Read One Little White Lie Online
Authors: Loretta Hill
A hilarious romantic novella from Loretta Hill (author of bestselling
The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots
). When one little white lie turns into a red-blooded reality!
What do you do when your best friend is the serial match maker from Hell?
Single girl Kate Dreson knows that her friend, Lisa, is not going to leave her alone unless she tells her that she is happily dating someone. Who knew that one little white lie could so blatantly backfire?
The imaginary boyfriend she described to her friend so lovingly suddenly walks into her life and starts making himself comfortable in it.
Trapped by her lie, poor Kate is powerless to stop him. But the real question is, does she really want to?
love you, sis
âSo, baby, did it hurt?'
Kate Dreson choked. âI beg your pardon?' she spluttered, lowering her glass of lemon, lime and bitters and pressing a hand to her throat.
âYou know.' The man next to her cocked his head to one side and winked rakishly. âWhen you fell from Heaven?'
Kate shut her eyes.
Please disappear, please disappear
But when she opened her eyes again he was still there, draped all over the bar and grinning at her like a gambler with a winning ticket.
Why me? Why does this always happen to me?
The guy was the physical embodiment of a hangover-in-waiting. The only thing currently holding him up was the stool he was sitting on. She knew what he wanted. It was written all over his face. And his eyes! They couldn't stay above her collar bones for more than five seconds. Her grip on her glass tightened. She really couldn't handle this for much longer. Where was Lisa? Was that girl
going to come back?
Wait a minute â¦
A sudden dread filled her. Knowing her best friend's track record, she was probably staying away on purpose. Kate's suspicions solidified as she remembered Lisa's cryptic remark from earlier that evening.
âWouldn't it be great if you met someone tonight?'
That sneaky little â
The man beside her recalled her attention when his hand started edging its way across the bar towards hers. âI was thinking,' he flicked his head, indicating the exit over his shoulder; âmaybe I could show you my place.'
Kate put her drink down and firmly pushed it away from her.
The camel's back is now officially broken.
What on earth had Lisa been thinking anyway? Of all the men she could set her up with â¦
? Did she honestly believe she would like him? It was beyond a joke. No, actually, it wasn't a joke. It was an embarrassment.
âLook,' she began as he nodded knowingly at her silence. âI think â'
He put a finger to her lips. âDon't fight it, honey.' He leaned in towards her. âIt's OK to want me.'
Kate's skin crawled. Was this guy for real?
I mean, seriously!
Part of her wanted to laugh hysterically. Instead, she reached up and pushed his hand away from her mouth. He was invading her personal space. Being polite wasn't cutting it anymore.
âYou know what?' she said as she swivelled off her bar stool and shoved it under the counter. âI'd love to see your place.'
âYou would, baby?' He seemed so hopeful that Kate almost felt sorry for him.
âSure I would â¦ when hell freezes over.' She spun on her heels and moved into the crowd that covered the dance floor.
She didn't turn around to see if he had reacted to her jibe, not wanting to waste precious getaway time. She had to put as much distance as she could between them before his
liquor-befuddled mind kicked into gear and he realised that he'd been rejected. The last thing she needed was a sleazy drunk turning into an angry one.
After a minute of pushing through the crowd, she allowed herself a glance over her shoulder. She could see nothing but dancing people. The crowd had closed in around her and she was lost in a sea of groovers, none of whom were her drunken admirer. It looked like he hadn't followed her. She breathed out slowly. Thank goodness! She hadn't been as lucky last time when Lisa â
That girl had a lot to answer for! How many times was she going to have to extricate herself from an awkward situation of Lisa's making?
Her best friend had to be the worst serial match-maker that ever lived. Kate began weaving her way through the crowd again. This time, however, she had a new purpose â to find Lisa and give her a long overdue piece of her mind.
Tonight was supposed to have been about them and their friends. Just a group of mates hanging out with each other, having a good time â plain old-fashioned no-hidden-agendas fun. But Lisa, as usual, had turned it into yet another set-up opportunity. Half an hour after Kate arrived she had left her alone with a man they'd only just met, who wasn't even Kate's type. No, that was being generous. Of the guys who weren't her type, take the bottom guy on the list, dip him in crap and then you got the guy she'd left at the bar.
