Lily's Mistake (It's Always Been You #1)


by Pamela Ann

Prologue

Eighteen Years Ago

“Are you ready yet?” I call out from the bush I’m hiding behind. I don’t want Drake to get a peek at me while I’m getting ready.

“All set!”

I’m a few yards away from the white gazebo. Fixing my wildflower crown, I stand and slowly walk towards Drake’s line of sight. My hands tighten around the assortment of flowers bundled in my hands, but my shakiness vanishes when my eyes meet Drake’s. He’s gazing at me sheepishly as he waits for my approach.

I fight the urge to just run up to him; I know I shouldn’t, though. Weddings are supposed to be savored. Fairytales are forever and I have all the time in the world to get there.

I reach the few steps of the gazebo and almost falter going up them when Drake whispers, “You look beautiful.”

I give him a toothy smile in return.

We are finally standing side by side when he asks, “How do we do this? Do we just say forever and ever, then that’s it?”

“Gosh, I don’t know. How did they do it at your cousin’s wedding yesterday?”

Drake bites his lips as he thinks it through. “I don’t remember much, but I can try, I guess.”

“Good.”

He clears his throat and speaks, “I, Drake Tatum, take Lily Alexander forever and a day. I promise to give her flowers and kisses forever and ever until I die.” I giggle when Drake mentions kisses. “It’s your turn now, Lil. Just follow what I said.”

I nod and clear my throat. Smiling, I repeat his words. “I, Lily Alexander, take Drake forever. I promise to give him kisses and share my Reese’s peanut buttercups once a week forever and ever until I die.”

“That was not what I said, Lil! Now you just ruined it!”

I giggle again. “Drake! Just stop it. Aren’t you supposed to kiss me now?” He suddenly looks nervous.

“I guess,” he murmurs.

When I see his face closing in on mine, I close my eyes and wait for his kiss. I catch my breath as his lips touch mine. It’s short and sweet, but it seals my fate; I will forever be Drake’s girl.

When I open my eyes and blink a few times, I see Drake grinning at me. “There! Now we’re married!”

“Kids! Wedding’s over! It’s snack time,” his mother, Patricia, interrupts us.

When we pass by her, she laughs at our silliness. Once she piles our plates with sandwiches and cookies, she looks amusedly back at us. “So, how does it feel to be married?”

“I love it!” I exclaim.

1

“Hello?”

“How did your job interview go honey?” my mother’s soft voice asks on the other end of the phone. “It looks promising. They said they’ll call me in two weeks,” I say as I maneuver my car out of the parking lot.

I’ve been job hunting for the last three months with no prospects at all. I got fired from my last secretarial job when Mrs. Donald caught Mr. Donald trying to seduce me. Allan Donald is a true gentleman… that is, he was before his usual cocktail concoction of gin and brandy for breakfast… then he became a little comfortable. It wasn’t the first time I had slapped his hand away, but this time, Carla Donald was there to witness it and fired me on the spot.

“I called because Patricia’s back in town and wants you to join us for lunch at The Four Seasons.”

Patricia Tatum is my godmother as well as my mother’s best friend since they were in diapers. She married Hugh Tatum, a very well-known import/export business man who is also a major financial backer for Hollywood blockbuster films.

“What time? It’s almost noon.” I glance back at the clock on the dashboard.

“Well, yes, dear, we need you to meet us right now.” My mom sounds a tad urgent.

“Sure. See you in a bit.” It’s almost lunchtime and my stomach growls.

A simple lunch at The Four Seasons would just be super!

What could possibly go wrong?

My appetite, apparently, as my godmother announces the reason behind this sudden lunch date.

I blink a few times, taken aback from what has just spouted off her rouge-tinted lips. “Excuse me? Did you just say Drake’s thinking of marriage?” I look at Patricia like she’s just offended me.

Well, I suppose anything that involves Drake I would find offensive. Good or bad.

“Yes, and to a monstrous, gold-digging, horrible woman!” Patricia dabs the sides of her eyes. The woman was a complete mess when I joined them five minutes prior and she has only slightly calmed in the time since.

Her words sink in, slowly and start gnawing inside me. Drake Tatum’s planning on marriage? No shit?

I don’t know if I should be happy or cry a freaking dam of tears to that news. Drake Tatum used to be the center of my universe. He was my first love and the first man I ever made love to… as well as the very same man who walked away like I was diseased the very day after he took my virginity.

