Pieces of Us - Carrie Elks Page 0,1

tiny form. She was wearing a flowy white dress, completely inappropriate for the cool New York spring, yet so very Lydia.

“Same place you do. We were born with good genes.” Lydia grinned at her. “How does it feel to be a Paxton again?”

“I’ve always been a Paxton,” Autumn reminded her, ignoring Lydia’s eye roll. “Well I have! I changed my name, not my gene pool.”

“I’m glad you’re not a Garner anymore. Josh didn’t deserve you.”

“I’ll agree with you on that.” Autumn finished the mojito Lydia had ordered earlier for her. “And I’m happy to be a Paxton again, I guess.”

“Dad’s happy, I bet.”

“Not really.” Autumn shook her head. “He’s still upset about the divorce.”

“He called me yesterday, asking why you gave up the business so easily. He wanted me to persuade you to let him help with money.” Lydia’s eyes softened. “I know how much the business means to you. We both do. I’m sorry you lost it.”

“It was meant to be.” Autumn smiled at her, determined not to get upset. She’d shed too many tears already. Josh didn’t deserve more. “This way it’s a clean break. I don’t have to use his last name for anything.” Garner Real Estates was all Josh’s now.

The bartender brought over the tequila shots, and Lydia passed two to Autumn. “Okay, we have to do this properly. Lick, salt, tequila, and lime. You got it?”

“I know how to do a tequila shot,” Autumn told her, amused at Lydia’s shocked expression.

“You do? When did you learn that?”

“At college.”

Lydia wrinkled her nose. “That’s like learning about champagne at school. You should go to Mexico and drink tequila there. It’s delicious.”

“Maybe I will,” Autumn said, though they both knew she wouldn’t. Where Lydia was the free spirit, Autumn was the sensible one, doing exactly what her father expected of her. It had been that way for as long as she could remember.

A shrink would probably say it was their reaction to their mom’s death when Autumn was five and Lydia was only a toddler. Not that it mattered. She liked who she was.

“Okay, then. Let’s do it.” Lydia dragged her tongue across the back of her hand and sprinkled salt along the moistened skin, passing the shaker to Autumn to do the same. Licking it off, they banged their shot glasses on the table, swallowing the tequila in one go before sucking on the limes.

“Oh god,” Autumn said, already feeling the alcohol rush to her head. “That’s strong.”

“It’s José Cuervo. You should try the good stuff.” Lydia wiggled her eyebrows.

“I have two more shots for you,” the bartender said once they’d finished the second they’d ordered. “Courtesy of the gentlemen over there.”

Autumn followed his gaze to the bar, where two suited guys were leaning on the counter, smiling at her and Lydia. She shot a pleading look at the server. “Please tell them thank you, but we’re not interested.”

“Who said we’re not interested?” Lydia asked, her eyes sparkling. “They’re pretty cute.”

“Okay, I’m not interested.” She grimaced. “I got divorced today, remember?”

The bartender blinked as though a pair of headlights were trained at his eyes. Autumn tried not to laugh. “It’s okay, I initiated it.”

“In that case, congratulations.” He set the shots on their table. “I’ll pass the message back to the gentlemen. I’m sure they’ll understand.”

“You’re going to have to get back in the saddle sometime,” Lydia said when they finished the third shot.

“No way.” It came out more slurred than Autumn intended. “I’m not interested in guys. Maybe I’ll stay single. It’s safer that way.”

“You’re twenty-nine. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. You don’t want to spend it alone. Not every guy is like Josh.”

The two suits walked over to the table they were sitting at, and gave them a dazzling smile. “Ladies,” one of them said, the ring on his wedding finger catching the light. “Can we join you?”

“Not every guy?” Autumn said to Lydia.

Lydia laughed then looked at the suit who’d asked to sit with them. “I’m so sorry, but my sister here is swearing off guys.”

The suit’s smile widened. “Let me give you my number, anyway. Call me if you change your mind.” He passed them both a business card, as though they were at the office rather than in a bar.

When they’d gone, Autumn turned to Lydia and raised her eyebrows. “I think I need another drink.”

Lydia grinned. “I thought you’d never ask. Come on, let’s find another bar and celebrate properly. It’s not every day you get divorced.”

She couldn’t