Pretend It's Love(3)

By: Stefanie London

The kind that burrowed deep down and made you question everything.

The sudden decline in socializing hadn’t gone unnoticed; both Des and Noah had questioned him to no avail. He didn’t want meaningless sex anymore nor did he want to be chained up in a relationship hell. If only he could have some kind of in-between solution…

But now Paul had bigger problems to deal with other than his sex-life limbo. Tonight’s announcement meant he had only six weeks to find someone to stand by his side at the wedding and do something meaningful with his life. No big deal, right?

There was no way in hell he’d front up to his ex alone being exactly the same guy as when she’d dumped him two years ago. Not going to happen.

Libby Harris begged her cell phone not to ring again. After four calls bearing bad news, she was about ready to hurl the damn thing out a window. This couldn’t be happening.

One press release and her business—which was on the brink of launching—was going down the drain faster than a Britney Spears comeback. Maybe if she stopped answering her phone the bad news would disappear.

“Stay calm.” Her best friend, Nina Bauer, sat cross-legged on the couch in Libby’s office and mimicked deep breathing. “I know it seems bad, but there’s room in the market for more than one person. Everything will be fine, and we’ll probably laugh at this in a few months.”

“Laugh?” Libby held up her iPad with both hands and thrust it in Nina’s general direction. “My business is going to die because I didn’t launch early enough. That’s nothing to laugh about.”

“Freaking out isn’t going to help the situation.” Nina pushed off the couch and grabbed the iPad, gently setting it down on the coffee table. “And stop waving your gadgets in my face.”

One month out from her launch party, Libby’s business—a line of girlie infused vodkas and cocktail mixes—was in peril. That morning a press statement had been released that the infamous reality TV star turned sex-tape celebrity, Kandy K, was launching her very own line of flavored vodkas.

What were the friggin’ odds?

Now all the businesses she’d lined up to stock Libby Gal Cocktails were dropping like flies—they wanted to jump on the celebrity bandwagon. Despite her social pedigree, Libby Harris was not a celebrity.

“We don’t know how many places are going to pull out. Maybe the worst of it is over.”

Libby dropped her face into her hands and tried not to hyperventilate. “I’m going to fail because I never made a sex tape. How ironic is that?”

Her phone rang again, and Libby threw it into the drawer of her desk, slamming it shut with a resounding bang. She couldn’t take hearing one more restaurant owner tell her that they were “very sorry” but they needed to put their business first and “explore other options.”

They didn’t even have the guts to admit why they were dropping her.

“Trust me, in a few years you’ll be happy you don’t have a sex tape.” Nina pulled open the desk drawer and retrieved the phone. “There’s no point sticking your head in the sand. We need to focus on fixing this problem. How many are we down to?”

“Six, I think.” Libby flipped open her laptop, scanning down the details neatly typed into a spreadsheet. “I had ten restaurants lined up for the soft launch in Melbourne; four have pulled out so far. But I’m pretty sure that”—she pointed at her phone, not daring to pick the damn thing up. It may as well have been a venomous snake baring its fangs—“was Lulu Bar.”

“So we go into damage control. Let’s meet with the restaurant owners and see what we can do. Don’t they say market competition is good?”

Libby balled her fists. “This is not good, it’s a bloody disaster!”

Nina sighed and grabbed one of the bottles of Libby Gal Cocktails infused vodka that sat in an open box, awaiting shipment. “Marshmallow and rose petal, my favorite. Just what the doctor ordered.”

She screwed the top off before Libby could protest and fished out two of the branded shot glasses that were supposed to go along with the order. The sight of her business logo—a martini glass with a lip print on the side and her initials in pink and green—made her suck in a breath.

“We shouldn’t be drinking the stock, Neens.”

“Heavy drinking is often recommended in times of intense stress.” Nina winked and waved the bottle in front of Libby’s face.

Libby laughed despite herself. This was exactly the reason she was friends with Nina. The woman could put a smile on her face no matter how dire life seemed.

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