Laces and Lace

Page 27


She thought once she got around her family she would be good, but no such luck. Everyone was so happy, while she was anything but. Grady and Rachel were blissfully in love, still after so long, and of course they were the best parents to their beautiful boys, looking like a family off a Pottery Barn catalog. She should have known that night at her very first college party that Rachel was a goner when she met her big brother, but a part of her didn’t want to accept it. Even when they got married a year later, Lacey waited for someone to tell her it was all a joke. They just didn’t go together. Rachel was crazy OCD and Grady was a freaking pig, but they worked. Perfectly together. To the point that Lacey was insanely jealous of them.
Even her father, Nate Martin, had brought someone to dinner, his girlfriend, Sabrina. It was weird seeing him with someone other than her mother, but it had taken him at least twenty years just to date, so she kept her mouth shut while he was extremely happy with Sabrina. She fully expected them to get married, which would be the final nail in her coffin.
While everyone else was happy and in love, Lacey was alone, and if she was honest, lonely. It had been three years since she’d kicked Ethan to the curb; maybe it was time to start dating again. But as soon as the thought came, she pushed it away.
She didn’t want to date. She didn’t want to put herself out there again just to be hurt in the end. She had been there, done that, twice, and she was done with all that. Maybe it was time to get a dog, or a cat, or turtle. Maybe she needed a vacation, somewhere tropical, where she could sleep with someone there and not worry about what they thought of her body as long as they got her off. Or hell, give her a vibrator and a good erotic novel, and she’d be fine on her own. That was the only way she’d been getting off lately, and now that she thought about it, that’s probably the way she’d end the night.
Yes, she was envious that everyone else got to go home and bang it out with their significant other, but, oh well, it wasn’t in her cards. She was meant to be alone, and the faster she accepted that, the better.
“How was the shoot today, ladies?” her father asked.
“Went great,” Rachel said with a grin, her face burning with a little color.
He looked over at Lacey. “You happy, princess?”
Lacey smiled at her childhood nickname as she nodded. “Yeah, it’s going to be great.”
“Can’t wait to see it,” he said and Lacey smiled.
“You all right, Lacey?” Grady asked and she nodded.
“You’ve been quiet,” he said, taking a pull of his beer.
She shrugged. “Lots on my mind.” By the look Grady gave her, he knew exactly what was on her mind. Leaning back in her seat with her wine glass in hand, she took in a deep breath and let it out. Glancing at her phone, she saw that it was nearly nine and hoped that Grady would say it was time to go soon.
“Lacey, darling,” Sabrina said, bringing Lacey’s attention away from her phone. “Are you dating anyone?”
Shaking her head, she said, “I’m not at the current moment.”
Or ever.
“My nephew, Richard, would love to meet you,” she said and Lacey shook her head.
“No, thank you, I’m too busy with work.”
“Don’t let work take over your life. It’s lonely, princess,” her father said and she nodded.
“I know, but at least my work will love me, no matter what. Men, not so much,” she said with a tip of her glass toward him. He gave her a tight smile that told her he was not happy with that response. Too bad she didn’t care.
“Mr. Right is out there,” Sabrina said, causing Lacey to laugh.
“I think Mr. Right had a one-way ticket out of Chicago and never looked back. But I’m fine on my own, no worries,” she said, and she didn’t miss the way her father and brother tensed up.
“It’s good he’s gone,” her father said. “He didn’t deserve you.”
“That’s your opinion,” Lacey said through tight lips.
“Who are we speaking of? Ethan?” Sabrina asked and Lacey laughed.
“Hardly. While he didn’t deserve me, he isn’t the one we are talking about.”
“No one important, honey,” Nate said with a shake of his head, but Lacey couldn’t disagree more.
He was important, he was the love of her life, and he just chose to leave her. To this day, she still didn’t understand what happened. They were so in love, so happy, but then he just left her. The rejection had kept her in hiding for years, but every once in a while, she got the idea of flying to Nashville and finding him and demanding answers. It was too late for all that though. It had been so long, but still Lacey’s heart yearned for him. She missed him, and that alone was crazy.
An awkward silence fell over the table, except for Zander and Flynn, who were playing, not knowing what the adults were talking about. Looking away from her father’s eyes, Lacey felt her own get misty with tears. How did she still miss him after all these years?
Ugh, she needed to go home.
Draining her glass, she stood suddenly and reached for her jacket.
“You’re leaving?” Rachel asked, surprised, as Lacey went to Grady, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Yeah, I’m tired. Happy birthday, Grady. Goodnight, everyone. Bye, boys,” she said and then kissed and loved on everyone, despite their protests, before heading out into the cold air. Taking in a deep breath, she let it out and welcomed the bite of the cold against her face. Wrapping her scarf around her neck tighter, she pulled her knit hat down over her ears and walked out to the street to hail a cab.