one. my little white lie.

Start from the beginning

"Oh my gosh, yes." Quinn liked nothing more than playing matchmaker. "We have to set you up."

"We totally do," Millie agreed.

"That's so sweet of you," I said. "But I already have a date for the party."

I'm not sure why I said it. Maybe it was their tone, laden with saccharine and superiority. Maybe it was because I hadn't eaten dinner and hanger had assumed control of my brain. Or maybe it was that my own sister—my twin sister—was marrying my college boyfriend.

Quinn's ice-blue eyes widened. "A date?"

"You do?" Millie looked like she'd just sniffed a carton of spoiled milk.

"Yes. I've been seeing someone," I told them. "It's getting serious, actually." Apparently, my lifelong drive to overachieve extended to include self-sabotage.

"That's great, Thay." Quinn ducked her head, leaning in closer. Her eyes danced as she studied my face. "Who is it?"

Who knew? Certainly not me.

"I don't want to say just yet. It's still new. Might jinx it." I bit my bottom lip. With any luck, my evasiveness would create intrigue rather than suspicion.

"So it's new, but it's serious." Millie frowned, gesturing with her half-full martini. "And it's a secret." My stomach flipped. As the biggest gossip in town, she took pride in always being in the loop. Hell, she wanted to be the loop. She was definitely pissed that she hasn't heard about this before, and now she would be going straight into hardcore recon mode, digging for dirt. Millie could be relentless about things like this. I needed to manage her somehow, but people-ing wasn't my strong suit.

"It's not a secret. We just haven't done the whole meet the friends and family thing." Could they see my heart pounding beneath my dress? Hopefully not, but Millie did have freakishly good vision.

Quinn nudged me with her elbow. "Come on, you can tell me. I'm your sister. I need to know who finally made the cut."

"Soon." Soon? Why did I say that? As if the hole wasn't deep enough, I just kept on digging. Maybe I could hide in it later when this came back to haunt me.

"Give me a hint, at least. Do I know him?" Quinn furrowed her brow, mulling over the possibilities.

"You might?" I squeaked, trying to keep things vague. If I said no, she'd ask why I couldn't at least tell her his name. If I said yes, well, that was even more problematic.

"Hello, darlings." My mother appeared out of nowhere, as she tended to do, in a cloud of judgment and Chanel No.5. Her hair was pulled back in a sleek blonde chignon, complimented by an understated royal blue dress that showed off her lithe, former-ballerina frame. She placed an icy hand on my shoulder, gigantic emerald engagement ring from husband #4 sparkling in the dim light. "I see you three are off in the corner all alone. What could possibly be more pressing than socializing with our lovely guests?"

Quinn turned to her. "Thayer was just telling us that she has a date to the engagement party."

My mother looked as shocked as Quinn had. If her forehead hadn't been recently Botoxed, she might have even raised her eyebrows.

"Really. Well, that's good to hear." She offered me a forced smile, as if she didn't quite believe it herself. "Who is it?"

The million-dollar question.

I swallowed. "I was just—"

Quinn cut me off. "She's playing coy with us." She stuck out her bottom lip, forming a glossy peach pout. "Won't cough up a name."

"It's still new," I said. "You'll meet him when I'm ready." Everyone know that I was notoriously private. Or 'emotionally unavailable', as they liked to say. More like an expert in self-preservation, which was necessary when you traveled in these circles. Either way, hopefully this would put an end to their prying.

"Ah." My mother nodded regally. "Well, the engagement party is still three weeks away, dear. Are you sure you'll still be seeing him by then?" I suppressed a flinch at the verbal dagger. My past relationships may have been short-lived, but I was always the one who cut them loose.

"Positive." Coffin, meet final nail.

"It's new but moving fast, Blythe," Millie added, butting in. "Maybe there will be more wedding bells soon." Her tone was aspartame--sweet on top, bitter aftertaste beneath.

I nodded, suppressing a cringe. "Maybe." 

In reality, wedding bells weren't in my future ever, and certainly not any time soon. Marriage was an antiquated tradition that, in heterosexual relationships, benefitted the man more than the woman. Studies even said as much. On average, wives still did something like 1.9 times as much housework as their husbands, even if they both worked full time. In my opinion, that was a total racket; any man who freeloaded like that deserved to be downgraded from husband to was-band, stat.

Plus, my mother's marital track record only reinforced what I already knew: promises of till death do us part meant nothing in the bitter end--and the end was always bitter.

"Excellent." My mother's expression was pleased, if uncertain. "I can't wait to meet him. I do hope I can have the chance to do that before the engagement dinner. You know, to ensure that he's a suitable choice."

"Of course." I took a sip of my wine, wishing it were cyanide instead. "I'm sure we can make that happen."

What do you do when you invent a date that doesn't exist?

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What do you do when you invent a date that doesn't exist?

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