Tripped Up
Chapter One
    Frickin’ Saturday night and instead of getting ready for an evening of fun, Karen James worked her fluffy ass off.
    Ha, if only!
    No amount of staging sets in the studio would reduce the ample proportions of her curvy ass. She’d tried trendy diets and strenuous exercise until she dropped from insufficient calories and exhaustion. Finally, she’d declared a truce and come to terms with her jiggly parts.
    She didn’t have anyone to go out with anyway. All her friends were either married or planning to be, and she didn’t have a steady man. Okay, so she didn’t have any man. So what! Tomorrow she’d add yet another bridesmaid dress to her extensive collection when her deliriously happy friend/employer, Syndra Banks walked down the aisle with her Navy SEAL, Sam “Ice” Westervelt. Karen was destined to be a lonely old cat lady.
    Karen blew out a heavy sigh, wondering about Ice’s buddy, Trip, who should have arrived earlier in the day. Syn had said something about him getting the code name not only because of his surname, Trippington, but for his work as the team demo guy. Apparently Trip loved to blow stuff up and the name was short for Tripwire. Some adrenaline junky she’d essentially been assigned to babysit until after the wedding. Just what the hell was she supposed to do with an overgrown Neanderthal frogman anyway? Maybe she’d get lucky and he’d be a no show.
    Alexa, Jagger’s girl and Karen’s new friend, tried to act casual when talking up Trip. As if she’d been fooled. Karen knew the other woman was trying her hand at matchmaking. Alexa didn’t know Karen’s history with men well enough to understand her attempts were doomed to failure.
    The whole SEAL team and their significant others were attempting to draw her in, make her one of them. “Should have known living where I work was a bad idea.”
    Above the studio were two apartments, joined by a central entryway. Syn often got so wrapped up in her creative process she’d lose track of time, working late into the night, and used one of the apartments as a crash pad when she got tired. The second apartment was Karen’s.
    Goodbye peace, quiet, and solitude. Once Ice’s friend got here, she’d have to deal with him to some degree since he’d be practically living with her. Hopefully he wasn’t a partier who would be coming and going at all times of the night or turn the shared entryway into a revolving door for trashy bimbos.
    This wedding couldn’t be over fast enough for her.
    To Karen’s cynical mind, marriage meant getting to annoy one special person for the rest of your life. Not that she had any prospects for the position. Thank goodness. She wouldn’t settle for a lazy jerk like Will the dickless wonder. Spending the rest of her life picking up a guy’s smelly clothes off the floor was not her idea of wedded bliss. But why did people get married to begin with? The old-fashioned notion didn’t make sense to her. She thought the ultimate lifestyle would be that of a kept woman. She’d get to have the guy for hot sex once in a while, with him paying the bills and leaving the domestic duties to the little wife. Seemed like a sweet set up.
    She shook off the unproductive train of thought and took in the romantic scene with a critical eye, picturing how it would appear to Syn’s camera. Pale pink rose petals scattered over black silk sheets that would be a stunning contrast to bare skin. On a side table, crystal glasses filled with golden liquid sat next to a bowl of plump strawberries. Dozens of candles—not yet lit—littered every flat surface, and umbrella lights had been positioned to avoid shadow while generating a soft glow.
    Too bad it would be wasted on arrogant models only concerned with how they looked for the camera. They wouldn’t truly enjoy the mood she’d carefully created. And the shoot wouldn’t even happen until after the honeymoon so Karen wasn’t sure why she was already working to get it

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