Bad Case of Loving You(2)

By: Kait Nolan

“Fantasies aside, you should get back out there. Back in the saddle and all that. Unless the ink on your divorce papers is still wet.”

“No, it’s been over and done for a while. I’ve been working on me, you know? Figuring out what I want and who I am. I kind of lost that in my marriage.”

“Sensible. Figure that out and don’t settle.” Paisley’s lips curved. “But there’s no rule that says you can’t have a little fun along the way.”

Deanna waved at someone across the reception hall. “Sadly, fun will have to wait. Bridesmaid duties call.” She slipped her shoes back on. “It was lovely to meet you.”

“And you.”

“Good luck with the hunt. There are some real hotties among the groomsmen. A few are taken, but not all of them.”

Paisley lifted her champagne in another toast of acknowledgement. As Deanna walked away, Paisley scanned the room looking for those groomsmen. Arriving a bit late, she’d been at the back of the church for the ceremony, so she hadn’t seen any of them up-close-and-personal, but even from a distance she could see they filled out their tuxes well. But it wasn’t one of them she spotted heading her way.

The guy crossing toward her like a heat-seeking missile had a bright white smile that made her think of toothpaste commercials. Paisley smiled in reflex, wondering if he had potential. She hadn’t come here tonight specifically on the prowl, but she wouldn’t forego an opportunity if it presented itself. Maybe she’d get lucky.

“Girl, don’t you feel bad for looking prettier than the bride?”

Cheesy as far as pickup lines went, but she’d fielded worse. “Ivy is certainly the belle of her own ball tonight. But thank you for the compliment.”

Mr. Toothpaste scanned her from head to toe, lingering on her legs. She abruptly uncrossed them so the ruffled hem of her little black dress didn’t rise up any higher. Over the years, she’d been hit on by a sufficient number of guys to have a pretty decent radar of the potentials versus the hell nos. She didn’t have a good feeling about this one.

“I would looove to take your garter off.”

Paisley stiffened. Yeah, no, this wasn’t even a frog. This guy was a full-on toad, and she wanted nothing to do with him. Even without the slurred words, she recognized he was more than half drunk.

Pushing up from the settee, she made to move past him, but he countered.

“Where you going, sweet cheeks?”

He stopped just shy of touching her, but he was very definitely blocking her exit. She’d retreated to this little corner because it gave her a view of all the action and opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations. As a writer, she soaked up snippets of dialogue like a sponge. But just now she was wishing she’d opted to be more social. There was a certain safety in crowds.

“Excuse me. I need to use the restroom.”

“Oh now, don’t hurry off. We should get to know each other.”

For a moment, being cornered by a creep brought up old memories. It wasn’t the first time, not by a long shot. And there was no hero waiting in the wings to sweep in and save her this time. She’d stopped looking for one of those years ago. But as she faced down the asshat, she wished the Universe would do her a solid and send someone because she really didn’t want to cause a scene.

“Fifty bucks says there’s a bun in the oven by the end of the year.”

Ty Brooks pulled his attention away from scanning the busy reception hall and arched a brow at his friend. “Are you seriously betting on Harrison’s love life?”

Sebastian Donnelly shrugged. “I mean, we’ve bet on stranger things than this.”

That was true enough. In the field, when they’d worked missions involving endless waiting and recon, they’d bet on all kinds of stuff to pass the time. Including which cockroach would make it across their bunker faster. Sometimes that had been the only levity during days or weeks of grueling conditions. None of them were Rangers anymore, but old habits died hard.

Porter Ingram, always the voice of reason, tipped back his beer. “They look happy. That’s the important thing.”

Ty’s gaze skated back to Harrison and Ivy, now executing some kind of complicated twirling dance. Was that The Shag?