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To Molly Jessica Wenk


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

About the Author

Chapter One

Lila Fowler was not used to being ignored and she didn’t like it. First there was her husband, Ken, who’d packed a bag, left the house, and wasn’t answering his phone or replying to any of her texts, and now there was her best friend, Jessica Wakefield, who seemed to be far more engrossed with her stupid cell phone than with anything Lila had said in the last fifteen minutes.

“Are you even listening to me?” Lila asked Jessica, annoyed. The fact that she even had to ask this question at all made her want to storm out. But then she probably ought to save the theatrics for the True Housewives cameras. There were no cameras here in Jessica’s tastefully decorated town house in Sweet Valley. Tasteful, Lila thought, if you went for bubble-gum pink.

“What? Oh, sorry.” Jessica glanced up—for the first time in ages—from her phone. “It’s the Bruce thing.” She flipped a perfect strand of blond hair away from her blue eyes and gave Lila one of her trademark Wakefield smiles.

Right. Bruce Patman, reigning Sweet Valley perv, Lila thought. Lila’s family, the Fowlers, and the Patman family never did get along, but even she was a little surprised by the news. In fact, after Lila read the headlines about Bruce trying to force himself on an intern, she’d had a brief flashback to high school, when she’d been nearly raped by John Pfeifer at Miller’s Point. She probably would have been if she hadn’t fought free, stabbing the jerk in the neck with his own car keys. She didn’t like thinking about that. It was ancient history, but still, without even knowing all (or even some) of the facts, Lila was on the intern’s side.

“I can’t believe he turned out to be such a creep,” Lila said. “He should go to jail.”

“He’s innocent,” Jessica snapped.

“How do you know?”

“Because I know him. Much better than you do. And I know he could prove it if I knew who his accuser was.”

“You don’t know yet?” Lila asked her, surprised. After all, it was hard to keep secrets from Jessica, especially when she was determined to find out something.

“Lizzie is working on it, but so far she says she hasn’t found anything. If I did know, I could start really tearing her story apart.”

“What if she’s telling the truth?”

“She’s not,” Jessica said, refusing to back down.

Lila shrugged. “Whatever.” It wasn’t worth a fight.

“I’ve got interviews lined up for him on some morning shows,” Jessica said, again thumbing through messages on her phone.

The two old friends were sitting in Jessica’s living room. Jake, Jessica and Todd’s two-year-old son, and his nanny, Liza, were out at the park, but there were still a few telltale signs of the toddler, like a couple of LEGO bricks half hidden in the carpet, one of which Lila had nearly stepped on with her stiletto heel. Lila was still surprised Jessica had gone the kid route. Lila didn’t plan to have kids—now or maybe ever—not when a baby was likely to be cuter, younger, and more of a spotlight hog than she was. Lila was the star of her own show, thank you very much.

“It’s been a crazy few days, but I think I’m starting to make headway for Bruce,” Jessica continued.

Jessica was so engrossed with the Bruce Patman business that she had forgotten entirely why Lila was there, and it wasn’t to talk about Bruce or to kick LEGOS under the coffee table.

“I really think I can nail this, but I need that girl’s name,” Jessica said, still distracted.

“There’s got to be some reason she’s made this whole thing up. I know it.”

Lila let out a frustrated sigh.

“That’s great and all, but how about my problems? Think you could you work your PR genius on them for a second?” Lila tapped her Christian Louboutin–clad foot impatiently on the rug, her diamond bracelet catching the light and sparkling like fire. It was bad enough she had to hear all about how talented Jessica was from her father, since she was his favorite rising PR star in his company VERTPLUS.NET. She didn’t need to hear it from Jessica, too. “Sorry, Lila, I just—”

“Sorry doesn’t cut it, Jessica. I mean, what kind of friend are you anyway?”

Jessica turned to Lila, blue eyes widening in surprise for an instant, and then reality set in. Surely she could not have thought that spoiled bitch personality was just for TV? No way. Jessica had known her best friend too long.

“I’m in a total meltdown mode here,” Lila said. “Ken won’t even talk to me! And you’re blabbing on about Bruce Patman. Like I care!”

“Lila, calm down.” Jessica reached out to touch her friend on the shoulder and gave her a patronizing look that Lila couldn’t stand. It was the kind of look you gave losers and pathetic women whose husbands had left them for other women. Lila wasn’t going to be lumped in with them.

She shrugged the touch away as she set down her mug of coffee on the table. She was beginning to wish she’d asked for wine instead. Not that Jessica had offered. Coffee was what she had brewing when Lila had dropped in unannounced.

Lila looked at the bright burgundy lipstick smudge on the lip of her coffee mug and thought, Nothing is turning out how I wanted it to. And I really don’t like it.

She’d gone over to Jessica’s for a little bit of handholding, and she wasn’t getting it. This, after all, was supposed to be her moment of drama. Ken wasn’t talking to her—at all. That had never happened before, not even when she’d asked for a divorce three years ago. It had been too long now with no word from Ken, and she was miserable without him.


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