The Fall Bride - Page 6

If there’s one thing I’ve learned living in Hollow Oak, it’s that if you want to know about someone, go sit at the diner. Sooner or later their name will come up, and you’ll learn all the dirty details. The only problem is, nobody has any dirt on Valerie. As far as I can tell, everyone in this town loves her, and there are no hidden secrets.

It took some careful persuasion to get invited to the committee for the Fall Festival, and when I offered to chair it, they were all too eager to pass it off. Apparently they were eager to have some fresh blood in the mix and kept asking me all kinds of questions. Maybe I took on a little more than I anticipated, but any excuse to needle Valerie is one I’m taking.

She’s gotten under my skin. I noticed today being so close to her that she’s got a pale line of freckles that runs over the tops of her cheeks. There’s also a little scar on her chin that’s faded over time, and I wonder if she did it when she was a child. Maybe she fell off her bike? Maybe a bully pushed her off the swing set. Suddenly I’m finding that I want to know the story…and every other little thing about her.

My obsession with Valerie Schaffer has turned from bad to worse. I keep telling myself that eventually I’ll get annoyed with her, and she’ll be out of my system. The only problem is the more I’m around her, the more I hate when I’m not around her. Tonight should put it all to rest. More than an hour in my presence, and she’s sure to go running for the hills.

I’m just worried I’ll chase after her.

Chapter Five

Valerie

“He’s got it bad,” Julie says with a dreamy sigh. I keep my face cast down, pretending to read over the flyer as my stomach twists into a knot. A rush of unexpected emotions floods me. “I think you’ve got it bad too.” I snap my head up at that.

“You’re talking to me?” I flick a glance over to Gracie, who is still giggling.

“Yes, I’m talking to you,” Julie says. “Who else would I be talking to?”

“Gracie.” I shrug, pretending to not care.

“Me!?” Gracie points to herself. “Why me?”

“He kept looking at you.” I point out what I thought we all saw.

He’d even turned his back to me to focus on her at one point. I noticed his attention go to her a few times. Not to mention since they got here he’s been over here twice. God knows he doesn’t care for me, so why else would he be coming over here? I hate that it bothers me.

“No.” Gracie rolls her eyes. “You're nuts. I bet he doesn't even remember my name.” This time it’s me that rolls my eyes. Gracie is beautiful. She lights up a room when she enters it. She was both prom queen and homecoming queen our senior year for a reason. She’s hard to miss.

“It doesn't matter.” I grab the flyers and throw them in the trash.

“What the hell?” Julie walks over and takes them back out.

“I don’t want to talk about this.” My emotions are all over the place right now, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s that dress, or it might be the whole festival thing and Tidas all rolled together. It shouldn’t bother me that he pokes at me, but being called boring hurts. It wasn't the first time I’ve heard it.

“Wow. He’s really getting to you. This meetup tonight is going to be wild.” Gracie wiggles her eyebrows.

“No it’s not because I’m not going,” I say smugly. “What’s the point of going? He doesn't listen to anything I say.”

“What do you mean you're not going?” Julie looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have. “It’s about the Fall Festival. You love the Fall Festival.”

“If the town wants something new then fine. They can have him do it.” I wave my hand toward next door, not even wanting to say his name. “I’ll happily watch him fall on his ass.”

Wow, Gracie mouths.

“So the bridesmaid dresses.” I force a smile as I try to change the subject.

“You’re not getting off that easy. That man is into you.” Julie points at me.

“Right,” I laugh. “I’d be a fool to ever think that. Even if he was, I'm sure it would be so he could make an ass out of me or to prove some point.” Julie drops her finger, her face going soft.

“You have to let what Brent did to you go. Not all men are that way.” I wince at the reminder. If only it was so easy. I hate that I let it bother me at all. It’s been years.

Brent asked me out senior year of high school. I don’t know why I agreed. I knew I wasn’t into him, but I was flattered. Until the night of the date. Not only had it been a bet with a few of the guys at school to see who could finally get in my pants, but he’d spread around that I'd been as cold as a fish.

Tags: Alexa Riley Romance
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