Isn't She Lovely Page 28

He nods once. “My mom and Olivia’s mom were sorority sisters, and our dads are business associates. We grew up together, along with our friend Michael. His dad was a fraternity brother of my dad’s, and his mom was our moms’ tennis partner.”

“My God, that’s practically incestuous.”

“You have no idea,” he mutters.

I frown a little, trying to understand. “Okay, so your parents are bummed that you guys broke up. Boo-hoo, it happens. They can’t seriously expect that it would work out just because you guys swapped silver spoons.”

“You don’t get it,” he said. “The Prices and St. Claires and Middletons—we’re like the contemporary Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Rockefellers. It’s not personal. It’s business.”

Honestly, the whole thing sounds completely ridiculous to me, but Ethan looks all torn up about it, and since I’m lounging here naked in his tub, sleeping in his guest bed, and sharing his kitchen, I don’t particularly feel like I can tell him to get over it and grow a pair. But I want to.

“Okay, well, this is all very sad and dramatic,” I say, carefully smoothing a thinning section of bubbles so I don’t give Ethan a crotch shot. “And if you insist that creating a fake girlfriend is the best way to avoid your ex-girlfriend, that’s your deal. But are you sure your parents are going to buy this? Didn’t you say you and Olivia were together since the womb?”

“Since we were fifteen.”

I frown. There’s sadness in his voice, and for the first time I suspect that maybe this plan has less to do with his mom than with Ethan.

“You’re not over her.” I said the same thing when he first pitched the idea, and he ignored me then. Just like he’s ignoring me tonight.

“And you’re not a therapist,” he says, pinching my toe.

I note that he doesn’t deny it, but something’s not adding up. When he first hatched this plan, he claimed that his mom kept parading Olivia around in hopes that they’d get back together. If he wasn’t over her, wouldn’t he want that?

But his expression is closed off, and if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s understanding that sometimes you just don’t wanna talk about it.

“Okay, so what do I need to know?” I say, increasingly aware that the bubbles are disappearing and the bath water is growing tepid. “Is there a particular political stance I should take? Religious views I should be passionate about? Interests that are too gauche for the Prices and should be stifled?”

“Liberal, Protestant, and sports,” he says. “As in the Prices don’t discuss sports.”

“I’ll try to refrain from reciting all those football stats I know backward and forward.”

“Good girl. You’ll be fine. And um … the earrings …?”

“Will be removed by Sunday dinner, per our agreement,” I say. “And does this mean I shouldn’t show your mom my python tramp stamp?”

His eyes flick briefly to the water. “You have a tattoo?”

I smile enigmatically. Wouldn’t he like to know.

“Don’t worry, Price. We’ve got this,” I say to reassure him.

And the thing is, even though I hate this whole business, we really do have this. Because while my fake smile might be rusty and I may not be able to name different types of oysters, once upon a time I could play the game with the best of them.

Ethan Price chose better than he knew when he picked Stephanie Kendrick to play Barbie to his Ken. Because Stephanie Kendrick was once Steffie Wright: cheerleader, student council president, and prom queen.

Impressing parents? Please. I used to do that shit in my sleep.

Chapter Ten


On one hand, the stupid dinner with my parents is going so much better than I imagined. Stephanie is like a freaking gold medalist of fake girlfriends. Seriously. The girl’s on fire.

But it’s also going a hell of a lot worse than I imagined, because my mother is in full matchmaking mode. Mom doesn’t seem to care how fantastic my new girl is; she’s still dropped Olivia’s name something like seven times, and we’ve only been here half an hour.

It’s so interesting that Ethan would choose a brunette. He’s always been partial to blondes.

How wonderful to have a dinner guest again. Olivia used to join us every Sunday.

Ethan honey, did I tell you that I saw Olivia at the club the other day? She’s looking a little thin, but I think it suits her.

Before we arrived Stephanie told me she’d be taking mental notes all night for a meet-the-parents scene in our screenplay, and Mom is rising to the occasion beautifully. She could be reading straight off a script for a manipulative mother character.

I glance at Stephanie to make sure she’s not going to go all stabby on my mother, but she’s gracefully dislodged herself from Mom’s side and is chatting it up with my dad, who’s loving every moment of it.

I can’t blame him. Stephanie is … she looks … shit, she looks good. When she emerged from her bedroom after an hour of primping, I was speechless for a full five minutes. I’d seen the new hair and the new makeup before. I’d even seen parts of the new wardrobe from when I sat in the dressing room waiting area.

But seeing the whole look together? Damn. She’s the perfect Stepford girlfriend.

I was worried she wouldn’t be able to resist going all raccoon eyes on me, but she must have been paying close attention to the cosmetics woman in Bergdorf’s. Gone is the shadowy, angry eye makeup, and she has some pink stuff on her cheeks, so she no longer looks like she’s dedicated her life to banning color from her complexion. The white sundress and light blue cardigan are icing on the cranky cupcake. Ideal for meeting the parents.

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