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And let me tell you, she pushed the right button—I eat that shit up. Ani Harrison. He had freckles on his nose year round, but by mid-May they spread to his temples, where they would remain until Thanksgiving. God, and the idea of being pregnant, of giving birth, sends me into such a state. An annual anal Why not share!

Banal, everyday reminders that life is so boring it can't possibly terrorize anyone. That dull fuzz in my ears, that's when I sleep. I also didn't have a right to it. I should do three things every day, but instead I sit, paralyzed in front of my computer, beating myself up for not doing three things every day like I promised myself I would. I've determined this is more time-consuming and stressful than actually doing the three goddamn things a day, and, therefore, I'm entitled to my fury.

I thought of the one thing I was actually on top of. Does it look cheap to do letterpress for the invitation but not for the RSVP cards? Will anyone notice if we use a calligrapher for the addresses on the envelope but script for the invitation?

I was terrified of making a decision that would expose me. I've been in New York for six years and it's been like an extended master's program in how to appear effortlessly moneyed—only now with that downtown edge. First semester, I learned that Jack Roger sandals, so revered in college, screamed, "My small liberal arts school will always be the center of the universe!

Same with the mini Coach baguette gross. I opted for a small boutique in Meatpacking, the racks carefully curated with Marchesa, Reem Acra, and Carolina Herrera. That's not how self-respecting urbanites spend their Friday nights. I had six leisurely years to get to where I am now: Plenty of time to hone my craft.

But wedding planning, now that has a much steeper learning curve. You get engaged in November, and then you have one month to study your materials, to discover that the barn at Blue Hill—where you thought you would get married—has been done , and retooled old banks that charge a twenty-thousand-dollar location fee are now the tits.

You have two months to pore over wedding magazines and blogs, to consult with your gay co-workers at The Women's Magazine , to discover that strapless wedding gowns are offensively middlebrow. Now you're three months into the whole thing, and you still have to find a photographer with nary a duck-face bride in his portfolio harder than it sounds , bridesmaids' dresses that don't look anything like bridesmaids' dresses, plus a florist who can secure you anemones out of season because, peonies?

What is this, amateur hour? One wrong move and everyone will see right through your tastefully tan spray tan to the trashy guidette who doesn't know to pass the salt and pepper together.

I thought that by twenty-eight I could stop trying to prove myself and relax already. But this fight just gets bloodier with age. I've been asking for a month. It's so much uglier than a heated, dish-smashing fight, isn't it?

At least after that you have sex on the floor of the kitchen, shards bearing the braid of the Louvre pattern weaving an imprint on your back.

No man feels very much compelled to rip your clothes off after you inform him, bitchily, that he left one lone turd floating in the toilet. I clenched my fists, flexed my fingers wide as though I could expel the rage like Spider-Man's web. Just say it. You really should be on Ambien or something. What I really needed were the first two years of my relationship back, that brief reprieve when, as I lay laced into Luke's limbs, the night slipped away from me and I didn't feel the need to chase after it.

The few times I'd start awake I'd see that even as he slept, Luke's mouth twisted up at the corners. Luke's good-naturedness was like the bug spray we applied at his parents' summer home in Nantucket, so powerful it warded off the dread, that feeling, an alarmingly calm omnipresence, that something bad was about to happen.

But somewhere along the way—well, around the time we got engaged eight months ago if I'm really being honest—the sleeplessness returned. I started shoving Luke off me when he tried to wake me up to run over the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday morning, something we'd been doing almost every Saturday for the last three years.

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Luke isn't some pathetic puppy in love—he sees the regression, but amazingly, it's only committed him deeper to me. Like he's up for the challenge of changing me back. I'm no plucky heroine, claiming ignorance of her quiet beauty and quirky charm, but there was a time when I did wonder what Luke could see in me.

I'm pretty—I have to work at it, but the raw materials are there. I'm four years Luke's junior, which isn't as good as eight, but still, something.

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I also like to do "weird" things in bed. Even though Luke and I have very different definitions of "weird" him: So yes, I'm self-aware enough to recognize the things Luke sees in me, but there are midtown bars full of girls just like me, sweet natural blonde Kates, who would get on all fours and swing their ponytails at Luke in a heartbeat. Kate probably grew up in a red-brick, white-shuttered home, a home that doesn't deceive with tacky siding in the back, like mine did.

