wo people begrudgingly perfect for each other, creates the ideal recipe for imperfect love.
At 24 years old, Holly Scallanger has the perfect life. Everything a girl could want; a beautiful man, a stunning home, as well as being in the midst of preparing for the wedding of her dreams. This all vanishes the night she catches her fiancé, Brandon Morgan, in bed with her worst nightmare, Donna Sinclair, just a week before Holly is set to walk down the aisle.
Attempting to recover from his betrayal, Holly swears off the affections of men in order to pick up the pieces of her crumbling life. Unfortunately, meeting Jake 'Hooligan' Peters is not part of her plan. The tall, dark-haired and handsome as hell med student, sweeps Holly away from the pain of her past and reveals to her the bright future that lies ahead. That is, until she falls pregnant just as Jake begins his internship at P&E; his family's hospital.
Will this love at first sight lead her to the fairytale she has always craved? Or, will she fall victim to a betrayal of the heart yet again?
HOLLY SCALLANGER LOOKED at the email in her hands.
That son of a bitch. How could he do this to me, and only a week prior to our wedding?
She had given him everything. Had stood by him in his time of need, having fulfilled the vows she hadn’t yet made before God. And what had he done? Her fiancé had slept with the woman he’d promised never to speak to ever again; Donna Sinclair.
That little stunt had ripped her heart out and tore it into a million pieces, like a wolf with a fresh kill. He had decimated her without a second thought.
Their relationship was the price demanded of one tramp in a push-up bra, and paid with the wink of an eye.
Donna had always been a thorn in her side, the kind that wedged in deep like a tick, burrowing in deeper and deeper the more you tried to remove it.
She should have left him when that bitch first made her appearance in their lives, but she had innocently believed his rotten tongue.
Not only that, she had taken into her heart the poison he’d fed her with every “I’m sorry” and “It will never happen again”. She’d believed that he loved her more than anything in existence, and that he’d made a mistake.
Tears welled up in her eyes and her stomach knotted.
But if he loved me, why'd he sleep with that skank only a month ago?
A part of her knew that Brandon was aching for Donna. They were the same, both liars—cheaters. They belonged together. She just wished Brandon had had the balls to break up with her. Maybe she could have saved all the money she had poured into their farce of a wedding.
Better now than too late, she thought.
She should have known that Brandon Morgan would never change his ways. There was a saying her mother always used: “A fox may change its fur, but never its color.”
Holly sat in front of her computer and began composing an email to Donna. She pounded away at the keys until the screen before her illuminated a vicious, scolding letter. Pausing, she deleted it, re-typed different cuss words, but eventually deleted that, too.
“You’ve won,” she said out loud, as her fingertips tapped with resigned beats on the letters that spelled the two words on her keyboard and pressed the send button.
Composing herself, she gazed around the polished wooden desk that housed her computer. As her eyes swept over the books and various notes, they rested on the small, black device like a beacon of her misery. Her phone was going to ring in the next couple of minutes and she knew who it would be. Brandon, of course.
Holly wasn’t stupid, knew the two secretly messaged each other, but she’d been too in love and blind to truly see Brandon’s weakness.
As she looked around the small bedroom, her eyes focused in on the dark wood of the closet door. Her suitcase was pushed way to the back.
Unable to control herself, she kept running over and over in her head what the hell she was going to tell her mom. God knew, Jane Scallanger didn’t have money but had nevertheless spent—more like wasted—a fortune on a wedding that would never take place.
Pulling her legs up to her chest, she silently made a promise to herself and to whatever god happened to be listening. She would repay every penny, even if it took the rest of her life to do so.
Holly got out of the plush chair and gingerly walked across the soft carpet. Grasping the metal handle, she opened the closet door with a flourish and pulled out the suitcase. Flapping it open, she began arranging all her clothes haphazardly. Lucky for her, it was a big suitcase. When she bought it, she’d known the size would come in handy one day, she’d just never thought that it would be used for the situation she now found herself in.
Pausing in her frantic packing, she fell back onto the white carpet, letting her hair swirl around her, reflecting the tornado of emotions swirling within.
How could he have done this to me?
