The Connection(5)

By: Adriana Locke



“No, Jada!” Kari shrieks.

I ignore her and watch Cane. He’s sitting quietly in his chair, his face a touch paler than normal. Most people wouldn’t recognize it, but I know him. Even a little drunk, I know something’s wrong.

Cane takes my hand and holds it. His eyes are soft, but there’s a hint of discomfort in them. I’m not sure why. It causes my stomach to sink and the Moscato to swirl around it, churning with a force that makes me queasy.

“You don’t want to do that,” he says, his voice barely a whisper. “You don’t want to go to some ridiculous Elvis-inspired building and get married.”

“I do. I want to be Mrs. Alexander tonight.”

He doesn’t respond. He squeezes my hand, his eyes raging like a storm at sea. I see the love I always see in them, but also a resolution that we are not getting married tonight.

“What?” I feel a bit humiliated. I try to take my hand away from his, but he holds on tight. “You don’t want to marry me all of a sudden?”

“Jada,” Max says, “you don’t want your wedding done like that. Just take it easy, darlin.’”

“How do you know? I want to get married tonight. You all have been pushing me to make decisions and I haven’t and you’ve been annoyed and then I want to get married . . .”

My eyes fill with hot tears. I know on some level they’re right, but it hurts my pride that they shut me down. I finally do what they want and all of a sudden it’s the wrong thing to do?

“I want to marry you,” Cane says, a touch of a smile on his lips. “But not like that, beautiful girl. I don’t want to marry you without your dad and friends. I want you in a white dress and a sexy garter belt I can take off you later.”

I sniffle. His words make me feel a bit better. “You said we could get married as soon as I wanted . . .”

“Not like this, Jada,” Kari says softly. “You’ve had a lot to drink. Let’s just discuss this tomorrow.”

“Fine. But stop asking me wedding questions all the time. Don’t push me and then not want me to go through with it.”

“Oh, we’re going through with it . . .”

“But not tonight,” I say pointedly, earning a glare from Cane.

He drops my hand to take the check from the waitress. I grab my purse off the floor and stand, smoothing out my dress. I don’t know at this point if I’m hurt that he doesn’t want to marry me tonight or if I’m happy he wants a real wedding.

It just stings regardless.

Cane signs the check and stands, wrapping his arm around my waist.

“Do you want to walk through the hotel? Gamble a little?” Max asks, locking his fingers through Kari’s. She looks up at him and grins and he places a kiss on her forehead.

Cane looks at me, his brows pulled together, before answering. “Nah, we are going up to our room. I need to have a little discussion with my fiancée.”





CANE

I try my hardest not to drag her through the damn hotel. She’s had a lot to drink, is teetering on her heels, and is sulking because I wouldn’t marry her in some cheesy-ass wedding chapel in the middle of the night.

I’m pissed and I’m not sure where to really even direct it.

At myself for turning her down, even under the circumstances. At her for putting me in that spot. At Kari for making us come here in the first place. At Max because he’s always a good person to be pissed at, reason notwithstanding.

The elevator door chimes open and I pull her down the hall to our room. She’s slow behind me and I have half a notion to pick her up, toss her over my shoulder, and carry her the rest of the way.

I insert the card and press the door open, pulling Jada in the room behind me.

I toss my wallet and the card on the table by the lamp and turn to face her.

Her cheeks are red, her eyes wide. She’s biting her bottom lip and I’m not sure if it’s because she’s nervous or to keep from crying. But I’m not having it either way.

My hands cup the sides of her face and I bring my mouth to hers. She places her palms on my chest and tries to push me back.

“Cane . . .” she says, but I don’t let her finish. I work her lips over with mine, feeling her struggle against me.

She can struggle all she wants, but my point will be made.

“Cane, stop,” she says again. I allow her to pull back, dropping my hands to my sides. Her chest heaves as she catches her breath.

“What?”

“I need a minute.”

“Why?”

She drops her chin and walks passed me, stopping at the foot of the bed. Her back is to me as she kicks off her heels.

“Are you mad at me?” I ask.

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