Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll

CHAPTER 1

* * *

I inspected the knife in my hand.

“That’s the Shun. Feel how light it is compared to the Wüsthof?”

I pricked a finger on the blade’s witchy chin, testing. The handle was supposed to be moisture resistant, but it was quickly going humid in my grip.

“I think that design is better suited for someone of your stature.” I looked up at the sales associate, bracing for the word people always use to describe short girls hungry to hear “thin.” “Petite.” He smiled like I should be flattered. Slender, elegant, graceful—now there’s a compliment that might actually defang me.

Another hand, the skin several shades lighter than my own, appeared in the frame and made a grab for the handle. “Can I feel?” I looked up at him too: my fiancé. That word didn’t bother me so much as the one that came after it. Husband. That Word laced the corset tighter, crushing organs, sending panic into my throat with the bright beat of a distress signal. I could decide not to let go. Slip the forged nickel and stainless steel blade (the Shun, decided I liked it better) soundlessly into his stomach. The salesman would probably emit a simple dignified “Oh!” It was the mother carrying her crusty-nosed baby behind him who was the screamer. You could just tell she was that dangerous combination of bored and dramatic, that she would gleefully, tearfully recount the attack to the news reporters who would later swarm the scene. I turned the knife over before I could tense, before I could lunge, before every muscle in my body, forever on high alert, contracted as if on autopilot.

“I’m excited,” Luke said, as we stepped out of Williams-Sonoma and onto Fifty-ninth Street, a gasp of icy AC curdling in our wake. “Are you?”

“I love those red wine glasses.” I threaded my fingers with his to show him how much I meant it. It was the thought of the “sets” that I couldn’t bear. Inevitably, we were going to end up with six bread plates, four salad plates, and eight dinner plates, and I would never get around to completing their little china family. They’d sulk on the kitchen table, Luke always offering to put them away and me snapping, “Not yet,” until one day, long after the wedding, I’d get a sudden, manic inspiration to take the 4/5 uptown, storm into Williams-Sonoma like a warrior Martha Stewart, only to discover that they’d discontinued the Louvre pattern we’d chosen all those years ago. “Can we get pizza?”

Luke laughed and squeezed my side. “Where does it all go?”

My hand went rigid in his. “It’s all the working out, I think. I’m starving.” That was a lie. I was still nauseous from the thick Reuben sandwich, pink and overstuffed as a wedding invitation, that I’d eaten for lunch.

“Patsy’s?” I tried to make it sound like I’d just come up with this idea, when in reality I’d been fantasizing about extracting a slice from a Patsy’s pie, strings of white cheese stretching, but not snapping, forcing me to pinch it between my fingers and pull, a bonus glob of mozzarella sliding off someone else’s slice. This wet dream had been playing on a loop since last Thursday, when we decided Sunday would be the day we finally took care of the registry. (“People are asking, Tif.” “I know, Mom, we’re getting to it.” “The wedding is five months away!”)

“I’m not hungry”—Luke’s shoulders rose—“but if you really want to.” What a sport.

We continued to hold hands as we crossed Lexington Ave, dodging packs of strong-legged women in white walking shorts and