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Only with You

By´╝ÜLauren Layne

CHAPTER ONE



If only the boots had come with some sort of warning label.

Perhaps a succinct sticker reading, HOOKER.

Or even a tasteful note card indicating, “These shoes will change your life.”

But the knee-high, rhinestone-covered boots said neither of these things, and so Sophie Claire Dalton made the most crucial decision of her life without having all the information.

Not that Sophie realized the magnitude of the choice she was about to make. If someone were to ask her about the important decision of her life, the feminine dilemma of shoe choice probably wouldn’t have been on her radar.

She might have thought it was the tearful junior prom date decision between Adam and Gary.

(Adam. Way cuter. Less acne.)

Or perhaps the melodramatic soul-searching about whether to pursue soccer or cheerleading.

(Cheerleading, totally. Boxy athletic shorts hadn’t stood a pubescent chance against a flippy little skirt.)

It could have been her long-deliberated college destination.

(Stanford. Yep, Sophie was one of those girls.)

Then there was the choice that had nearly ripped her heart out. Jon McHale had dropped to his knee their senior year of college with a diamond ring the size of her face and the promise of yuppie housewife security.

(Answer: No. Although that decision had been particularly rough. The ring had been Tiffany and the man had been sweet.)

Or perhaps most likely, Sophie might have guessed the proverbial fork was the debate over whether to finish her stint at Harvard Law or drop out and pursue a life of, well…aimlessness.

(Current occupation: cocktail waitress.)

And yet, none of these decisions would be as life-altering as the choice she was about to make.

Classic strappy black sandals, or…The Boots.

Clueless to the magnitude of what she was about to decide, Sophie teetered over to the full-length mirror of her Las Vegas hotel room, tugging at the hem of her black miniskirt. She extended the black sandal on her left foot for inspection and winced. Surely that white, flabby and unshaven stump wasn’t her leg.

Damn. The testicle-shaped birthmark above her left knee said the limb was definitely hers. And the pasty complexion looked just about right for a lazy Seattle native in the middle of January.

As for the shoes, the delicate high-heeled sandals had potential. Sexy but understated. Very Audrey Hepburn. Very Jackie Onassis.

But on the other hand…

Sophie pivoted awkwardly to extend her other leg and inspected the boot option. They’d been an impulse buy (okay fine, a slightly tipsy impulse buy) from the Lover’s Package sex shop for last year’s Halloween costume of Sexy Space Girl.

Alas, due to some unflattering Halloween-day bloating, the Sexy Space Girl had never made an appearance, and Sophie had tackled Halloween as the green M&M for the third year in a row.

The boots had sat abandoned and unworn in her closet, awaiting their destiny.

Sophie chewed on her lip and considered. The boots were certainly tacky, but wasn’t that kind of the point of a bachelorette party in Vegas? Particularly a bachelorette party for which the slightly unhinged bride had declared a theme of Totally Trashy? These boots were practically the poster children for trashy.

Not to mention they’d cover the glow-in-the-dark-white shade of her calves.

Decision made, Sophie flipped off her old standby black sandal. There’d be plenty of time to channel first ladies and iconic movie stars at job interviews and bridal showers.

The bride’s pouty voice echoed in Sophie’s ear. I want my bachelorette party to be hella skanky and memorable. If you’re going to be on your period that weekend, fix it.

Which was totally reasonable, since all women could totally just up and regulate their uteruses with a firm talking-to.

Sophie was a sucker for traditional wedding hoopla, bachelorette parties included. But she wasn’t looking forward to this one. Had the bride not been her cousin, and the maid of honor not been Sophie’s sister, she would have bailed. But family was family, so here she was in a hotel room she couldn’t afford, dressed like some sort of space-station call girl.

Grabbing her cosmetic bag, Sophie teetered into the bathroom and eyed the multiple mirrors. She pulled the magnifying mirror away from the wall and stared at herself in rapt horror. No pasty American female in her late twenties would have thought it a good idea to zoom in on skin that had been maybe just a tiny bit free with the gin and lax on the sunscreen.

Sophie pushed the judgmental mirror away and gave it the bird. She didn’t need a crappy little mirror calling attention to her flaws. She had a mother and a sister for that.

Turning toward the normal, less judgmental mirror, she began applying her makeup with a heavier hand than usual. And the last step in the transformation to tart?

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