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It was official. She was cursed.

After losing her job and her boyfriend, she was asked to be the maid of honor at two weddings. And that had been the final blow the middle finger of her life had given him this year.

She took a deep breath to calm her anxiety and the seamstress took the opportunity to tighten her dress one more inch.

- You have adequate hips to have a child- said the seamstress with a strong Mexican accent, shaking her head up and down.

She sighed. Well. She knew she couldn't eat anything until after the wedding day. She forgets the middle finger, life is kicking her ass. Thank goodness her mother offered to pay for half her dress because her savings were already quite scarce and if it weren't for her cheating ex-boyfriend who told the owner many lies about her, she would still have her job as a pastry chef at the restaurant Tamarindo Nero in Chicago.

The seamstress gave it one last tug and then turned it over, she stood with her mouth open as she looked at herself in the mirror. She had to admit that the pearl gray satin gown that her sister had chosen for her fit very well with her blonde hair. She turned to examine herself more closely. Yes, her stomach also looked flat. There is no doubt about it, her sister loved her. It was the only good thing in her life right now.

- Oh dear, the dress looks beautiful on you- said her mother joining her and gently patting the hands of the seamstress as the woman began to take more pins- No, it's perfect. Plus, Janet might even gain a few pounds in the meantime.

She looked up at the sky and forced herself to put aside all her memories of her weight problems in high school. She was no longer fat. Fortunately, after finishing school and graduating from college, she had grown seven inches and lost ten pounds of what her mother affectionately called "chubby."

- Thanks mom, you also look wonderful.

Her mother even looked radiant. She hadn't seen her like this in a long time. After years of being just the three of them, one of them finally left the nest. Emily would marry and leave her at home with her mother and of course, the curse of the family.

The curtain behind them parted and Emily stepped out. Janet's breath caught in her throat and tears began to fill her eyes. Her sister was beautiful, most people called Emily a beauty, but with her wedding dress and her veil, she was stunning.

Emily wrung her hands. -So?- She asked, her gaze moving back and forth between the two of them.

Her mother took a few hesitant steps and approached almost afraid to touch her daughter.

- I can't believe my little girl is getting married in two weeks.

Her heart sank. Two weeks. Her sister would begin a new chapter in her life and although she was happy she couldn't help but wonder when it would be her turn. When would her life take a turn? Until now, she had not been able to maintain a relationship for more than a month. Hell, she hadn't even been able to hold a job.

No doubt about it, it was the curse.

No, that was stupid. She mentally shook.

- Emily, you are the most beautiful bride I have ever seen in my life.

- Oh please. I bet you said the same to Brooke when she got married.

Her best friend Brooke married Liam Ferguson. She was the maid of honor at her wedding. As much as she wanted to enjoy the day for her friend, she couldn't help feeling a little envious, especially since she didn't even have a date. Now it was deja vu. Only this time it was her sister's wedding and she was still alone.

- No, Emily. Of course, you are the most beautiful bride, you are my sister- she said affectionately.

- You both look beautiful, then- her mother laughed.

- I love you very much- Emily hugged her and leaned back and looked at Janet with concern- I just wish that ...

Her sister let the sentence die thank heaven. She understood. Emily would have wanted her to at least have a steady boyfriend. But at this point in her life and 30, she would have settled for a stable job and a home of her own.

- Damn girl!

They turned her heads in the direction of the female voice. Her cousin Gloria hers stood in the doorway of the clothing store with her dark hair in a bun and her blood-red lips in a cheeky pout. She looked like she had just left the set of a music video.

- When I see you in that dress, Peter won't be at the reception- she added with a shark smile.

Emily took the dress from her and approached her. Thank you very much- she said, her voice was excited and happy-. I'm glad you can stay at the party next week. Peter's parents are outdoing themselves.

- I know, but they can afford it- Gloria smiled.

Sure they can- thought Janet.

Peter came from a very wealthy Chicago family. Although he had made his way alone and he was considered a kind of king in Chicago, as he was the new owner of a major soccer team. His parents owned a large estate on Martha's Vineyard, and they had planned a week of celebrations for his son's wedding. There were also several hotels in the area, so there would be room for everyone.

- Welcome dear- Janet's mother kissed Gloria on the cheek her.

- Good to see you, Gloria- Janet sighed.

And by "nice to see you" she meant "I can hardly tolerate your presence." She and her cousin Gloria never got along very well. The general air of hostility between them probably had more to do with that huge stench her cousin had under her nose, more than anything else, but it was difficult for Janet to say for sure.

Gloria let her gaze sweep over Janet's dress.

