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Fool Me Once (First Wives Series Book 1)

By´╝ÜCatherine Bybee

Chapter One
Divorce cake was so much sweeter than wedding cake, and when that cake was served to a room full of women celebrating the freedom of a newly single, incredibly wealthy thirty-year-old, it tasted even better.
Lori lifted her tumbler in the air and caught the gaze of Samantha Harrison from across the room.
Another successful Alliance contract executed.
Another payday for the both of them.
Avery Grant, the divorcée of the hour, laughed over the volume of the music pumping through the expansive speaker system in the high-rise condominium. The unit sat several floors above Lori’s in the same Los Angeles complex.
The lofty space had been stripped of most of its walls before Avery moved in. She wanted it open, with massive views of the city twinkling below after sunset. Her husband of sixteen months liked his living space to resemble a Civil War–era colonial home, complete with cubicle-style rooms and drafty halls. It wasn’t surprising to see Avery make a completely opposite choice for her home.
“You’re Avery’s attorney, aren’t you?”
The voice on Lori’s right belonged to Avery’s mom, Adeline.
Lori extended her hand. “I am. It’s Mrs. Grant, right?”
“Did Avery speak of me?”
No, but Lori had sat on the sidelines of Avery and Bernie’s wedding nearly a year and a half before. She hadn’t stayed for the reception. A divorce attorney at a wedding sometimes created gossip, something Lori and Sam’s team avoided like socks on newly polished toes.
“Avery showed me pictures from the wedding,” Lori lied.
Mrs. Grant lifted her nose a little higher. “Disgraceful. Who shows a divorce lawyer pictures of what failed?”
They both glanced at Avery, who was working her way into a wicked hangover.
“Their split was amicable.” A direct quote from the tabloid that blasted the finality of the divorce earlier that week.
“Amicable or not, it shouldn’t have happened. Avery always was impulsive, making the wrong choices. Bernie was perfect for her, grounded, good family.”
“He was a bit older than your daughter.” Eighteen years, to be exact. Not to mention the male-pattern baldness and five foot ten height. When Avery appeared at his side in anything but flats, she towered over him. Not that Bernie had minded. He had wanted a trophy wife, and with Avery, he’d gotten what he ordered.
Laughter caught their attention again.
“This is disgraceful. Who has a divorce party?”
In Lori’s line of work, lots of women.
“If you’ll excuse me, Mrs. Grant, I see someone I need to speak with.”
The older woman pinched her lips a little tighter and pivoted toward the kitchen.
Lori worked her way to Sam’s side and lifted her cocktail. “Cheers.”
“Looked like Mom wasn’t happy.”
“Not at all.” Lori lowered her voice. “If I remember right, Avery wanted a reprieve from her parents nagging her to settle down.” Her brief marriage and subsequent divorce had given her that.
“I wonder how long Mom will wait before going at her again?”
“Anyone’s guess.”
“Well.” Sam placed her half-empty glass on a nearby table. “At least Avery has the financial freedom to avoid her overcontrolling parents.”
“I’ve never seen domineering parents loosen their grip on their children.”
“Perhaps Avery will pry their fingers off.”
A fast-paced song had the woman of the hour bouncing to the beat. “She is certainly breaking loose tonight.”
“What is she drinking?”
“It’s called a ball and chain, otherwise known as Fireball and tequila shots.”
“That’s gonna hurt in the morning.”
A chattering of women increased in volume and brought both their attention to the front door. A tall, muscle-bound twentysomething walked in wearing the fakest cop’s uniform Lori had ever seen.
Sam shook her head. “When the stripper arrives, that’s my cue to leave.”
Lori waved her off. “Go home to your hot man. I’ll stick around and make sure our client doesn’t do anything tabloid perfect.”
Sam kissed the side of Lori’s cheek before skirting around the crowd.
Someone handed Lori a plate full of cream cheese frosting smothered cake.
Strippers and sugar.
It could be worse.
The sound of glass crashing to the floor brought Lori’s eyes wide open.