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Chapter One

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Ch.1: An Unexpected Wedding

WARNING: This story contains strong language and depictions of substance abuse that may be upsetting to some readers. Anyone dealing with substance abuse should seek professional medical attention. Reader discretion is advised.

Life was an absolute bitch sometimes.

Coming to Vegas should have been the trip of a lifetime; instead, I sat on

a pavement in the Strip, my phone in one hand, a bottle of cheap vodka in the other, and debated whether or not to save my money like the sensible twenty-two-year-old I was supposed to be, or blow the lot on gambling and oiled-up male strippers.

Fucking Jake.

I glared at my phone. I'd already deleted the screensaver of us, but I felt like I could still see his stupid, smiling face. Since I couldn't afford to beat my phone to death on the pavement, I settled for another swig of vodka, wincing as it burned my throat.

My mum had thought Jake was taking me out here to propose. Ha-fucking-ha. I wouldn't have wanted him to – we hadn't been anywhere near that stage – but I also hadn't wanted him to stick his dick in another woman, least of all Kelly Thomas, the shit-munching bitchnipple who'd hated my guts since we were in school.

Before I could think better of it, I brought up Jake's number and hit call. He didn't answer – coward – so I waited for the beep of his voicemail.

"Jake," I said, trying not to sound tipsy and bitter. "Just wanted to let you know I'm having the time of my life out here, and it's soooooo much better without your weasel face and needle dick."

A middle-aged guy walking past gave me a startled look. I saluted him with my vodka.

"And FYI, if you and Kelly decide to make a go of it, just remember that you being in a relationship didn't stop her from fucking you, so being in a relationship with her won't stop her fucking anyone else. Or everyone else. Anyway, gotta dash. The Bellagio fountains are starting soon, and I know how much you wanted to see those. Sucks to be you."

I ended the call.

I was officially an idiot. I'd already visited the fountains three times, and the novelty had worn off, along with my satisfaction that I was seeing it and Jake wasn't. I still had two days left here, no idea how to spend it, almost no money, not a clue what I'd do with myself when I went home to England, and the knot of resentment and frustration in my chest was twisting tighter and tighter.

Tears stung my eyes.

Kelly Thomas would laugh her ass off if she could see how pathetic I looked.

I plugged in my earphones, and pulled up a playlist of my favourite band, Angels & Demons. They'd risen to fame three years ago, riding a wave of rock and metal revival that mirrored the wild glam-metal heyday of the 80s – raw, dirty music, leather pants, and deranged antics both on and off the stage, though the big hair and makeup had remained a thing of the past.

No matter how shitty things were – and they were really shitty right now – this band never failed to make me feel a little bit better. If someone could turn the magic of music into a pill form, they'd make a fortune.

As the voice of Jude Scott – lead vocalist and rock god super-hunk – filled my ears, the knot in my chest loosened. I'd get through this. I didn't know how, but I would.

Maybe this was my chance to shake off my old life, and venture down a path that was shiny and new.

I climbed to my feet and wandered aimlessly down the street.

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