Overnight Wife

By: Penny Wylder

“Which is probably why your subconscious decided to go wild,” she points out. “The harder you suppress your wild side, Mara, the crazier it becomes when it bursts free. Trust me on this one. I’ve learned it the hard way.”

“Yeah? Did you get married to a complete stranger yesterday?”

“Well, no…” She smirks. “You might beat me on the wild side front now, actually.”

I groan again and grab one of my pillows to bury my face in.

“Come on.” Lea pats the bed next to her. “Come over here and have some breakfast. You’ll feel better with some food in you.”

The word breakfast just reminds me of John. Probably waiting downstairs at that café he suggested, feeling all smug in his knowledge that I’m thinking about him. He thinks I’m just going to cave and come running after him like a good little wife? Well, he’s got another thing coming.

I grab the ring, giving it a tug. But it’s stuck on my finger, probably because my hands are swollen from the heat and all the booze last night. Nobody warned me how sweaty and yucky hangovers would feel. I can’t decide if I want a cold shower or to drink a gallon of water or maybe just fall into a hot tub and drown myself.

“Whoa. I didn’t notice that last night.” Lea crawls over to my bed, and offers me a plate entirely consisting of bacon and eggs. I dig into the bacon, unable to stomach the site of the slightly congealing eggs, and crunch on it while she forcibly examines the diamond. “Is that real? Holy shit, girl. Maybe you should stay married to this guy. Who the hell did you say he was again?”

I groan. “No idea. John somebody?” I don’t even know my husband’s last name. What a mess.

“It’s probably on your marriage certificate,” Lea points out with a sly grin, and I want to smack her all over again. I kick her away with a grumble of annoyance, though not before stealing one last slice of her bacon first.

“It’s got to be fake,” I say. “He probably bought it at one of the zillion arcade-looking stores on the main street.”

“That thing is not plastic,” Lea disagrees, but I just stare at the ring, too stubborn to think about what it means if she’s right.

“Can we just not talk about it for a while?” I ask. “I’ll already have to start researching annulment procedures when we get home. I’d rather not ruin my whole day dwelling in the meantime. Especially when we need to get moving.”

Lea sighs. “Fun time is over, huh?”

I grimace at the clock next to my bed, all too aware that checkout is in less than an hour. After that, I’ll have to drive home, get cleaned up, and figure out how to start the rest of my life tomorrow. “I’m afraid so,” I mumble. “Time for the hard work to start.”

Monday morning rolls around all too soon. If I’m honest, I still feel a little fuzzy around the edges, but at least the blinding pain of the hangover has mostly faded, replaced by a vague gnawing hunger and even more nerves that I anticipated for my first day—which is saying something, since I already expected to be a mess of anxiety from the minute I walked through the studio doors.

Not to mention, I still can’t get this damn ring off. I tried everything. Coconut oil, running cold water over it… Nothing. It must be way too small for me. But it feels all right on my finger. It’s only when I try to tug it off that my finger swells up angrily and seems like it’s holding onto the damn thing to spite me.

Great. I can’t wait to try and explain that away to my new coworkers. “Oh, this? Just a joke ring from my not-husband, haha, yes…”

At least I found out how to annul this damn marriage. It didn’t take long last night, just a few google searches. The process is simple, but it does require both of our signatures. Which leaves me with my latest problem, one that only hit me, helpfully, in the car on my way in to my first day of work.

I have no way to contact my new husband. In fact, the only thing I really know about him is that he’s probably wealthy and his name is John. Not exactly a lot to go by. You can’t really search “rich John in Vegas”—believe me, I tried. The results are… not what you’d expect. Definitely not men like the one I slept with.

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