Frenched Series Bundle

By: Melanie Harlow

You reign in such inward retreats of my soul that I know not where to attack you; when I endeavor to break those chains by which I am bound to you I only deceive myself, and all my efforts but serve to bind them faster.

Heloise d’Argenteuil

Top Five Reasons (Out of 100) I Am NEVER

Coming Out Of This Blanket Fort

1) 220 hand-engraved invitations.

2) $18,000 hand-pieced Vera Wang gown.

3) 1500 Felicity roses imported from Ecuador.

4) Bridal portrait on the current cover of Wedding Chic magazine.

5) Text message from fiancé calling off dream wedding a week before it happens.

I threw the pen on the floor and propped the pad of paper against my headboard. If anyone managed to get past my locked bedroom door, they could read the list and not pester me, unless they wanted to hear the other ninety-five.

“Mia, please. You have to come out of there.” Coco rattled the handle before pounding on the door again.

“No, I don’t.” I pulled the crisp white sheets over my head and yanked my pillow into the tent with me. Embroidered on the pillowcase in navy thread was TBM, for Tucker and Mia Branch. The monogrammed sheet set had been a wedding shower gift, along with monogrammed towels, a duvet, some throw pillows, a set of luggage, and even a bathrobe. The softest, most comfortable bathrobe in the universe. Tainted with Tucker Branch’s initials.

“Then you have to let me in.”

“Why? Do you have wine?”

“It’s nine A.M!”


“Mia, please. You don’t have to come out. I just want to talk to you. Come on, we’ll…make a list or something. You love making lists.”

I did love making lists. They calmed me, made me feel like I was in control, on top of things, sticking to a plan. But all over the floor were crumpled and wadded-up lists with titles like Pooping Your Pants in Public and Other Things That Are ALMOST As Humiliating as This But Not Quite and Not 10, Not 50, but 100 Reasons Why Tucker is a Fucker, and I was pretty sure making another one would not make me feel better. “No deal. And who’s we? Who else is here? I told you not to let my mother in again.”

“No, your mother went back to Chicago. It’s just Erin. She’s making some coffee.”

Coffee sounded pretty good, actually. Maybe not as good as wine, but a close second. I waffled a bit, and Coco sensed my hesitation.

“You can put some Bailey’s in it,” she coaxed.

Good enough. I threw the sheets off me and slid out of bed, a king-sized monstrosity with a horribly uncomfortable mattress that Tucker bought purely because it was the most expensive one in the store. I told him it was too soft for me, but he’s the kind of person who just assumes the most costly brand of anything is always the best. Now I was stuck sleeping in it alone.

Alone, between my expensive TBM-monogrammed sheets on my expensive squishy mattress in an expensive fucking suburban townhouse that I didn’t even own. I’d moved out of my cool downtown Detroit loft months ago, and there was a waitlist to get into that building.

FML. That’s what I need to monogram on all this shit.

It gave me an idea, which brightened my mood a bit, so after unlocking the door I went into the adjoining bathroom and grabbed my nail scissors from a drawer. I avoided looking at myself in the mirror—I was almost positive I’d showered at least once in the last week, but my curly hair probably looked like I’d stuck my finger in a socket and then been rolled over by a Zamboni. Multiple times.

That’s pretty much how I felt, too.

When I emerged, Coco was opening the curtains and cranking open the windows in the bedroom. She wore running shorts and a hoodie, and her long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

“Oh my God, Mia. It’s so stuffy in here.”

“You wanted to come in,” I reminded her. I sat on the bed and took one king-sized pillow on my lap. Then I carefully started cutting the monogram from the case.

Coco gasped. “What are you doing? Those are expensive sheets!” She tried to grab the pillow from me, but I held on tight.

“I’m cutting the TBM off this pillowcase. Wait, I guess I could leave the M. Only the Fucker’s initials have to go.”

Coco sighed and let go, dropping onto the bed beside me. “And this will make you feel better?”

I shrugged as I went back to work. Snip. Be gone, TB. For fucking ever. “It might.”

