It’s a Fugly Life
By: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Releasing October 11, 2016
From New York Times Bestseller Mimi Jean Pamfiloff, Comes a New Standalone Contemporary Romance.
HE’S PERFECT FOR HER IN EVERY WAY, EXCEPT FOR ONE SMALL ISSUE. HE’S TOO LATE.
My name is Lily Snow. And I was once the kind of ugly that turned heads and made people stare. The worst part was how I let it ruin my life and destroy my relationship with the love of my life—Maxwell Cole, one of the sexiest, wealthiest, enigmatic men on the planet. All because I felt ugly and certainly not good enough for a man’s love.
But not anymore.
One car wreck, three reconstructive surgeries, and some unexpected money have changed my life.
I’ve started my own company, I’ve finally learned to like myself—not love, but like (hey, it’s a journey)—and I’ve met a wonderful new man who’s helped me put Max in the past where he belongs.
There’s only one problem: After six long months, Maxwell Cole is back, asking for the one thing I can’t give him. And he’s not taking no for an answer.
NOTE: This is a continuation of the story FUGLY, but is a standalone.
Every part of my body and soul swelled with emotion and disbelief. “You really want to marry me?” I said, trying to get it all straight in my head.
He slid a small black box from his pocket and opened it to reveal a gorgeous diamond ring.
I was too excited and overwhelmed to actually look at it or make my lips move or get my feet to walk around the counter. I wanted to kiss him and cry and tell him how damned sorry I was for fucking up our relationship.
“Well?” Those hazel eyes drilled into me.
I held up my index finger. “I think I’m going to be sick.” I turned and ran for the back of my little store. I flipped on the bathroom lights and leaned my body over the toilet, feeling the wave of nerves hit me hard.
I panted, but nothing came out. Breathe, breathe, breathe. The wave passed, and I stood upright. Slowly, I turned my gaze toward the tall, muscularly framed, beautiful man standing in the doorway, with one eyebrow cocked and his thick arms crossed over his broad chest.
“This is not going how I imagined.” He flashed a cocky little smile.
Oh shit. Reply. Reply, stupid! “Yes! Yes. Wait. No!”
“No?” His head jerked back.
Fuck! “I can’t accept your proposal.”
He blinked at me. “This is definitely not how I expected it to go.”
I stepped back an inch, needing to put distance between us in any way possible. He had no idea what I’d been through these last six months. He had no idea how hard it had been to get up every day and not cry or hate myself for what I’d done to him, to us. But I’d finally pulled my life together a few crumbs at a time. I’d…moved on. At least, I was trying.
I tugged down on the hem of my pink sweater and lifted my chin. “I’m sorry,” I said with a firm tone, “but I can’t marry you.”
He stared with a scowl I knew so, so well, reminding me of when he was Mr. Cole, my boss. My hot dickhead of a boss with a very strange secret.
I inhaled deeply. What I had to say next would not please him. Not in the least. But he and I had always been honest with each other. It was the foundation of our relationship and what I loved most about us. Okay, that and the sex.
I swallowed and looked down at my pink flats—yes, they went with my sweater and my pink jeans. Why hadn’t I worn something more serious today? Because saying what I had to say next, dressed like a piece of Pepto, made me feel ridiculous. I needed a black leather jacket or a flame-retardant suit for this.
“I, uh…” I cleared my throat. “I’m engaged already. Well…mostly.” I hadn’t officially said yes to my boyfriend, but I’d intended to.
“What! Who? Who, Lily!” Max yelled.
I cringed, knowing full well he would not understand. With one eye closed and the other squinting, I turned my head to the side, preparing for a giant explosion. Boom! Male ego everywhere.
“Patricio Ferrari?” I eked out.
Max’s face seemed to inflate like a giant angry red balloon. “The fucking actor?” he roared.
It wasn’t a question. Not really. Maxwell Cole knew exactly who Patricio Ferrari was. Nope. They weren’t friends.