Kate shuddered and supposed, cynically, that she should be grateful that Lisa hadn't given him her number like she had with the last guy. After a full week of fighting off Sydney's biggest psycho, she was looking forward to putting her phone back on the hook.
The problem with Lisa was that her intentions were all good. She thought she was being helpful. She thought she was doing something imperative to Kate's happiness. Every time Kate tried to explain to her that her efforts weren't wanted or needed, Lisa refused to believe it. She thought Kate required someone to move her life forward.
going forward,' Kate continually protested, only to experience the âpregnant pause' and the look that only best friends can give.
OK, so maybe she hadn't been on the âsocial scene' much lately, preferring to stay in with a chick flick and bowl of popcorn, rather than have a night out at some noisy club. But it was hard when your ex was still in your social circle and every time you wanted to hang out with your friends, you had to make small talk with his lovely wife. Not that she had anything against the poor woman. Hell, she was good and welcome to Mark, who she was sure hadn't changed at all. It's just that their breakup wasn't the kind where either party benefited from staying in touch. And even if they had wanted to do so (from a strictly sadistic point of view), wasn't that what Facebook and Twitter was for?
As for meeting men â¦
Kate rolled her eyes. She wasn't interested in meeting someone new. After everything Mark had put her through she was definitely better off without the drama. Wasn't she entitled to a little downtime?
She could almost hear Lisa's voice in her head. âTwo years is overkill!'
Geez! Judgemental much?
All she was doing was being cautious â taking care of herself first. Before she entered into any sort of relationship again she wanted to be able to stand on her own two feet.
She was still a student with meagre scholarship funds as her only source of income. But this year she was finishing her PhD. Next year, she'd be working and the year after that â¦ maybe she would have paid off all her debts. When she entered into a relationship again, she didn't want to be vulnerable, especially financially, to her partner. When she'd dated Mark she had trusted him so much. She had believed they were a team â equal partners. She had never imagined that in his mind the scales were tipped his way.
, for goodness sake. To her that meant commitment. Stupidly, she had put all his needs first and had allowed her own identity to slip through the cracks.
To give Mark some credit, he had managed to teach her a few essential home truths. Don't trust anyone. Don't rely on anyone. And certainly don't ask anyone to love you unconditionally because that's just way too much to expect. Kate's wavering convictions firmed up. It was better to just stay clear of the whole dating â a.k.a. getting your heart ripped out of your chest â game.
At least for a while anyway.
Lisa had to be made to see this. She had to be made to see that Kate had far more important things to do than get hurt again.
I'm happy being single
. Kate lifted her chin.
In fact, I need to be single.
She was just too busy to be in a relationship. What with her PhD to finish and her â¦ her PhD to finish, there was just no time.
Kate was so caught up in her internal tirade against men and interfering best friends that she failed to notice the stranger whose broad-shouldered back suddenly blocked her path. So she walked straight into it.
Thrown back by the impact, she probably would have fallen over if he hadn't turned around and caught her by the elbows to steady her. She looked up to catch a glimpse of his face just as a strobe light flashed behind him.
Kate saw stars instead.
The subtle scent of expensive aftershave filled her nostrils and the warmth of the hands on her elbows seemed magnified beyond all reasonable perception. For a moment Kate couldn't move. She just stood there stunned by her unexpected awareness of him and the tribal-like beat of the club that seemed to be drawing them together.
And then, as suddenly as this new feeling grabbed her, he let go. She fell back, blinking stupidly.
She shook off the irrational stupor and said âSorry' to his feet, then turned away, needing to get out of there before she embarrassed herself further. With the bright lights behind her again, her vision returned and she was able to make her way through the crowd.
. Kate winced as she passed another circle of dancing friends.
Hit by a human missile mid-conversation.
Involuntarily, she wished she had seen his face. Maybe if she apologised properly â¦ maybe â¦
She caught herself before she finished the thought.
