A storm of nuptials seemed to have hit New York City and I was right in the middle of it. In the last few months, I had learned that when the wedding bug bit, it bit hard. A bunch of my college girlfriends had gotten engaged one after the other, and I was at wedding number one of five for the summer.
Tis the season to get married. Fa lala lala lala laaaa.
Standing at the front of the cathedral—wearing a bridesmaid’s dress I probably wouldn’t wear again despite everyone’s assurances to the bride—I swiped a tiny tear from the corner of my eye as I watched my friend and her father appear at the top of the aisle.
A dramatic version of the wedding march swelled through the air and the entire congregation was on its feet, witnessing as Mr. Jones walked Becca toward the man who would be taking over as her Protector-in-Chief from here on out.
Theoretically, anyway. While I knew not all marriages worked out and that Mr. Jones would never truly hand over that title, I believed Peter would protect her and cherish her as best he could. Maybe it was just because I was a romantic at heart.
A romantic who, it seems, will always be a bridesmaid and never the bride.
Dismissing the thought, I refocused my attention on the bride. Becca looked beautiful in a dress fit for a princess with a full skirt and a tight corset at the top. Everyone was watching her, but I felt my gaze being drawn toward her soon-to-be husband. It was my thing at weddings to catch a glimpse of the groom when he first saw his bride.
Such a magical moment.
Today’s groom didn’t disappoint. There were silent tears streaming down his cheeks and his hands were clenched in front of him like it was all he could do not to reach for her.
A dreamy sigh slipped out of me. I wonder when, or if, it will ever be my turn to have someone look at me like that. Damn it. Now I’m thinking about this again.
Sighing internally, I decided to let my thoughts run their course while Becca and her dad continued their slow procession to the front of the cathedral. Unfortunately for me, the bridesmaid who might never become the bride, I’d never been lucky in love.
Things always started out well when I entered a new relationship, but then I was either too clumsy, too tardy, or too messy for it to progress much further. I’d long since come to accept that if a guy couldn’t love me for who I was, then he obviously just wasn’t the one. And so, relationship after failed relationship, I faced the fact that the guy just hadn’t been the one.
At the moment, however, it was starting to look like maybe the one didn’t exist. Or perhaps he lived in some faraway corner of the globe and simply hadn’t made his way to New York just yet.
The point was that I hadn’t met him—didn’t even know anyone who could possibly be him—and I was seriously starting to wonder if I ever would. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was aware of the music fading and Becca coming to a standstill in front of her future husband.
Beside me, the officiant cleared his throat and I tuned back in to see Becca smiling radiantly through her tears as her dad placed her hand in Peter’s.
The happy couple stepped up to the pulpit, and I grinned at Becca when I reached out to take the bouquet from her as I’d been instructed to do. She winked as she handed it over, then went back to whispering to her man. The officiant gave them a few seconds to settle in and for everyone else to sit back down before he brought his hands together and got the show on the road.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” I knew I should be listening, but the monotonous drone of the man’s voice quickly threatened to lose me to my thoughts.
Since no one wanted to be thinking about their perpetually single status at a moment like this, I distracted myself by checking out what was happening on the other side of the aisle instead of giving myself over to my depressing thoughts again.
Peter’s friends were a bit of a mystery to me. I’d met some of them during the course of their relationship, but he was a few years older than us and we hadn’t gotten around to getting to know everyone in his life just yet.
One groomsman in particular had caught my eye at the rehearsal dinner last night. As far as I knew, his name was Nash, but that was all I knew about him. He was standing next to Peter, filling out his tux in the hottest way possible.
Sandy brown hair shone in the sunlight filtering in through the stained-glass windows behind us, slightly longer on the top than at the sides. It was styled to be kept out of his handsome, chiseled face, revealing a bone structure that would make angels weep.
High cheekbones with that natural, rosy glow only those men blessed with the best skin have? Check. A strong chin and a jawline just prominent enough not to make him look like a cartoon character? Check and check.
Coupled with rich, caramel-gold eyes and a nose that was only ever so slightly curved to one side, the guy was a definite looker. The fact that his full lips were tilted into a grin that had a touch of wicked to it even though he was in a church made him not only hot, but also interesting.
When I’d noticed him last night, I’d planned on going over to talk to him to lay some groundwork before today, but in the end, I hadn’t had a chance to say much to him. My heel had snapped shortly after the rehearsal and I’d avoided moving around much, since I hadn’t wanted to draw attention to my lack of balance.
My heels were holding up so far today, though, and I planned on doing more than just looking at him tonight. As my gaze moved from his face back to his eyes, I suddenly found myself looking right into them.
There was no doubt that he’d just caught me staring, but if I made things awkward now, my chances with him would go up in a puff of confetti. Instead of showing my embarrassment over having been caught with my hand in the proverbial cookie jar, I gave him a smile and held my breath, hoping he wasn’t about to blow me off.
A beat passed without him reacting at all, but then he slowly started returning my smile, and a burst of excitement shot through me when it just kept growing. Hell yes! It’s so on.
