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My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother’s best friend. I haven’t seen him since.
Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her. Enter Colin Walsh, her brother’s quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape.
He’s far from Charlotte’s dream guy as but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte’s inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.
Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months.
Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning…
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Thursday, August 13
There are a few things I’ve missed about New York in the decade I’ve been away.
JFK Airport isn’t one of them.
I’m fresh off a six-hour flight in coach, and thanks to my last-minute trip, and the resulting back-of-the-plane seat assignment, by the time the food/drink cart got to me, they were out of the cheese plate and white wine (horror).
I’d made do with Pringles and vodka, because there are some things a person shouldn’t attempt while sober, and a middle seat between a fussy toddler and a man who brought his own onion-laden Tupperware was one of them.
As you can imagine, somewhere over Nebraska, I’d started fantasizing about the moment I’d get off the plane. Like, we’re talking borderline erotic daydreams about stretching my cramped legs, breathing in non-recycled air, and listening to something other than the toddler’s repeated demands for “bananananaanaa NOW!”
Now don’t get me wrong, I could respect that the toddler hadn’t yet learned just how many sugar calories were lurking in the humbly delicious banana, and he wanted it now. I could even get behind my onion-loving neighbor’s mind-set that airplane food was rarely worth the risk.
Still, my fantasy of not being between the two of them was very, very real.
My fantasy had most definitely not included the tense exchange with the airline after they’d made me gate-check my suitcase and then lost it. Nor had it included a mile-long taxi line once they’d finally located my suitcase on the carousel with a flight arriving from Denver.
Lastly, my fantasy hadn’t incorporated a cab driver involved in a heated cell phone fight with his mother. Although, that, at least, I can sympathize with. I’ve had a few of those over the years myself.
I know what you’re thinking:
Who is this hot mess?
Fair question. I’m Charlotte Spencer, age thirty-one. Sagittarius, in case that’s the sort of thing you like to know about a person. Long blond hair, although not as naturally platinum as my skilled hair stylist would make you think. I’ve got blue eyes and a borderline unhealthy affection for mascara. I’m a New Yorker by birth, San Francisco resident by choice. Body type … eh, we’ll go with decent, mostly thanks to a rather expensive personal trainer. And no, we’re not telling her about the plane Pringles. Or the vodka.
My professional life is pretty badass, if I do say so myself. I’m founder and CEO of my own business, a social media management company called Coco (as in Chanel, obviously). I started it when I was twenty-one and had pretty great timing on the whole social media wave. When I started, some of the biggest retailers on the planet were desperate for someone to help figure out the whole social media thing and couldn’t wait to hand over their money to a team of twenty-somethings who got it.
Fast-forward a decade, and if I were going to be completely crass, I’d be making cha-ching! noises right now, because I’ve always known I’d make a killer girl boss, and now, finally, my bank account agrees.
Let’s see, what else …
Oh, relationship status? It’s complicated. Very complicated.
But we’re getting to that.
For now, all you need to know is that I’m back in New York after a decade away and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.
I rest my head back and turn to look out the window. Traffic is even slower than usual, thanks to an August thunderstorm, but Manhattan inches ever closer, its lights a blurry kaleidoscope through the raindrops on the window.
The taxi driver pulls his phone away from his face and glances at me in the rearview mirror. “Where to again?”
The words Sixty-third and Lex nearly roll off my tongue, and I bite them back. Apparently, ten years on the West Coast can’t undo twenty-one years as an Upper East Side princess. But the last place I want to be tonight is my parents’ house.
“Seventy-sixth and Madison. The Carlyle Hotel.”
He goes back to his conversation without acknowledging my response, but he apparently heard me, because twenty minutes later, the taxi pulls up to the correct address.
I pay the fare, and a second later, the car door opens. I smile in gratitude at the hotel doorman who’s already unloaded my suitcase from the trunk and is waiting with an oversized umbrella.
“Welcome to The Carlyle, ma’am.”
Ma’am. Ouch. I make a mental note to stop putting off replacing my eye cream.
And while we’re on the topic of appearances, I’ve forgotten how vicious the summer humidity can be on the East Coast. I feel my sleek blowout transforming into a poufy cloud with each passing moment. Thankfully, the hotel lobby is cool and dry, and I want nothing more than to check in to my room and make a hot date with a bottle of wine and a shower.