Chapter Twenty-Six Part 1
-The Princess Bride-
“I still can’t believe Hailee took you back.” Doug commented with a snap of his fingers. “Just like that, huh?”
Dominic’s eyes remained on the stretch of expressway in front of him as he silently nodded his head. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been during rush hour, but in his opinion, Chicago just as well could have been nicknamed the city that never slept. Not to mention, Illinois drivers were undoubtedly some of the worst.
“It’s gotta be that whole mate bond thing though, right?” Doug inquired, pulling Dominic’s attention off of the road yet again. “I mean, if I had said some of those things to Molly, I’d still be sleeping on the couch.”
“I said I was sorry,” Dominic argued in his defense.
This time it was Doug’s turn to silently nod in agreement, but for some reason, he didn’t seem all that convinced.
“And you mean to tell me Molly would still toss you out of the bed?” Dominic snickered as he threw his partner a sideways glance.
Doug smirked a little before answering. “Though the Mrs. is unaware that I’ve technically been turned into a monster, she has seemed a little on the handsy side--”
“Oh god.” Dominic held up his large hand before pretending to choke. “Please, no. I really don’t want to hear about the sexcapades of Mr. Clean and his wife.”
“Mr. Clean?” The other man scoffed. “Have you seen this gorgeous head of hair? Pretty soon, I’ll be able to rival Chris Hemsworth!”
As his partner pulled down the visor and looked at himself in the mirror, Dominic just shook his head as Doug ran a hand over the peach fuzz growing on top.
“You do know you’re one lucky son of a gun though, right?” Doug slapped the visor back against the roof as he returned to the previous subject. “You’re really lucky she didn’t break up with you,” he pointed out.
“I’m not so sure she still won’t,” Dominic frowned. At the look of disbelief on Doug’s face, the larger man continued.
“I’m being serious,” he said before giving an awkward scratch to the back of his neck. “She’s been increasingly distant since that night,” he confessed. “And I swear every time I get home, she’s always running out.”
“Well, have you talked to her about it?” Doug asked.
“What’s there to talk about?” Dominic countered.
Doug looked thoughtful for a moment as he turned towards his partner.
“I know you said you apologized,” he began. “But sometimes saying you’re sorry just isn’t enough. Did you even stop to consider how Hailee might have been feeling? Did you give her time to process it or did you just go all caveman on her--”
“I would never force myself on her.” Dominic growled slightly at the suggestion of what Doug was implying. “She could have stopped me, or said no.”
“But could she though?” Doug insisted. “I think if you do some serious self examining, you and I both know you played the system. You used the mate bond to your advantage and now you think things should just go back to the way they were. But she’s hurt, man,” Doug pointed out. “And healing takes time.”
“So now what?” Dominic asked.
“Well, you’ve got that wedding tonight,” Doug reminded him. “Maybe after she grabs a few drinks you could ask her to talk,” he suggested.
“Yeah, if I don’t screw things up before then.” Dominic grimaced. “You know, Justin’s going to be there,” he quickly added. “He’s Jupiter’s Best Man and Hailee is Ava’s Maid of Honor. Every day this week she’s been rushing out to do this, or that for Ava-- and it’s not that I mind it so much, except that he’s always there.”
The disdain in Dominic’s voice did not go unnoticed.
“He’s Jupiter’s brother, right?”
With a nod from Dominic, the other man continued. “Now that I think about it, that really is kind of messed up. Jupiter hired her own brother to strip at her fiancé's bachelorette party? They’re going to be brother and sister-in-law for Pete’s sake.”
“Oh thank god,” Dominic sighed. “I thought I was the only one. When I brought it up to Hailee, she just said I was being a close-minded bigot about the whole thing.”
“It’s not close-minded,” Doug muttered. “It’s incest-- and kind of gross.”
The shorter man gave a shudder before falling silent.
“So I’m guessing with all the recent drama in your life, you haven’t had a chance to ask her about Mingo yet?”
“No.” Dominic huffed in response. He had barely seen Hailee all week.