Where are you going with this? I thought we just decided you weren't interested in meeting anyone new anytime soon.
Her thoughts returned to Lisa as she spotted her friends. They were sitting in a red booth laughing over some blue cocktails. But Lisa wasn't with them. Thankfully neither was Mark. He and his wife hadn't been able to make it tonight.
âHey, Kate,' her old high school buddy, Casey, gave her a wave. âWhere've you been?'
Kate grimaced. âI'm looking for Lisa. Have you seen her?'
âI think she and Andrew went outside,' Casey's boyfriend said.
Kate turned around and headed for the back door. Lisa's disastrous match-making had to stop. Kate squared her jaw. And it was going stop tonight.
âTom, I don't like this place.' Henry Carter looked around at the crammed dance floor, the rotating lights and the large booming speakers. âIt's too noisy.'
Tom cupped his ear. âWhat did you say?'
Henry wished for about the hundredth time that he hadn't made the fatal mistake of taking his brother into his confidence. It had been a stupid slip. A slip that had got him dragged off to a club he never frequented and didn't even like. He wasn't prone to male bonding sessions usually. He could bluff with the best of them. But he'd been sitting there staring at his computer with not an ounce of inspiration when Tom had showed up at six o'clock that evening. It was Friday and Tom's law firm had finally shut its doors for the week.
âMan, I need a drink!' his brother said. âShall I call us a cab?'
As Henry had looked up and seen him standing there, all lawyer, in his black Armani business suit and Italian shoes, holding up his super-flash Smartphone, he'd had an epiphany.
âTom, what do you want out of life?'
âI beg your pardon?'
âI mean really, what are we all doing here?'
Tom pocketed his phone. âWriters!' He shook his head. âI knew this would happen one day.'
âSo am I. You think too much. Way too much. And don't get me wrong. I love your ideas and so does half the world. But when you start philosophising about the meaning of life, that's when I gotta ask myself the question.'
Henry blinked. âWhat question?'
âCan I deal with you going mad?'
At any other time, Henry would have laughed at such a comment. Tom had always been the joker of the family and could pull Henry out of the sullens at the worst of times. But not that day. Not after eight hours of writer's block.
âYou know, I've just realised that I've got nothing in my life but my writing and today â¦ not even that.'
âRubbish,' Tom scoffed. âLook around you. You live better than the Prime Minister.'
He pointed at the large wall behind Henry. It was all glass and looked straight out at the Sydney Opera House and Bridge.
âI mean, anything of value,' Henry corrected himself.
âLast time I checked that view was worth a buck or two.' Tom cocked an eyebrow at him. âNot to mention the yacht you got parked in the harbour which you never use.' His eyes brightened. âListen, if you don't want it, I'm happy to take it off your hands.'
Henry sighed. âGo for it. I was going to take Fiona out on it this month. But I guess that's out of the question now.'
, so you broke up.' Tom looked far from sorry. âI was right about her, wasn't I?'
âThere's no need to look so damn pleased about it.'
Tom rubbed his hands together as though his score on an electronic counter had just gone up. âI knew the minute she threw the words “trust” and “fund” into casual conversation that she was just with you for the money.'
âThanks a lot.'
âCome on, Henry. It's not your fault women are shallow. It's in their nature.'
âThey can't all be,' Henry protested, although he was beginning to doubt the strength of his convictions.
Tom sat down on the arm of the couch. âIsn't Fiona the fourth girlfriend this year who's turned out to be a gold-digger?'
âI wish you wouldn't use that phrase. But yes,' Henry nodded glumly. âAlthough, I only went out with Donna three times so I guess she doesn't really count.'
âI remember her,' Tom nodded with a sudden burst of recollection. âShe was the actress hoping you would connect her with the people who are making your latest book into a movie.'
Henry shut his eyes. âWhat is wrong with me?'
âI think the question you're actually looking for is, what isn't?' Tom grinned.
But Henry wasn't listening. âIt's like they don't care who I really am. All they want is H. L. Carter.'