Good Girl Page 48

She sneers. “Thank God for that.”

I go very still. “What did you just say?”

Yvonne goes slightly pale, as though realizing she’s gone too far. It’s no secret that she couldn’t stand my mother, but at least since Mom’s death she’s had the decency to hold her tongue.

“She was never anything but kind to you,” I say, my voice vibrating with anger.

She steps closer, reaching out a hand, and I reel back. “Preston…”

“Noah,” I snap.

She swallows. “Noah.” The word sounds like she’s choking on it, but she must be more panicked than I realize, because she once told me she’d have nothing to do with “that part of my life.” Another signal that I fucked up by ever thinking Yvonne was marriage material.

“Please calm down. I want to talk.”

I shake my head, and this time when I reach for the doorknob, I follow through, turning it and opening the door. “I don’t want to talk, Yvonne. Not now, not ever again. You want an apology? I’ll apologize for not ending this sooner, for not seeing that we were all wrong for each other a long time ago.”

Her eyes narrow, the contrition from a moment before vanishing as she studies me. “Something’s happened.”

I start to step out into the hallway, but she reaches out and touches my arm, stopping me. “You’re different.”

“From a month ago? Yeah. I was engaged, now I’m not.”

“No, it’s more than that,” she says. “You seem…happy.”

She practically spits out the last word as though it’s a curse, and for her perhaps it is. Because it means I’m happy without her.

“Cancel the wedding, Yvonne. Or don’t. Either way, I won’t be there at the end of the aisle.”

I walk out her front door.

“Preston,” she snaps. “Preston, please…Noah.”

I don’t turn around.

Like I said, I’m not proud that it took me so long to get my shit together and see the truth about Yvonne and me not working out, but sitting and talking about it isn’t going to change a damn thing.

Once I’m back in my truck—well, Finn’s truck, but it’s feeling like mine—I text Vaughn and Finn, ask if they’re up to grab a beer.

Twenty minutes later, I’m sitting at one of our favorite craft beer bars. I like it mainly because it’s as good a compromise I can find for my two best friends. Vaughn’s more of a fancy-wine-and-cocktail snob, while Finn rarely drinks anything but Bud.

I’m a quarter of the way through a hoppy IPA when Finn and Vaughn walk in. They’ve apparently arrived at the same time. Unfortunate, since it gives them a chance to start bickering before I can play peacekeeper.

Not that it matters. I’m not really in the mood today, and they apparently sense it, because by the time they make it to me, they’ve already argued and finished up with the default “Fuck you” and “Fuck you too.”

“What are we drinking?” Finn asks, picking up my glass and helping himself to a sip. I don’t bother to protest. He’s been helping himself to my beverages since my mom used to make us grape Kool-Aid on sticky summer afternoons.

The bar’s mostly deserted given that it’s early on a Tuesday, and the bartender quickly has a pilsner in front of Finn and another IPA for Vaughn.

“Please tell me we’re here to plan Yvonne’s funeral,” Finn says.

I spin my coaster. “Yvonne and I are done.”

“That’s what you said last time,” Vaughn says.

“Yeah, well, it’s really not his fault that the bitch didn’t listen, is it?” Finn snaps at Vaughn.

“No, but it is his fault he decided to hang out in the boonies instead of dealing with it,” Vaughn shoots back.

This earns a snort from Finn. “Right. The boonies being anything that doesn’t have a Brooks Brothers?”

“Like I’d be caught dead wearing something right off the rack,“Vaughn says crisply.

“Guys.” My voice is sharper than usual, and they break off.

“What happened?” Vaughn asked. “For real?”

I continue to spin the coaster. “I told her to cancel the wedding, or to prepare herself for the fact that I’d be a no-show. She responded by insulting me, Mom…the usual.”

“She is such a bitch,” Finn mutters into his beer.

Vaughn gives a nod in agreement. “Basically, yeah.”

“I’m the one that proposed, though,” I say quietly.

“Well, in your defense—”

“No,” I interrupt Vaughn. “There’s no excuse. For years I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. Pretended that a life with someone like her was what I wanted. That’s on me, not Yvonne.”

“What is it you do want?” Finn asks in a rare moment of seriousness.

I stare straight ahead, trying not to think of a sexy blonde who’s too young for me and also too famous for me….

“I want a simple life.”

I wince as soon as the words are out of my mouth, feeling slightly douchebag-ish.

“Explain,” Vaughn says, taking a sip of his beer.

Finn opens his mouth, and I know he’s got a comeback at the ready that’s eating him alive, but he holds it back and stays silent. I’m impressed.

“No thanks,” I mutter.

“No, seriously,” Vaughn says. “I know what I want. Finn knows what he wants—”

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