From the creator of the beloved Isabel Bookbinder series comes a funny and heartwarming take on how “happily ever after” isn’t always what you expect.
Happily ever after isn’t always what you expect…
Polly Atkins, a Londoner living in New York City, is headed back across the pond for her wedding, a grand affair that has her older sister, Bella, in a whirlwind of excitement. Bella can’t wait to take over the wedding plans—and neither can Polly’s best friend, Grace, whose life as a wife, housekeeper, and mother is making her feel older than her twenty-eight years. She’s desperate to see Polly settle down in the same city—and the same life.
The only one who isn’t bursting with enthusiasm is Polly. Which is why, before things can get any more chaotic, she calls the whole thing off and lets go of the most perfect man on the planet. There’s no way that Polly is going to tell anyone why she’s changed her mind. Some secrets are best kept hidden. But Grace and Bella are determined to get Polly and her fiancé back together if it’s the last thing they do. After all, solving someone else’s problems has got to be better than dealing with your own. . . .
I know it’s Christmas Eve. And I know you’re halfway up a mountain in Colorado right now, wowing your half million nephews and nieces with your snowboarding prowess. It’s almost ten at night here, so you’re probably right in the middle of your afternoon ski. So I’m really, really sorry to disturb you.
I’m only emailing because you said I should always get in touch when things are not good. And things are not good just now. They’re not good at all.
I’ve just run out on my sister’s Christmas party. I know, I know—I’m getting good at running out on things, aren’t I? And you’re probably thinking, oh, that doesn’t sound too big a deal. Polly’s told me all about her sister, Bella, and I can’t say I’m surprised she’s done a runner from a Christmas party of hers. Especially if Bella’s annoying boyfriend was there (he was) and especially if her mum was getting tipsy (she was) and especially if Bella and her dad were engaging in competitive one-upmanship over the best way to heat up sausage rolls (they were). Anybody would make a sharp exit from a party like that!
But none of those things were the reason I left.
The surprise guest was the reason I left. Bella invited Dev.
That’s right. Dev.
I’ve no idea what she was thinking. Actually, what am I saying? This is Bella we’re talking about. I know exactly what she was thinking. That one look at Dev and I’d realize the error of my ways, and the wedding would be back on before you could say “Canapés, champagne, and a sit-down buffet for a hundred and thirty!” This is the way my sister’s mind works. Something goes wrong, you just pull your sleeves up and fix it.
I call off my wedding to the love of my life, she just pulls up her sleeves and fixes it.
But there isn’t any fixing this, Julia. There isn’t any fixing me. There isn’t any fixing of the things I’ve done.
Oh, shit, Dev is calling me. He’s calling me RIGHT NOW.
I’m not going to answer. I’ve not answered his calls in six weeks. I don’t need to start now.
Oh, thank God, it’s stopped.
Look, if you do happen to get this, maybe you could give me a call? Drop me an email, even, with some of your much-needed pearls of wisdom? Either way, I’d be so gratef
OK, now Dev is calling me again.
This time he’s doing our Code. Two rings, hang up. Two rings, hang up. He used to do it when he was calling me from work and his landline number would come up Withheld. I have a habit of screening calls, you see—too many years spent owing people money or forgetting to pay my bills—but I’d always want to pick up if it was him.
I suppose, if I’m being honest, I want to pick up right now.
Maybe it’s because he did our Code. Maybe it’s because it’s Christmas. Maybe it’s because he looked so lovely, standing on Bella’s doorstep, wearing the coat I picked out for him in the sale last January, and the check scarf we bought to keep out the unseasonable cold when we spent this past Easter in Vermont. Maybe it’s because I feel so bad about running away from him earlier. About running away from him at all.
And there are things—you know, Julia, what things—that I know I owe it to him to explain. Seeing him tonight, even just for a couple of moments, seeing him all Dev-like and cozy in his coat and his scarf … it made me wonder if he just might understand after all.
Two rings again, now silence.
Right, here’s what I’m going to do. If he rings again, I’ll take it as a sign. And I’ll pick up. Even though you’re not here to advise me what to do, I’ll pick up. Just to talk to him. And maybe I won’t explain anything. Maybe I’ll just listen to his voic
Holly McQueen is the author of four novels—The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder, Fabulously Fashionable, Confetti Confidential, and There Goes the Bride. She lives in London with her husband.