- I'm glad you chose that raw color- She makes your skin much less pale.

Janet bit her tongue and preferred to give him a tight smile.

The seamstress finished writing her notes and got up. - I will take other bridesmaid dresses from the back.

Gloria raised her hand, stopping the woman in her footsteps

- I ordered a black Calvin Klein cocktail dress. Make sure you bring it- After the woman left, she turned to Janet and added- I want to look my best for the rehearsal dinner, I will bring someone that I have been seeing for a while and I hope to stimulate some wedding ideas in him.

- It's a way of thinking about the future dear- said the mother politely.

The eyes of glory went wide. Aunt Mary, the women of our family have to think ahead because of the curse and all that- He looked at Janet and then covered his mouth with his hand. Oops- she said, not looking even a bit regretful- But at least one of your daughters seems to have broken the curse. Although I suppose anything can happen between now and the wedding day.

Emily frowned and Janet gritted her teeth. Gloria should have known that she shouldn't speak of the curse at a time like this. The infamous curse her cousin referred to, also known as the "super repellent", had become a catchphrase within the family. It did not exist. Although like all good jokes, there was a little crumb of truth in it.

The curse had been called "super repellent" because the women in the family could drive any man out of their lives.

Her father had disappeared when she was seven years old and her grandfather had left when her mother was in high school. All the women in the family up to four generations ago had suffered the same curse. Janet hoped things were different for her sister and Peter.

The curse seemed to affect only the oldest of the family, but Emily still got a little nervous when someone mentioned the "super repellent". Since her wedding would take place in a few weeks. Gloria's insensitive comments already seemed.

- Gloria is just joking about the curse, honey. You and Peter will be a happy couple- The mother wrapped her arm around Emily's waist.

- Sure Emily- She was talking about Janet- she hasn't had a man since her godfather left her- Gloria blinked innocently.

Janet stiffened. Then her gaze went straight to Emily.

- Is Gabe the best man?

- I would have told you before the wedding... But I didn't know how to tell you the news.

- Oops again- Gloria said, stifling a giggle.

She felt sick. If putting up with Gloria's sarcastic jokes about the curse and having to spend the entire wedding week alone wasn't enough, her ex as her best man was on top of it all.

Now would be a great time for lightning to hit me- she thought regretfully.

Gloria opened her bag and took out lipstick. Poor Janet- she said, putting lipstick on her already painted lips-. The "super repellent" seems to continue.

- It's ridiculous, there's no curse- Emily snapped.

- I suppose this can be discussed but it certainly seems that there is one in your sister's case.

- There is no curse. Janet is going through a period of starvation when it comes to men and she doesn't mind being a spinster at all anyway.

This was too much. Janet saw red and it wasn't the glossy lipstick on her cousin's lips.

She was tired of hearing those constant jokes and even though she knew that her sister had made her comment without malice, she was also fed up with the grief. Tired of being without a job, without a man, without a future. But most of all, she was sick of hearing about that stupid curse.

- You're completely wrong, I have a boyfriend.

Her sister, mother, and her cousin froze and stared at her in amazement.

Boyfriend? What did I say?

But then she remembered Gloria's comment and it renewed her determination.

- I've been seeing someone for several months.

- Months?- Emily asked, clearly as surprised as she was.

- Er, yeah. I met him immediately after Brooke's wedding. It is incredibly beautiful.

Incredibly beautiful?

This statement could have been excessive. But beautiful was not enough, because propelled like a train, the words kept coming out of her mouth at full steam.

- And he loves me… Oh yeah, he's rich too- she added.

He's already shutting my fucking mouth, brain.

Her sister hugged her tightly and made a prayer of thanks because she had managed to close her big mouth in that way. Also, she had avoided saying other things about her charming, rich, incredibly handsome, and most importantly, fake boyfriend.

- I'm so happy for you- Emily yelled- But why didn't you tell us?

- Yeah, why didn't you ever mention it before?- Gloria crossed her arms.

She swallowed. I never talked about it... I had never talked about it before because I didn't want to bring bad luck to our relationship and I wanted to make sure it was serious.

- That's wonderful, dear. I knew you would find someone at the right time- her mother kissed her on the cheek.

- So how did you meet him?- Emily asked.

She blinked. Good question.

Yes, we should have known each other somehow ...

- What's your name?- Gloria asked.

His name. An even better question.

Her brain raced for answers. But it seemed to him that suddenly all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room and her mind was completely blank.

Was it too late to appeal to mental illness or utter stupidity?

