Christina Tetreault

Dear Love Vixen,

I am actually writing to you for my cousin because she’s too stubborn to do it herself. In a week she’s returning home for her twin brother’s wedding. Unfortunately, her brother’s best man, the very man who kissed her 16 years ago and she hasn’t seen since, is returning as well. I told her to make her move and finally know once and for all how he feels. She disagrees. She plans to avoid him as much as possible until he goes back to the West Coast. Should she take my advice, or let him disappear from her life for another 16 years?

Sincerely,
A Concerned Cuz

Dear Cuz,
Oh, sweetie, you should…I mean your “cuz” should definitely listen to your voice of reason. If she’s been pining for him for 16 years there’s obviously something there. At least for “her”. You tell her LV said to go for it. What has she got to lose? Another 16 years of wondering ‘what if’? Most importantly, what has she got to gain? A wonderful happily ever after.

Good luck, hon!
The ❤ Vixen

**Disclaimer: The Love Vixen concept, letters, posts, and advice are works of fiction. The LV is not a licensed doctor or trained professional, or even a real person. The guidance she gives should probably not be followed because everything is made up by the authors.


Meet the Author!

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USA Today Best Selling author, Christina Tetreault started writing at the age of 10 on her grandmother’s manual typewriter and never stopped. Born and raised in Lincoln, Rhode Island, she has lived in four of the six New England states since getting married in 2001. Today, she lives in New Hampshire with her husband, three daughters and two dogs.

Chapter One

Not again. Isabelle Martin looked at the text message and the attached screenshot of the schedule from Heather, her future sister-in-law, and counted to ten before she responded. It was the second time this week Heather had sent her almost exactly the same message. While she recognized that her twin brother’s fiancée meant well, she didn’t need the woman to send her even one copy of the ferry schedule, never mind two. Unlike Bryson’s fiancée, Isabelle had lived most of her life on Sanborn Island, and she knew exactly how many times each day the ferry left Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the island in the summer and vice versa. And since the ferry had been operating on the same schedule for at least the past twenty years, she knew most of the departure and estimated arrival times as well.

“Heather again?” Ella, her cousin, asked.

Although a few years younger than Isabelle, Ella had always been not only her favorite cousin but also the sister she didn’t have. Every summer growing up, Ella and occasionally Ella’s older sister, Claire, would spend a large chunk of the summer with Isabelle and her family on the island. Then in the winter, Isabelle and sometimes Bryson would tag along on the Bridges’ ski vacations, since their dad didn’t ski and their mom hated to take time off from work unless absolutely necessary. And ever since Isabelle first started teaching at North Salem High and moved to town, they’d become permanent fixtures at each other’s homes. In fact, Ella’s husband, Striker, often joked that Isabelle should just sell her house and move into their spare bedroom.

Nodding, Isabelle grabbed a pair of shorts from the laundry basket and folded them before adding them to her suitcase.

“She can’t help it.” Ella added the T-shirt she’d folded to the suitcase before reaching for something else.

Isabelle already knew that. But it didn’t make the constant text messages and phone calls from Heather reminding Isabelle of everything, even not to forget her own damn bridesmaid dress, as if she ever would, any less annoying.

“She’s just excited about the wedding. You know I wasn’t much better when Striker and I got married.”

At least one of us is excited. Well, perhaps that wasn’t entirely true. When Bryson and Heather announced their engagement last year, Isabelle had been over the moon happy for them. They’d been together for years, and she genuinely adored her brother’s fiancée. Heather was the perfect woman for her twin. In fact, she couldn’t have created a better match for Bryson. And if not for one particular individual on the guest list, she’d be looking forward to her brother’s upcoming wedding as much as the rest of the family.

Her cousin added a pair of shorts to the suitcase and grabbed the shirt on top of the clean laundry as she continued. “Since we’re talking about the wedding anyway….” Ella paused and held up the clean T-shirt a student in Isabelle’s AP United States history class had given her last year, which featured Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote We are not makers of history. We are made by history.

“We weren’t talking about Bryson and Heather’s wedding, and you know it.”

The last thing she needed was Ella bringing up the wedding again. The last time one of their conversations went down that path, she’d told Ella to mind her own business and then proceeded to avoid her for three days. A rather childish move, but Isabelle had hoped it would drive home the point she didn’t want to discuss the event again. And she’d rather not get into an argument with her cousin today, especially since she needed Ella to drive her to Portsmouth tomorrow so she could catch the ferry.

“Sure we were. I told you Heather couldn’t help it because she’s excited about the wedding, remember. Oh, and by the way, I love this shirt. I’ve never heard this quote, but I like it.” Ella grinned and added the T-shirt to the suitcase.

“Not many people are familiar with it,” Isabelle admitted.