They’d had so many dreams. They could have been such a great couple, if he would have just kept his dick in his pants. Heaven knew she loved Brandon, but she refused to marry Donna, too.
Tears began streaming down her cheeks, leaving a hot path that burned into her very soul. She inhaled deeply, trying not to lose it as she pushed her hair back. She knew that as soon as his Audi pulled into the driveway, he was going to start with his begging again. Especially now, a week before the big day.
She had to stand her ground. She owed it to herself and deserved so much more than that two-timing whore. Yes, Holly was sick of double standards; if women were called whores when they slept around, men should be labeled in the same manner.
Suddenly, her phone began buzzing frantically. She reached out a hand to grab it off the floor, where she’d placed it when she started packing, and looked at the polished glass screen. A beautiful picture of him and her smiling, greeted her.
Damn... we look so happy.
“Yes?” she answered.
“Hey, Holls. What are we going to eat tonight?” his deep honey voice asked.
Just hearing his voice caused a wave of emotion to roll through her body, which almost sent her phone flying toward the closet’s door. She knew he wasn’t calling about the evening’s menu. Donna had probably called him as a result of the message she’d sent half an hour ago.
“You know what? Eat whatever you want to eat. Hell, eat Donna, for all I care.” Angrily, she punched the red disconnect button on the screen.
Her phone rang again a second later, the same picture flashing on the screen. “What do you want, Brandon?”
“You okay?” he asked.
“Am I okay?” She gave her ‘you’re unbelievable’ snort, wanting to hang up on him yet again.
I’m so sick and tired of playing this game with him.
“No, I am not okay, but I will be, Brandon,” she bit his name out with pure venom.
He cussed. “Is it that time of the month again?”
“You know what? Go fuck yourself. I can’t do this anymore… you, you sleazeball, you two-timing piece of shit.” She took a deep breath. “I’m leaving you. And I think it’s better we do this now, rather than waste two years of our lives with each other.”
“Wh-what? Just wait for me, Holls, okay? I’ll be right there. I love you, baby.”
She knew the minute she spelled it out for him that he’d cottoned on to the fact that she knew he’d slept with Donna, and then the lies would start all over again. He would begin by telling her his soppy version, and ultimately manipulate her into staying by telling her that it would never happen again. Except, that this time, she had proof.
The dead line signal beeped in her ear before she could tell him not to bother.
If she wanted to be rid of his sorry ass, she had to move fast. Where he worked was only a twenty minute drive to her place, and in an emergency, ten.
Holly got up off the floor, grabbed the rest of her stuff, shoved it into her suitcase and hauled it to her pathetic little Beetle, unceremoniously chucking the suitcase into it. She didn’t own anything else, because he had everything. Another thing he’d manipulated her with throughout the years.
She backed out of the garage of the million dollar mansion her now-no-longer-to-be-daddy-in-law had bought them as a wedding present three months earlier. She knew she would never find that kind fortune again, but money couldn’t buy happiness, she knew that now.
Her phone was on the passenger seat.
She had no idea where to go, except to Bernice’s, her best friend. They’d had a falling out a month ago, and although Bernie had warned her to not go crying when he hurt her, she knew her friend hadn’t meant it in that way.
They had been friends since they’d been in diapers. Bernie would understand. She’d tried and failed to tell Holly, repeatedly, that Brandon was a dick, but Holly hadn’t listened. At that time, the reality of not being with him had been unbearable.
Now the only thing she saw whenever she closed her eyes, was Donna on top of Brandon in some classy hotel he’d never taken her to.
Holly resolutely dialed her friend’s number; thanking God she hadn’t deleted it when he’d asked her to. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as Holly knew Bernie’s number by heart. The phone rang three times before Bernice answered.
“Never thought I'd hear from you again,” Bernie huffed in an unimpressed tone.
“I did it,” Holly blurted without a greeting, and then promptly began to cry. She’d kept most of her tears back for way too long.
“What?” Bernie sounded surprised. “Where are you now? Shit, I hope you’re not driving.”
“I had to get away. I only have my suitcase and no idea what I’m going to do!” she bawled.
“Calm down, okay? Pull over, or better yet, go to the mall. I’ll meet you at Madley’s. Just don't drive, please,” Bernie begged.
