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Mother Faker: Chapter 17

Liv

On Monday, Beckett leaves for Arizona. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a good thing. Dinner with his family was too comfortable, too fun, too picture-perfect for a relationship with an expiration date.

I tell myself that the ease I felt is natural. I’ve known his family for years. Gavin and I have been friends for so long. And though Sara is newer to the area and to the team, she and I hit it off immediately. Beckett’s parents are lovely, of course, and Brooks and Aiden are a blast.

But my stomach aches every time my mind drifts to our eventual divorce. Will this ruse destroy all those relationships for me? I didn’t think nearly hard enough about the consequences of our little arrangement before I committed to it, and now I’m being hit with it all full force.

It’s not just my kids who could get attached. The Langfields are all invested in our fake marriage, as well as my friends—well, everyone except Delia, who is thrilled that Beckett is out of town for three whole days.

On Thursday, I wake up anxious, unable to pinpoint exactly what has my stomach in a knot. Is it because Beckett’s returning today? Or maybe it’s because of my annual OB-GYN appointment.

I hate going to the doctor. Not because I’m worried about health issues. Nope, it’s because I hate stepping on the scale. The moment when the nurse asks me to take off my shoes always sends me into a panic. I’d rather leave them on because then I could blame those extra fifteen pounds on my clothes and the flats that are practically weightless.

It’s stupid, this anxiety that needles at me for hours leading up to the one-minute portion of every appointment. But it’s impossible to control. Because that one minute then leads to a stern look from the doctor and a lecture about how I am technically obese and should consider exercising and eating right. He’ll remind me that I need to watch these things now that I’m getting older.

The thing is, the doctor isn’t telling me something I don’t already know. The whole experience just makes me feel shitty.

As I’m getting ready, I’m in a tizzy, searching for a single pair of matching heels. “Not one matches,” I grumble. “Delia!”

With heels on and blond hair slicked back in a ponytail, my friend appears. She looks perfect, like always. “What’s up?”

“Any chance you’ve found any of my heels in the girls’ room?”

“Huh?” she asks, putting the back on the earring in her left ear. “Your shoes are missing again?”

I point at my closet. On the floor lies one black pump, a second black shoe with a smaller heel, and a single brown shoe.

“I’ll ask again, but they swore it wasn’t them.”

Shoulders sagging, I sigh because I so don’t have time for this and now I’ll have to wear flats. “It’s fine. This weekend I’m going to search the whole house. It has to be one of the kids. My shoes didn’t just walk off on their own.”

“It is odd,” she says, following me down the stairs.

Hours later, I’m trudging into the office, feeling like crap. As expected, I left the doctor with instructions to watch what I’m eating, walk more, and “consider a group fitness class like Zumba.”

I’ve got three kids, a sixty-hour work week, and a boss who thinks I’m his personal secretary, when am I going to find time to go to Zumba?

Already defeated and drained before my workday has begun, the last thing I want to see is Sabrina, Beckett’s ex-girlfriend.

See? So not my day.

“Olivia!” she coos in her fake friendly tone, pushing dark hair curled in soft waves behind her ear. “Just the person I wanted to see!”

With every ounce of energy left in me, I summon a smile. “Good to see you. Can I help you with something?” I don’t stop, hoping it’ll be a quick question, but unfortunately, she follows me.

“No, I’m meeting Beckett for lunch. But I have to compliment you on the PR magic you’re working. That was quick thinking, giving Beckett the wife and kids cover.”

My steps falter along with my heart as I reach my office door. “Huh?”

She stops beside me and places her hand on my shoulder in what I imagine she believes is a comforting gesture. “Don’t worry. Beckett and I will be discreet. Obviously can’t have him seen out with his girlfriend when he’s just announced his marriage.” She laughs lightly, like we’re in on a joke.

Before I can unravel her words, Beckett rounds the corner. His steps falter when he spots the two of us together.

“Oh, hi,” he says, surveying Sabrina, then me, his expression unreadable.

It’s almost impossible not to lash out and make a scene.

He told Sabrina about our agreement? He’s still seeing her? And here I was, letting myself believe there could be a deeper meaning behind his little touches and kind words.

“Liv, can we go over this problem with Peters?” Sara asks, walking into my office from the other side, where we share a door.

