I GOT MY gun from the bedside table and put it in my robe pocket. Not because I thought I needed my gun handy, but because it was my gun and it was my job to control it. A very drunk woman scorned was about to come through the door. I did not want to give her any ideas. A loaded gun unattended could be a real disaster. The robe hung funny on that side, but it was better than the alternative.

Jason opened the door and a short blond woman spilled through, pounding fists on his chest. She was screaming at him. A reporter, complete with camera and lights, pushed in behind her. Perfect.

Jason was trying to out-yell her. Its Jason. Lisa, look at me, its Jason!

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Lisas eyes were squeezed tight as she pounded at him and screamed. She had wanted in the room, but she didnt want to see.

I stood there without a clue as to what I could do that might help. I could have forced the reporter and cameraman out; I was armed. But somehow I thought that might play badly in the press. To the hysterical Lisa I was the other woman, so trying to touch her would be bad. I had no freaking idea what to do. Fuck.

The camera was getting it all: me standing in the robe, the mussed bed, the string of condoms in their wrapper on the floor where Jason had dropped them. There were even a few pieces of clothing draped on the rooms chair. Again, perfect.

The reporter shoved a microphone into Jasons face. Keith, is this the new woman? Is the wedding off? Lisa deserves the truth, Keith.

Jason spoke into the mic. My name is Jason Schuyler. I went to school with Lisa and Keith and Keiths brother Kelsey.

Maybe they would have listened, maybe not, but struggling with Lisa had finally loosened his robe so that it spilled apart enough for the camera to try to get the whole show. If it was network they wouldnt be able to show it, but how often do you get a chance to get film of a presidential hopefuls son nude? The cameraman wasnt missing his opportunity.

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Lisas hands were on Jasons stomach, and shed stopped screaming. She was blinking down at him, not up at his face. She muttered, Jason? as Jason managed to get his robe a little more closed.

The fact that seeing him nude had made her believe it was him made me wonder, just how close a friend had Lisa Bromwell been to Jason in high school?

Voices from the hallway, mostly men, yelling. Peterson was the first one in the doorway, buTHE had other suits with him, and some of the uniformed guards wed seen earlier. They were what we needed. Someone to be bad guys to the press and rescue us at the same time. I didnt usually wait to be rescued, but this level of press attention had thrown me. How do you handle people this rude that you cant belt in the nose?

Peterson and his men got the press out. They tried to get Lisa Bromwell out, too, but she was now clinging to Jason and blinking up at him blearily. A second woman from the hallway was trying to help Peterson persuade Lisa to let go of Jason. The new woman was tall in heels that made her at least six feet, with sleek brunette hair that had been styled straight, but was thick enough I was betting it curled when left to its own devices. She was beautiful in that perfect-makeup, I-read- Cosmo sort of way. You know, beautiful enough to make other women jealous and men stare, but she didnt seem quite real. Women like that almost never make me feel insecure. I dont understand them enough to be jealous.

Peterson got the reporters outside the room with the help of the uniformed guards. Two of the younger suits stayed on our side of the door and took up positions against it, as if the press might try to break down the door. Surely not, but I was beginning to realize that wed passed into a sort of press Twilight Zone, where the normal rules did not seem to apply.

The brunette offered me her hand. Im Trish, friend of the brides, and Im sorry that I couldnt stop her in time. She had a good handshake, though her hand was big enough, and her nails long enough, that it felt almost dangerous, as if shed cut me if she shook too hard.

How did she find our room?

The reporter knew your room number. He told her theyd seen Keith check in with a brunette. They had pictures of the two of you in the hotel obviously going to a room.

The bachelorette party must be in full swing for her to be this drunk, I said.

Trish shook her head. It hasnt really started yet. She was this drunk when we got to the room for the party.

I looked over at the small blond woman, inches shorter than Jason and me. She swayed against him, clinging to his robe as if without it and his hands on her slender frame shed have hit the floor. It must have shown on my face because Trish said, Apparently she got drunk alone in her room. Her bridesmaids found her this way, clutching a handful of pictures of Keith with you.

Not Keith, I said.

Trish nodded. Apparently not, but the resemblance is eerie.

I couldnt argue with the eerie part. Now that Lisa wasnt screaming or crying hysterically or trying to claw Jasons eyes out, I realized that she and he looked alike. In fact, Lisa Bromwell looked more like Jasons sister than either of his actual sisters.

You are the first woman Ive gotten to talk to who isnt from this town. Is it just me or do they look alike, too? Trish said.

Its not just you, I said.

Have you seen many of the descendants of old Jedediah and the original families from his little town in the hills?

Not yet, I said.

They all look like that, like theyre related.

Jason said that Jedediah Summerland helped populate most of the town in his day.

When you see the wedding party, youll believe it.

I gave her a look.

She nodded, eyes a little wide. Just wait, youll see, its very Twilight Zone.

We just had a reporter with camera and lights burst into our hotel room, I already feel like Im in the Twilight Zone.

Id like to say itll get better, Anita, I can call you Anita, right?

Sure.

Ive been friends with them since they announced the wedding, and the closer it gets the weirder the press get. One of the reasons that they were so sure of you andJason, right?

I nodded. of Jason being Keith is that there is a rumor going around thaTHE has a brunette on the side. It may even be true.

Jason had sat Lisa down in the chair. He rubbed her shoulders as he talked softly to her.

If its true, then why is she marrying him? I asked.

Trish gave me a look.

What?

Hes rich, hes handsome, hes fun as hell when hes not being a bastard. His father is governor of the state and about to run for president. He may even make it all the way to the Oval Office.

She stopped talking, as if that explained why a woman would put up with a man who would cheat on her days before her wedding. I finally said, You havent said anything that would get me down the aisle with someone who would cheat on me days before my wedding.

How about its one of the biggest weddings of the year in this country, and backing out now would be more humiliating than going through with it?

I shook my head. That doesnt work for me either.

Trish studied my face, as if she were trying to decide if I was serious or not. You really would just dump his ass, wouldnt you?

In a hot minute. It was my turn to study her. Wouldnt you?

She gave a laugh, a nervous laugh. Ive married for worse reasons than money and politics, Anita.

And divorced, I take it.

She shrugged. Yeah, but the alimony was the kicker.

In that moment I knew I might like Trish eventually, but I would never understand her, nor she me. We were both women, but our girl culture was too different. She was a girl-girl, and I was just a woman. She married for money and politics and potential alimony. I couldnt think of anything that would get me down a church aisle, but love would have been higher on the list than anything the woman beside me had listed. Who the hell married already planning how much alimony shed get? That wasnt a marriage, that was a business transaction with rings exchanged.

How much trouble would we get into if I managed to talk Lisa Bromwell into dumping Keith Summerlands ass days before their wedding? It had possibilities, and not all of them were bad.

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