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Authors: Amy FitzHenry

Cold Feet

BOOK: Cold Feet
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Who gives this woman . . . ?

The seed of an idea that had been planted in my brain for who knows how long—maybe years—was taking root. We were in Napa. I looked over at Liv, at the smile slowly spreading across her face.

“What are you thinking?” I asked, suddenly nervous.

“I'm thinking what you're thinking. Let's go find him.”

“I wasn't—” I began.

“You wanted to find him, let's find him. Maybe it will help you resolve some stuff.”

I started to shake my head, but Liv held up her hand. “I know one thing. We aren't staying here eating grass and getting rubbed with Ayurvedic oil while your father is hanging out a few miles down the road.”

“But we don't know that for sure. We don't know anything!” I protested.

“We're lawyers. All we do all day long is research. Emma, face it, we're going to San Francisco.” She looked me straight in the eyes. “We're going to find your dad.”

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of Penguin Random House LLC.

Copyright © 2015 by Amy FitzHenry.

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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-19518-9

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

FitzHenry, Amy.

Cold feet / Amy FitzHenry. — Berkley trade paperback edition.

pages cm

ISBN 978-0-425-28111-6 (paperback)

1. Runaway women—Fiction. 2. Commitment (Psychology) —Fiction. 3. Families—Fiction. 4. Psychological fiction. I. Title.

PS3606.I8846C65 2015




Berkley trade paperback edition / September 2015

Cover design by Annette Fiore DeFex.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


For Natalie


Title Page


































Readers Guide


'm not a particularly nervous flier, but like most people, I'm scared of turbulence. As soon as it begins I'm ready for it to end, urgently praying I'm not that one-in-a-million statistic. That morning, however, when sharp pockets of wind caused my hour-long flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles to morph from uneventful to hairy, I glanced up from my airport-purchased paperback. I took note of the tattooed woman on my right, who was violently gripping our supposedly shared armrest and staring out the window in fear. The plane rocked and rolled.

As the seat belt light pinged repeatedly and the captain urged the flight attendants to take their seats, I closed my eyes, ready for the adrenaline rush of fear to kick in, the inner bargaining to be a
better person and the flat-out begging with any higher power to get us out of this alive.

My inner monologue, however, was silent. Was I braver? Probably not. More composed? Unlikely. More rational and thus less fearful of statistically improbable events? Not a chance. Then I figured it out. Near-death experiences are only scary if you have something to lose. My wedding was off, my family nonexistent, and my best friend in the world never wanted to speak to me again. Plane crash, schplane crash. Who cared?


One week earlier

groped for the snooze button, but when I managed to reach my phone on the bedside table and bring it closer, I realized with a jolt that it wasn't my alarm at all. Sitting up and attempting to clear my throat in order to sound as awake as possible, I braced myself and pressed accept.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hello, Emma. Are you still in bed?”

“No. Well, kinda. I was asleep when you called but I'm basically up.”

She didn't linger on the inconsistency.

“I'm calling about your wedding. I have a slight change but I hope it won't throw too much of a wrench in your plans.”

“I'm sure it's fine. Did you want to switch to the vegetarian
meal?” My mom, a lobbyist in Washington, becomes an herbivore every once in a while, usually when her anti-tobacco lobby makes a deal with a congressman to support his vegan outreach initiative in exchange for a cigarette packaging vote.

“Actually, it's about the rehearsal dinner.”

“Oh, we're having pasta, so you'll be okay,” I answered, still half-asleep.

“No, Emma,” she said, clearly frustrated. “It's not about the food.”

My mother, Caroline Moon, who most people call Caro, is one of those brilliant people who can't understand why everyone else isn't automatically keeping up with her hopscotching thoughts. I wanted to remind her that I was on West Coast time and still in bed, thus at an unfair disadvantage. I looked over at Sam, my fiancé, who was somehow managing to sleep through the passive aggression emanating through the airwaves.

