Home > Two for the Show (One for the Money #2)(2)

Two for the Show (One for the Money #2)(2)
Author: Skye Warren

It’s a good thing he’s not here.

Why would he be? A person like Finn wouldn’t need to attend in person. Even if we weren’t fake dating, he’d have to send a gift from Daphne and Emerson’s Crate & Barrel registry.

In fact, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did.

The room doesn’t have space for him, anyway. I took him out of the seating arrangement and removed his preferences from the chef’s list.

He was going to choose the vegetarian option.

Really? I said when I asked him. You don’t want Wagyu beef prepared by a team of chefs with a collective twenty Michelin stars?

Finn had laughter in his eyes. Anyone can cook beef, Morelli. Those two will make serious magic with plants.

My father makes a speech to a crowd of people who are happily ensconced in their dinner. It’s short, but in the middle he pauses. I hold the champagne glass I haven’t sipped from to my chest.

I’m not the only one to notice the pause. My mother watches him, hawk-eyed, from her place at his side. An unruly, uneven part of me hopes that he’ll cause some trouble.

Not really, of course. Not on Daphne’s day.

I just want something to take the edge off. I’m cycling between angry and heartbroken and coolly focused every two minutes. If my father derails the reception, it’ll take all my concentration.

My father clears his throat and raises his glass. He could say literally anything. Something cutting. Something cruel. “I wish you the best of everything, Daphne. To a long and happy life.”

I sigh in relief as everyone claps.

Well, the wedding crisis was averted. My pregnancy crisis remains.

Except…it’s not a crisis. I want the baby. The baby is mine. I’m going to have a baby.

Deciding what to tell Finn and when? That’s the crisis.

I suppose it’s only a matter of choosing the method of communication. A letter seems…overly formal. A text message would seem like a cruel joke. Maybe I can send a carrier pigeon?

Calling him is probably the right thing to do, but I don’t want to hear him shut down. I don’t want to hear him say that he doesn’t want this baby and will have nothing to do with it. I’d rather get there first.

I’d rather tell him that I’m handling it on my own and that he doesn’t need to be involved. That I don’t want him involved, and I won’t let him near the baby.

You don’t like charming men, remember? And that’s the one thing I am: charming.

He wasn’t charming when he broke up with me.

I still can’t bring myself to feel okay with preemptively kicking him out of the baby’s life. Finn was cruel. That doesn’t mean I have to be. Even if Finn doesn’t deserve the baby, the baby deserves a father. And the truth is… I know that Finn would be a great father. He’s funny and patient and sweet.

Except for when he broke up with me.

That knifelike protectiveness surges up again. I’ll be polite since he’s the father of my child, but I won’t be weak. I won’t be small and heartbroken the way I was after Lane.

Emerson’s brother Sinclair pats him on the shoulder on his way to make his speech. His work as an investigative journalist and extreme sportsman keeps him busy. We’ve chatted a couple of times at Emerson’s house. I’ve read a few of his long form pieces, and they’re very good.

I wonder if he’ll be as eloquent in person.

He lifts the mic and clears his throat. Murmurs in the room die off, and Sinclair nods toward Emerson. His blue eyes look emotional, though his voice is steady. “Hey, Em.”

“Hey,” Emerson says from his spot at the sweetheart table with Daphne. This gets a laugh from the guests.

“I’m going to talk about you to all these people, if that’s okay.”

Emerson takes Daphne’s hand and gestures at Sinclair to continue.

“Great.” Sinclair sticks his other hand in his pocket. “For those who don’t know, my name is Sinclair. I’m Emerson’s older brother. Since you’re all here, I’m betting you know that Emerson has occasionally dabbled in the art scene.”

Another laugh goes up.

“Ever since I’ve known him, my brother has always been the kind of person who seeks out beauty. You could put him on the ugliest street corner in Brooklyn, and he’d notice that the raindrops there reflected all the colors of the neon lights. He’d tell you to look closer until you could see it.”

Emerson stares at his brother like he’s never heard anything so inaccurate about himself. Or maybe so accurate.

“Emerson sees beauty everywhere he goes, and maybe that’s why he’s so particular about what he wants. You can’t impress this guy with run-of-the-mill pretty. You need to be fucking breathtaking to steal his heart. Only one person has ever done that, and that’s Daphne.”

Daphne blushes. One of Emerson’s hands is in both of hers.

That’s how I’d hold Finn’s hand if he wanted a baby.

God, it would be so much easier if he just…wanted a baby. If he just wanted a family.

If he just wanted me.

My throat closes. I was foolish to fall for Finn Hughes, but I’m outright ridiculous to wish I’d stolen his heart, too.

“Here’s how I know they’re perfect for each other,” Sinclair says. “Fun fact about Emerson—he surfs every day, all year. Daphne, I’m sorry to say, has terrible balance. But she goes with him anyway.”

Someone at one of the middle tables says aww.

“No, you don’t understand.” Sinclair holds up a hand. “This woman is terrified of decent-sized waves. One day this summer I watched her scream all the way back to the shore. She was still out there on Emerson’s board with him.”

Warm applause. Daphne leans in and kisses Emerson’s cheek. I use the pause to look out over the tables.

Finn stands at the entrance to the gallery.

My heart stops.

He came.

Anger stomps down on that thought like a pointed high heel. How dare he come here? How dare he show up like nothing happened? Like we’re something to each other?

We’re not. We’re nothing.

He wears a tux that looks incredible on him. It emphasizes his broad shoulders and his lean hips. A few women notice him, too. It’s hard not to. It’s like a young Brad Pitt just walked into the room. Even silent he radiates a presence. He inclines his head at me, a tacit greeting.

I’m the first to look away.

Sinclair continues his speech. “Look. Love is scary as hell. I’m proud of you, Em, for having the courage to love Daphne more than you’ve ever loved anything else. And Daphne, I think you’d agree with me that Emerson deserves the world. So congratulations on being absolutely everything to him.” He raises his champagne glass. “To love and bravery.”

Daphne has tears of joy in her eyes.

I have tears in my eyes, too. Sinclair’s speech moved me to pissed-off, heartbroken tears that I won’t let fall. Not in front of Finn freaking Hughes.

I can feel his eyes on me as I watch Daphne dab at her eyes with a tissue, laughing at the same time. As Emerson leans in to kiss her, not seeming to care about the five hundred guests. As another happily ever after begins right in front of me while my heart breaks again.

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