Too Good to Be True Page 1

Author: Carola Lovering

Genres: Thriller , Mystery

Part ONE

Chapter One


MARCH 2019

Something is going on with Burke this morning. I can tell because he asks me three times how I want my eggs.

“Over easy!” I call from the bedroom. It’s how I’ve asked for my eggs every time since we began dating six months ago.

Burke is a morning person and I am not, and I love that he’s gotten in the habit of making me breakfast on weekend mornings while I lounge in bed with a book.

“Over easy, right?” he shouts again from the kitchen.

“Right! Thanks.” I sink back into the pillows, confused. Burke and I have been living together for over two months now. He knows how I like my eggs.

The fear that my forty-six-year-old boyfriend might be developing early-onset Alzheimer’s suddenly seizes every square inch of my brain. I recognize the irrational concern as it formulates, but the compulsion has already taken its unshakable hold, and I can’t lose Burke to Alzheimer’s out of sheer laziness. I climb out of bed and knock on every wooden object in the room eight times: eight knocks for the headboard, bedside tables, both dressers, windowpanes, closet door, baseboard moldings, and the little hand-carved elephant on my dresser. For time-management purposes, I should really avoid buying wooden furniture in the future.

“Two over-easy eggs with an English muffin and extra-crispy bacon for my beautiful girl,” Burke says, entering the bedroom with a tray. “And, of course, coffee.” He looks adorable in sweats and a T-shirt, his dark hair damp from the shower. Affection floods me, and I almost can’t stand how much I love him.

“Breakfast in bed?” I sit up straighter as he places the meal in front of me. “I didn’t even know we owned this fine tray. So fancy, Goose. What’s the occasion?”

Burke shrugs. “I just wanted to do something nice for my Goose. I know how you love your lazy Sundays.”

I smile. Burke and I have called each other Goose ever since we watched a documentary about geese and how they mate for life. When a goose loses its mate, it circles and calls endlessly for the one that’s never coming back. Burke said that’s what he would do if he ever lost me.

“You’re the sweetest.” I bite into a piece of bacon, crisped to perfection in the nearly burnt way that I like it.

Burke stands beside the bed, sort of shifting from one foot to another while he watches me eat, a peculiar grin plastered to his face.

“Are you okay?” I look up at him, worried again. “Did you already eat?”

“I … I—not yet.”

“Well, what’s the matter? I can tell there’s somethi—”

“Skye. There’s one more thing to go with your breakfast.” All of a sudden Burke drops to his knee beside the bed, staring at me with wide, deer-in-headlights eyes. Several slow, strange seconds pass before it finally hits me. Oh. OH! But it can’t be this. Can it be this?!

A small box appears on Burke’s palm—it must have come from his pocket—and along with the air in the room, my heart goes still. I hear him saying something about how much he loves me, and how even though it hasn’t been that long, he knows he wants to be with me forever, and then he flips open the box and there’s a ring and then he’s asking the question that every girl dreams of hearing from the love of her life.

My jaw hangs open. My entire body feels fizzy and light.

“Skye?” Burke prompts. “Say something.”

“Yes!” I scream. “YES!”

Burke whisks the breakfast tray to the floor and dives into bed beside me. Shock runs through me in hot waves as he slides the sapphire-and-diamond ring over my finger. It’s loose over the knuckle, but that’s okay—easy to have it resized, Burke assures me. He smiles up at me and it’s his biggest smile, the one that reaches his ocean-blue eyes, dimples teasing either cheek, and I’m grateful that I never gave up on love.

“You’re crying, Goose.” He touches my face.

“Of course I’m crying.” I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him in close. “Oh my God, Burke. Oh my God. I just can’t believe it. I thought you had Alzheimer’s or something.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because you kept asking what kind of eggs I wanted! And you always know to make mine over easy. I got so worried I knocked on all the wood in the room.”

Burke laughs and presses his lips against my temple. “I was nervous, I guess. Are you surprised?”

“So surprised. But it’s just perfect.” I gaze down at the ring, a brilliant round diamond framed by two smaller sapphires on a platinum band. “How did you know I wanted sapphires? I never even told you.”

He swipes a tear dripping down my cheek. “Just a feeling.”

I nuzzle in toward Burke’s face, inhaling the smell of aftershave in the creases of his neck. I can’t help but imagine Andie’s reaction when she hears we’re engaged, and this is how my mind works—once an anxiety-inducing thought takes hold, I’m powerless against it.

You can’t actually know someone after six months, Skye, she’ll say, just as she said when we moved in together.

I listen to Burke explain how he asked my dad’s permission a couple weeks earlier, and how he’s arranged brunch at Buvette to celebrate later this morning with my dad and Nancy and her twin teenage sons, Aidan and Harry—it still feels weird to call them my stepbrothers. My stomach twists—I don’t want to share any of this with Nancy and her kids—but the excitement in Burke’s voice tells me he’s proud of his effort to include my family in this special day.

I can’t believe I have a fiancé, and there’s Andie’s stupid voice again: Don’t you think it’s weird, Skye, that you’ve never met his family? You’re living with someone and you’ve never met his family.

But Burke doesn’t have a family—his parents died in a plane crash when he was nineteen. He’s an only child. It’s not his fault.

“Want to finish your eggs?” Burke asks. “Brunch isn’t for a couple hours.”

I smile and nod, and he grabs the tray from the floor and places it on my lap. I bite into a buttered half of an English muffin, and God I would do anything to get Andie out of my head in this moment.

All I’m saying is that if he seems too good to be true, he probably is.

I lean my head on Burke’s strong, safe shoulder. “Tell me how you picked the ring, Goose.”

He launches into the story and I cling to his words, willing them to drown out Andie’s voice, which is negative and stemmed from envy and a threat to my happiness. Because Burke is not too good to be true, and unlike Andie and Lexy and Isabel, I never had a Burke, not until six months ago. I never had a reliable plus-one or a valentine, someone to bring to parties and weddings and be debilitatingly hungover with on Saturday afternoons. Until Burke I never had a guy who told me he loved me or brought me soup when I was sick or wanted to make me come until my vision blurred.

See, I’m not the type of girl men want to marry. I’m the kind of girl men think they want to marry—at first they see a pretty face, nice apartment, good clothes. But then they get to know me—the real me. And even though I never relinquished my optimism, even though I kept up my monthly visits to European Wax Center and my thrice-weekly runs along the West Side Highway in an effort to shed the stubborn baby fat; still, if you had told me a year ago that in 365 days a quality man would ask me to be his wife, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But six months ago, I met Burke Michaels. Handsome Burke, with his jet-black hair and dimpled smile. From that very first day I knew something was different. A week in, I made the mistake of telling Andie he was the man I was going to marry. She looked almost angry when she responded that it was psychotic to consider the notion of marriage with someone you’ve only known for a week, and I knew I’d hit a nerve. Andie and Spencer have been dating since college and they’re not engaged yet—they don’t even talk about it yet. Andie says it doesn’t bother her, but I don’t believe that. I don’t believe you can spend eight years with someone and be okay with an ambiguous future.

Burke and I, we knew from the beginning. We didn’t get into specifics, but the shared understanding that we would always be together was there, like the sun in the morning or the moon at night. It’s a peaceful, uncomplicated feeling when you know that what you have with someone is a forever kind of thing.

I help Burke rinse the dishes, then shower and change for brunch. Even on a day as happy as today, I’m dreading seeing Nancy. I think of that night on Nantucket two summers ago, the way she whispered to my father on the porch while I eavesdropped.