Home > The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2)(5)

The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay #2)(5)
Jill Shalvis

“What’s all that for?” Rory asked.

“More Christmas flavor.”

Rory shook her head. “You’ve got a serious problem.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

They got back to the shop by six thirty a.m. and went to work. Sitting cross-legged on the counter of her shop with a sketch pad, Willa mapped out the evening’s event, a wedding she’d been hired for as a wedding consultant, designer, and officiator.

For two giant poodles.

At seven on the dot, her friends Pru, Elle, and Haley showed up with breakfast, as they did several times a week since they all lived or worked in the building. Currently they were decimating a basket of Tina’s muffins before scattering for their various jobs for the day. Haley wasn’t yet in her lab coat for her optometrist internship upstairs, and had cute bright red spectacles perched on her nose. Pru wore her captain’s attire for her job of captaining a tour boat off Pier 39. Elle was the building’s office manager and looked the part in a cobalt blue suit dress with black and white gravity-defying open-toe pumps.

Willa looked her part too. Jeans and a camisole top despite the fact that it was winter. She kept her shop warm for the animals and her arms bare for when she was bathing and grooming.

The current discussion was men, and their pros and cons. Pru had a man. She was engaged to Finn, the guy who ran the Irish pub across the courtyard, and a really good guy along with being one of Willa’s closest friends. So needless to say, Pru sat firmly on the pro side. “Look,” she said in her defense of love. “Say you really need some orgasm RX, you know? If you’re in love with someone, he’ll go down on you and expect nothing back because he knows you’d do the same for him. Love is patient, love is kind.” She smiled. “Love means oral sex without the pressure to reciprocate.”

“Love is keeping batteries in your vibrator,” Elle told her and the rest of them laughed, nodding. They all had a long list on the con side for men. Well, except for Haley, who dated women—when she was so inclined to date at all.

Although Willa had to admit, she did like the idea of orgasm RX . . .

“Yes, but what about spiders?” Pru ask. “A man will get the spiders.”

There was a silence as the rest of them contemplated this unexpected benefit to having a man.

“I learned to capture and safely relocate,” Haley finally said. “For Leeza.”

Haley’s last girlfriend had been a serious tree hugger. And a serial cheater, as it turned out.

“I just use the long hose on my vacuum cleaner,” Elle said, looking smug. “No awkward morning-after conversation required.”

“This is about Willa today so don’t get me started on you,” Pru told her. “You and Archer cause electric fires to break out when you so much as pass by each other. Remind me to circle back to that.”

Elle shrugged it off. “You’ve heard of opposites attract?” she asked. “Well me and Archer, we’re a classic case of opposites distract. As in we don’t like each other.”

They all laughed but choked it off when Elle gave them each a glacial look in turn.

Okay, so everyone knew she had a secret thing for Archer—except Elle herself apparently.

Well, and Archer . . .

Willa was just grateful to not be the center of attention anymore, although she wished they’d go back to the fascinating morning-after discussion because she hadn’t had a lot of awkward morning afters. She tended to complicate her bad choices in men by sticking too long instead of running off. Maybe that was where she’d always gone wrong. Maybe next time she was stupid enough to give another guy a shot, it would be a strictly one-time thing. And then she’d run like hell.

“Tell me the truth,” Pru said. “When it comes to me waxing poetic about mine and Finn’s relationship, on a scale of one to that friend who just had a baby and wants to show you pics for hours, how annoying am I?”

Willa met Elle’s and Haley’s amused gazes and they each murmured a variation of “not that bad.”

Pru sighed. “Shit. I’m totally that new mom with baby pics.”

“Hey, knowing it is half the battle,” Elle offered and being a master conversation manipulator, looked at Willa. “Tell us more about this guy with the cat.”

“I can tell you he’s hot,” Rory said as she walked by carrying a case of hamster food. “Like major hot. And also Willa remembers him from high school. He stood her up for some dance, but he doesn’t remember it or her.”

“Well how rude,” Haley said, instantly at Willa’s back, which Willa appreciated.

“I don’t think he was being rude,” Rory said. “Willa had been bathing puppies and looked like a complete train wreck, honestly, all covered in soap suds and puppy drool and maybe some poop too. Even you guys wouldn’t have recognized her.”

“I looked how I always look,” Willa said in her own defense. “And that part about high school was confidential.”

“Oops, sorry,” Rory said, not looking sorry at all. “I’ll be in the back, grooming Thor.”

Thor was Pru’s dog, who had a penchant for rolling in stuff he shouldn’t, the more disgusting the better. Pru blew Rory a grateful kiss and turned to Willa. “So back to hot-as-balls guy. More info please.”

Willa sighed. “What is there to say? We went to school together and he never noticed me back then either so I should’ve known.”

“How well did you know him?” Elle asked, eyes sharp. She was the logical one of the group, able to navigate through any and all bullshit with ease.

“Obviously not well,” Willa said, hunching over her sketch pad.

“Hmm,” Elle said.

“I don’t have time to decipher that hmm,” Willa warned her.

“You remember when Archer and Spence threatened to castrate your ex?”

Spence and Archer were the last members of their tight gang of friends. Spence was an IT genius. Archer an ex-cop. The two of them together had some serious skills. And yes, they’d stepped in when Willa had needed them to. “That was different,” she said. Ethan had been an asshole, no doubt. “Keane’s never going to be an ex, asshole or otherwise, because we’re never going to be a thing. Now if we’re done dissecting my life, I’ve got a lot to do before tonight’s wedding.”

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