“Okay,” Holly uttered, so softly it was barely audible. She disconnected the call, dropped her phone onto her lap and quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and face before she ended up causing an accident. Thankfully, the mall was a five minute drive from their home. She didn’t think Brandon would go looking for her there. At least, she hoped he wouldn’t.
Holly ordered a regular coffee, since Madley’s was a non-licensed coffee shop, and waited for Bernie. She went over in her head how she was going to beg her for forgiveness and ask to be given another chance, and possibly a room until she was able to save up enough money to afford a place of her own.
The waiting was excruciating. For Bernie, it wasn’t a five minute drive to Madley’s like it was for Holly. It was more of a half an hour drive.
As she waited, her mind wandered back to the day she’d met Brandon. She remembered how his blue eyes had set her heart on fire in a downtown bar. Neither of them was supposed to have been there that night, but fate had intervened. And as far as Holly was concerned in regards to fate—it didn’t fucking exist.
She should’ve seen the signs. She wasn't even fond of blond guys, but for Brandon she had made an exception. His personality had transformed all his flaws right before her eyes and turned him into her dream guy. At the time, she never had a clue he was a living, breathing replica of her father. Just thinking of the comparison upset her.
Charles Scallanger, she whispered, the name leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. She hated men like her father, yet there she’d been, on the verge of marrying his carbon copy.
Growing up, Holly’s mother had worked two jobs, one to put food on the table and pay the bills, the other to pay her father’s ass through university so that he could fulfill his dream of becoming an architect.
These weren’t men. They were boys who never grew up. And what had Charles done when his ship finally sailed in? He’d dumped her mother and married his blond bimbo secretary, Gabriella, who he’d known for less than three months.
No, Holly didn't want a life that remotely resembled theirs. In the end, her mother hadn't gotten her father, and to this day still lived alone.
Maybe there was no such thing as a good husband. Maybe they were all cheaters, and there would always be a Donna.
The two men she’d once loved and worshipped had proved that. What was said by many was true; you always ended up marrying your father. She almost did.
Feeling herself being pulled down into a spiral of depression, Holly forced the good things about Brandon to the front of her mind. He had really made her feel like a million dollars at times, but the reality of those emails to Donna quickly made her feel like she had never been worth a dime to him.
How could I have been so stupid?
As much as Holly hated Donna, she had to admit that the bitch was really good. She’d had her sights set on Brandon ever since the day they’d met on that stupid website everyone was making such a big fuss about. Perhaps, stupidly, Holly had thought love would prevail and conquer that devil spawn. Thank heavens she found out sooner rather than later that love didn’t have that kind of power. It didn’t conquer all if there was no respect and trust.
She pulled the printed email out of her purse and read through it again. There wasn’t any forwarding email address with her name attached to it. And it wasn’t from Donna either, but somehow it had managed to get to her, a week before their wedding. There were even entries that went way back, even after he’d promised he would never speak to Donna again. She’d read through those a million times.
Fire burned inside her again as she took in every inked word. She had never felt this kind of betrayal or humiliation in her life, not even when her father left.
Brandon had written to Donna about how beautiful she was, and the words ‘miss you’ popped up a couple of times. What hurt the most were the emails where he told Donna how he felt trapped in his relationship with Holly. Now that she thought about it, she’d never actually had Brandon all to herself. Guys like Brandon would never know what they had, until it was too late.
Bernie suddenly dropped her skinny ass into the chair across from hers. “Sorry I’m late.” She had cut her long, summer blond hair to shoulder length and it looked really good.
Holly didn't say anything, but slid the twenty-four page email in front of Bernie.
Grabbing the pages up from the table quickly, her piercing blue eyes scanned through them, as if earth’s existence depended on the information she held in her hands. “That fucking asshole,” she whispered, and continued to read. She gasped now and then and gave her ‘I don’t believe it’ snort here and there. “What did he say?” Bernie asked, halfway through.
“He didn’t say a thing. I just told him I’m leaving and that was that.”
“He didn't even put up fight?” She looked at Holly with raised eyebrows.
