Royal Games by T.K. Leigh

“You should go on a divor-cation,” Evie suggests.

“Divor-cation?” I ask in a drawn-out voice.

“Well, couples go on a honeymoon to celebrate the start of their marriage. You should take a trip to celebrate your independence and the fact you’re no longer beholden to anyone, except yourself. It’s what the main character did in Eat, Pray, Love.”

“We’re not resorting my life to some cheesy romantic comedy or self-help book.”

“I’m not suggesting you should. But some time away might be good for your soul.”

I stare ahead, watching as New York City comes to life with the dawning of the day. The sound of cars increases, a few dogs barking as their owners take them for a walk.

“If you found out Julian were gay, where would you go to clear your head? On your own personal Eat, Pray, Love trip?”

“Do I have to pick three different places like in the book?”

“Whatever you want. No rules.”

She nods, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth as she considers the question. “This is really difficult,” she admits with a laugh. “You don’t want to choose a place that will have overwhelming memories of your ex.”

“And you probably want to avoid places where all you’ll do is sit by the ocean or pool without anything to keep your mind occupied,” Izzy adds.

“And there should be nothing romantic about it,” Chloe states. “It should be the antithesis of romance.”

We nod in unison, a pensive expression falling over all our faces as we consider the perfect divor-cation location.

“I’d go to California.” When Evie’s voice cuts through, we all look toward her. “I’d eat my way through the Mexican food in San Diego. Find clarity of mind hiking around Yosemite or camping in Big Sur.”

“And love?” Chloe waggles her brows. “Where would you find love?”

A playful grin tugs on Evie’s lips. “I’d fall in love with wine in Napa Valley.” She lifts her bottle to her mouth. “Oops. Too late.” Then she takes another long sip of her champagne, which causes us to erupt in laughter.

“How about you?” Evie asks Chloe.

“Vegas,” she replies without hesitation.

Izzy whips her head toward her. “What? Have you forgotten you met Lincoln in Vegas? Hell, you guys also eloped and got married there. Pretty sure all you’ll have are memories of Lincoln.”

“I want my divor-cation destination to hold memories of my ex. To remind me why I’m better off without him. To show him he can’t ruin a place for me.”

Her response doesn’t surprise me. Chloe’s not the type of woman who wallows in heartbreak for too long. Her divor-cation would be one big “fuck you” to whomever hurt her. But based on the way Lincoln adores her, I don’t see that happening anytime soon… Or ever.

“Well, I wouldn’t choose Vegas,” Izzy remarks. “Even though Asher and I kind of…reconnected the same weekend you hooked up with Lincoln.”

“Where would you go?” I inquire.

She furrows her brow, shaking her head. “I’m not sure. I think I’d just go to the airport and pick somewhere.”

“Without any planning?” Evie asks, aghast.

Out of our circle of friends, Evie’s the one who finds joy out of making itineraries and lists. Chloe’s more spontaneous, preferring to live life to its fullest. Izzy’s the compassionate one, as evidenced by her career. And me? Well, I’m not sure who I am. On the outside, I’m a calm, collected woman who seems to have her life together. But the more I think about it, that’s who I want people to see. On the inside, I’m still the naïve teenager who clung onto every man who looked familiar after a psychic told me my soulmate would be a stranger I recognized. It’s part of the reason I agreed to marry Jeremy after only knowing him three months.

“Yes, Evie.” Izzy rolls her eyes. “Without any planning.”

“But what if it reminded you of Asher?”

“Truthfully, I doubt there’s a single place on this planet I could escape to that wouldn’t hold any memories of Asher, considering he’s a musician who tours around the world. Not to mention, I can’t turn on the radio or bring up a random Spotify playlist without at least one of his songs coming on. But some higher power brought us together back in Vegas after over eight years apart. If something ever happened between us, which I doubt, I’d want some higher power to steer me in the direction I should take.” She shrugs, then levels her gaze on me.