Drake’s two years older than me which means he’s now engaged at the age of twenty-eight. Isn’t that a bit early for a well-known ‘man whore’ to marry?

Oh yeah, Drake’s long line of women are quite known around Hollywood. He dates up and coming actresses, models, musicians and so forth, his notoriety is legendary. He’s working alongside his father. After spending a lot of his time studying in Columbia, then staying around New York after he graduated. He comes to Los Angeles periodically from what I’ve gathered from my mother and Patricia. Not to mention, what I know from Google… I couldn’t help searching for the man every once in a while.

“…would that work for you, Dear?” my mom, Hope, asks. Both women looked at me like I had the answer for salvation.

“Huh? Sorry my mind went off somewhere…” Yeah, somewhere that shouldn’t have Drake in it. He’s the epitome of a player; an insensitive jerk and a two-timing prick to boot! The absolute worst of the worst.

“I was asking if you would be Drake’s personal assistant for a while. His recent one just quit because his fiancée, Shannon, drove the poor girl crazy.”

HUH?

“Me? I don’t want to work with Drake. He and I hate each other for crying out loud!” Everybody knows it. I haven’t even laid eyes on him since I was eighteen and I want to keep it that way.

“Please, Lily, my son’s future is on the line here. All I need for you to do is report to me about Shannon and make her a little jealous.” Patricia stops me before I can object. “I’ve met her and she’s nothing but fake. I know you and Drake don’t get along; however, please, can’t you do this? Hugh and I are desperate here.”

“Even Hugh hates her?” How is that possible? Hugh loves everyone, as long as they’re not against him in the business arena; he’s all hugs and kisses.

Patricia nods. “Will you do this for us honey? You’re like a daughter to me, Lil. I would appreciate it if you could lend us a hand.”

Man, she used the ‘you’re like my daughter’ line. How can I say no to that? If I ever had a second mom, it would be Patricia. I did grow up with them treating me like I was their own. Hugh and my father became close over the years as well. My father’s death when I was seventeen only made our bond with the Tatum’s even stronger.

I finally concede. “Okay, I’ll do it for you and Hugh.”

Patricia gets up and hugs me. “Thank you, Lil! I knew I could count on you!” She kisses my forehead and squeezes my hand before going back to her chair.

“Now all you have to do is try not to kill each other before fixing this problem with Shannon, hmmm?” My mother quirks her dark eyebrows at me.

“We shall see,” I murmur.

I spend another hour with them, but skip the spa ritual that Patricia and Mom always indulge in after lunch; wanting to be alone. They do this once or twice a week and won’t miss me, anyway. My thoughts keep wandering around Drake; ever since Patricia mentioned him, I have been having a hard time getting him off my mind. Drake and I grew up together. We were inseparable and I worshipped the ground that he walked on from about the age of eight, I think. I suppose I loved him so much that I didn’t see any of his flaws back then. Even at that young age, Drake was already a handsome kid. His clear, grey eyes never failed to capture and hold me in a trance.

Everything changed the summer after I turned eighteen, though.

2

Eight Years Ago…

Playa del Carmen, México

“Are you two sure that it’ll be okay for us to stay overnight in Cozumel without you?” Hugh asks both Drake and me.

“I don’t mind staying here; I want to go to the beach party tonight.” I smile at Hugh and Patricia.

I met this guy, Ricardo, last night at the local bar. He invited me to a beach party tonight and I’m so going. Drake was always talking on the phone to his new girlfriend, anyway; he’s been ignoring me mostly the entire time. We’ve been here for four days and he’s only asked me to swim with him once. ONCE!

Back in the day, he and I used to do everything together. I guess Columbia University changed him.

“We’re good here, Mom and Dad. You guys have fun!” Drake hugs each of his parents and they kiss him back before waving goodbye.

I miss my dad at the oddest times. It used to be all six of us vacationing here, but now it’s just four of us. Mom decided at the last minute to join her friend in Paris for a whole month. It’s only been a little over a year since my dad’s passing, but I still miss him like mad. I guess this hole in my life will stay there forever and I will never be quite the same.

I bite my lip and start to walk towards the kitchen when Drake speaks, “You’re going alone to a beach party tonight?”

Oh, now he’s talking to me? “No. I have a date. In fact, he’s picking me at four, so that leaves me another hour,” I announce over my shoulder and continue walking towards the kitchen.

I get a mango from the fruit bowl on the granite kitchen counter and grab a knife when Drake joins me, sitting on the counter next to the chopping board.