“Well what about the wedding?” Doug suddenly asked. “Have you at least talked to her about that?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, Ava is her only living relative who is also a werewolf and getting married.”
“Yeah, so?” Dominic narrowed his eyes as he failed to make a connection between it and Hailee’s recent behavior.
“So?” Smacking his forehead, Doug exclaimed. “Weddings do psychotic things to girls, man. They get all crazy emotional and start wondering when or if it will ever happen to them. Even if they have never thought about marriage before.”
“So you’re saying I should get Hailee a ring?”
“I’m saying if you plan on spending the rest of your life with that girl, then it’s probably not a bad idea. I know you apologized and all, but she’s probably still having doubts about marking you. And now that Ava and Jupiter are tying the knot, those insecurities have probably festered into one giant, green eyed monster. ”
Dominic nodded thoughtfully as he merged the SUV on to the exit.
“How would you feel about skipping leg day, today?” He suggested.
With a raised eyebrow, Doug turned towards the other cop. “You do know that proposing to her won’t be some magical cure all. You still need to talk to her--”
“Yes, I know,” Dominic snapped. But it really wasn’t a bad idea. “If you like it, put a ring on it, right?” His voice was much softer this time. “And I more than like her,” he admitted.
“Then I guess we’re skipping leg day!” Doug quickly cheered before he thought Dominic might change his mind.
“I never thought I’d live to hear you say those words,” the shorter man grinned. There was a pause of silence while Doug fidgeted about. “So since you’re in such a better mood now, do you think we could stop for a donut?”
Dominic’s grip tightened on the steering wheel as he and Hailee drove away from the historical courthouse in the south suburbs. Just moments ago, Jupiter and Ava had recited their vows before saying ‘I do’, and if he was being completely honest, he couldn’t wait to get this party over with. In this traffic, on the day before Christmas Eve, the police officer inside of him inwardly groaned as he calculated the forty-five minute drive to the Brazilian steakhouse. Hailee had instructed him to trail closely behind the limousine carrying the newlyweds, explaining they would lead the way to a more ‘intimate reception’.
“Hey, man!” Dominic gritted his teeth as Justin suddenly leaned forward to swat him in the arm. “I just wanted to say thanks for driving me to the restaurant,” the best man exclaimed.
Dominic’s grunt was the only response audible. So much for spending so alone time with Hailee.
“I don’t know what I would have done without you either, Hailee--”
From behind him, Dominic could hear the other man rustle around in his pockets before finally pulling out a few pieces of crumpled up notebook paper.
“Thank you so much for helping me write the best man speech,” Justin babbled as he attempted to smooth out the papers on his lap. “I know we had a couple of really late nights this week, but I think I’ve finally got something that sounds like it came straight from the heart.”
As he turned towards his mate, Dominic angrily kneaded the leather under his strong fingers. A couple of late nights? Alone-- with another male?
Hailee squirmed uncomfortably in the passenger seat as his glare fell upon her. He wondered if he could keep one hand on the wheel while successfully strangling Justin with the other. A snarl tore from his lips as he turned back towards the windshield.
For the next thirty-five minutes or so, Dominic fell quiet as he listened to Justin and Hailee yammer on back and forth about the art of dancing. He wanted to comment so badly how what either of them did wasn’t dancing-- not really, anyways-- but he kept his mouth shut. He still needed to talk to Hailee and the last thing he wanted was to push her right into Justin’s arms by inserting his foot into his mouth.
“What about you, big guy?”
Dominic cocked his head to the side as the blonde stripper addressed him.
“How do you like to blow off a little steam?” Justin asked.
The corner of his lip curled upwards as a few dirty thoughts and images of a naked Hailee shot through his brain.
“I go to the gym,” he huffed instead. Wasn’t it obvious?
“I thought you had some pretty big guns on you,” Justin remarked with a nod. “But I thought maybe it was from the wolf venom--”
Dominic’s head snapped towards Hailee. How in the hell did the kid know what he was? Did he know about Bojing too?