“Yes,” I whispered with my eyes closed, “the actor. Who else?”
Max opened his mouth to speak, pointed his finger in my face, and then snapped his mouth shut and looked away. I watched while he repeated the action—open mouth, point, close mouth, look away, open mouth, point, close mouth…
“Max.” I stepped forward and gently grabbed his arm. “Please try to understand. You didn’t want me. You said goodbye.” Or at least that was how it seemed at the time when I’d said something like, “I am so sorry. Please give me another chance.” And he’d said something like, “Thanks for coming by, but I have to meet with my lawyers.”
“But you…” he snarled. “You…Patricio. Really?” He shook his head in disgust.
“Max, I’m sorry, but yes, really. He loves me, and he makes me happy.” Patricio and I cooked dinners together and watched silly movies. We wore stupid hats and rollerbladed at Venice beach. We took off to the mountains and went skiing. I couldn’t remember having so much fun and that was because I never knew how. Not before Patricio. He’d introduced me to a part of myself I needed. And he taught me how to breathe again. His looks weren’t so bad either.
Max ran his hands through his messy dark hair. “Do you fucking love him, Lily?”
I didn’t even need to think about the answer. Yes! Maybe? No, definitely yes. But did I love him like I loved Max, with pure chaotic passion? No. Patricio and I were more like friends, and after having my heart decimated by Max, that made me feel safe. Yes, Patricio was definitely the type of guy I should marry and could grow to love more over time.
“Yes. I love him,” I replied without specifying the type of love. It wasn’t any of Max’s business.
Max’s rapid pulse ticked away on his neck. “How…but…me…but…”
To see such an articulate, opinionated, stubborn-as-hell man like Max fail to find his words tore out my heart.
“Six months,” he growled like a horrible accusation. “Six fucking months!”
“Stop yelling at me,” I snapped. “Not when I could say the same to you, Max. Six months. Where were you?” I hadn’t heard a word since that day I asked him to forgive me, about a month after the accident.
“I was taking care of some very important things.”
“Can you be any vaguer?” I asked.
“What does it matter what I was doing? Because clearly you were keeping yourself occupied.”
Jerkface. Why did he expect me to sit around for half a year like a helpless, lovesick woman? That was not me. I was the type of person who picked herself up after she fell down.
As for Patricio, he was a very intense man who pursued his desires with passion. No different than Max. Ironically, Patricio and I had met at a party in Milan right before Max and I started our relationship. Anyway, Patricio and I had danced at that party and had fun. He didn’t care about my presurgery looks or my fameless status. And a month after my Maxwell-meltdown slash very public breakup, Patricio somehow tracked down my number and asked me out for a drink. I said no at first. And the second and third and fourth times, too. Finally, a few months ago, I felt ready to take a step forward and move on. I accepted. Patricio made it clear on the very first date that he knew Max had broken my heart. “I don’t care if you still love that asshole. I am here, claiming my stake. I want you, Lily. And I know what you’ve been through. I know what you must feel. But I also know what I feel. You,” he’d kissed the top of my hand, “light up my life like no odder.” He’d meant “other” but his Italian accent became exaggerated when he was excited or emotional. “Jess” instead of “yes.” “Chew” instead of “you.” “Hot” instead of “heart.” Jess, Leely. My hot belongs to chew.
I loved it. He had a wild, crazy side, and when he had his breaks from filming, usually in L.A. where he now lived, I enjoyed spending time with him. No, Patricio and I didn’t know each other extremely well, which was why his proposal seemed sudden, but like I said, we were good friends, we had fun, and what woman wouldn’t want a famous, hot, Italian actor as a husband? We were a good match. Max, in comparison, made me feel lost to emotion, vulnerable, and…well, extremely aroused. Stop that.
I lifted my chin. “I’m sorry, Max. But you’re six months too late. I’m marrying him.”
MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling romance author. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dream.
Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men