Planning on Prince Charming(6)

By: Lizzie Shane


“Ah.”

It had seemed a fitting way to toast the end of his six year marriage. With a shitty bottle of six-year-old scotch.

He loved good scotch, but before long crap like this was likely to be all he could afford. Between his wife’s very enthusiastic lawyer, their lack of pre-nup, and the fact that he was likely to lose his job as soon as the higher ups at the network realized he was no longer the perfect portrait of domestic bliss they’d hired to be the host of Marrying Mister Perfect—and that was if they didn’t find out about the Suitorette in his hotel room—he’d be lucky if he could afford to drown his sorrows in Wild Turkey by this time next year.

Might as well get used to the cheap stuff. Josh downed the subpar scotch in a single swallow and reached for the bottle to refill his glass, watching as the amber liquid painted lovingly over the cubes.

He braced himself for an interrogation, but Sidney fell silent, sipping contemplatively. The minutes stretched out and they drank in comfortable silence. When her glass emptied, he refilled both of them, pleased his hands were steady enough to accomplish the task without spilling a drop.

Maybe make a career as a bartender when he was booted as host for MMP. The skill sets were similar.

Good listener when people were having emotional breakdowns? Check. Keep everyone around you with a full drink in their hand because that was where the money was? You bet. And Marrying Mister Perfect had certainly prepared him for dealing with drunken cat fights.

Now that he thought about it, he was really just an overpaid bartender with good hair.

He raked a hand through the thick brown mess. At least he still had his hair. Marissa could take his retirement fund and the house in Malibu, but he was still number ninety seven on Us Weekly’s 100 Hunkiest Hollywood Hotties. So there.

Josh handed Sidney her glass and clinked it with his own, silently toasting the absent arbiters of hunkiness at Us Weekly.

“This is so surreal,” Sidney murmured, rubbing a hand over her stomach. “I’m drinking terrible scotch with Josh Pendleton and tomorrow I meet Mister Perfect. Somebody pinch me.”

“If it’s such a dream, why were you trying to get kicked off the show?”

She looked at him, but there was something evasive in her eyes. “What makes you so certain I was?”

He arched a brow and her resistance crumpled.

“I’m not used to being Cinderella. When I’m playing the Fairy Godmother, I’m amazing, but cast me as the princess and I don’t have the first idea what to do with myself.”

Something jogged loose in his brain. “You’re the wedding planner, aren’t you?”

“That’s me.”

“You know, you and I have the same job.” Maybe he could do that when he was fired for matrimonial failure.

“How do you figure that?”

“We both watch other people get paired off, knowing all the while that most of them aren’t going to make it.”

She shook her head, still smiling. “I always believe they’re going to make it.”

He almost laughed. “Naïve.”

“Cynical,” she accused without heat.

“So why come on the show if you don’t want to be Cinderella?”

“It isn’t a question of want. Just because I don’t know how to be the princess doesn’t mean I don’t want my own happy ending. Something just always seems to go wrong translating the dream to reality when it comes to my own love life.”

“Maybe it will work out this time.”

“Thank you for saying that. Even though I know you’re too cynical to believe it for a second.”

“What do I know? Maybe you and Daniel can fall in love in the middle of a three ring circus.”

She went still, then rose with studied nonchalance and crossed to the bar to get more ice. “You don’t believe in the show?”

“I’m not one to judge.”

“Who better than you? You’ve seen dozens of hopeful Suitorettes come and go. Every season another batch of us.”

“And most of you leave in tears.” At the disappointment on her face, he back-pedaled as he took the ice from her and refilled his own glass. “Don’t mind me. I’m just the World’s Biggest Hypocrite. The man who peddles love for a paycheck until the seasons start blurring together even though I’ve sworn off love and marriage and the entire damn mess.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

”About the blurry seasons?”

She held up her hand and he squinted. Gold glittered, a shiny band hooked over the tip of her index finger.

His wedding ring. He’d forgotten it on the bar in the rush to get her away from the shattered glass.

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