PART TWO - Chapter 14

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Emma

I couldn't believe I was grocery shopping with Kennedy. First of all, the woman acted as if she'd never actually been to such a place. What kind of life did she live if the grocery store seemed strange and new? I shook my head as she gushed over artichokes and eggplants like she'd spotted some rare creature in the wild.

Her strange enthusiasm did help me relax a little, though. It felt good to be the one in charge. I doubted that there were many areas where I could one-up Miss Perfect Kennedy, but cooking was definitely one of them.

"Thanks for letting me tag along," she said, pushing the cart. "Zach's been in my life practically forever, and I want to know everything about the girl who finally stole his heart."

Ugh. I'd always hated that saying; it felt like such a dark, ugly way to talk about love. "How long is forever?" I asked.

Kennedy smiled as though she was remembering happy times. "Oh, goodness. We were small when we met, elementary school age for sure. We spent holidays together, and there were a lot of joint family vacations. Genie and I were roommates at summer camp for like eight years in a row. It's all very warm and cozy between our families."

I stopped and studied the rainbow chard. It was so good roasted with olive oil and tossed with feta, and it seemed like an appropriately fancy vegetable choice. Plus, the vegetables helped me focus on something other than Kennedy. "Genie's wonderful," I said. "We've gotten very close since Zach and I started dating."

"Oh, I have no doubt. Genie's wonderful that way, always taking in strays and trying to make the world a better place."

Taking in strays? Was that how she saw me? I took a careful breath. "Well, I guess that's probably expected of the kids of politicians, right? Aren't you all sort of required to take up causes and do public service and such?"

She laughed and popped a cherry tomato in her mouth. "I suppose it must look that way from the outside. And yeah, there are a ton of photo ops and charity events. But a lot of what we all did was by choice, because we had so much fun together. To this day, no one makes me laugh like Zachy."

Zachy. It sounded even dumber now than the first time she'd said it. Her words did their job, though. I definitely felt like the outsider. I doubted the world she described would ever really feel natural to me.

"So enough about me," she said, stepping beside me and taking control of the cart again. "Tell me more about you. Zach hasn't really given me any of the details. And to be honest, I was so surprised to hear he was even dating anyone seriously, let alone engaged. He's always been so adventurous when it comes to the opposite sex." A little grin claimed the corners of her mouth, tiny and secretive.

There she was, the mean girl from the party. Before I could help myself, a challenge slipped from my lips. "I know you don't think I'll make a good politician's wife," I told her. "I heard you and your friends talking in the bathroom on the night of the cocktail party."

Without even a startled blink, she fashioned a huge smile. "Oh, I meant that as a compliment, sweetie. You don't seem like the typical Stepford wife, which is what most political wives inevitably become. You're a standout, totally different. I saw that immediately."

While my mouth hung open in shock, as impressed by her finesse as offended by her message, she moved toward the water section. "Do you think we'll want still or sparkling with whatever you're planning?" she called out.

"We have water at the apartment. In the tap," I muttered, wishing I'd never agreed to let her come with me. The woman was smooth, I'd give her that. Having her around was not going to be easy.

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