“You plan on cutting his name off everything in here?” She glanced around. “It’s gonna take a while.”

“I’ve got time. I took a few weeks off, remember? Because I’m supposed to be getting married tonight and going to France tomorrow.” The words were so bitter in my mouth I wanted to spit after saying them.

“Well, I can think of a lot more fun things to do than this with that time off. Even going to work is better than this.” She shook her head and pointed at me. “You’re leaving the house today, even if I have to drag you out of here by your hair, caveman style. I can’t see you in this depressed funk any longer.”

I cocked a brow at her. “Didn’t you hear me? It is supposed to be my wedding day. Now it’s nothing but a gazillion-dollar fiasco.”

She looked down her nose at me. “I heard you. And I know. I helped plan your gazillion-dollar fiasco. But it’s been a week since Tucker called it off, and you’ve been holed up in here long enough.”

“Yay, you’re awake.” Erin entered the room with a tray and set it down on the bed. It held three cups of coffee, a pitcher of cream, and a bowl of sugar. One of the cups said Branch Industries on the side and another had a photo of Tucker and me on it, a gift from his little niece, one of the few people in his family I would miss. But Tucker’s handsome face made my guts churn.

I gave Erin the stink eye. “Coco said there would be Bailey’s.”

Erin rolled her eyes but left the room to retrieve the booze.

“It’s in the bar cart in the living room!” I called. “Bring the whole bottle!”

“Here. Have some of this, please.” Coco handed me a cup with the Devine Events logo on the side, which was the event planning business we ran together.

“I’ll wait for the liquor,” I told her, going back to my cutting. When the first king-sized pillow was done, I reached for the second. “You know, I don’t even like these sheets. I didn’t want plain white. I wanted the blue ones with the paisley. A little damn color.”

Coco picked up a throw pillow and bunched it under her chin. “Then why’d you register for the white?”

“Because Tucker insisted. He said I could plan the wedding any way I wanted to, but he got to make our interior design choices.”

“What’s he got against color?” She looked around. Everything in the room was white, navy, or gray.

“Beats me. But the man’s favorite color is pewter, for fuck’s sake. This entire house looks like one giant cloudy-ass day.”

The corners of Coco’s mouth lifted. “A joke. That’s a good sign.”

I stopped snipping and met her eyes. “That wasn’t a joke.”

“Come on, Mia.” She took the scissors from my hand and set the mutilated pillowcase aside. “It’s time to start getting over this. You know, there’s color outside. And wine. And meals. When’s the last time you ate something decent?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” The seven days since I’d gotten the Dear Jane text from Tucker were a bit of a blur—I remembered trying desperately to reach him the first day, succeeding on the second when he finally returned my frantic calls (from Vegas, mind you), and a lot of screaming, crying, and phone-throwing after that. Days three, four, and five were a haze of wine and naps and dealing with my mother, and days six and seven were spent wallowing and making lists. And now defacing pillowcases. I glanced at his closet door with a laser beam eye—maybe his precious custom suits would be next.

I was reaching for the scissors again when Erin returned with the Bailey’s and poured a shot into each cup. That actually made me smile a little—my girls never let me drink alone.

“OK.” She handed Coco the Branch Industries cup and held up the one with the photo on it. “To waking up and starting over.”

“Cheers.” Coco clinked mugs with Erin. “I was just saying the same thing to her. You have your entire life ahead of you, Mia. And we’ve already decided this was a blessing in disguise. He didn’t deserve you.” She touched her cup to mine before taking a sip.

“You decided that. I will never feel that this humiliation is anything but punishment.”

“Punishment for what?” Erin asked. “What could you possibly need punishing for?”

I groaned. “God, so many things… For ignoring everyone who told me Tucker would never settle down and feeling so fucking superior that I was proving them wrong. For ignoring that little voice in the back of my brain telling me something was off. For refusing to admit to anyone—or even to myself—that everything wasn’t perfect between us, and maybe getting married wasn’t the right idea.”

“Even so, you don’t deserve punishment.” Erin rubbed my leg. “You’re human, Mia. We all make mistakes.”

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