READ EXCERPT: 'The Debutante Divorcee,' by Plum Sykes

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Lauren clicked open her little silver cell and called Tinsley, who said she'd be over in ten minutes. The bikini-clad figure waved from her terrace and disappeared from view.

"They always take that place over Labor Day. You'll like her," said Lauren. "What are you doing here in Careyes anyway?"

"I'm on ... honeymoon," I said unsurely.

"Real honeymoon?" asked Lauren.

"Yes," I answered reluctantly.

"Alone?"

"Sort of," I mumbled, lowering my eyes. (The floor is an excellent place to look, I always find, when admitting one has lost one's husband about three seconds after the wedding.)

"Sounds a lot like my divorce honeymoon. It's really immaterial whether you have a husband with you or not."

Lauren giggled and caught my eye. When she saw my face she abruptly stopped. "Oh! I'm sorry! You look so upset."

"I'm fine," I insisted. Hoping she wouldn't notice, I wiped a stray tear from my nose with the back of my hand.

"What happened?" said Lauren sympathetically.

"Well ... huh," I sighed.

Maybe I should tell Lauren the whole hideous story. She was almost a complete stranger, but then lots of people pay a fortune to tell a stranger their most intimate thoughts in therapy every week. I was beyond embarrassed, I realized, as I told Lauren my sorry tale. The fact was, my honeymoon" felt about as romantic as solitary confinement right now. My new husband, Hunter, had been forced to leave on the second day of our vacation to close a business deal. Now, I have never been one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding day all her life, but I had dreamed about my honeymoon: it was meant to be the most delicious, sexy two weeks of your life, the vacation version of heaven. When Hunter had explained that he had to leave, in a terrible rush, I behaved in a very grown-up way, I thought, and told him I understood. But inside I was desolate. Hunter promised to deliver another honeymoon, but a substitute vacation held no appeal. How do you get that blissedout, just-married feeling six months after the wedding? By definition, you can only feel just-married for about a minute. Honeymoons have a small window of opportunity, bliss being as transient as it is. Hunter had been gone three days now, and having felt stoic for about three hours, I had quickly evolved to feeling utterly tragic. The trouble with being alone on your honeymoon is that there is oodles of time to wallow. Reading trashy magazines full of celebrity breakups doesn't help.

My self-pity was only exacerbated by the maid at our beach house bringing romantic breakfast trays for two each morning, covered in flowers and Mexican hearts wishing us good luck. I couldn't face telling her that Hunter had left and might not get back. I was so ashamed about the whole thing, I hadn't even called a friend to commiserate. What would people think? Hunter and I had known each other only six months and had gotten married on the spur of the moment, in Hawaii. I could imagine the gossip already: she didn't have a clue what she was getting into; she hardly knew him; apparently he left some other girlfriend on vacation ... My mind was bedeviled by hideous thoughts -- and disappointment. Ah! Disappointment! It's the worst affliction. It's so dreary, and you can't do anything to improve it; it just has to fade away ... over years, I told Lauren gloomily, maybe decades ...

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