The perfect match, p.6
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       The Perfect Match, p.6

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 6

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  Not this night. This night, she was just a woman in love.

  The thoughts came in disjointed flashes, the only thing registering solidly was Brogan’s hand on her back, warm through her sweater.

  When she saw Dana sitting alone at a table, her heart did a strange flop, and for a second, Honor felt a little surge of sympathy—Dana, who had no problem finding a guy, but had huge problems keeping one, would now have to see her and Brogan together. Dana often mocked happy couples. But Dana was her best friend, and she’d be happy for Honor. She would set aside her own issues.

  In fact, maybe Brogan had invited her here for just that reason, to see the whole thing. You know what? That would explain why Dana had been a little hard to reach, a little distant lately. She’d been afraid to blow the surprise.

  Then Brogan held a chair at the same table where Dana was sitting, and Dana looked up at Honor and gave her a tight smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

  Okay, that was. . . huh. That little warning that scrolled across the screen was now accompanied by the loud beeping of the emergency signal.

  She sat down. So did Brogan.

  Later, Honor would wish she’d brought her dog, who could have attacked either Brogan or Dana, hopefully both, biting them with her tiny, needlelike teeth. She might have even peed on someone.

  What happened next was a bit foggy. A poison, industrial-waste, evacuate-the-area kind of fog. Honor could hear her heartbeat crashing in her ears, caught Dana looking her up and down, immediately making her regret her choice of outfit. Dana herself wore a yellow wraparound shirt that showed her tiny waist and great boobage, making Honor feel overdressed and prim at the same time. Dana’s dark hair was a little different than the last time she’d seen her—gosh, two weeks ago? Three? Well, Dana was a hairdresser. Her hair changed all the time. Not like Honor, who’d had hers all one length for years. Alice in Wonderland hair, Dana called it. She was always urging Honor to let her cut it.

  Honor cleared her throat. Probably should be thinking about something other than hair. The other thought, the big one, was trying to shoulder its way in, but Honor wouldn’t let it. Where was the happy, rosy glow? She missed it. Damn that glow! Come back! “Hi,” she said, forcing a smile.

  One of the O’Rourke cousins brought Honor a glass of wine she didn’t remember ordering. Red. Pinot noir, Californian, a little too much pepper for her taste, better at first sip than upon finish, when it left a burning sensation in the back of her throat.

  Over at the bar, Lorena Creech bellowed something about beddy-bye time. She heard Colleen O’Rourke’s belly laugh. Someone said, “Thanks, mate,” in an accent not usually heard around here, and all the while, Dana’s dark eyes held a gleam of something, and she kept wrinkling her nose when she laughed. Brogan talked, shrugging, smiling. Little scraps of their words came to her, and Honor was aware that she’d tipped her head and was smiling. Or, at least her mouth was stretched so that her cheeks bunched. It might’ve been a grimace. She wasn’t sure.

  Then Dana held out her left hand, and on her fourth finger was Honor’s engagement ring. An emerald-cut three-carat diamond set in platinum. And then the words, all those words she hadn’t quite been hearing, slammed into Honor’s heart, Dana’s voice bright and sharp as a razor, slicing through the fog.

  “So obviously, we didn’t plan on it. In fact, it was so crazy! We didn’t want to say anything to anyone until we were sure it was real, right, honey? But you know that saying. When it’s right, it’s right, and you don’t have to spend years wondering about it. ”

  Oh. That was meant for her. Gotcha.

  Dana paused, squeezing Brogan’s hand. “Anyway, Honor, I know it’s a little weird, since you guys hooked up once in a while. . . ” She smiled at Honor, a bright, movie-star smile. “But as you told me, that was done, and we hope you’ll be happy for us. ”

  All this first-person plural. Us. We. Our. What the hell was that about? No, seriously. What the ffffff—no, no, Honor wasn’t the type to swear, but really, what the ffff-ungus was that about?

  “Excuse me?” Honor said, and her heart beat so fast that she honestly felt like she might faint. “You’re getting married?”

  Brogan stopped talking. His face began to register something was off. “Uh, yeah. ”

  Dana reached over and squeezed her hand. “Maid of honor? What do you say?”

  Right. Because if she asked Honor to be in the wedding, then clearly Dana was a wonderful friend. Clearly it wasn’t a case of swooping in and stealing—okay, not stealing, but definitely swooping—and taking Brogan. Brogan, of all people!

  And why not? Brogan was handsome and nice and wealthy and glamorous, and Dana was a shark. Honor had seen it before, little flashes of those lethal rows of teeth, but man-oh-man-alive, she never thought Dana would turn on her.

  Breathing. Right. Had to do that to stay alive. Honor sucked in a fast, hard breath, then another.

  Brogan was now looking downright concerned. “On?”

  She dragged her gaze from Dana’s face to his. “It’s Honor. ”

  He blinked those ridiculous (now that she thought of it) turquoise eyes. “Uh, Honor, you’re okay with this, right? I mean, we were never. . . ” He winced. “I thought. . . ”

  “Honor? You’re not upset, are you?” Dana asked. “I mean, you and Brogan were never more than a friendly fu—”

  That was when the wine appeared on Dana’s yellow shirt, right splat on her chest, some beads of red rolling into her exposed cleavage. Dana’s mouth opened and closed like a trout pulled out of the water, and Honor realized her glass was empty.

