By: Sara Wolf

Book 2 of the Arranged Series

“You know how serious she is about this!” Lee exclaims. “Please, Rose, I know it sounds extreme, and, okay, a little crazy, but Kiera will stop at nothing to keep us apart. Nothing.”

“Then why are you with her? I thought – I thought you –”

“You thought wrong.” Lee steps into me, tilting my head up as if to kiss me. His hands are cold, but beneath the chilly skin I can feel the warm flow of his blood. My body tingles, an electric wire being dragged across my every nerve.

Chapter One

In Which Rose Jensen Wants to Fall

I look out the window of the airplane and try to imagine what it’d be like to fall through the puffy sea of clouds.

Not that I want to die – no, I’m not that depressed. I just envy the birds. I also envy the other people on this plane who don’t have to sit next to an overweight man snoring and mashing his pudgy arm into mine. He takes up two and a half seats, at least.

I sigh and huddle against the window, pulling the thin blanket over me. The flight attendants walk the aisles and collect trash, speaking in low, gentle French. A year ago, I never would’ve thought I’d be on a plane to France – the one place in the world I’d dreamed about visiting since I was in high school. Then again, a year ago I never thought my heart would be broken. Or that I’d ever be able to say ‘I had a boyfriend’.

But now I can say that. I had a boyfriend, once upon a time.

I shake my head to get rid of the depressing thoughts and concentrate on the clouds. The morning sun peeks over the steely Atlantic Ocean. I’ll be jetlagged for days – the flights from L.A. to New York and then New York to Paris are killer-long. But even the jetlag can’t contain my excitement. I feel more alive and happier than I have in a long time. I’m visiting France! France, the home of the world’s best cafes and pastry chefs! Not to mention the scenery – parks and vineyards and the Eiffel Tower. My inner cheesy tourist is excited as hell.

When Grace first tried to convince me to come to France for spring break, I argued against it. I gave excuses like ‘too far’ and ‘too expensive’. She’s on a photoshoot there in the Alps at a ski resort. A place like that is way too fancy for me, but she wore me down with her constant nagging. She even paid for the ticket, claiming it was cheaper if she bought two instead of one.

She’d been nothing but gentle after she learned what happened with Lee and I. The night he announced his engagement to Kiera, she and Jen were the first ones I called. They came to my dorm, gave me cocoa and manicures and tried to talk me through it. Jen was outraged, and kept threatening to beat Lee up. Grace was quiet, a deadly quiet with a terrifyingly serious look on her face. I later learned she confronted Lee about what happened back at the apartment, but he packed his things and left without a word. She hadn’t heard from him since.

Neither had I. When I asked after him at the office, they said he left UCLA. Transferred out. But they wouldn’t tell me where.

I shake my head harder. No. I’m not going to think about him. Even if Grace is his sister, she’s my friend, too. I’m here for her. I’m here for a vacation. Exams had been tough, and Pierre hadn’t let me take extra shifts anymore at Bistro Miel. He said I was working too much. But that was impossible. If I was working too much, my heart wouldn’t ache constantly, would it? I would be distracted. I wouldn’t catch myself thinking about how life would’ve been different if I’d marched up to the stage that night and snatched Lee’s hand away from hers. Sometimes it keeps me up at night – could I have stopped them even if I confronted them? Or was marrying Kiera what Lee really wanted? She is beautiful. And smart. She’s experienced and fashionable, all the things I’m not. All the things guys are supposed to like.

It’s okay. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. ‘It’s okay’. When I feel the pressure on my chest I say ‘it’s okay’. When my lungs and heart are burning with regret, I say ‘it’s okay’. Sometimes I have dreams about that night in the hotel, the Christmas lights flickering in my eyes and the crowd of well-dressed people clapping and cheering. Lee and Kiera are on the stage, holding hands. And I dream about what would happen if I’d been a different person.

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