“It's the scheduling of the rehearsal dinner on a Friday night,” she said, as if referring to a peculiar Samoan wedding ritual, rather than what everyone in the world who was getting married on a Saturday did, ever. “I don't think I'll be able to make it.”

I was silent, not sure how I was supposed to feel about this, although
like I'd been punched in the stomach
jumped to mind.

“I'll be at the wedding, of course,” she added in a rush, with the first note of something like guilt creeping in. “Unfortunately, a congressional hearing was scheduled for Friday and I have to be there. I can fly out Friday evening, directly to Santa Barbara, and I'll get in around midnight. I'll be there for the whole day on Saturday.”

Wow, you'll be there the
whole day
of my wedding, Mom? Let's not get carried away.

I pushed away the sarcastic responses that popped to mind. “Sure, well . . . okay. I understand. The rehearsal dinner is kind of a joke anyway, right? I mean, why do we need to practice eating dinner?” I sounded like a bad stand-up act from the '90s. I had the tendency to act awkward and unnatural around my mother, like a robot programmed with lame one-liners and pointless observations.

“Seriously, it's fine,” I added.

“Great. I'm glad we cleared that up. I'll see you in a week.” Caro hung up without passing Sam a hello or asking for a single detail on the wedding, which I gather is something the mother of the bride usually cares a bit about. In fact, our only substantial communications about the wedding specifics thus far were my phone call to ask her if the date worked, my formal invite, and her postcard RSVP, which she returned in the prestamped envelope, with a careful checkmark next to:
Yes, see you there!

To be fair, I'd set the precedent. When we decided to have the wedding in California, I e-mailed her the details. When I picked my dress, she wasn't consulted. She had no idea whether or not we were writing our own vows (absolutely not). But honestly, getting her input at this point would have just been strange. I wasn't trying to be mean, but I wasn't going to be fake and pretend we were best friends either. For most of my life, my mother and I have behaved like two mothers in a playgroup who don't really like each other, but whose kids are friends—stilted, slightly uncomfortable, but for the most part polite.

“What's up with your mom?” Sam asked, coming to life.

“Oh, no big deal. She can't come to the rehearsal dinner. It's not a big deal.”

Shoot. It's a universal truth that the second time you state something isn't a big deal, it automatically is.

“Oh no,” he said, sitting up with concern. “Are you okay?”

“Sure.” I pushed off the covers. “It's fine. But let's not talk about it right now. I should get going.”

He looked concerned, but didn't press it. Sam's like that. He likes to let things sink in, to consider all the options, before he decides how to act. Whereas I enjoy jumping to conclusions, behaving impulsively, and making snap judgments. I like to think this is a result of our chosen professions. I'm a lawyer, which requires me to think fast on my feet and be ready to respond within seconds to any argument from opposing counsel. I try not to advertise the lawyer thing too much, since after meter maids they are the number one most hated group in America. This strategy works pretty well in Los Angeles. Since I'm not in the entertainment industry, no one really cares what my job is. People usually end up discovering my chosen career path when someone we know gets a DUI. A mutual friend will suggest, Why don't you ask Emma for advice; she's a lawyer. This is usually followed by a look of disgust, a few bad jokes, and thirty questions about the best place to hide drugs. The trunk, people, the trunk!

Sam, on the other hand, is a screenwriter. He spends days thoughtfully crafting the perfect dialogue for a scene, or pondering the best way to tie the end of a movie together. It's a job he
loves, despite having struggled to sell a movie in the last couple of years and his constant frustration with the industry. But besides having normal job stress, he's one of the most stable, optimistic people I've ever met.

Sam was out of bed, heading toward the kitchen. “Get ready for work, but I'm cooking you breakfast, so save time to eat. I'm making breakfast for my almost wife.”

Climbing into the shower, I considered his sweet words. I was an almost wife. He was an almost husband. I repeated these variations silently, attempting to wrap my head around them. I felt weird, weirder than normal, probably due to Caro's unexpected wake-up call. It's only a rehearsal dinner, I reminded myself. Her presence probably would have stressed me out anyway, wondering if she was having fun and making a futile attempt to connect over the bruschetta. But she was supposed to sit next to me, I thought involuntarily. She was supposed to represent the entirety of the Moons. Well, technically, I reminded myself, taking a deep breath and attempting to untwist the knot in my chest, this behavior was a
representation of the Moons.

