If you haven’t caught up on the Going Down in Flames series by Chris Cannon now’s the time to catch up because the final chapter is almost here! Take a sneak peek inside…
Saturday afternoon, Bryn and Ivy hung out in her room trying on different outfits.
“I can’t believe your grandmother had one of the boutiques ship these dresses to your room.” Ivy stood in front of the mirror, modeling a black silk dress that fit her like a glove on top and flared out at the bottom. “And I can’t believe she included some for me. This dress is amazing.” She twirled, and the dress spun out into a full circle.
“I used to think Blues hoarded their money, but my grandmother is generous. So is Lillith.” Bryn checked her reflection. It was strange, but when she’d dated Valmont she’d picked out dresses she hoped he would think made her look good. She never tried to look special for Jaxon…because he’d always be prettier than her…which sort of sucked. Now she just tried to find dresses that looked appropriate for the occasion and gave her a boost of confidence. The navy spaghetti-strap dress she currently had on wasn’t doing the trick.
“I am not feeling this dress,” Bryn said.
Ivy pointed at a pale-green dress. “Try that one. I think it will look great with your skin tone.”
“Most dresses don’t scream this-should-be-worn-with-pale-freckled skin.” Bryn tried the dress on. It had a wide boat neck and was made of some ethereal floating fabric that skimmed over her curves without looking clingy. She turned in front of the mirror. Since the dress wasn’t full it didn’t flare out like Ivy’s had, but it still made her feel good. “I think we have a winner.”
“Time for hair and makeup,” Ivy said. “And since this is an early evening Gala rather than a late evening dance, I will skip the theatrical makeup.”
“Good, because I don’t want to listen to Jaxon gripe about my level of taste.”
“Is it just me, or has he backslid into being more of an asshat than he used to be?” Ivy asked.
“It’s not just you.” Bryn sat on the edge of the bed while Ivy grabbed her makeup kit. “And I keep telling myself that he’s suffered a terrible loss and I need to cut him some slack, but there are times when I want to roast him.”
“Totally understandable,” Ivy said. “I love Clint and there are days that I want to zap him. You’re forced to spend time with Jaxon and you two aren’t even really in a relationship…at least not the traditional sort.”
“You make it sound like we’re involved in some strange affair.” Bryn closed her eyes as Ivy applied sea-foam green eye shadow.
“How would you describe your situation with Jaxon?” Ivy asked.
“It’s like we’re teammates who tolerate each other. Occasionally, it seems like we’re friends.” Bryn felt a lump rise in her throat. “There are days where I can’t believe I’m going to have to marry him. I keep hoping something will change, but I’m pretty sure it won’t, and if I think about it too much I have to breathe into a paper bag so I don’t hyper-ventilate in desperation.”
“At least he seems to respect you. That’s a good start. Maybe something good will come of it in the end.”
Bryn opened her eyes. “I’ve always counted on your honesty in all things. Please don’t start lying to me now.”
Ivy sighed. “I’m trying to be optimistic.”
“Thanks. Let’s talk about something else.”
“Okay.” Ivy dug into her makeup kit. “Do you want regular dark green eyeliner or dark green eyeliner with glitter?”
“What the heck,” Bryn said. “Glitter me up.”
Half an hour later, Clint knocked on Bryn’s door. When he saw Ivy his face lit up just like it always did. “You look amazing.” He grabbed Ivy’s hand and pulled her in for a kiss.
Bryn looked away to give them a moment. Another knock sounded on the door. Jaxon would be on the other side looking handsome and annoyed. He might tell her that her dress was pretty, but his compliment would be fake… just part of the Blue dragon code of conduct and would have nothing to do with her or how she actually looked in the dress. No. Stop it. I will not indulge in a pity party.
Taking two quick strides across the room, she opened the door. Jaxon wore a tuxedo that emphasized his broad shoulders and trim waist and made him look like he should model high-end clothing for a living. If only he didn’t look perpetually pissed off.
“Hello, Jaxon.” She stepped back so he could enter the room. “Are you ready for an evening of fake fun and boring small talk?”
“We should go,” he said without looking at her or acknowledging that she’d spoken.
“I was trying to be funny,” she said.
“Trying and failing,” he shot back. “And I refuse to fake politeness until we’re at the event. So let’s go.”
“You might want to dial back the attitude,” Bryn said.
“I’m not giving you attitude. I’m being realistic. We played this game all summer and I’m tired of pretending that life is wonderful. I will smile and nod when we’re in public, but I see no need to fake my feelings in private.” Jaxon stalked out the door.
Bryn fantasized about blasting him. She turned to Clint and Ivy. “It’s like he doesn’t realize that I could kill him, incinerate his body, and scatter the ashes where no one would ever find him.”