By: Mary Calmes

“Get off me,” he grumbled, much to everyone’s delight.

When all the girls kissed me before getting up to go mingle, I turned my head to Ben.

He let out a snort of laughter. “I wouldn’t be you on a bet.”

I smiled at him as his hand rested between my shoulder blades.

“And thanks for being good to Nicky. I know he ain’t your favorite guy, but he’s not a dick like Rand either.”

“I know.”

“But if you give him a chance, then so will Char, and that’s the truth.”

“Sure,” I yawned, rubbing my eyes hard. “I think I’m gonna go up and unpack and maybe lay down for a while until the bachelor party. I don’t wanna pass out later.”

“Bachelor party is tomorrow night, buddy. Tonight is just all of us goin’ out honky-tonkin’.”

Good God.

“Do you have boots?”


“And a hat?”

“I’ll just sit and drink, how’s that?”

He nodded, smiling wide. “Sounds like a good plan,” he agreed, and I felt his hand slip off me. “I’ll get you up in time to eat in case you really pass out.”

I nodded and rose up out of my chair, looking down at my friend. “I really am happy to be here, you know.”

“I know.” He smiled up at me. “And I appreciate it too.”

I squeezed his shoulder before I started for the grand staircase. Almost there, I was suddenly faced with Rand Holloway. I waited for the attack.

He scowled.

I crossed my arms.

Seconds ticked by.

His Technicolor blue eyes darkened.

“Jesus, what?” I finally asked, already exasperated.

“This is your greeting.”

“You’re the one standing there not saying a word.”

He nodded, and I threw up my hands, slipping around him to the stairs. I took them in threes and made it to the landing and around the corner.


Rand was one of those guys who called everyone by their last name. I hated it because it had always seemed like such macho bullshit. I turned at my door and watched him jog down the hallway to me.

“Listen,” he said, stopping in front of me. “I just want to call a truce for the next few days, all right? I’ve got enough on my mind without having to fight with—”

“Great, perfect,” I cut him off. “You stay clear of me, and I’ll do the same.”

His eyes searched mine, and as always I thought how beautiful they were. No matter my feelings for the man, he was, without a doubt, stunning. Just the Caribbean blue eyes were enough to melt me into a puddle on the floor. To say the man was hot was an understatement.

“Anything else?”

He turned and left without a backward glance.

I flipped him off because I felt like it. That he had missed it because his back was turned really wasn’t the point.

Inside my room, I shed my jacket and fell down on the huge four-poster bed. It was nice that Charlotte’s uncle Lincoln had volunteered his business to house the wedding party. I hated big hotels, since I traveled so much with my job. Being at a nice, quiet, charming B&B was a treat. As I closed my eyes, I wondered who had put Rand up to making nice with me. I would have to ask Charlotte if it was her when I woke up after my nap… later.

Chapter 3

LINDA CANTWELL asked the groom-to-be and all the groomsmen, plus me, to wear their tuxedos downstairs before dinner so she could see the problem that her son was talking about. She had felt that white tuxedos with tails would be elegant. Ben and Charlotte and the rest of the wedding party had insisted it was a very dated look. I was the last down because I overslept, and when I walked over to Ben, he groaned.


“You look fuckin’ great.” He gestured at me.

“Oh, now see,” Linda said to Charlotte, taking hold of my hand. “Stefan looks like he could have walked off the cover of a magazine.”

“Linda, you can put Stefan in anything and he’ll look good; he doesn’t count,” she ranted, gesturing at her fiancé. “Look at your son, for crissakes.”


Everyone’s laughter followed me back up the stairs.

Later that night, I realized I was having fun just watching everyone dance, and Rand’s absence made the evening much more enjoyable for me. Somehow or other, I had gotten roped into being a designated driver, along with Charlotte’s cousin, Weston. We had a long talk about TV shows and soccer and his job as a tax attorney. I zoned out a couple of times but managed to look interested. When Charlotte decided that all she wanted to do was be draped over me with her head on my shoulder, I let her. When Ben found us, we were in the back, sitting as we always did, me stretched out with my feet up and her in my lap, her legs between mine.