Wild With You

By: Layla Hagen

Graham & Lori ~ The Connor Family

Chapter One


"Graham, you’re sure?” Amber asked.

"Yes, I am." I motioned to Matt. "Can you remind your future wife that I never say yes to anything unless I’m sure?”

"He's right," Matt said.

“You’re my best friends. Of course I want to be your best man.” I grinned at Amber.

We were at a restaurant in West Hollywood. It was the opening night, and I'd invited Amber and Matt to try it out with me. The chef prided himself on having turned fried chicken into gourmet food. He'd kept his promise. The fried chicken was worth every penny, as were the fries and the coleslaw. Matt and Amber had broken the news that she was pregnant when we arrived. They'd also informed me that they wanted to get married as soon as possible.

“We’ll have to keep the costs low,” Amber continued. “I looked at prices for wedding venues and already have a headache. We’re thinking about renting an outdoor space and putting up a wedding tent.”

“You don’t have to rent anything. You can use my yard. It’s big enough, and you like it,” I offered.

Amber sighed. “I love it. But that’s a lot of headache for you.”

I motioned to Matt again. “Remind her that I don’t offer anything unless I mean it.”

“You two will forever be a pain in my ass. Thank you, Graham. We’ll take you up on the offer. And we’re buying you dinner tonight,” Amber declared.

“That sounds like a fair trade-off.” I winked, eating a fry. I planned to help out with some other wedding costs too, but I’d bring it up another time. It would be my wedding gift to my best friends.

"Yeah, so fair. Keep teasing me, and I'll find some best man duties to torment you with."

"Torment me? Here I am, being the best man anyone could wish for, and you want to torment me? I still have time to change my mind," I threatened. Amber cut her eyes to me. If looks could kill.

When they'd asked me, I'd barely stopped myself from suggesting they ask someone else. Best man duties went beyond organizing the bachelor party and giving a speech. He was supposed to be a voice of reason when the couple needed it, counsel them. My own marriage had failed. How could my advice be helpful? But the three of us had been friends since middle school. I couldn't say no. Besides, Matt and Amber had been together since our senior year of high school. They hadn't needed my wisdom for the past twelve years, so I was confident they wouldn't need it from now on either.

"You’re still teasing me. I can make you pay, you know. With or without my future husband's help."

Matt put up his hands in defense. "Hey, I didn't say anything."

"I could feel you siding with Graham."

"Man, you'd better not piss her off. She's even more frightening since she found out she's pregnant."

I laughed. "You know what? Since you're buying dinner, I'm going to order seconds."

Amber rubbed her belly as Matt flagged a waiter. "Make it a second round for us too. I have an excuse to eat for two now, right?"

The second round tasted even better than the first one. As more patrons filtered in, the place was getting too crowded for my taste. It was my own fault for requesting a reservation on opening night, but trying out new eateries was a hobby of mine. While we ate, Amber laid out her plans. "I want to have the wedding before I start showing, but don't have time to organize it. I need a planner." She was heading the PR and marketing department of my soccer club very efficiently, so I knew she'd find a planner in no time. "Why do you keep checking your watch?"

"I have a phone call about a potential player swap in one hour, and I want to be in my car when I take it."

"It's six o'clock," Amber remarked.

"It’s with Beijing. Different time zone. But I don't expect it to take long. We can move this party somewhere else after the call."

She scrunched her nose. "We can't, sorry. We have plans later. Still avoiding going home, huh? Do you even spend any time at that swanky villa of yours?"

"Of course. I sleep there." But I didn't do much else there. The house was too big, too empty. I'd bought it after the divorce, and it was halfway between Santa Monica and Malibu. We'd lived in a condo in the city previously, but I'd always wanted to be by the ocean, to hear waves lapping against the shore instead of traffic sounds when I opened my windows. I'd wanted some peace and quiet. Now, I had too much of both and it was unnerving. "It's too big for one person."