I nod my head respectfully. “Lovely to see you, Mrs. Sinclair.”

Alexandra continues with, “And have you met my brother, Andrew?”

Drew, ever the gentleman, greets her with a smile. “It’s a pleasure.”

Mrs. Sinclair’s eyes sparkle as she regards him. And she fans herself with one pudgy hand. “No, we haven’t met . . . but I’ve heard such stories about you.”

“Vicious rumors.” Drew winks. “That just happen to be true.”

Judging by her quick breaths and the flush of her cheeks, I’d say there’s a high probability Mrs. Sinclair may actually pass out. It’d certainly add some excitement to the evening. But—she doesn’t. An old friend that hasn’t seen her in years hobbles by and drags Mrs. Sinclair away.

Alone once more, Drew tries again. “Now, can I leave?”

“Stop asking me that. We haven’t even sat down to dinner yet,” Alexandra hisses.

Drew doesn’t whine . . . but he’s close. And he speaks for both of us as he says, “But I don’t want to be here. I came, I smiled, I wrote you a check. Unlike some people, I actually have better things to do with my time.”

Before the squabble gets too heated, someone across the room catches Alexandra’s attention. Her eyes widen, but her face falls . . . with disappointment. She ignores her brother and gawks. Drew and I follow her line of vision.

And that’s when I see her.

Almost every guy has a woman like her in his past. For some sad sons of bitches, there’s more than one. The girl who f**ked him over, broke his heart, shattered his self respect. They say the first cut is the deepest . . . and she cut me straight to the bone.

Shakespeare wrote, “O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face . . .” And if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he composed it with Rosaline Nicolette Du Bois Carrington in mind.

We met during our second year at Columbia, and we dated seriously for two years. Rosaline is intelligent, charming, an expert equestrian. She wasn’t interested in frat parties or the bar scene, preferring instead to spend her time engaging in highbrow discussions about art and travel. I thought she was perfect: the woman I’d marry, have children with—the girl I’d love when she was wrinkled and gray, and who would love me in return.

Sally Jansen may have been the first girl I ever loved, but Rosaline . . . she was the last.

I haven’t seen her since graduation. Six years. But she looks exactly the same—a heart-shaped face; classic but full cheekbones that make her appear both sophisticated and innocent; crystal blue eyes with an exotic slant; plump, smiling lips; thick, dark-brown tresses; and a long, lean body that would bring any man straight to his knees. I watch her move across the room, her cotton-candy-pink dress swaying with every step.

“Why the f**k would you invite her?” Drew asks.

“I didn’t invite her—Julian’s on the board. I didn’t think they’d show up.”

Julian is Rosaline’s husband. He’s ten years older and about ten times wealthier than any of us.

“I thought they were in Europe.”

“They came back to the city last week.”

As Rosaline reaches our trio, Drew and Alexandra move in front of me—like bodyguards. Rosaline flashes a captivating smile—one that I used to know well. “Alexandra, Drew, it’s so nice to see you. How long has it been?”

“Not nearly long enough,” Alexandra replies with a deceptive smile.

This is The Bitch, in full force. To the outside world, Alexandra is a refined lady—but simmering below the surface is a ferocious, protective person who’ll pull her hair back, take her earrings off, and open up a major can of whoop-ass on anyone she perceives as a threat to the people she loves. And she has a special kind of hate for my ex.

I didn’t find out Rosaline was screwing around until after she dumped me. Getting kicked to the curb was rough, but discovering she’d been f**king someone else the entire time . . . that was utterly crushing. In the days that followed, Drew was the one who took me out, got me drunk, made sure I got laid. But Lexi . . . she was the one I cried to. It’s not pu**y to admit I cried—shedding a few tears is perfectly acceptable after your chest is ripped open and your heart is peeled like a potato.

Following in his sister’s footsteps, Drew says, “I read there was a Listeria outbreak in Europe. You seem to have escaped unscathed. Pity.”

Rosaline’s smile stays in place as she ignores the barely veiled insults. “Yes, we enjoyed our European travels—the culture, the history. But Julian missed New York. We’ll be here until the spring.”

Separately, the Evans siblings are capable of throwing some deadly verbal daggers—you’ve seen them in action. But together? They’re a tag team that would put professional wrestlers to shame.

Alexandra’s voice lowers to a whisper. “I hate to be the one to tell you this, Rosaline . . . well, actually . . . I don’t mind telling you at all. I’ve heard your Julian is having a torrid affair with his secretary.” She touches a thoughtful finger to her lips. “Or was it the nanny?”

Drew adds, “I’ve heard he’s screwing them both.”

Again, Rosaline’s composure doesn’t waver. I used to think her poise was an asset—a sign of sophistication and maturity. But looking at her now, she just seems . . . unfeeling. Distant. Annoyingly passive.

She sighs sweetly. “Men do so love their variety.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Alexandra counters.

“I would,” Drew admits. “But, then again, I haven’t vowed to forsake all others.”

She folds her hands demurely. “I’ve resigned myself to Julian’s dalliances. As long as I’m the woman he comes home to, it’s not a problem.”

Drew was always annoyed by his inability to goad a reaction out of Rosaline, no matter how crude he was. He gets a sick sense of amusement out of being able to drive people to the brink of assault. Which is why he digs deep and says, “Until he realizes the icebox you call a twat just isn’t worth the price of admission anymore. That could be a problem.”

Rosaline chuckles softly. “You always did have a colorful way with words, Drew.”

And another round goes to the Stepford Wife.

“It was nice to see you both again. If you’ll excuse me.” Just like that, they’ve been dismissed. Rosaline steps around Alexandra and Drew and approaches me from the rear.

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