Good Girl Page 61

Too damn bad.

I take the invitation, which is heavy as shit. Real gold indeed.

“Hey,” I say, turning to a thirtysomething couple out for what was probably a nice date night before all the drama started.

They both turn their phones on me, wide-eyed.

“You’re getting this on video, right?” I ask, gesturing at their phones, trying to hide my disgust.

The man doesn’t move, but the woman manages to nod.

“Great.” I hold up the invitation in front of the lens for a few moments, making sure that there’ll be plenty of time to read the names. Then, without preamble, I proceed to tear the invitation into six pieces before letting them flutter to the ground.

I look directly into the lens. “I haven’t been engaged to that woman in more than two months. And she was cheating on me for more than a year before that.”

I hear Yvonne gasp in outrage, and I lift my eyes to meet those of the woman holding the phone. “Do me a solid and put that on YouTube, would you?”

It won’t do Jenny any good, but I have to do something. I have to try.


I walk out of the restaurant, not bothering to glance back at a still sputtering Yvonne. I burst onto the sidewalk, looking in every direction and not seeing her.

I’m sprinting by the time I get to the truck—except the truck’s not there.

I lift my hand to my face as I remember she offered to keep my bulky truck keys in her purse while we were at dinner.


I pull out my cellphone.

She’s long gone in my truck, well on her way home by now, but Finn or Vaughn can give me a ride. I can catch up with her back at the house, and…

My hand drops to my side before I make the call.

And what?

I can catch up with her at home, maybe, assuming she doesn’t grab the cotton ball and hit the road. Which I wouldn’t blame her for doing, even though the thought of it leaves me feeling oddly hollow.

But even if I do make it home before she’s gone, what the hell am I going to do?

Ask her to stay? She’s Jenny fucking Dawson. She’s a movie star, a Grammy winner, an international sensation, and she’s only twenty-two. Her star is blindingly bright, and she’s just barely getting started.

You could go with her, a little voice nags.

Except I can’t.

For the first time in my life, I’ve finally figured out how to build a life that will make me happy. It’s not quite Vaughn’s two-kids version, but it’s clear to me now.

I want a contractor business, maybe building furniture on the side.

I want quiet and beer and work boots, and I want to buy my own truck after I return Finn’s, and I’d be perfectly happy to never have to wear a tie again in my life.

Most of all, I want anonymity. I want the simple, quiet life I had before I was Preston Walcott, heir to all sorts of shit I never asked for.

A life with Jenny would be the very opposite of all that.

And what about Ranger? Stupid Dolly fits easily into a purse, but I can’t be taking a Labrador on a plane or moving him around every time Jenny gets a burr up her ass to live in Hollywood or Nashville or Baton Rouge or Timbuktu.

And even if she did keep coming back to me…

Do I even want that?

I dig the heels of my hands into my eye sockets. It feels both ironic and unfair that my very reason for bunking with Jenny Dawson in the first place was to get some perspective on my life. I’ve spent my entire adulthood living by someone else’s rules. Torn between Noah and Preston, torn between the memory of my mom and the legacy of my dad.

Not once did anyone ask what I wanted.

Not once did I ask myself.

Hell, I couldn’t even commit to a name until recently. I was Preston to the people who wanted me to be Preston, Noah to the people who wanted me to be Noah.

And now…

Now I know.

I’m Noah Maxwell, and I want a simple life with a dog and never to have to wear a fucking suit and tie, or to go into an office, or schmooze at a charity event with people who make my skin crawl.

Now I’ve finally figured it out, and I’m supposed to give it up for what?

To be Jenny Dawson’s guy?

Just like I was Finn’s guy when I was at his pub, my mom’s guy at the trailer park, Vaughn’s guy at the country club, Dad’s guy at the office, Yvonne’s guy everywhere else?

I don’t want to belong to anyone but myself. I don’t want to live anyone’s life but my own.

And I do not fit into Jenny Dawson’s life. I’ve known it from the very beginning.

But damned if it didn’t feel like she was just starting to fit into mine.


“That’s good, Jenny. Let’s just do it one more time, that last chorus, ‘kay?” the producer says, leaning forward to speak into the microphone.

I give him a thumbs-up through the glass window, adjusting the headphones on my head slightly, since they start to squish my head after a while, and I’ve definitely been at this for a while.

Four straight days, in fact.

My label was thrilled to hear that I’d come back from the dead and was insistent on recording my new tracks as soon as possible.

A part of me knows the whole thing is rough, but I also know my music, and when it’s right, it’s right.

And this album is good. More than good. I can tell from the victory smiles on my team’s faces that they agree.

“Predator,” in particular, has been a favorite, already getting plenty of chatter about being my first single.

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