  “Holy crap, Honor!” Dana shrieked, jolting backward in her chair. “What the hell?”

  Honor stood up, her legs shaking with shock and—and—and something she wasn’t used to feeling, but it seemed to be fury.

  Dana stood, too, mouth hanging open in outrage as she stared down at her shirt. She looked up. “You bitch!” she said.

  Honor shoved her. Not hard, but still. She wasn’t proud of it, didn’t plan it, but there wasn’t really much time to think, because Dana shoved back, much harder, and Honor staggered a little, bumping into her chair, and then Dana shoved her again, and she could smell the wine and “Sweet Home Alabama” was playing on the jukebox, and then they were falling, and there was some grappling, and Honor’s head jerked and a sudden pain lanced through her scalp—for the love of God, Dana was pulling her hair and it hurt, and she grabbed some of Dana’s adorable, silky hair (which smelled like coconut, very nice) and gave that a tug, and a chair fell on top of them, and time was weird, it was so slow and so fast at the same time, and then Brogan was hauling Dana off her. “Honor, what are you doing?” Brogan asked, and Honor scrabbled up, too (hopefully not flashing anyone), then there was a crack and Honor’s face stung.

  Her best friend had just slapped her.

  Honor’s breath came in short gasps. A cocktail napkin was stuck to her left breast. She pulled it off and set it on the table.

  Oh, God.

  The bar was silent.

  “Honor. ” Jack, her big brother, and who said they were never around when you needed them? “Are you okay?” he asked.

  She swallowed. “Peachy. ” Her face hurt. The spot Dana slapped throbbed.

  Brogan looked absolutely bewildered. “Honor,” he said. “I—I thought. . . I didn’t realize. . . ”

  “No? Well, then, you’re stupider than I thought. ” Her voice was cool, despite the fact that she was shaking violently.

  “Let’s get out of here,” her brother said, and she loved him so much right then.

  “I can’t believe it!” someone barked from the bar, breaking the silence. Lorena Creech, the biggest mouth in town. “Honor Holland in a catfight! Wowzers!”

  “Come on,” Jack muttered. “I’ll drive you home. ”

  But Honor just stood there another mi
nute, unable to take her eyes off of Dana. Her friend. The one who watched movies with her on Saturday nights when neither of them had a date, who confided in her, laughed with her, didn’t seem to mind that she was maybe a little quiet, a little predictable. The one who’d told her to go for it, propose to Brogan. . . the one who’d handed her tissues after he said no.

  The one who’d had a strange look on her face when she answered the door that night, and now Honor recognized what that expression had been: triumph.

  The one who was wearing the same engagement ring Honor had admired.

  In Dana’s eyes was a dark gleam of satisfaction.

  “I’ll drive myself,” Honor said, finally looking at her brother. “Thanks, anyway, Jack. ” She straightened her sweater, took her purse from the back of the chair.

  Over the back of Dana’s chair, she noted, was a Burberry raincoat. Honor’s raincoat.

  She turned and headed through the still-silent bar. It was an awfully long way.

  A man she didn’t know slid off a bar stool and went to the door ahead of her, weaving a bit, she noted distantly. “Thanks for that,” he said, the origin of the British accent she’d heard earlier. “You don’t get to see enough girl fights these days. ”

  “Shut up,” she muttered, not looking him in the eye.

  He toasted her with his glass and held the door open, and the cool, damp air soothed her burning face.

  * * *

  TWO HOURS LATER, with Spike curled under her chin and snoring slightly, Honor made a resolution (and a list).

 

 

  No more catfights in bars.

  No more letting the old imagination fly away like a rabid bat, inventing scenarios that clearly weren’t going to play out.

  Work less and play more (find ways to play ASAP; maybe hire someone?).

  A relationship, and pronto.

  A baby. Soon.

 

 

  Time to get a life, in other words.

  Time to take action.

 

 

  CHAPTER THREE

  THERE WAS LITTLE Honor dreaded more than Family Meetings. In the past, subjects covered included Jack’s divorce, the care and feeding of Goggy and Pops, Faith’s wedding(s) and Dad’s terrifying girlfriend of last year.

  Tonight, for the first time ever, the Family Meeting was about her.

  In the three days since the catfight, Honor had done a lot of thinking. She’d always been the good one, not that her siblings were bad people. No, they were just more colorful. She was like that other kid in the story of the Prodigal Son. The one who never screwed up, who did his job.

  And look where that had gotten her. Thirty-five, aging eggs, no man in her life, totally gobsmacked by her best friend, not to mention completely idiotic where Brogan was concerned. She lived with her father in her childhood home and worked a bazillion hours a week. For fun, she watched shows about tumor removal or the guy who had a foot growing out of his rib cage, courtesy of a malformed twin.

  Her entire family had heard about the fight. She’d told her dad and Mrs. Johnson the morning after, not wanting them to hear it from anywhere else, and Dad had looked like someone had just eaten a live kitten while Mrs. J. muttered darkly and slammed the fridge. Faith came over and had been quite sympathetic, reminding Honor of her own public scene a few years ago, and leaving two cartons of Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer.

  The family meeting would be more of the same.

  Her in-box chimed.

 
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