Momentary Marriage

By: Carol Rose

CHAPTER ONE

"I'm in love with Doug," Amy said in a low voice, "and he's in love with you."

“Wait a minute,” Kelsey Layton protested, “You’re seriously in love with Doug?”

“Yes,” Amy said. “I’m very seriously, totally and stupidly in love with him. I know he doesn’t see any woman but you and I’ve tried to accept that and go on, but—“

“Seriously? You're in love with Doug?” Kelsey felt incredibly stupid. Her only kid sister was in love—with a guy they'd both know since junior high--and she hadn’t noticed? “Why haven’t you talked to me about this? You’ve never said anything about wanting to hook up with Doug, not really.”

Amy glanced down. “Doug’s been your property for a long time. I-I guess I thought you’d feel like I was poaching.”

“Doug? My property?” she repeated incredulously. “Whatever gave you that idea?”

“He did. You did. Not that you were ever in love with him, but that he’s, well, kind of your ‘accessory guy.’ Your back-up. I told myself to get over it. Then about nine months ago, he asked me to that gallery show,” her sister paused, running a distracted hand through her mane of curly, dark hair. “We had a lot of fun. Went out dancing afterwards. He…kissed me. I thought maybe he was getting over his crush on you. Maybe we could actually have a chance.”

“My God,” Kelsey said faintly, blown away by her own lack of awareness. She and her sister weren’t joined at the hip, of course, but she’d thought they were close. The need to survive their mother's multiple serial marriages and all the adjustments to different cities they'd survived had bound them closely as kids. One of the good things about working for the same Manhattan ad agency was the chance it gave them to work so closely together.

“Doug and I have been doing more things together, off and on, for months. I thought he was starting to care for me till I realized he only sees me when you’re not available.” A starkness entered Amy’s brown eyes.

“No!” Kelsey leaned forward, catching her sister’s hand. “I’m sure that’s not true. Doug and I have always been good friends, that’s all. You’ve got to be mistaken.”

Kelsey's friendship with Doug Morton went back to junior high when he'd gone to school with she and Amy. To everyone's surprise, sweet, goofy Doug had grown into a successful executive with Barrett Incorporated and brought their account to the ad agency where Kelsey was art director.

“Yesterday we had plans for lunch and he canceled at the last minute,” Amy said through tight lips.

Kelsey frowned. “We had a business lunch yesterday with Jared Barrett.”

“And what of consequence did you three talk about?” her sister asked, meaningfully, “I know for a fact that you could have handled everything with Jared. You didn’t need Doug there.”

“You know for a fact? Doug admitted that he was trying to avoid having lunch with you?”

Amy gazed down at her short fingernails. “Well, no. Doug never admits anything that relates to you, but I have my sources.”

“Oh.” Kelsey didn't know what to make of that, but she hated to see her sister so upset. How could she not have known Amy’s feelings about Doug?

Amy straightened in her chair, jutting her chin out belligerently. “Doug sees me as a friend, not a woman. He kissed me just that once, but it didn’t go any further.”

Kelsey stared at her. As close as they were, they’d never developed the habit of discussing their lovers in detail. Truthfully, the thought of Amy getting romantic with Doug, of all people, took some mental adjustment. “I, uh. That’s…too bad. Could it be—I'm not trying to hurt you, but maybe he's just not that into you?”

“Has Doug ever told you he takes me out? Has he ever talked about me at all?” Amy asked, her tone both hurt and angry.

“No,” Kelsey said slowly, “but Doug and I mostly talk about work. You’ve mentioned doing things with him, but I’d just assumed you guys were…friends.”

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