But a Kate could never give Luke what I give him, and that's the edge. Rusted and bacteria ridden, I'm the blade that nicks at the perfectly hemmed seams of Luke's star quarterback life, threatening to shred it apart.

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And he likes that threat, the possibility of my danger. But he doesn't really want to see what I can do, the ragged holes I can open. I've spent most of our relationship scratching the surface, experimenting with the pressure, how much is too much before I draw blood?

I'm getting tired. The darling hostess plunked a wineglass in front of me with sloppy purpose. Ruby liquid heaved over the edge, pooling around the base of the glass like it was a gunshot wound. And like that, the curtain went up, the spotlights roasting: I tapped my finger on the line between my two front teeth. Right here. Luke's eyes were confused blue orbs in the lazy evening sun.

Never fuck with a rich white bitch and her white jeans. Up her ass, on the other hand He shook his head, impressed. You need to negotiate a flat rate on the contract. I imagine this will continue until she gets knocked up and goes on to birth our next national treasure. Eleanor is the features director, someone I report to, and four years older. I need her to like me, and it doesn't take much. All girls like this want is for you widen your eyes at them, Bambi innocent, and beg them to impart their wisdom on you.

Eleanor nodded, gravely serious. I gushed, "That would be such a help, Eleanor," and bared my recently whitened teeth. The elevator doors dinged my freedom. Eleanor got nothing. Clifford has been the receptionist at The Women's Magazine for twenty-one years and has various, absurd reasons for hating the majority of people who walk past him every day.

Eleanor's crime is that she is awful, but also that one time, an e-mail went out that there were cookies in the pantry. Clifford, who couldn't leave the phones unattended, forwarded it to Eleanor asking her to bring him one, plus a coffee with enough milk that it turned the color of a camel.

Eleanor happened to be in a meeting, and by the time she read the e-mail, the cookies were gone. She brought him his precious camel-colored coffee anyway, but Clifford turned his nose up at it and hasn't spoken more than five words to her since.

The compliment was as much for me as it was for Eleanor. Clifford loved to showboat what a peach he could be if only you never crossed him. She looked at me, waiting to see what I would do. If I ignored her, it was a line drawn in the sand. Laugh, and it was a betrayal to Clifford. I held up my hands. Made sure my voice carried the lie, "I adore you both. Could I get her a snack or any magazines from the newsstand while I was there? She would pick at that thing all day.

A nut for a mid-morning snack, a dried cranberry for lunch. But she gave me a grateful smile, and that was the goal, of course. They're always disappointed to find out that I have nothing to do with fashion "Not even beauty? I take pleasure in taunting them.

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What are you reading right now? The Women's Magazine has a long and storied history of mixing the highbrow with the lowbrow. Serious journalism appears here and there, along with occasional excerpts from moderately prestigious books, profiles of the select few female execs who managed to break the glass ceiling, and coverage of hot button "women's issues," aka birth control and abortion, that softer terminology really grinding LoLo's gears because, as she's fond of saying, "Men don't want a baby every time they fuck either.

And my byline is much more likely to appear next to "99 Ways to Butter His Baguette" than it is next to an interview with Valerie Jarrett. The editor in chief—a chic, asexual woman named LoLo, with a menacing presence I thrive on because it makes my job feel forever in jeopardy and therefore important—seems to be simultaneously disgusted by and in awe of me. I'd been pigeon-holed into the role of the sex writer at first, I think, because of how I look.

I've learned to camouflage my boobs, but it's as though there is something inherently vulgar about me. I ended up stuck in this role because I was actually good at it. Writing about sex is actually not an easy thing to do, and it was certainly not something most of the editors, regular subscribers to The Atlantic, would ever deign to do. Everyone here is falling all over themselves to flaunt how little they know about sex, as though knowing where your clitoris is and producing serious journalism are mutually exclusive.

Even though she knew the answer, she gasped gleefully as I explained the difference between a sub and a dom.

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I play her game though. LoLo knows it's not a profile of the founder of EMILY's List that keeps the magazine flying off newsstands every month, and she needs those sales numbers in her back pocket.