Probably yes. Also, she wasn't sure she could accept the smug look on Gloria's face if she admitted to having lied about being in a relationship.

- I don't want to ruin everything. You girls will meet him very soon- she said with a half-laugh that almost drowned her.

- This is a real surprise, Janet. I think I'm more excited to meet your new boyfriend than to walk down the aisle.

- Yes, I can't wait to meet him. It must be really special to keep it hidden from your mother and your sister too- added Gloria, narrowing her eyes.

Waves of nausea tore through her stomach, but she managed a bright smile.

- Yes, it is very special. You should know that it is fabulous. Yeah, uh ... fabulous.

- Well, it must be if you've seen him for so long- Emily smiled dreamily.

- Oh yeah, it's extraordinary- A nervous laugh gurgled in her throat.

It is non-existent.

Janet turned around, pretending to see a stain on her dress. If she could have punched her in the mouth at that precise moment, she would have. Had she completely lost her mind along with everything else that she had lost lately? What the hell would she do? She couldn't face her family without a man by her side. She had to find an escort for the wedding. And not just anyone. A really special, beautiful and rich one.

She was doomed.

As if such a man could find it in the supermarket. But if he didn't find one, it would be the laugh of his entire family. Maybe even more than a make me laugh. No, he couldn't bear it.

His mind raced to possible candidates but he didn't even find one. He had no rich or handsome friends that he could call. Since he was not working, he did not have any work-related knowledge that fitted the lie. Liam, Brooke's husband, had tried to introduce her to a friend of hers, but her meeting turned out to be a complete and utter disaster.

She was so broke!

- Oh, Janet, look- Emily called. I want the hairdresser to comb my hair this way.

- You would be perfect- her mother commented.

- Well. Very eighty- said, Gloria.

- What do you think, Janet?- Her sister called back. Janet?

Her throat was dry as if someone had stuffed it with cotton and then forced her out in the sun for a few hours. She finally turned to face them fighting the hyperventilation.

- Y-yes- she growled- Sure, let me see.

Emily handed him her magazine and she took it from his hands. Her model's hair was semi-tied at the top of her head and flowers were adorning the soft curls that fell to her shoulders. She could already imagine how beautiful Emily would look with her long blonde hair styled like this. She was about to tell him but an ad in the corner of the page caught her eye.

Marriage agency / Escort service.

"Couple of Hearts is for people tired of their single life. If you are looking for a long-lasting relationship or just a partner for a corporate event or wedding, we will save you time and headaches. Just answer our simple questionnaire and your Ideal match. Meeting the right person has never been easier. Call or email us and start taking control of your love life today!"

Janet made a face. Yes, she could take control of her love life, or rather, let the agency take care of her. This was her answer to her prayers. An escort service.

- So?- Emily nudged her with her elbow. What do you think of the hairstyle?

- Hair?- She looked at her absent sister- Oh, it's very beau ... Uh, I mean, I hate it.

Emily and her mother frowned.

- What are you talking about?- Her cousin asked. This is the perfect hairstyle for Emily.

- Oh no, she can have something better. Much better- Then, to further demonstrate her point and save the information from the website, she ripped the page out of the magazine and folded it in half.

- Janet, what's wrong?- Her sister asked, planting her fists on her hips.

- You mean beyond the obvious?- Gloria muttered.

- Honey, are you ok? You are red- said her mother turning her head.

Emily reached for the page, but Janet jumped back and tucked it into her bra.

- N-no there's nothing wrong with it. I don't want Emily to make a big mistake with her hair. Better not even be tempted by this sloppy style. It is awful. We'll find something much better- She pointed to the seating area- There are many magazines there.

Emily continued to stare at her for a few seconds and finally nodded.

- Okay, of course, I want to find the perfect style for her.- Then she sighed and nodded toward her chest. However, the methods you use to express your opinion seem a bit extreme ...

- I'm going to change and then we will start looking for the perfect style for you.

She didn't wait for an answer and ran to the locker room. When she was behind the curtain, she pulled the crumpled page out of her dress and remembered seeing the Couple of Hearts commercials on TV. It seemed like a decent and legal business. At least he hoped. She prayed that they weren't out of her price range. Not that he cared, time was running out. She would pay anything to prove to her family that she was not cursed.

Besides, it sure would have been Gabe, with that brunette with whom she had betrayed her. She would have bet everything she had on her, that they both wanted to see her reduced to a minimum: no job and no man. Well, no one would feel sorry for her. Not her cousin and certainly not her godfather. She would shut everyone up.

And since she hadn't found a date for her sister's wedding, she would have done her best.

She would have rented one.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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