The Connection

By: Adriana Locke


“Damn it, Cane! Stop it!” Kari’s hands dart to the sides, grabbing the arm rests in the Denali for dear life.

“What? I’m just making sure you’re awake for the flight.”

“I’m awake! For heaven’s sake! Slow down!”

“You’re just encouraging him, sweetheart,” Max laughs. “He’s just getting warmed up.”

The traffic is heavy, even for early afternoon in Phoenix. Cane weaves us in and out of lanes, causing Kari to alternately squeal and curse my fiancé out. We are cutting our flight time close, but unlike my traveling companions, I don’t really care. I’m too happy to be bothered by missed flights or speeding tickets.

I flip through the bridal magazine on my lap in a state of bliss that I’ve never known before. I feel like I’m trapped in my own little world of happiness, a little bubble of near-perfection that I want to float around in forever. A few months ago, I hoped for more. But I never even dreamed for this.

Just a few weeks ago, Cane Alexander asked me to be his wife. A man that seemed to be every wrong thing ended up being everything. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. I’ve learned that you can’t judge a man by the one before him, either.

I turn the page of the magazine and my engagement ring catches the sunlight. I can’t help my silly grin as I watch it sparkle. This ring is stunning. A 4-carat cushion halo diamond on a platinum, diamond-encrusted band, it’s perfect aesthetically. But it’s the sentiment behind it that makes the breath catch in my throat every time I look at it.

It’s the thought that the love of my life, this cocky bad boy, picked up my sister on a Saturday morning. They walked into a jewelry store—four, to be exact—until he found a ring that he thought I’d like. He nearly drove the salespeople crazy in the process, according to Kari. She said he wouldn’t settle and asked to see tray after tray of rings. He knew what he wanted and ultimately selected the exact ring I would’ve picked myself if I had the chance.

I feel him watching me. My cheeks heat as I glance up and meet his beautiful blue eyes in the rearview mirror. He holds my gaze for a moment; the look he gives me sets my body aflame. All I need to know about how he feels about me is reflected in the mirror hanging off his dash. He winks before sliding his sunglasses back up and focuses on the road.

I might be his girl, but he’s my guy. The only guy in the world for me.

I’m sitting behind Max strategically because I love to watch Cane drive. He does it the same way he does everything—completely at ease and a little wild, but in total control. He takes charge of the road much in the same way he took charge of me: with aggression, passion, and unapologetically.

Cane is perched behind the wheel, his blond hair, in need of a cut, combed back. The ends are touching the popped-up color of his blue polo shirt. His angular jawline has yesterday’s stubble. The late night we had last night caused us to oversleep this morning . . . and caused us to have cookie dough for breakfast.

I sigh with a grin and watch the city go by. I do a quick mental checklist, hoping I have everything packed.

I wasn’t expecting a trip to Vegas. Cane had adamantly opposed the idea as soon as Kari mentioned it the day we got engaged. He told her then that he wouldn’t let me out of his sight and I figured that was just because of all of the stuff we’d just been through with Simon Powers.

Regardless, I didn’t hear any more about Vegas until Wednesday night, less than forty-eight hours ago. We’d been to dinner with Kari and Max and she brought it up again. Cane excused himself from the table. When he came back, he let us know that there were four tickets booked to Vegas this weekend. I thought he was kidding, but Kari and Max seemed more than willing to go. So I played along. It wouldn’t be a bachelorette party per se, considering we didn’t even have a wedding date set. But it would be fun to get away and relax and, truth be told, I’d rather go with Cane anyway.

“Look at that,” Kari says, pointing to a bouquet on the page on my lap. “Those roses are gorgeous!”

“They are. But I want pink flowers.”

“Pink? What about orange?”

“I’ve always wanted pink flowers in a wedding.”

“Then she’s getting pink flowers,” Cane says, glancing at us over his shoulder.

“Pink flowers. Got it,” Kari sighs, leaning back in her seat. “Do you realize flowers are the one thing you know for sure?”

“Kari, I really just don’t care. I just want to be married. The details are irrelevant to me.”

“What happened to wanting a princess wedding?”