She had more of a chance of convincing Dad he should stop being a New England Rebels football fan and start rooting for the New York Jets than she had of getting her cousin to talk about something besides the wedding—or more specifically, one particular guest who’d be at the wedding. She had her fingers crossed he’d leave right after the reception, though, so that she could enjoy some time on the island.

“Have you decided what you’re wearing to the rehearsal dinner? I think you should go with the blue sundress you bought for your cruise in February. It makes the blue in your eyes stand out.”

If Isabelle kept the conversation centered on her clothing options, perhaps she’d survive their conversation. “I might pack it. But I might just wear the white dress I bought last month. I’m bringing that one and the floral one I wore to your Memorial Day cookout.”

Her cousin wrinkled her nose and left her spot on the bed.

“What’s wrong with those two? You have one almost identical to the floral one. And you were with me when I bought the other one. Actually, you suggested I get it.”

“Nothing is wrong with them. They’re both just plain. Boring. Great to wear to a cookout or maybe to school but not right for this occasion,” Ella answered with a shrug as she opened Isabelle’s closet. “You want something that will draw attention your way.”

“Did I miss the memo? Who said I want anyone’s attention? This is Bryson and Heather’s wedding. They’re the ones everyone should be paying attention to, not me.”

Her cousin looked through the various clothes hanging up. When she reached a dark red, sleeveless wrap dress, she pulled it out but quickly returned it. “Sure, during the ceremony. But the time before and after is up for grabs.”

If only Isabelle had a good comeback for that comment.

“And it’s not like CJ is going to be the only handsome, eligible man on the island for the wedding. I’ve met a lot of Bryson’s friends over the years, and if I weren’t married, I wouldn’t mind catching the eye of several of them.”

To anyone else, Ella’s statement would sound both innocent and logical. Isabelle had been single for almost a year, and it’d been months since her last date. But she knew better.

“You can cut the crap, Ella. We both know you’re thinking about CJ.” She tossed the shorts she held into the suitcase rather than bothering to fold them.

The moment her brother and Heather announced their engagement, she’d known he would ask Cameron, aka CJ, to be his best man. Who else would he ask? Sure, Bryson had plenty of friends, some he’d even had since elementary school. None of those friendships, though, fell into the same category as his and CJ’s. At one time, her friendship with CJ had been similar as well. But that had been a long time ago—before she stopped seeing him as almost a second brother and before he kissed her.

Still, she’d hoped her brother would ask maybe Adam Sinclair, his college roommate freshman and sophomore years. Or even Pierre Blanchet. Bryson had lived with Pierre’s family the year he spent studying in France, and he’d stayed in contact with them ever since. In fact, Pierre, his parents, and his sister were attending Bryson’s wedding next weekend.

All the finger crossing and hoping in the world hadn’t mattered. And soon, she’d find herself face-to-face with Cam.

No, don’t think of him as Cam.

Growing up, she’d been the only one to call him that. Everyone else had either called him CJ or simply Ferguson, so as not to confuse him with his father, Cameron Jacob Ferguson Sr. If she started thinking of him as Cam now, she’d soon find herself going down a path she didn’t want to walk again.

“Maybe just a little.” Ella held her index finger and her thumb less than an inch apart, as if to reinforce her statement.

Well, at least she admitted it this time.

“But your brother does have some handsome single friends, and a lot of them will be there, Iz.”

She knew full well which of her brother’s friends would be there. And she couldn’t deny many of them were handsome as well as genuinely nice men, including Adam. Unfortunately, she wasn’t and never had been interested in any of Bryson’s friends except one.

“I can’t argue with you there.” Flopping back on the bed, she stared up at the ceiling as she once again thought about their last conversation regarding this topic. “I spent….”

“You spent what?” Ella asked when Isabelle didn’t continue.

Once again, she’d opened her mouth before she fully considered the ramifications. Oh well, too late now. If she said nothing, Ella would hound her until she came clean. Unfortunately, at the moment, she couldn’t think of a plausible white lie that would satisfy her cousin’s curiosity.

“I spent some time thinking about your suggestion. You know, to write to the Love Vixen?”

She’d laughed when Ella first suggested the idea. While she found the popular international blog entertaining and had even bought the Love Vixen’s best-selling book, Love Like a PB&J Sammie, she never envisioned herself writing to her. After all, who in their right mind asked a stranger for relationship advice? Not only that, how could a person give helpful answers when they didn’t know the parties involved or their history? Still, she’d given her cousin’s suggestion a lot of thought. Finally, she’d concluded that if she wrote into the blog and got an answer, Ella would let the matter go once and for all. Not only that, whatever answer she received might silence the nagging voice in her head that kept telling her to take Ella’s advice.

“Oh. And?”

