Home > It Happened One Summer (It Happened One Summer #1)

It Happened One Summer (It Happened One Summer #1)
Author: Tessa Bailey

 

Chapter One

 


The unthinkable was happening.

Her longest relationship on record . . . over in the blink of an eye.

Three weeks of her life wasted.

Piper Bellinger looked down at her lipstick-red, one-shoulder Valentino cocktail dress and tried to find the flaw but came up with nothing. Her tastefully tanned legs were polished to such a shine, she’d checked her teeth in them earlier. Nothing appeared amiss up top, either. She’d swiped the tape holding up her boobs while backstage at a runway show in Milan during fashion week—we’re talking the holy grail of tit tape—and those puppies were on point. Big enough to draw a man’s eye, small enough to achieve an athletic vibe in every fourth Instagram post. Versatility kept people interested.

Satisfied that nothing concerning her appearance was glaringly out of place, Piper trailed her gaze up the pleated leg of Adrian’s classic Tom Ford suit made of the finest sharkskin wool, unable to quell a sigh over the luxurious peak lapels and monogrammed buttons. The way her boyfriend impatiently checked his Chopard watch and scanned the crowd over her shoulder only added to the bored-playboy effect.

Hadn’t his cold unattainability attracted her to him in the first place?

God, the night of their first meeting seemed like a hundred years ago. She’d had at least two facials since then, right? What was time anymore? Piper could remember their introduction like it was yesterday. Adrian had saved her from stepping in vomit at Rumer Willis’s birthday party. As she’d stared up at his chiseled chin from her place in his arms, she’d been transported to Old Hollywood. A time of smoking jackets and women traipsing around in long, feathered robes. It was the beginning of her own classic love story.

And now the credits were rolling.

“I can’t believe you’re throwing it all away like this,” Piper whispered, pressing her champagne flute between her breasts. Maybe drawing his attention there would change his mind? “We’ve been through so much.”

“Yeah, tons, right?”

Adrian waved at someone across the rooftop, his expression letting whoever it was know that he’d be right with them. They’d come to the black, white, and red party together. A minor soiree to raise money for an indie movie project called Lifestyles of the Oppressed and Famous. The writer-director was a friend of Adrian’s, meaning most of the people at this gathering of Los Angeles elite were his acquaintances. Her girls weren’t even there to console her or facilitate a graceful exit.

Adrian’s attention settled back on her reluctantly. “Wait, what were you saying?”

Piper’s smile felt brittle, so she turned it up another watt, careful to keep it one crucial notch below manic. Chin up, woman. This wasn’t her first breakup, right? She’d done a lot of the dumping, often unexpectedly. This was a town of whims, after all.

She’d never really noticed the pace of how things changed. Not until lately.

At twenty-eight, Piper was not old. But she was one of the oldest women at this party. At every party she’d been to recently, come to think of it. Leaning on the glass railing that overlooked Melrose was an up-and-coming pop star who couldn’t be a day older than nineteen. She didn’t need tape from Milan to hold up her tits. They were light and springy with nipples that reminded Piper of the bottom of an ice cream cone.

The host himself was twenty-two and embarking on a film career.

This was Piper’s career. Partying. Being seen. Holding up the occasional teeth-whitening product and getting a few dollars for it.

Not that she needed the money. At least, she didn’t think so. Everything she owned came from the swipe of a credit card, and it was a mystery what happened after that. She assumed the bill went to her stepfather’s email or something? Hopefully he wouldn’t be weird about the crotchless panties she’d ordered from Paris.

“Piper? Hello?” Adrian swiped a hand in front of her face, and she realized how long she’d been staring at the pop star. Long enough that the songstress was glaring back.

Piper smiled and waved at the girl, pointing sheepishly to her glass of champagne, before tuning back in to the conversation with Adrian. “Is this because I casually brought you up to my therapist? We didn’t go in depth or anything, I promise. Most of the time we just nap during my appointments.”

He stared at her for several seconds. Honestly, it was kind of nice. It was the most attention she’d gotten from him since almost slipping in puke. “I’ve dated some airheads, Piper.” He sighed. “But you put them all to shame.”

She kept her smile in place, though it took more determination than usual. People were watching. At that very moment, she was in the background of at least five selfies being captured around the roof, including one of Ansel Elgort. It would be a disaster if she let her sinking heart show on her face, especially when news of the breakup got out. “I don’t understand,” she said with a laugh, sweeping rose-gold hair over her shoulder.

“Shocking,” he returned drily. “Look, babe. It was a fun three weeks. You’re a smoke show in a bikini.” He shrugged an elegant Tom Ford–clad shoulder. “I’m just trying to end this before it gets boring, you know?”

Boring. Getting older. Not a director or a pop star.

Just a pretty girl with a millionaire stepfather.

Piper couldn’t think about that now, though. She just wanted to exit the party as inconspicuously as possible and go have a good cry. After she popped a Xanax and posted an inspirational quote on her IG feed, of course. It would confirm the breakup, but also allow her to control the narrative. Something about growth and loving herself, maybe?

Her sister, Hannah, would have the perfect song lyric to include. She was always sitting around in a pile of vinyls, those giant, ugly headphones wrapped around her head. Damn, she wished she’d put more stock in Hannah’s opinion of Adrian.

What had she said? Oh yeah.

He’s like if someone drew eyes on a turnip.

Once again, Piper had zoned out, and Adrian checked his watch for the second time. “Are we done here? I have to mingle.”

“Oh. Yeah,” she rushed to say, her voice horrifyingly unnatural. “You couldn’t be more right about breaking things off before the boring blues strike. I didn’t think about it like that.” She clinked her champagne glass against his. “We’re consciously uncoupling. Très mature.”

“Right. Call it whatever you want.” Adrian forced a wan smile. “Thanks for everything.”

“No, thank you.” She pursed her lips, trying to appear as non-airhead-like as possible. “I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last three weeks.”

“Come on, Piper.” Adrian laughed, scrutinizing her head to toe. “You play dress-up and spend your daddy’s money. You don’t have a reason to learn anything.”

“Do I need a reason?” she asked lightly, lips still tilted at the corners.

Annoyed at being waylaid, Adrian huffed a breath. “I guess not. But you definitely need a brain that functions beyond how many likes you can get on a picture of your rack. There’s more to life than that, Piper.”

“Yes, I know,” she said, prodded by irritation—and more than a little bit of reluctant shame. “Life is what I’m documenting through photos. I—”

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