Then Luke came home and announced he was in talks to transfer to the London office. There would be a significant bump to his bonus, which was already significantly fine. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to live in London one day, but not on someone else's terms. Luke was taken aback when he saw the devastation curtain my face. That's the beauty of it. Begging for assignments in another country. I want to be an editor here.

Prove to everyone you can do more than write about sex or whatever. But realistically, what? You'll work there a year, then you're going to be on my back about having a kid next, and you're not even going to want to go back to work after.

Let's be rational here. Should I—should we"—oh, he evoked the "we"—"really pass up this opportunity for a temporary whim? I think he's relying on me to nag him into fatherhood, like all his other friends' wives have. He'll faux-complain about it over beers—"She's actually mapping out her cycle" —all of them groaning their faux-support. Been there , man. But deep down, they're pleased they had someone to push them into it, because they want it too, preferably a boy but hey, there's always baby number two if she fails to pop out the heir the first time around.

Only guys never have to admit that.

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And a guy like Luke? He'd never expect he'd have to tap his watch and say, "Tick tock. Kids make me exhausted.

God, and the idea of being pregnant, of giving birth, sends me into such a state. Not a panic attack exactly, more like a spin, a particular condition that surfaced some fourteen years ago, where I suddenly feel as though I'm on a whirring merry-go-round that has just been unplugged mid-ride. It's like I'm gradually slowing to a stop, the silence between my heart's weakening beats stretching longer and longer, as I skate the last loops of my life.

All those appointments, the doctors and nurses touching me—why are his fingers lingering there? Does he feel something? Is that a cancerous lump? The spin might never stop. I'm the type of raging, obnoxious hypochondriac that can make a doctor with even the kindest bedside manner snap. I dodged fate once and it's only a matter of time, I want to explain to them, make them understand my neurosis is justified. I've told Luke about the spin, and I tried to tell him how I don't think I could ever be pregnant, because I would just worry so much.

He laughed and nuzzled his nose into my neck, purring, "You're so cute you would care that much about the baby.

Of course that's what I meant too. I sighed and pressed the button for the lobby and waited for the elevator doors to part. My co-workers turn their noses up at meeting with these sad-sack girls the same way they turn their noses up at writing about the grundle, but I find it to be pure entertainment.

Nine times out of ten, she's the prettiest girl in her sorority, the one with the best closet, the biggest collection of J Brand jeans. I'll never tire of seeing the shadow pass over her face when she sees my Derek Lam trousers slung low on my hips, the messy bun sprouting out of my neck.

She'll tug at the waist of her tasteful A-Line dress that suddenly seems so matronly, smooth down her overly straightened hair, and realize she played it all wrong. This girl would have tortured me ten years ago, and I fly out of bed on the mornings I get to exert my power over her now.

The girl I was meeting that morning was of particular interest to me. Spencer Hawkins—a name I would kill for—was an alumna of my high school, The Bradley School, recently graduated from Trinity College they all are , and she "so admired" my "strength in the face of adversity. And let me tell you, she pushed the right button—I eat that shit up.

I spotted her right away when I stepped off the elevator—slouchy leather pants if fake, good ones perfectly balanced with a crisp white button-down and sharp silver heels, a Chanel purse dangling from her forearm.

If not for her round beer face, I might have turned right around and pretended I didn't see her. I don't do well with competition. God, I couldn't wait until I was a Harrison. Take your pick. I heard her clicking frantically behind me. Loretta has severe burns all over her body—no one knows how—and she emits a strong, stale stench.

When she was first hired last year, people complained—it was such a small space, and around food no less. It was just unappetizing. Of course it was noble of the company to employ her, but wouldn't it be better if she, like, worked in the message center in the basement of the building? I actually overheard Eleanor whining about this to a co-worker one day. She g We want your feedback! Click here. Subjects Fiction Suspense. Luckiest Girl Alive —described by Reese Witherspoon as "one of those reads you just can't put down!

We promise [ Luckiest Girl Alive is] just as addictive. Destined to become one of the summer's most gripping reads. Knoll hits it out of the park. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself.

But Ani has a secret.