• Greta can’t take her eyes off the sparkling ring on her finger.

    Everything she’s wished for is finally coming true. She’s marrying the man of her dreams. But she’ll soon learn that planning a wedding isn’t all dress shopping and rosy bouquets.

    Her future in-laws aren’t exactly wild about their son’s choice for a life partner. When they forbid Blake from marrying her and threaten to take away his trust fund, her whole life suddenly feels built on shaky ground.

    Greta doesn’t need Blake’s family. Or their money. All she needs is him. The wedding will happen with or without his parents. But as the big day approaches, she’s starting to get the feeling that Blake is having cold feet.

    Very cold.

    Has he still not learned that they’re meant to be together forever?

    Still?

    DIAMOND RING is the final book in a trilogy of dark psychological thrillers perfect for fans of THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY or GONE GIRL. Scroll down to read the first chapter.

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Chapter 1

My ring dazzles in the sunlight. I tilt it toward the window so it will glitter even more. The prisms of light dance on the ceiling above me like stars. Like wishes come true.

The old song plays in my mind, a childish thing maybe, but so happy and cheerful I can’t stop humming it.

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring don’t shine,

Only I never get further than that, because it does. It shines.

So the one line, the best line, gets stuck on repeat in my head …

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

“Miss?”

I turn abruptly, remembering where I am, nearly knocking over a lovely satin gown in the process. I catch the mannequin just before it hits the ground.

“Oh, sorry,” I say.

The woman in front of me (her name tag says Katlyn) takes the mannequin from my arms and rights it.

“Don’t worry about it. Happens all the time,” but her smile is tight, forced. “How can I help you?”

“I need to—I’m here to find my wedding dress.” I can’t even believe the words as they gush out of my mouth.

“Congratulations,” Katlyn says. She is blond and pretty and younger than I expected for someone who works in a shop with this reputation. Culford Bridal is the most prestigious wedding gown store in Pennsylvania. All the bridal magazines say so.

“How long have you been engaged?” she asks.

“Um, about six weeks,” I say. Six weeks since he put a ring on my finger. Six weeks since my parents’ death set me free. Six weeks of utter bliss.

“Good for you. So when’s the wedding?”

“I don’t—I’m not sure yet.”

“You haven’t set a date?”

“Not yet. But we will soon. We just—he just—needs to finish school first.”

Katlyn’s eyebrows twitch and her tight smile returns. I decide I don’t like the way she looks at me. “So you’re Culford students. How nice.”

“Yes,” I say.

“And what kind of wedding do you have in mind?”

“The normal sort, I guess. Dancing, cake, champagne. You know.”

She looks over to another shopgirl, and they exchange a look, but I don’t know what it means.

“I mean, will it be casual? Formal? Are you getting married in a church, or on the beach, or at a hotel, or in a garden? How many guests? What time of year will it be? What time of day? There are so many details to factor in when selecting the perfect gown.”

My heart starts to beat a little bit faster. I don’t know any of the answers. All I want is a dress.

She must notice my hesitation because she tilts her head pityingly and pastes on another fake smile. “Let me guess. You haven’t quite figured out all the details yet?”

So what if we haven’t? I want to say it out loud, but something inside me cringes and I hesitate. We haven’t discussed it once, not once, since we got engaged.

I can’t say I haven’t wanted to. I can’t say I haven’t been dying to plan the wedding of my dreams, of both of our dreams, since the first day I met him. But every time I bring it up, he says there’s no rush. He says we should concentrate on school first before making any plans. He says we should be careful.

Maybe other couples do talk about it, though. Maybe they talk about it all the time. Maybe we’re supposed to know all these things, make all these decisions, right away.

We have been so busy with school. Especially Blake. Between his presidential commitments at SigUp, and preparing for finals, and finally moving in together, we’ve barely had a chance to breathe, much less plan a wedding.

But now he’s graduating. Now we live together in the sweetest apartment I’ve ever laid eyes on. Now things will be different. It’s not fair to push him, not yet. I’m sure he’ll want to set a date soon. This interfering bitch doesn’t know a damn thing about our relationship.

I pull up to my tallest height and stare her down. “Of course I’ve figured things out. What do you think? I don’t know the details of my own wedding?”

“No, of course not. That wasn’t what I—”

“It will be in the fall, at night, which is when we first met. And it will be very formal and very large. His family is incredibly important. And rich. They know a lot of extremely influential people. The president might even come.”

Her eyebrows twitch again. “How nice,” she says. But we both know she doesn’t mean it.

I glance down at her finger and see there’s no ring on it. Ha! I see what’s happening here. She’s jealous.

“On second thought,” I say, taking a long look around the shop. “I’m not sure you have anything here that would be appropriate.” Then I stare pointedly at her. “It all looks cheap.”

“Excuse me?” Katlyn says.

“I said your dresses look like they’re made for hookers.”

Her face reddens. She takes a deep breath, “Well then, maybe you should shop somewhere else.”

“Fucking whore,” I say.

Katlyn’s mouth drops open, wide as a trout, wide as a prostitute on her knees, wide as the mouth of a clown at a beanbag-toss carnival game. The other salesgirl hustles over.

“What’s going on over here?”

I don’t answer her. Instead, I rear back and spit.

The glob sails through the air and lands directly in Katlyn’s wide-open mouth. The shot is so perfect, I feel like a carny should be handing me a giant stuffed bear.

She screams and spits and convulses like she’s having an epileptic fit.

“What the fuck?” she screams, angry tears in her voice.

I laugh, then get fake serious. “Oh, no! HIV can’t be transmitted through saliva, can it? I sure hope not.”

I don’t have HIV. Even if I did, she’d have to drink buckets of my spit to get it. But the thought of her freaking out and getting tested is just too much fun. It sure was last time. Only it wasn’t a joke then.

“Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” Katlyn says, full-on crying now. Her face is horrified, panicked, and she’s flapping her hands frantically like she’s trying to fly away.

All I can do is laugh.

“I’m calling the police,” the other shopgirl says.

I walk out of the shop, their angry voices at my back. But I can’t really make out her words over the sound of my own laughter.

Stupid cunts.


 

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