Home > Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(7)

Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)(7)
Author: Lauren Blakely

I love my niece like crazy, and I want to give her the best chance a kid can possibly have. That’s why I pay to send her to a school where she’s finally thriving, and to do fun activities she enjoys, like photography and art classes, and why I do everything I can to be there for her. That’s why the last guy I dated was history after only one month. That was more than a year ago, and Jake didn’t understand why Chloe was my priority. “She’s not even yours,” he’d said. “I wish you’d make time for me the way you do for her.”

“Not even a minute, Jake. You won’t even get another second.”

And Chloe is also why Miller’s audition appeals to me. This new band could be a little extra on the side.

* * *

I’m humming to myself in Campbell’s kitchen the next day.

He and Miller are picking up last-minute items for the Christmas party. Even though it’s early in December, Campbell’s daughter, Samantha, loves the holiday so much she’s insisted on having two parties—one early and one later.

Plus, Miller’s younger brother, Miles, is in town for a couple weeks, during a break between his tour in Australia and a short European leg, where he’ll spend the rest of the month.

Chloe and I grab stools at the kitchen counter.

Samantha loves to bake, and she’s enlisted me in the not-terribly-complex-but-terribly-tempting task of sprinkling powdered sugar on top of the Nutella bread pudding.

Chloe leans close and stage-whispers out of the corner of her mouth, “Want to sneak out with this one? I’ll guard the door while you make a run for it.”

I laugh. “I’m one hundred percent in support of this plan.”

“I heard you,” Samantha cuts in, in what has to be her sternest voice possible. “No one is making off with the Christmas goodies.”

As she scoops chocolate peanut butter balls from a tray, Mackenzie nods quickly, seconding our plan. “I’ll just stuff these peanut butter balls in my bra right now, and then we’ll make our escape.”

“Patience, ladies, patience,” Samantha calls out as she checks the timer on the oven. “Also, under no circumstances are you putting any peanut butter balls in your undergarments.”

Mackenzie’s eyes widen, and she mimes removing contraband from her pants.

I crack up.

“Just give me a treat. Something to tide me over, then. I’m dying, Sam. Dying, I tell ya,” Mackenzie says, swooning dramatically against the counter.

“This is indeed torture of the highest degree,” I say, as I sprinkle sugar on the dessert. “You should try doing this without jamming your whole face into the bread pudding.”

Samantha swivels around and points a finger accusingly at me. “Do not ruin my Christmas treats. If you do, I will banish you from Samantha’s Treat Zone.”

I shudder. That sounds like a terrible punishment.

“Say you’re sorry, Aunt Ally. I don’t want us banished. Get down on your hands and knees if you have to,” Chloe advises in a desperate plea.

I bat my eyes at Samantha. “I promise not to stuff my face into the dessert.”

Samantha smiles and nods crisply. “Good. You all deserve a treat now.” She doles out chocolate peanut butter balls to each of us, and I moan in pleasure as one melts on my tongue.

As we put the finishing touches on the bread pudding, I find myself humming the audition tune.

Mackenzie cocks her head. “Hey, Ally. What’s that you’re singing?”

I don’t answer right away. I shoot her an impish little grin then wiggle my eyebrows.

“Want to hear something cool?”

Mackenzie and Sam say yes.

I take a deep breath and decide to tell them my good news. I know these ladies well. They’re practically family. “You know how Miller finally decided to have auditions to find a new Garfunkel to his Simon?”

They both nod.

I grin, ready to burst. “I submitted an audition, and he went crazy for it.”

Mackenzie’s eyes flicker like a switch has flipped on. “Oh my God, you must be Honey Lavender!”

“Shh,” I say, even though the guys aren’t here. I nod too, pleased that my nom de plume has traveled all the way to Mackenzie’s ears.

“He can’t stop telling Campbell how psyched he is to hear her sing in person,” Mackenzie says.

That intel thrills me. “Here’s my plan,” I say, then give them the details of what I’ve been cooking up.

Samantha squeals. “I can’t wait to hear how it all goes down.”

Later at the party, Miller tugs me aside, a wicked grin on his face. Butterflies take off in a pod race across my entire being. “I found someone amazing to sing with me. She’s going to come in to meet with me on Monday.”

“That’s great,” I say, giving my best cool-and-calm-while-I’m-dancing-inside reaction.

“Any chance you can come to the audition, listen to us, and give me some feedback? I’d love your opinion, and it’ll be in your studio.”

A cough bursts from my throat. My skin flames red hot. Since I haven’t yet learned how to clone myself, or spirit-clone myself, for that matter, I give a quick shrug. “I’d love to, but I’m busy then.”

He furrows his brow. “But I didn’t give you a time.”

Oops.

I swallow down a gotcha stone, but then call on my best warrior princess confidence. “I know, silly kitten. I’m busy all day Monday. I have to work on a Casey Stern novel, and the publisher wants me to record at the in-house studios.”

He heaves a sigh but then smiles brightly. “I’ll ask Miles to join Campbell and me, since he’s in town.”

He strolls over to his younger brother, and all my nerves crawl up my throat and threaten to throttle me. Now I have to perform my “ta-da, it’s me” routine in front of Miller and his two brothers.

I could use a spirit clone for sure.

Chapter 6

Ally

A little makeup is all a cloned girl needs.

Okay, maybe a wig too. Definitely some sexy clothes.

Fortunately, my brother’s wife, Macy, is a genius when it comes to makeup and va-va-voom outfits. She’s a makeup artist extraordinaire, and now she’s my secret weapon since she’s giving me smoldering eyes and pouty lips. The blonde glam wig is perfection too, with its vixen style and bangs that make my eyes a little mysterious as I peek out from under the hair.

But Chloe keeps shaking her head as she gets ready for school on Monday, making peanut butter toast. “Aunt Ally, I don’t know how you think you’re going to trick Miller.”

From my perch at the kitchen counter, I hold up a finger to correct her. “I’m not trying to trick him. I’m trying to get him to see me in a new light.”

She shoots me a questioning look. “But he likes your light.”

I shake my head as Macy dips into her bag for more makeup. “He likes my light as a friend. I want him to see me as a singer that can match his style.”

Chloe shrugs. “I think he likes you for you.”

Oh, to be eleven again.

Wait. That sounds awful. Eleven was rough. So was twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and all ages through to seventeen.

“I know he does, but I want him to see me as someone he can sing with.”

As she slings her backpack on her shoulder, Chloe looks me over from head to toe. “So, it’s like a costume.”

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