Saved by the assistant.

With far too much enthusiasm, I nod, because let’s be honest, I need a minute.

“Y-yes.” I clear my throat. “Can you walk and talk?” I need to get the hell away from these people before I give myself away. The key to managing PR is buying time and planning. So that’s what I’ll do. Buy myself some time to curb my natural reaction before I claw Sabrina’s eyes out. Or cry. It could go either way at this point.

I give Beckett a quick nod over my shoulder but keep my eyes averted. “Welcome back, Mr. Langfield. I’ll talk to you later. Enjoy lunch, Sabrina.”

Beckett doesn’t respond, but Sabrina gives me an exuberant wave.

With a tight-lipped smile, Sara leads me out of my office. “What the hell was that about?” she hisses once we’re out of earshot.

I told myself I was going to have a juice cleanse shake for lunch, but suddenly, I’m craving real food.

“Can we get lunch somewhere? And not talk about it?” I beg.

With a sympathetic smile and a nod, Sara leads the way.

Because my day hasn’t been terrible enough, I get a call from Winnie’s school during lunch. I excuse myself and take my food back to my office so I can return the call.

It’s the school nurse. Winnie is claiming to have a stomachache, but the nurse mentions that Drake was scheduled to read to the class today but was a no-show.

When I end the call with the nurse, I immediately dial Dylan. Two minutes later, she’s set to pick Winnie up. I hate that I can’t do it myself, but the Peters issue isn’t going to solve itself. This is the exact reason the four of us moved in together. When one of us can’t be there, the others step up. In the end, Dylan will probably do a better job of coaxing Winnie’s feelings out of her than I ever could. I have no doubt that by the time I get home tonight, my girl will be smiling. Dylan has special powers like that.

Then, because I can’t help myself, I call my ex-husband to give him a piece of my mind.

“Hey,” he answers after three rings.

“What are you doing right now?”

“Just leaving lunch with a client. What’s wrong?”

“Did you forget you were supposed to read to Winnie’s class today?”

Silently, I will him to say that it slipped his mind. That he thought it was tomorrow. Really anything that doesn’t involve him not caring enough to bother showing up.

Drake sighs, the sound of it crackling down the line. “No, but I couldn’t get out of this lunch.”

I set the phone down on my desk and breathe in for four, then out for four. I will not cry. I will not scream.

Then I put the call on speaker because the idea of his voice so close to my ear makes me shudder.

“Why didn’t you call me? One of the moms would have covered.”

He laughs. “Or maybe that new husband of yours?”

Oh shit.

“It’s funny, you know? How mad you were when I started dating Kendall. You didn’t even have the decency to tell me when you got fucking married.”

“Because you started dating Kendall when you were still married to me, you idiot. Now that we’re divorced, my personal life is none of your business.”

“No, but who my kids are living with is my business.”

My stomach plummets. Dammit, he’s not wrong.

“I’m sorry.” I heave a sigh, hating to even speak the words. “I should have told you.”

“He’s your fucking boss, Liv. What the hell?”

The growl that rumbles from the doorway is so fierce it sends shivers racing through me.

“Talk to my wife like that again, and we’re going to have a major problem, Drake.”

Fury radiates off my husband, the power of it so strong I feel I could reach out and touch it.

“Mr. Langfield,” Drake stutters. I think he’s actually at a loss for words. Drake works for a marketing firm, and he’s been trying to get this company’s business for years. It pleases me immensely to know that will never happen now.

“We’re done here,” Beckett growls before hanging up on my ex, leaving me gaping up at him. Beckett towers over me, his jaw clenched and his chest heaving. “He doesn’t get to talk to you like that.”

“Like what?”

With a shake of his head, he pulls in a deep breath and clenches his fists at his sides. “The way he spoke to you, how he said your name. Liv,” he spits. He’s mimicking Drake, but in all honesty, it sounds no different from Beckett’s normal tone.

I cough out an uncomfortable laugh, trying hard to hold back a sob. “You say my name the same way.”

His only response is to stare at me, unblinking.

I don’t have time for this—his mood swings or his mixed signals.

His girlfriend was bad enough, and now I have to deal with the Peters situation. God, I can’t wait to go home to my kids. I’m so done with this day.


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