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Her Accidental Husband

By:Ashlee Mallory

ne alone. But he’d promised Dominic, and his little brother didn’t need anything to draw away from this weekend.

All the same, the sooner they arrived in Puerto Vallarta and reached the hotel, the sooner Payton Vaughn would no longer be his responsibility.

Payton secured the safety belt and sank back into the seat. She was going to be fine. Everything would be fine.

“Can I get you something, miss?” the flight attendant who’d absconded with her luggage asked her in an over-solicitous tone as she handed the guy next to her his drink.

That was probably the right idea—a little something to take the edge off the terrifying panic that was fighting to take hold of her. “Bloody Mary?”
The attendant nodded and went to the front, leaving Payton to stare outside at the tarmac. What was she going to do now? It was as if the world as she knew it—the world where her fiancé worshipped and adored her and she was secure in the knowledge they were going to have a picture-perfect life—was falling out from under her and she was being sucked into a whirlpool.

How could he do this to her? To them?

It was her parents all over again. Payton had learned in junior high about her father’s propensity for cheating on her mother and her mother’s propensity to pretend that everything was okay. Which was why she’d told herself that she didn’t need that one-of-a-kind, heart-stopping love they talked about in movies and fairy tales—something she hadn’t thought even existed up until her best friend found it. She just needed someone she could respect and who would love and respect her enough to not sleep with someone else.

They hadn’t even gotten out of the gate and Brad already was fooling around.

Was it her? Had she done something to bring this about? Sure, the last time he’d been in town they had both been too busy with wedding stuff and, later, too exhausted to do anything more than kiss and snuggle. Something at the time she’d been pleased about, thinking she had found someone who was happy just to have her in his arms. When in reality he’d probably needed a breather from the all-star porn marathon he was running from his apartment in New York.

Okay, that might be a stretch. She didn’t know how long this thing had been going on with that woman. Or any other women. But it was throwing a new light on the past few months of last-minute cancelations and aborted weekends.

The attendant returned with her drink and Payton took a sip.

The alcohol crept over her like a warm, fuzzy blanket almost immediately. She should probably be eating that PowerBar. She took another sip instead and waited.

Her head didn’t seem to be pounding as hard as before. No, everything actually seemed to blur a bit around her. She could close her eyes and blur her whole life out if she wanted.

The announcement overhead warned passengers they were going to be leaving the terminal momentarily, so all electronic devices would need to be off or in the flight mode. Two hours without contact?

Well, she’d better get the ball rolling before anymore time was wasted on this monumental failure of a wedding. Pushing the screen on her phone, she saw three missed calls and three voicemails.

From Brad.

She hovered over the voicemail option wondering what he thought he could say to make what she’d seen look anything different than it was.

Not a chance, buster.

She tossed the rest of her drink back, almost choking on an ice cube and scrolled though her calls until she spotted the number for her wedding planner. She drummed her fingers on the seat as it rang until, on the fifth ring, it went to voicemail.

Probably even better. She wouldn’t have to hear the small woman’s scream of panic when Payton told her the bad news.

“Yes, hi, Camille!”

Was that her voice? It sounded all high and whiny. Better take it down a notch.

“It’s Payton. Look, I’m on my way to Mexico, and I’m going to lose cell service here in a minute, but I thought you should know that there isn’t going to be a wedding after all.” She paused, daring herself to say it. “I’m not getting married.”

See? The earth didn’t stop spinning. It’s going to be fine.

“You may want to start notifying everyone as soon as possible so other arrangements can be made. If you happen to have a moment, you might share this news with my mother? Oh, look. I’m being told to turn off my phone. Well, thanks for all your help. You’ve been great, and I’ll be sure to recommend you to everyone. Take care.”#p#分页标题#e#

There. She wasn’t going to sit around and be made a fool of. She certainly wasn’t going to be another Emily Vaughn, brushing affairs under the rug because she valued her social standing more than her dignity.

Things were looking infinitely better already.

She had chewed and swallowed the last ice cube in her cup just as the plane reached the proper altitude. Perfect timing. She raised her hand to the attendant, signaling for another drink. She ignored the wariness that crossed the woman’s face.

She had the second one down in less time than the first.

Hmm. She’d better pace herself, even if she still had two hours to work the alcohol out of her system by the time they landed. Last thing she needed was to be sick when she arrived. She could see Cruz’s disapproving face now. No way. She wouldn’t do anything as disgraceful as barf in front of him.

Maybe she should find that PowerBar. She leaned forward and tried to grab her handbag tucked under the seat in front of her.

Suddenly, the plane lunged, and she smacked her head on the tray.

What the—

She tried to sit up as the plane dived again more violently.

Holy hell.

She was going to die.

Chapter Two

The blinding light of the Texan sun broke into the cabin as the doors were thrown open. They hadn’t even reached Mexico before the plane, thanks to some sort of mechanical failure, had been diverted to the nearest airport in Laredo.

Payton’s head wa