“Anytime. Did you talk to your sister about this last night? You said before that you thought she might have some ideas for you.”

Alexa shook her head. She’d almost brought it up a few times, but each time she’d gotten too nervous to say anything.

“It wasn’t the right time, Theo. We were celebrating, and . . . anyway, it wasn’t the right time.” She changed the subject. “How was your hot date last night?”

He rolled his eyes.

“Most boring date I’ve ever been on. That woman and I had nothing to talk about. Buy you more coffee and I’ll give you the highlights, such as they were?”

She fought back a yawn.


Alexa checked her phone when she and Theo got back from their coffee run. A text from Olivia about her hangover; a few from her best friend, Maddie, about the book they’d both been reading; and one from an unfamiliar 310 number.

2 things: 1) we’re still on for tonight, yes? 2) what’s your last name?

Elevator guy. Tonight. Oh dear God. That hadn’t been some sort of alcohol-induced hallucination?

Shit. A rehearsal dinner and a wedding at the last minute? What was she going to wear?

Yes. Monroe. And if I’m coming to this thing, I need some details about when/where/etc.

“Etc.” meant “What the hell am I supposed to wear???” but she supposed she couldn’t text that to a guy, let alone one she didn’t even know.

Rehearsal dinner @7 at Beretta in the Mission. Wedding @6 tomorrow at some church, reception at the hotel. Btw I told Josh you’re my new girlfriend, just fyi.

She stared at the phone for two full minutes. His new girlfriend? She had to pretend to be his girlfriend?

I had too much alcohol last night for this.

She had a reply almost immediately.

You and your sister celebrated her partnership in style, I see. Did she enjoy my cheese?

She couldn’t help but laugh.

It was HER cheese, and yes, she loved it. Why did you need to know my last name?

She reached for her coffee cup and took a gulp. Thank God she’d gotten the largest size they had.

1) I should probably know my girlfriend’s last name, right? 2) Josh asked for it for the place cards.

She looked up at the knock on her door.

“I was going to check to see if you needed coffee, but I see you’re all set,” her assistant, Sloane, said.

She almost asked Sloane to get her a pastry before she remembered she still had a doughnut sitting on her desk. She took a bite of it. Maybe the sugar would help her figure out exactly why she was going on a fake date with a strange guy tonight.

Oh right, because she’d accidentally said yes, and then Olivia had accused her of being a prude, so now she had to go.

Drew is short for Andrew, I assume? I should know that if I’m your fake girlfriend. I thought you didn’t do girlfriends?

She scrolled through her emails and answered the easy ones as she mentally went through her closet to try to figure out what she was going to wear to this wedding. A few minutes later, Sloane poked her head back through the door.

“Oh hey, your lunch meeting just called to cancel. I rescheduled you for Tuesday.”

“God bless you.” Alexa checked her calendar and saw she was free almost all afternoon.

“She already has,” Sloane said on her way out the door.

Short for Andrew yes (don’t call me that). And, well, long story. Wait, do you work in SF? What do you do? I should know this about my girlfriend.

She took a sip of coffee and another large bite of her doughnut.

No, I work in Berkeley. For the mayor.

Wait, should she really be eating this doughnut if she was going to have to be in a cocktail dress in a few hours? Shouldn’t she be drinking vitamin water or green juice or something?

Eh. She took another bite and went back to her emails.

Are you a lawyer like your sister? I’m a doctor, you should probably know that too.

She laughed. Did this dude think she hadn’t listened to every word that had come out of his mouth the night before?

The whole “wedding of my ex-girlfriend and one of my best friends from med school” thing kind of clued me in there, yeah. I am a lawyer, practiced for a while, am now the mayor’s chief of staff.

But seriously, what the hell was she supposed to wear to this wedding? Time and venue were helpful, but that didn’t tell her everything.

She hadn’t been a bridesmaid a million times for nothing. After a few quick searches of wedding websites for the names Molly and Josh, and Saturday’s date, she came up with their wedding website.

Black tie optional?

Alexa groaned and put her head back down on her desk. Her closet definitely was not built for black tie optional. After a few seconds she sat up and scrolled to Maddie’s name on her phone—if anyone could save her, her best friend the professional stylist could. Who knew non-celebrities used stylists? Not her, until Maddie had started her business.

Long story but I have a sort of date tonight; wedding rehearsal dinner, going with a guy I hardly know (and that’s putting it mildly), and also the wedding tomorrow (I don’t even know). I will tell you the whole story you know I will but the important thing is WHAT DO I WEAR HELP ME

Then she shot Drew another text:

Black tie optional wedding with a day of notice. Why am I doing this again?

Because, the voice in her head said, he’s hot, and you haven’t even had a fake date in over a year.

You’re not going to back out on me, are you?

Drew sat in a Berkeley coffee shop, blocks from where he now knew she worked.

Please don’t back out on me. Don’t make me go to the buffet.

Of course she was going to back out. She was cute and funny and smart, and he oozed desperation. He didn’t usually have trouble getting girls to go out with him. But finding a date for this wedding had been such a nightmare, it was like his own personal punishment for everything wrong he’d ever done to or with women: first there’d been everything with Emma, then when he called Julia she had a new boyfriend, and Carlos’s sister had laughed in his face when he’d hinted at her coming with him.

He had resigned himself to dealing with what a disaster the wedding and the aftermath would be. Then one power outage and a malfunctioning elevator had saved him, he’d thought. He’d maybe jumped at that solution a little too eagerly, as usual.

Not backing out. Even though . . .

Oh thank God. Sometimes his crazy impulses worked out. He sighed in relief, and his thumbs flew over the keyboard.

No “even though.” Don’t “even though” me. I will owe you so big for this you’ll have no idea. There will be a new Alexa Monroe wing in every hospital in the state. See you tonight then?

I’ll be there. Please just text me ahead of time if we become fake engaged in the next few hours, OK? I’ll have to borrow a ring.

What, you think I wouldn’t buy you a fake engagement ring? You obviously don’t know Drew Nichols very well.

Since I didn’t know your last name was Nichols . . .

He laughed and downed the rest of his coffee.

Point to you, Monroe.

Another text flashed on his screen as he stood up.

;) Running to a meeting. See you later.

Alexa had looked so flabbergasted when he’d told her the details of the wedding. Everyone else in his life knew most of the Josh-Drew-Molly backstory, so he had kind of forgotten how crazy it was that he was in the wedding. And the worst part was that he hadn’t even told her the whole story; he’d actually seemed like a good guy in the story that he had told.

There was no point in telling the woman you were stuck in an elevator with for probably only a few minutes that you’d broken the heart of the nicest person in the world, the snowball that had started this whole avalanche, and you probably deserved all of the looks you’d get all weekend, right? It wasn’t like he’d lied to her; everything he said was the truth, just not the whole truth. It wasn’t like he’d made Josh or Molly out to be evil, had he?

Well, maybe a little bit, but it was only because this no-date-for-the-wedding thing had driven him out of his mind. He should have just bailed on the wedding and looked like even more of a bad guy.