleenex on the floor.
“You were thinking, ‘What I really need is a good spa date with my Spa Girls, but I want the big bed at
the spa, and this is my chance. Because normally, my life is so perfect. I never get the bed to myself.’”