Release Date: September 4, 2019
Cover Design: Opulent Designs
I shoot war zones, not nuptials.
But when my ex-wife lands a starring role in the wedding of the year, it’s tempting to change things up a bit.
Who’s better than me to follow her around before and during the big day, capturing every picturesque moment, snapping every detail as they join together in wedlock? No one.
Not to mention, she still owes me for destroying my prized vintage camera during our divorce.
As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” Tabatha’s face reddens to an unnatural shade I’ve not seen before. Her tiny fingers pinch at my arm as she tugs me in the direction of the exit.
“Well, this here is a camera.” I stop, holding it up to show her, pissed about her pinching my arm. “And I use it to take pictures. I know you don’t like the candids, but Mr. Simpcox was real specific—”
“Oh, cut the shit, I know who you are,” she fumes.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I hedge.
Her gaze cuts through me. We make it outside and she turns once the doors close.
“I know it’s you, Pax.” She stomps her foot, making her breasts bounce. It takes every modicum of strength I possess not to look. I may hate the woman, but that doesn’t mean I hate her breasts.
“I’m not sure about this whole Pax person, but my name is—”
She reaches up and grabs the corner edge of my fake mustache, pulling down sharply and taking skin along with the piece.
“Ouch, what the fuck, Tabs?” I touch my fingers to my upper lip and pull them away seeing blood on the tips.
“I knew it!” she yells. “Oh my god. You are unbelievable. What are you doing here?”
“That fucking hurt!” I grab a lens cloth from my pocket and hold it against the stinging skin.
“I knew you were low, Pax. But this is beyond. How could you do this? I can’t believe it.” Her voice grows increasingly shrill.
“If you could keep your voice down below dog whistle decibels that’d be great.” I stick a finger in my ear for emphasis.
“I will not keep my voice down. In fact, I’m going to get Hunter out here right now.”
“Do you really think that’s the best idea, Tabs?”
“Quit calling me that!”
“Think about it, babe. How’s it going to look that you hired your ex to be your wedding photographer without telling the new sucker?”
She pauses and takes a deep breath through her nose, letting it out slowly through her mouth. “I didn’t hire you, Liza did. And I’m sure once I explain the situation, she’ll understand.”
“Uh huh. Yeah. I’m sure she will.” I keep my tone purposefully skeptical. I’m stalling. I haven’t quite come up with why she should keep me on, and not tell the others, but I’m hoping to soon. I don’t want to get fired. That much I know. The reasons why are what I’m not willing to examine too closely.
“You did this on purpose, you deliberately tricked us into hiring you.” She jabs me in the chest with her finger, the nail biting into my skin through my t-shirt.
Fuck, that hurts too.
Stop being a fucking pussy, Pax.
And it occurs to me.
“Come on, Tabs. You don’t really think they’re going to believe you didn’t know I had an alias?”
“Of course I do.”
“Matthew Hanhauser has been around for a quite while.”
“That doesn’t mean I knew about him.”
“Are you sure about that? We’ve known one another for how long now? I’m pretty sure I told you early on in our marriage that I had a false name that I worked under. I mean, you had to have recognized it when you heard it.”
“Why would I?” She narrows her eyes.
“It’s my middle name and my mother’s maiden name. Pretty easy. And, of course, my wife would have known both of those things.”
Her face pales. “I didn’t—”
“I’m sure you didn’t.” My voice drips sarcasm. “And I’m sure they’ll believe you too.”
I see it on her face, the moment she realizes she’s going to have to go through with this. She closes her eyes and drops her head.
“What do you get out of this, Pax?” she asks after a moment, looking up at me.
“What do I get? Are you kidding? This is the best. For one, your next Mr. Sucker over there is going to pay me a fuck-ton of money.”
She rolls her eyes.
“Two, I’ve always enjoyed wedding photography.”
“You’ve never liked it,” she says.
She’s right. I decide to give her that one.
“True,” I say. “It pays great but it’s boring as fuck and a little beneath me to be honest—”
“Good to see your ego is still intact,” she interrupts. “Unjust though it may be.”
“Which leads me to the biggest reason why I’m doing this.” I pause for effect. “Revenge, baby. It would behoove you to be nicer to me. I’m in total control of how you’re going to look on your big day. Memories are fleeting, but pictures are forever.”
“You wouldn’t,” she gasps.
“I would, I am, and I will.”
“Pax, please don’t do this. Just let it go. Walk away.”
“You begging me, Tabs?”
“Would it work?” She looks up from under her lashes, her eyes pleading and her face soft. A long-practiced look I’ve seen her use many a time before. She’s playing me. Problem is, it’s damn effective.
Must stay strong.
I shake my head in response, not trusting myself to speak.
She looks down at her shoes and shuffles her feet.
I watch her, waiting to see what she’ll pull out of her magic hat next. I need to be prepared. She knows all the ways to get to me.
“I just.” She pauses and wipes at her nose with her finger, while sniffling.
Oh, she’s good.
Rarely can I handle crying. Fake or otherwise.
“You know, you and I never had a wedding, I always felt like I missed out on something big. Something important. And this is my chance. I know it’s silly, with it being a second marriage and all. But I’m excited about wearing a dress and going through all the pomp and circumstance. And I want beautiful pictures to capture the day, you know?”
She keeps her gaze down.
I tilt her chin up with my fingers, half expecting to see tears in her eyes, even knowing all the while this is a ploy. The look she gives me confirms my theory.
She’s faking it.
“That was almost convincing, Tabs.”
“Fuck off, Pax.” She turns to head back into the venue.
I grab her hand and pull her back to me. She stumbles into my chest.
“Must you?” she asks.
“Must I, what? Be so irresistible? Used to be a time you liked your body pressed up against mine.”
“Hardly.” She scoffs.
“You aren’t that good an actress, babe.”
“Don’t call me babe.”
“And don’t call me Tabs.”
She pushes at me, I let her go. “I hate you,” she seethes.
“Feeling’s mutual, darlin’.”
“Don’t call me that either!”
“Or darlin’? I’m making a list but it’s hard to keep track.”
“Hey, I’m just trying to be clear on what I can and can’t say.”
If she were a cartoon character, this would be the time when steam blew out her ears and her face turned bright red. “You know my name, use that.” She turns and walks away.
Her feet stop moving, but she keeps her back to me.
“Can I have my mustache back so I can return to work?”
She holds her hand out to the side and drops the mustache on the ground, then smashes it with her shoe, her sole rotating back and forth on it until it starts to come apart beneath her foot.
“Aw, come on, Tabs. That’s my only mustache,” I call after her.
She walks into the building, flipping me off as she goes.
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About the Author
Denise Wells has been reading since before she could talk. And to this day, escaping into a book is her go-to activity before anything else. She’s the author of five romance novels and one YA novel to date. She likes to write about sassy women and semi-flawed alpha-esque men. Denise’s female characters always have strong friendships, potty mouths, and like to drink–a lot. Denise is loyal to a fault, a bit too sarcastic, blindingly optimistic, and pretty freakin’ happy with life overall. As a diehard fan of the band Journey, Denise would be a rock star in the band if she couldn’t be a writer. Preferably during the Steve Perry years, when they were awesome. Home is in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with six special needs dogs, one cat (who’s busy plotting the demise of the six dogs), and a husband (BW) who has the patience and tolerance of a saint. And, lest she forget, Denise also lives with too many to count characters inside her head, who will eventually have their stories told.
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