Andi and David have settled happily into Andi’s Northampton home, but David wants more. He wants them to get married. Their discussion is put on hold when Wylie, a fifteen-year-old girl, shows up in their backyard, bearing news that takes David’s mind off the future and sends it spiraling into the past.
Reeling from David’s news, Andi receives a startling announcement of her own, one that leads to a relationship with her estranged mother. As Andi and her mother get closer and Wylie weaves her way into their lives, Andi finds solace in an old comfort: her ex-fiancé.
With the past threatening to eclipse their future, the timing for a wedding is all wrong. But if Andi knows anything about timing, it’s that there’s no time to waste.
Excerpt: c h a p te r t h i r te e n
By the time I got home from Port Jefferson it was about seven o’clock, and I decided to return the rented car the next day. When I entered the house I called for David, but heard no re- sponse. Too tired to eat and still without an appetite, I put my untouched lunch into the fridge and slowly dragged myself up the stairs. The downstairs and stairwell were unlit, but I saw a f licker coming from my bedroom in the hallway and was greeted with the soft glow of strategically placed votive candles around the room, emitting a scent of vanilla cake. A towering crystal vase of red roses covered the dresser, their ref lection in the mirror giving off the illusion that the bouquet was twice as bountiful. David had fallen asleep on the bed, a hardcover book resting on his chest along with his reading glasses. He was dressed in blue jeans and a maroon T-shirt. My favorite colors on him. He still had the body of a model sculpted from marble, of the alluring escort I’d met ten years ago who’d taken my breath away. His brown hair, more salt-and-pepper, remained full and thick and perfect for running my fingers through.
In short, he still took my breath away.
I kicked off my shoes and climbed onto the bed. A red rose rested on my pillow. I gingerly picked it up, pulled it to my nose and inhaled, then moved it to the table, careful to keep it away from the f lame. Then, with the same touch I applied to the rose, I slid his bangs to the side. His eyes f luttered and opened, then turned warm upon seeing me.
“Hey, beautiful,” he murmured. “Hey, sleepyhead.”
The book and glasses fell to the side as he moved, and he tried to orient himself.
“What time is it?” he asked.
“A little after seven. There was an accident on I-91. Sur- prise,” I said sarcastically. “Didn’t you get my message? I left it on the landline.”
He yawned and stretched. “Forgot to listen to voice mails.” He gave me a look as if noticing me for the first time. “So how was lunch with Genevieve?” he asked. David never called my mother “Mom.”
“OK, I guess,” I said. He sat up, instructed me to do the same, and massaged my shoulders from behind. “It had its moments.”
“Good moments or bad moments?” He kissed my neck as he worked out a knot.
“A little of both, although ‘bad’ is probably too strong a word. Just”—I searched for a better adjective—“typical, I guess,” I said, unsatisfied with the choice. I often had trouble putting together any kind of coherent thought when David was kissing my neck.
“You told her everything?”
I nodded. “Mm-hmm.” A soft moan escaped me. “God, that feels good. . . .” I trailed off into a whisper. My eyelids grew heavy. “What did you do today after leaving Hartford?” I asked. “Besides romance up the room to get me laid?”
He chuckled. “What makes you think I was trying to get you laid?” I turned to face him in mock offense, only to be un-done by his wink. “Not much,” he replied. “Made some calls, answered some e-mails, that kind of thing.”
I gestured toward the f lowers. “Those are beautiful. You buy them for your girlfriend?”
“Nope,” he corrected, “my fiancée.” I opened my mouth. “Wha . . .”
David stopped massaging me, arose, and moved to the edge of the bed, where he beckoned me to join him. He then knelt and pulled a box out of his pocket.
“Mia cara Andrea,” he began, knowing how I melted when he spoke Italian.
I took in a breath and put my hand to my chest, feeling my heart pound.
“Please, please marry me.”
Despite all our recent talk about marriage, I hadn’t ex- pected anything so formal as a proposal. The last time David had popped the question was Christmas Eve almost two years ago. I had said no, and we broke up for almost a year after that. Back then I was still clinging to Sam, still afraid to let myself love another man, even the man who had taught me to love myself. But in the present moment I could almost see Sam in what was once our bedroom, his and mine, standing behind David and giving me a thumbs-up sign of approval. I could almost hear him say, “Go ahead, sweetheart. It’s time.”
Shortly after David and I had gotten back together, I moved the engagement ring Sam had given me from my finger to a chain around my neck, and put our wedding bands in a keepsake box that I kept in a drawer beside my bed. The ring David had presented to me the first time he proposed was a hunk of a square diamond on a platinum band—magnificent in its radiance. I had never asked if he kept it. This new one was more like an anniversary band than a traditional engage- ment ring, yet still dazzled in the glow of the votives.
Moist and misty, my eyes met his.
“You rat-bastard,” I said, a tear slipping down my cheek; his expression turned confused for only a second as I laughed. “I was gonna ask you first.” And then he understood and re- leased his smile.
And with that I let out a squeal as I hopped off the bed and nearly knocked him over. “Yes,” I said as I plastered his cheeks with salty-teared kisses. “Yes, yes, yes!”
We knelt in the middle of the f loor, maniacally kissing each other and laughing simultaneously, until David grimaced and said, “Fuck, I’m too old to stay on my knees like this!” We clumsily lifted each other up to standing positions, and em- braced for a long time, the outside world disappearing with every second. And as our breathing slowed and evened to something more sultry and serene, I took a step back, looked at him fiendishly, and it hit me.
“Ohmigod, Dev, I am starving.”
David looked at me as if I was nuts. I bent over to put my shoes back on. “C’mon, let’s get some Chinese food.” He did a face-palm, shook his head with incredulity, and laughed as he blew out the votives and followed me down the stairs.
“You sure know how to tease a guy,” he said.
“I’ll let you feed me the dim sum,” I said seductively. “Who knows where it’ll lead.”
Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and eventually launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching writing to university students and publishing her own work. She has since returned home to the Northeast.
Elisa is the author of Kindle bestselling novels Faking It and Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and Adulation. Faking It, translated in German as Vorgetäuscht, also spent three consecutive weeks at #1 on the German Kindle Bestseller List.
When not writing, Elisa is an unapologetic Duran Duran fan, Pop-Tart enthusiast, walker, and coffee shop patron, and she can sing two-part harmony.