Hate Notes(2)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward


So I left the back unzipped and marveled at myself in the mirror. This. This did not look like a twenty-seven-year-old who’d just dumped her cheating fiancé. This did not look like someone who needed to sell her wedding dress to be able to eat something other than ramen noodles for two meals each day.

This dress made me feel like someone who hadn’t a care in the world. I didn’t want to take it off. But honestly, I was sweating and didn’t want to ruin it.

Before I removed it, I looked at myself in the mirror one last time and introduced myself to the imaginary person admiring the new me.

Standing confidently with my hands on my hips, I said, “Hello, I’m Charlotte Darling.” I laughed, because I sort of sounded like a news reporter.

After I slipped off the dress, a patch of blue on the inside caught my eye. It was a piece of stationery stitched into the inside lining.

Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new. That’s how it went, right? Or was it the other way around?

It occurred to me that perhaps this was supposed to be the “something blue.”

Lifting the material closer, I squinted to read the note. At the top, From the desk of Reed Eastwood was embossed. I ran my finger over each letter as I read.

To Allison—

“She said, ‘Forgive me for being a dreamer,’ and he took her by the hand and replied, ‘Forgive me for not being here sooner to dream with you.’”—J. Iron Word

Thank you for making all of my dreams come true.

Your love,

Reed

My heart pounded. That had to be the most romantic thing I’d ever read. I couldn’t begin to imagine how this dress ended up here. How could any woman in her right mind give such a powerful sentiment away? If I’d thought this dress was everything before . . . now, it was definitely everything.

Reed Eastwood had loved her. Oh no. I hoped Allison hadn’t died. Because a man who writes those words to someone doesn’t just fall out of love.

The attendant called out to me. “Everything okay?”

I pulled the curtain back to face her. “Yes . . . yes. I seem to have fallen in love with this dress, actually. Have you figured out how much I can get back for my Marchesa?”

She shook her head. “We don’t give money. You get store credit.”

Shit.

I really needed the cash.

I pointed to the blush-feather dress. “How much would this dress cost?”

“We can give even exchange.”

It was tempting. The dress was my spirit animal, and I felt like the note could have been written for me by my imaginary perfect fiancé. I didn’t want to guess the story behind this one. I wanted to live it, create my own story for this dress. Maybe not today, but someday in the future. I wanted a man who appreciated me, who wanted to share in my dreams, and who loved me unconditionally. I wanted a man who would leave me a note like this.

This dress needed to hang in my closet as a daily reminder that true love can exist.

I said the words before I could change my mind. “I’ll take it.”





CHAPTER 2

CHARLOTTE

Two months later

My résumé needed a makeover. After two hours online searching the help-wanted ads, I’d realized I was going to have to embellish my skills a bit.

The crappy temp job I’d finished today could spruce up my administrative experience. At least it would look good on paper. I called up my sad excuse for a résumé in Word and added my latest position as a legal assistant.

Worman and Associates. Now there’s a name that fits. David Worman, the attorney I’d just finished a thirty-day temp gig for, was indeed half worm, half man. After I typed in the dates and address, I sat back in my seat and thought about what I could list as experience gained working for that jackass.

Let’s see. I tapped my finger to my chin. What did I do for the worm man this week? Hmm . . . Yesterday, I’d removed his hand from my ass while threatening to file a complaint with the EEOC. Yes, that needed to be on there. I typed:

Adept at multitasking in a high-pressure environment.

On Tuesday, the worm had taught me how to backdate the postage-stamp machine so the IRS would think his late tax check was timely and wouldn’t charge him a penalty. Good stuff. That needed to be added, too.