“I didn’t give him the chance. You know what he’s like, Bernie. He’ll manipulate me and tell me that it's not him, and you know how naive I can be.”
Bernie looked at her, eyes huge and round. “Holly, after this, no way he’d be able to bullshit you again,” she huffed. Shaking her head gently, she closed her eyes for a beat. “And, you can't be that stupid.”
Holly inhaled deeply, knowing that Bernie was right. But her ex-fiancé would have found a way of talking her into making the biggest mistake of her life. Brandon was that good. “You know what he’s like, Bernie,” she repeated, fresh tears forming in her eyes.
Looking across the wide table at her friend, Bernie knew how tormented Holly was. She had a weakness when it came to Brandon Morgan. “Just think about these emails, Holly. No one in his or her right mind would take someone like that back. If you like, you can stay with Leonard and me. You’ll just have to purchase a pair of earplugs for the nights Sam keeps me up. He’s teething and it’s driving me insane.”
Holly hugged her friend awkwardly across the table. “Thank you, Bernie.”
“You’re doing the right thing, Holls. He doesn't deserve you. Be happy that this happened now, instead of two years down the line when there’d likely be little feet running around the house.”
Holly nodded. Bernie always thought about others, especially children.
They decided to have lunch while Bernie wandered off to place a call to Leonard, updating him on the change of plans involving Holly. Sam stayed with Leonard's mom in the mornings, so Bernie had a chance to catch up on all the chores around the house. Luckily for Holly, it was a Saturday and Brandon had to work, or so she’d presumed. For all she knew, he could’ve been at Donna’s. Thinking about that made her blood boil, leaving her no choice but to agree with her BFF that Brandon didn’t deserve her.
When Bernie returned, they both ordered a hamburger and chips—traditional comfort food. In the end, Bernie paid the bill, which Holly hated but her friend had been adamant.
Out in the parking lot, they split up to collect their cars respectively. Bernie had parked on the opposite side of where Holly’s car was, so she waited patiently in her Beetle.
Removing her phone from her handbag, she noticed that it had somehow switched to silent while they had been talking and eating.
She had wondered why it hadn't rung, although she couldn’t remember making the switch. Twenty-four missed calls were brightly displayed on her phone. Three of the messages were from Brandon wanting to know where she was, why she wasn’t answering her phone, and begging her not to do this to him a week before their wedding.
She sighed, forgetting all the steps involved in canceling a wedding. All the people she had to phone. Aunt Suzie, as well as Lorinda, would give their condolences and say that they’d always known Brandon wasn’t the right one for her. She had gotten so sick and tired of that saying of theirs: Beautiful men belong to multiple women. This task would require a bottle of vodka.
She read the last message again.
Don’t do this to me, please!
Blah, blah, blah.
Holly chucked the phone onto her back seat. Do this to him, indeed! She couldn’t help but giggle. She’d almost felt bad thinking that she was doing that to him a week before their wedding, but then he should have thought about what he was doing a month ago when he’d rolled into bed with that slut.
She had to find another job, since the five-star restaurant where she currently worked as a full-time personal assistant didn't pay enough to support herself. Thinking of her job made her heart sink. She loved working in the food industry and needed the people who always looked out and cared for her.
Holly’s boss and her husband were darlings, and they’d offered to help her financially ever since she’d started working for them. However, Brandon had always had more than enough to support them both.
Just then, Bernie’s SUV pulled up and Holly quickly started her Beetle. But when she turned the key in the ignition, a loud whining noise emitted from under the hood. The car backfired and she couldn’t help thinking that if he had really loved her the way he’d always said he did, he would've bought her a safer car—one that didn’t die at every stop light.
Tears filled her eyes again. No matter how hard she tried to push him off the pedestal she had placed him on so many years ago, he was still on it, standing just as tall as he always had.
“Please, God, give me the strength to let him go,” she whispered. Her faith had always held strong, but lately it was beginning to wane, probably because she hadn’t gone to church in months. However, Holly still prayed at night, which didn’t detract from the fact that she still felt bad in knowing how she had chucked God away, like a discarded toy. He was the only constant in her life, and she was banking on that constant to pull her butt through the torturous week that awaited her.