“I decided to do it. I figured what’s the worst that can happen?”

While she knew some people, like Ella, read the popular blog daily, she checked it once or twice a week. She’d never read a single post that included anyone’s name. Instead, people always signed with something like Cupcake Girl or Risky Business. She’d found it easy enough to come up with a cute alias of her own. She’d also made sure not to mention the name CJ Ferguson, a name known around the world these days, or hint at her location, so even Ella, one of her closest friends, would never guess the request for help came from her. That was assuming, of course, the Love Vixen answered. Considering how popular the blog had become over the past year, she could only imagine how many people wrote in daily. She doubted the Love Vixen commented on everything she received.

Ella stopped going through the dresses in the closet and zipped back to the bed. “When? Did she answer? What did she say? I bet she said the same thing I’ve been telling you for months.”

“To answer your first question, I did it last week,” Isabelle answered as she moved back into an upright position. “As for your second, I haven’t checked.” Honestly, she hadn’t looked at the blog again all week.

“Afraid to find out I was right?”

“Just haven’t gotten around to it.”

“Yeah, I know you’ve been so busy since school ended for the summer on Wednesday, and you’re on vacation until August.”

So what if she’d been a tad apprehensive about checking? “It’s a good thing I like you.”

“You love me, and you know it, cuz. And now is as good a time as any to check.” Ella reached into her back pocket. “My cell must be in the kitchen.”

Before she changed her mind, Isabelle retrieved the bag she kept her laptop in and pulled the device out. She’d left it on the floor by the nightstand on Wednesday and hadn’t touched it since. Then she typed the web address for the blog into the internet browser. She could’ve just as easily checked the site on her cell phone, but this way, they could both read the response at the same time. Assuming, of course, the Love Vixen had answered her.

Isabelle skimmed through the numerous posts looking for hers. She found it halfway down the page.

Dear Love Vixen,

I am actually writing to you for my cousin because she’s too stubborn to do it herself. In a week, she’s returning home for her twin brother’s wedding. Unfortunately, her brother’s best man, the very man who kissed her sixteen years ago and she hasn’t seen since, is returning as well. I told her to make her move and finally know once and for all how he feels. She disagrees. She plans to avoid him as much as possible until he goes back to the West Coast. Should she take my advice or let him disappear from her life for another sixteen years?

Sincerely,

A Concerned Cuz

Dear Cuz,

Oh, sweetie, you should… I mean your “cuz” should definitely listen to your voice of reason. If she’s been pining for him for sixteen years, there’s obviously something there. At least for “her.” You tell her LV said to go for it. What has she got to lose? Another sixteen years of wondering “what if”? Most importantly, what has she got to gain? A wonderful happily ever after.

Good luck, hon!

The ❤ Vixen

She reread the response from the Love Vixen. Although not the exact words Ella had used when she offered her opinion, the advice was along the same lines. It also caused the nagging voice in her head to grow louder rather than silence it once and for all.

“Pretending to be me?” Ella asked, looking at her when she finished reading the blog.

She shrugged and read the next comment on the blog from someone calling themselves Falling Hard In Providence.

“At least you were honest about being stubborn.” Ella nudged her in the arm and smiled. When Ella received a dirty look in response, she laughed. “Well, once again, I agree with LV’s advice. I think you should listen to her.”

Isabelle’s eyes drifted back to the response. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, the Love Vixen made some good points. If she ignored CJ while he was on the island, she might spend another sixteen years wondering “what if.” Then again, if she made her feelings known, she might find herself suffering from the worst case of embarrassment ever and avoiding CJ at all costs until the wedding and then returning to North Salem as soon as her brother said “I do” if CJ decided to stick around.

“What’s it going to be, Iz? Are you going to take our advice or hide at your parents’ house until CJ leaves?”

She pictured the last magazine cover she’d seen CJ on while standing in line for a coffee. Supermodel Milan Novak had been attached to his arm as they exited a restaurant in Los Angeles. She hadn’t seen any pictures of the two of them together again since, but she didn’t exactly go searching the internet looking for him either.

At least not anymore.

Yeah, she wasn’t proud of it, but after he’d landed his first starring movie role, she’d read every article she could find and checked the web regularly for new photos of him. But that had been a long time ago.

Slowly, the image of him and the supermodel dissolved, and the memory of the last time they’d spoken replaced it. That night he hadn’t looked at her like she was his best friend’s sister. For a brief time, she’d stopped being the girl he’d known all his life and had spent hours hanging around with. Instead, she’d become someone he kissed and then made a promise to—a promise he’d failed to keep, and she’d never asked him why.

Isabelle forced the memory away.

Some decisions she didn’t have to make today. “Honestly, Ella, I’m not sure. But I’m packing the blue dress.”