“Josephine Southpaw. You did not just make a date for Sunday.” My best friend Bess stared at me in complete and utter horror as I tucked my cell phone back in my purse.
“Blind date. It’s a cousin of a friend kind of thing. Sunday evening. Why do you ask?” I said innocently, checking my reflection in the mirror of my antique Victorian vanity. I looked nothing like myself, which was exactly the way it should be. I flicked the new charm that dangled on my charm bracelet. It looked like a cute little bluebird, but unlike the other charms, this one was magic; it came with the power of disguise.
“Um, oh, I don’t know, how about because you’re getting married on Saturday morning? And Alphas are not known for being willing to share their brides?”
“Fake married,” I said with exasperation. “Faux married. The wedding is a sham. We’ve been over this a million times. The second that obnoxious a-hole of an Alpha gets me back to the wedding suite, I will take off this charm and turn back into my real self. He will take one look at me, dump my fat ass, get the wedding annulled, and I will be single and ready to mingle again.”
And my old college room-mate Camille, who had been forced to agree to an arranged marriage with the aforementioned a-hole, would be long gone. That was the whole point. While I was walking down the aisle, she’d flee the state with the shifter she really loved, with fake ID, and start a new life with him on the other side of the country.
“You think he can really get an annulment that fast?” Bess’s fiancé Corwin asked skeptically.
“Um, sure, of course. I think.” I frowned. “Actually I don’t know how long annulments take. Maybe I should have made the date for next week.” It was Friday. I was getting married tomorrow morning, much to the dismay of my two besties.
I looked in the mirror again, patting at my hair. It was really disconcerting; my hair felt the same, but it looked as if I was patting shining gold ringlets, instead of my thick waves of chocolate brown hair. This was some damned fine magic. I winked at myself with my big blue eyes, which in real life are big brown eyes. My reflection winked back at me.
I looked up at Corwin and shrugged. “It’ll be fine. He’ll at least boot me out of there and I’ll be headed back home by Saturday afternoon at the latest. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Don’t say that!” Bess and Corwin yelled at the same time.
“You two are so superstitious. Also you’re ridiculous worrywarts.”
“He might actually want you to stay married to him,” Corwin suggested kindly. “What then?”
Ha. Corwin is very sweet, but seriously, what were the odds? Although Maxwell Battle, the jerkoff Alpha, had never met Camille, he knew what she looked like: a slim pre-raphaelite beauty with a waterfall of blonde curls, whose pack was very wealthy and powerful. That’s why he’d wanted her; she’d look good on his arm, and his pack would form a powerful alliance with Camille’s pack.
As for me, I was a chubby, round faced girl who, I’ve been told, laughed too loudly, spoke my mind far more than was considered ladylike, and came from a small, poor pack with no political clout. When he saw me, he would bounce me out on my butt so fast…well, it’s a good thing that I’m well padded.
“Not gonna happen,” I informed him.
“Call us right after the wedding,” Bess said. “You’ll probably need us to come pick you up. When he finds out you faked him out, he is gonna be one hacked-off Alpha.”
“I appreciate it,” I said. “Please stay by the phone on Saturday waiting for my S.O.S. call.”