All I Want Series Boxset, Books 1-3: All I Want for Christmas, All I Want for Valentine's, All I Want for Spring
croaky. 
    Nicola took another huge breath, then pulled back the curtain and strode out into the shop where Sophie was making positive noises.
    “I think this is the one.” Nicola was nodding at herself in the huge mirror while I was still standing in the changing room. I was scared to go out there. Wouldn’t Sophie know, wouldn’t everyone know? Weren’t we lit up with guilt for all to see?
    “You look gorgeous, that dress is spot-on,” said another voice. I walked out with as much poise as I could muster, and smiled at the other customer who was now joining in the dress approval ritual.
    Nicola twirled in the big changing room, soaking up the attention, not ever catching my eye.
    My mouth was still on fire, I could still feel her tongue inside me.
    She was playing the part perfectly, which I found disconcerting to say the least. But then, she always was far more theatrical than me, able to style things out.
    But now, having just shared that kiss, I could see her whole life was one big act, with Nicola Sheen lurching from one scene to the next. Who was the real Nicola? I had no idea. All I knew was, I needed some air, to get out of there sharpish. Kissing my first love had thrown up a tornado of emotions.
    “Nicola, I’ve got to go — got to get back to work.” I walked over to the pink sofa and picked up my bag, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand as I did. It didn’t stop my mouth burning. “That’s definitely the one, though.” I pointed towards the dress she was wearing. “You look absolutely stunning.”
    Nicola turned to me, but her face was hard to read. Was she sad I was leaving? I had no idea, because I could see she was torn — torn between playing the part of the excited bride, and the reality of what had just happened in the changing room. But with an audience watching her, there was only one way this was going to go. Her eyes held mine for a fraction of a second, before she regarded herself in the mirror again and cracked one of her most choreographed smiles yet.
    “I think you’re right — I think we have a winner.”
    “Great,” I said. “I’ll see you soon.”
    Nicola’s panicked gaze honed in on me as I walked over and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.
    She closed her eyes and took a sharp intake of breath before stroking my arm. “See you soon,” she said.
    I trembled to my core, but still managed to smile at Sophie and walk casually out of the shop. Even though every bone in my body wanted to sprint out of there at 100mph.
    ***
    Holly was sat at her usual table with a few of her workmates when I walked in. The bar was jam-packed as I knew it would be on a Friday night after work, but that was perfect as it took my mind off what had just happened.
    “Hey!” Holly got up and pulled me into a hug. “One of my all-time favourite people — let me get you a drink!” She disappeared to the bar and reappeared in record time with a piping hot mulled wine for me. “You okay? You look weird.” Her face was flushed and she was peering at me up close.
    I shook my head and smiled. “I’m fine — just been a long day. But this,” I said, holding up the wine, “is just what the doctor ordered.”
    Holly grinned. “Just call me Doctor Holly!”
    Holly shuffled her work colleagues around the table so I could squeeze in. I knew them all pretty well with Holly being the team leader, and they were a friendly bunch. I was glad of their warmth tonight as this was exactly what I needed — to be cocooned and shielded from the mad world outside these walls. In this pub, with these people, I was safe from Nicola Sheen and everything she represented.
    “So how was Ivy the other night?” I asked Holly. “You said it was okay on text, but I want the juicy details. Was she creepy? Stained green?”
    She smiled at me, but it was in black and white. “She wasn’t creepy or green. It’s a bit early to tell if we’re going to exchange rings and get married any time soon, but you know, it

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