I kept thinking about the Elvis preacher. About the vows, the ceremony, the kiss. It felt fake, but I knew that those things really were legal in Vegas. Afterward, I asked him to take me home. He only nodded and dropped me off, disappearing as mysteriously as he had appeared.
And yet I couldn’t stop thinking about his kiss, his touch. It was addictive and incredible, and I had never felt like that before, not with any other guy I’d been with.
Lucas wasn’t a guy; he was a man. A totally different breed of man than I’d ever been around before.
I heard Pacey brushing her teeth in the other room, so I quickly checked my phone. As I’d left the limo last night after the ceremony, I had given Lucas my number.
No calls or texts from any unknown numbers. But there was a voice mail from my mother.
I felt a little disappointed, but what did I expect? I had let the guy get me off, married him, and then freaked out and ran away all within like a few hours’ time.
“You ready to get out of here?” Pacey said, leaning against the wall.
“I am, but you definitely don’t look like you are.”
“I just need breakfast,” she said. “An enormous breakfast. And vodka.”
I laughed. “No vodka for you. We’re going back home now, remember?”
“Don’t remind me.”
She disappeared back into the bathroom and I heard the shower go on.
Curious, but also dreading it, I tapped on my mother’s voice mail and held the phone up to my ear.
“Natalie? Ugh, I hate leaving messages, but this is important. You’re coming home, right? You may have seen some stuff in the gossip rags. It’s very important that you call me back immediately. Love you!”
I frowned at the phone and listened to the message again, a stone growing in my gut. Mom didn’t normally even talk about the gossip rags, so it was a little unusual that she mentioned them specifically. I tapped her name and called her back.
“Hello? Natalie?” She answered on the second ring.
“Hi, Mom,” I said.
“Where are you?”
“I’m in Las Vegas right now. I told you that.”
“Oh.” I could hear the annoyance in her voice, but I had told her. I’d texted and called and emailed my itinerary, but obviously she hadn’t paid attention to it. “Well, I have some important news.”
“Nothing happened,” she said. “Not everything is bad, you know.”
“Sorry, but the last time you said that you had gotten arrested.”
“That was just one time,” she grumbled. “And anyway, that’s all behind me now.”
“What do you mean?”
“The drinking, the partying. Hell, even the TV. It’s all done with.”
I felt that little stone of dread blossom into an enormous boulder. “What’s going on, Mom?”
“I got married, sweetie.”
Worst nightmare confirmed. “To who?”
“A very nice man. His name is Arturo. He’s a Chicago businessman, and we’ve been seeing a lot of each other lately. Oh, I’m so sorry you couldn’t be at the wedding, but it was a spur-of-the-moment type thing. You understand?”
I was barely listening. My mother tended to ramble when she was uncomfortable, and she began to tell me all about the wedding. I had stopped listening when she’d told me that she had gotten married again.
I couldn’t believe it. After Dad had died and left her his fortune, I never thought she’d move on to anyone else. She seemed so heartbroken, so upset. I always thought that her acting out and being a reality TV star was just a way to run from her grief.
And yet here she was, married again.
I felt angry and betrayed.
But I shouldn’t. She was a grown woman who could make her own decisions. And besides, Dad had died a long time ago. Even though Mom made plenty of very bad decisions, she wasn’t really a bad person.
“I’m very happy for you,” I said finally during a very brief pause.
“Oh I’m so happy to hear that,” she said. “There’s one more thing.”
“Well, I’ll be moving into his estate.”
“Yes. It’s right outside the city, and it’s so, so lovely. Lots of land, animals, all of that. You’ll really love it, sweetie.”
“He says you can have an entire wing to yourself if you like. There are hiking trails and a little pond.”
“What about our house?”
There was a pause on the other end. “Well, I sold it, honey.”
My childhood home. She had sold my childhood home?
“I’m sorry, but Arturo said that it wasn’t appropriate for me to own my own house anymore. We don’t need it, honey.”