“And now, they will recite their vows to one another,” the officiant said, drawing my attention back to the ceremony.
Nash’s attention shifted back to the proceedings as well, but whenever I snuck a peek at him throughout the rest of the service, he’d be looking back at me. Since we were both part of the wedding party, we were kept too busy until well into the reception before I actually got to speak to him, though.
With our official duties done for the night and my feet starting to protest the heels—but no more shoe-related mishaps to report—I zeroed in on Nash standing at the bar. Eeeeep! This is my chance.
Clutching my champagne flute and careful not to dump it out all over him like I was prone to do, I slid into the small gap between him and the next guy. I had to wiggle a little to get enough space to fit, but the other guy moved closer to his date without so much as looking at me, and Nash flashed me an amused smile.
“I was wondering when I’d be seeing you,” he said in a voice that almost made me swoon. It was deep and rich, as smooth as expensive bourbon. Bright, light brown eyes that somehow seemed to be illuminated from within snagged on mine. “Nash Harris. It’s nice to officially meet you. Lennon, right?”
“Yep. Lennon Hall.” I held up my drink and he clinked his against it. Then he propped his elbow on the counter and turned to face me.
While I was halfway to having to fan myself in the face of such blazing hotness, he seemed mostly unaffected by me. Friendly, but not like he was feeling like he was about to burst into flames.
“So, Lennon Hall, how do you know the bride?”
Okay. I can do this. I can chat him up without making a fool of myself. That was an easy one. I dipped my head in a slight nod, kind of like people did on game shows when they thought they knew the answer to the next big question.
“She was my roommate at college,” I said. “We lived in the same dorm room for four years. In our final year, we made a pact to attend each other’s wedding one day or even possibly be in the wedding to mark how far we’ve come together.”
Dial it back, Lennon. Oversharing danger approaching. I cleared my throat softly and shot him another smile. “How do you know the groom?”
He chuckled. “College. We were in the same fraternity.”
“Frat brothers, huh? I bet you’ve got a lot of stories.” See? That’s better. “Care to share any? I’m not making a toast tonight, but I’m sure I can find an appropriate time to break out some of his more embarrassing moments from times gone by.”
“My lips are sealed.” A slight smirk played on said lips, and I suddenly didn’t even mind that they were sealed. As long as I can figure out a way to kiss them later.
Someone tapped a microphone and then the sound of cutlery tinkling against a glass cut through the sound system. “If I can have everyone’s attention, please, it’s time for the speeches.”
“Want to sit with me?” Nash asked as he pushed away from the bar. “This shouldn’t take too long. Peter was very specific about not wanting the rest of the reception dominated by monologues.”
“Becca put a time limit on the people she didn’t trust to keep it short and sweet.” I giggled, sweeping a hand out ahead of me. “Lead the way.”
Despite the wedding couple’s best efforts, the toasts ended up taking a while. Thankfully, there were bottles of champagne on every table and Nash kept my glass topped off. We talked a bit more in hushed tones whenever we got the opportunity, and I found myself laughing quietly at his jokes. Once the speeches were finally done and they’d opened the dance floor, I was feeling emboldened by all the bubbly coursing through my system.
“Would you like to dance?” I asked, offering him my hand as I stood up. “I love this song, but it’s not exactly one I can shake my ass to solo.”
Surprise flitted across his handsome features, but then he nodded and put his hand in mine. It was the first time my skin was touching his, and electricity zapped through me as soon as it did. A thrill ran down my spine, and I grinned up at him when he shot me a look that said he’d felt it too.
It only took us a few steps to get from the table to the dance floor, and he released my hand to pull me into his arms. I slotted in against his body effortlessly, immediately fitting like a puzzle piece that had found its place.
The feel of his body, his laugh, those eyes, and all the champagne knocked my inhibitions down to zero. We were only a few songs in when I looked up at him again. “What would you say if I asked if you wanted to take a walk? Get some fresh air.”
“Fresh air, huh?” His gaze met mine, and I realized I’d been wrong earlier. He was affected by me. At least, it certainly looked like it in that moment. “Let’s go.”
Without hesitating, he took my hand after spinning me away from him one last time, and then led me out to the terrace. The ambient lights from the hotel and the city made it difficult to see any stars, but I knew they were up there, and that made it feel romantic when he penned me in against the railing.
“Did you really want to come out for some fresh air?” he asked, his chest against my back as we looked out over the gardens.
I shrugged. “For that and for this.”
Turning in the circle of his arms, I dipped my head back and looped my fingers around the back of his neck. Damn. That champagne really did a number on me.
It worked out in my favor, though. He gave me that same grin with the touch of wickedness I’d seen earlier. Then he lowered his head and slanted his mouth over mine. Not one to be left behind, I kissed him back and pressed my body into his, adjusting my angle to give him better access as his tongue stroked into my mouth.
This was going to be a one-night thing, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t getting married anytime soon, so I figured I might as well enjoy being single by rewarding myself with a hot guy while the getting was good.
And it was going to be so, so good with him. I could already tell.