Home > The End of Us (Love in Isolation #3)

The End of Us (Love in Isolation #3)
Author: Kennedy Fox

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

PIPER

 

 

This evening, my sister Kendall married the love of her life, Ryan St. James. The ceremony was gorgeous, and their sweet vows reminded me of how painfully single I am. When they finally kissed, tears trailed down my cheeks, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

After posing for the photographer, the wedding party’s escorted to the reception hall that’s filled with guests. My parents, who are considered Manhattan royalty, invited their elite friends and business acquaintances. Ryan’s family are in the same circle, so anyone who’s anybody is in attendance tonight. It’s one of the many reasons it looks like the secret service is guarding the place.

I smooth my hand across the silk of my bridesmaid dress after I grab a glass of champagne. My sister’s best friend Cami, who’s also Ryan’s sister, waits in line behind me with her husband, Eli.

“Wasn’t the wedding beautiful?” Cami says before I walk away with my glass. She’s always been so sweet to me.

“Yes, it’s exactly how Kendall always dreamed. Lavish and perfect. Hey, Eli!”

He grins at me, but before we can chat any longer, they’re both dragged away by Mrs. St. James. I’m ready to take off these heels and walk around barefoot, but I ignore the pain. Eventually, Kendall and Ryan enter, and I try to scream the loudest for them. The smile on my sister’s face is contagious, and I love how happy she is dancing with her new hubby. I order another glass of champagne, then stand off to the side and watch as they’re swarmed by people wanting to personally congratulate them.

When I look over my shoulder, I see Tristan, my bodyguard, acting as my shadow while his eyes scan over the crowd. Him always being close is not something I’ve gotten used to over the past six months. I’m not sure if I ever will.

My parents found it necessary because of who I am—a Montgomery— and because I’m an influential lifestyle vlogger. I’ve tried to explain parasocial relationships with my mother several times and how it’s natural and normal, but she doesn’t listen or understand. With over twenty million subscribers to my channel, I’m bound to have crazy people stalk me, but lately, it’s gone to a level that even I’m not comfortable with. It’s the only reason I agreed to have protection with me. Tristan takes his job very seriously. Almost too much.

Since last year, I’ve been receiving death threats and disgusting email love letters from this guy named Jack, something I’ve mostly kept to myself. If I pretend it’s not happening, I can almost convince myself everything is normal. So that’s what I do.

The reception hall is gorgeous with crystal chandeliers and candlelight. As dinner is served, I sit with my parents in the front. My mother has been giddy ever since Kendall told her she was engaged, but right now, I think she’s just tipsy. The lobster and scallions nearly melt in my mouth, and I have to stop myself from getting seconds. After dinner, the speeches happen, and the dancing commences.

Once Kendall and Ryan are finally alone, I take my opportunity to bombard them. As soon as I’m close, I squeeze them as tight as I can.

“Everything has been perfect,” I say, adoring how great they are together. “Look at you two. Gah, I can’t wait to find love like this.”

My sister snorts. “It wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows, but it was worth it.”

I think back to everything they went through to get here. Ryan and Kendall were sent to stock up and decorate the St. James’ cabin for her best friend, Cami. The next thing they knew, a freak blizzard blew in, and they were stranded together until the roads were cleared. She’s told me how magical the whole experience was, and honestly, it sounds like the plot of a Hallmark movie. With lots of sex between.

Ryan looks over my shoulder. “Who’s that?”

I turn to see who he’s referring to. “Oh him? It’s my bodyguard, Tristan,” I explain, keeping the details to myself of why I have a security detail. Kendall knows the basics, but I didn’t tell her everything either. She worries enough about me already. The paparazzi and gossip news sites haven't done me any favors over the years. Having a bodyguard again reminds me of high school and how we had a security team anytime we left the house. Once I graduated, I told my dad I could handle myself, but since the threats began, Dad insisted on hiring someone. I didn’t argue, though I’ve been wondering how long he’ll make me have one—forever, if it were up to him.

“She’s kinda a big deal,” Kendall tells him with a laugh. “My famous sister.”

“Famous? Pfft.” I quickly change the subject because today isn’t about me. “Before I forget, I think we should have a celebration shot! What would you two like?”

“Anything,” Kendall cheerfully says.

Ryan grins. “Surprise us.”

“Shoulda never told me that. I’ll be right back.” I shake my head, then shoot them a smirk.

I rush to the bar, passing the cake on the way. It’s a sugary statue-like masterpiece with blinking LED lights and edible flowers. I order our drinks, then carefully carry them back, trying not to spill a drop. I almost ask Tristan to give me a hand, but he made it very clear to pretend he’s not there, so I do.

“So when are we cutting the cake? That thing is gigantic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that tall before. It has lights, Kendall. I mean, I saw the picture you texted me, but it literally didn’t do it any justice. I’m surprised it’s not surrounded by a moat of champagne.” I snicker.

“That would’ve been a good idea, though,” she admits as I hand over the glasses. “I almost thought about getting one with diamonds and gold, but Ryan would’ve lost his shit on me.”

“We don’t need to eat a multimillion-dollar cake. It all comes out the same, if you know what I mean,” he tells me, and I can’t help but laugh as Kendall playfully rolls her eyes. One thing that I love about Ryan is even though his family is filthy rich, he doesn’t act like it. He’s mindful of how money’s spent and doesn’t depend on his parents. It was important for him to have his own career outside of the St. James name.

Ryan looks at the shot and smells it. “What is this?”

I start chuckling before I can get it out. “It’s called Death by Sex. ’Cause I’m sure that will be you two later tonight.”

“God, I hope so,” Kendall admits, biting her lower lip and meeting Ryan’s eyes.

I hold up my glass and they join in. “To the happy couple! So excited you’re finally getting your happily ever afters.”

We shoot them down and Kendall’s seems shocked by the taste, and I know it’s because they don’t burn like most shots.

“So when are we finally cutting that giant-ass cake?” I ask again as my sister goes over the itinerary with me one more time. Just as my Aunt Mildred walks up, I take it as my opportunity to excuse myself. The last thing I want to do is start answering questions about my career or when I plan to get married. I have a lot of things on my bucket list to check off before I’ll think about settling down.

Tristan moves in close to me as I make my way through the crowd. He places his hand on my back and guides me around as he watches our surroundings. Although he doesn’t really say much to me, and holding a solid conversation with him is impossible, I appreciate his company. Having him near eases my mind.

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