If I could use one word to describe my family, it would be
. My parents weren't that bad. They didn't withhold food or lock me in a closet. They just weren't there. My mother, emotionally, and my father, physically. In fact, I'd never even met the guy. All I knew about him was that his name was Hunter Moon, he was from San Francisco, and he'd left when I was a baby. Also, that he sounded like he could be a werewolf with that name.

My mom and I aren't close, so logically it shouldn't have mattered
if she was there on Friday, but there's just something about your mom. Do you know the first thing Albert Einstein did in 1919, when his theory of relativity was proven? He wrote a postcard to his mom telling her about it. And I'm pretty sure she didn't respond,
Sounds nice, dear, but I'm too busy with work to deal with you right now
. But Caro wasn't rejecting my first space-time discovery. It was just a dinner, albeit a relatively important one. I halfheartedly congratulated myself on the pun.

Funnily enough, Sam, who should have been experiencing the traditional male commitment-phobe freak-out and making unfunny ball-and-chain jokes, seemed perfectly comfortable with our plan to be together for the rest of our lives. He never seemed to question it, whereas I worried endlessly how two people could possibly stay together forever and be happy.

Standing in the hot shower, already embarrassed about explaining my mother's absence to Sam's family on Friday, I realized how much more likely I was to fail at this marriage than Sam. I wasn't being hard on myself. It was a perfectly logical assumption based on one of my favorite things—the Law. Specifically, a very famous case from the 1920s in which plaintiff Mrs. Helen Palsgraf sued the Long Island Railroad. The case that introduced the American justice system to a concept vital to all lawsuits today: foreseeability.

You see, in 1924, Mrs. Palsgraf was waiting on a train platform in New York minding her own business, when out of nowhere, fireworks struck the tracks. This, understandably, caused a panic, and a few scales fell off the overhang of the platform, right on top of poor Mrs. P. Who carries fireworks on a train, you ask?
Furthermore, who drops them? I don't know, some moron. That's not the point. The point is, when poor innocent Mrs. Palsgraf sued the railroad for her pain, suffering, and other damages, the court said, Sorry, you don't get a dime. Why? Because, the judges wrote, who could have predicted such an occurrence? Who could have known a bonehead with a box of fireworks would be boarding the train and they would accidentally go off? It wasn't even the Fourth of July.

In a much-quoted opinion, the New York Court of Appeals explained that Mrs. Palsgraf could not be compensated by the railroad, and that it wasn't their fault, because her injuries were not
, which established the rule that in order for a defendant to be held liable for damages, the plaintiff's injuries had to be somewhat predictable. Someone can only be held responsible for injuries that could have been foreseen and prevented. This was hugely important in the law because it placed a great limit on liability, and hugely important to my morning shower because I was beginning to realize how likely it was that I was about to drop a box of explosive pyrotechnics into my relationship.

Based on circumstances and history, it was completely foreseeable that I was going to fail at this marriage. I was a by-product of the two emotional car wrecks Caroline Moon and Hunter Moon. I was a marriage liability waiting to happen. After all I had the Moon gene, accompanied by characteristics that include a tendency to leave, an inability to maintain emotional connection, and a dash of self-destruction. Bailing on marriage, or screwing up to the point where Sam left me, was completely foreseeable. If I
ruined this, I would have no one to blame but myself. And, of course, my parents for making me this way.

After pondering Sam and my future for what felt like hours, the water started to get chilly and I realized that a cold shower would not be a positive addition to my mood.

Getting out and reaching for the one fluffy guest towel I owned as a special treat to myself, I tried to shake off a lurking feeling of doom and reclassify the foreshadowing of marital failure as morning fog. After all, weren't thoughts like these normal the week before your wedding?

BOOK: Cold Feet
6.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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