He didn’t get a chance to expound on the idea though, as Hailee placed an open palm against one of his impressive forearms.
“I can assure you--” Hailee looked up into his eyes as she smirked suggestively. “--Dominic has always been this big.”
It was the first smile she had given him all week, and along with it, something below Dominic’s belt suddenly twitched to life. He would take it. And as he pulled up to the valet in front of Fogo de Chao, he thought about doing what he did best and going all ‘caveman’ on her-- as Doug referred to it.
But he refrained, and instead resorted to threatening the parking attendant instead. It was almost just as much fun as he tossed the valet the keys. He even found himself pleasantly surprised when Justin suddenly joined in.
“He’s serious when he says there better not be a scratch.” Justin clapped Dominic on the shoulder before lifting and folding the weremale’s arm in front of his chest. “I mean, just look at this beast.”
Dominic wasn’t sure why Justin seemed to be stroking his ego, but he wasn’t about to complain.
“He’s like a human tank!” The blonde man continued. “He’ll kill you and then make it look like an accident.”
Dominic watched Hailee shake her head in amusement as she sauntered over to him, linking her arm with his much larger one before attempting to drag him inside. He allowed it, for now. But the first dark corner he found along the way, he pulled Hailee flush against himself. His large hand trailing down over her backside before grabbing a hold of her tight, rounded ass. As his mouth dragged over hers, he captured her moan as he roughly pulled her hips into him.
Let her know just how much she truly affected him, he thought. But tonight? Tonight she would pay.
A few minutes later the pair took their seats at the head table alongside Ava and Jupiter. The two women were beautiful in their own right, dressed all in white, makeup perfect and not a hair out of place. But neither of them could even come close to rivaling his Hailee.
She was absolutely stunning in a mid-thigh, orchid colored dress. It hugged every one of her delicious curves while plunging right above the curvature of her perfect, pert breasts. It was almost unfair how flawless her skin and hair were. His thumb brushed across his swollen lips were hers had been just moments ago, wondering if a trace of lip gloss still lingered there.
He silently thanked the maker for the floor length linens draping the table. Adjusting his zipper more than once, he found himself unable to focus on anything but the visible skin around Hailee’s midriff peeking out behind the triangular cut outs on each side of her dress. As she stood to give her Maid of Honor speech, it suddenly occurred to him just how much peachy flesh his mate was actually showing. It wasn’t until she gave him a quick glance over her shoulder that he realized he was growling.
“As I was saying.” Hailee laughed nervously as she looked back out towards the crowd. “I just wanted to thank Ava and Jupiter for allowing me to be apart of their special day. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Ava’s cousin. For those of you who do know me, well, you’re welcome.”
Dominic laughed along with the other thirty guests as he grabbed hold of his champagne flute, hoisting it in the air.
“Ava, from the moment you were born, I knew I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime. From helping me tie a string around my tooth so we could buy the latest Backstreet CD, to spraying shaving cream all over Mr. Devine’s car, there was never a dull moment in my life as long as I was with you. They say cousins are your some of your first best friends, and that was certainly the case for us. So much so, in fact, that when Jupiter first came into your life, I was so jealous, I actually tried my darndest to break you guys up.”
Hailee paused as the crowd erupted with laughter again.
“I don’t have any embarrassing stories of growing up with Jupiter, so I’ll save those for her brother,” Hailee chuckled before turning towards the blonde woman. “But Jupiter, I want to thank you for making my cousin so incredibly happy. You are smart, compassionate, loyal and funny. It’s such a comfort knowing Ava will always have you by her side. You are everything and more that I could have hoped for, for my best friend.”
As a tear threatened to spill down her cheek, Dominic plucked the purple handkerchief from his breast pocket and handed it to Hailee.
“Before this moment,” Hailee smiled as she dabbed at her eye with the pocket square. “The two of you have been many things to each other-- acquaintance, co-worker, friend, companion. You have laughed, you have cried, but most importantly you have become stronger as a result of one another. Today is not just a celebration of where you are now, but the roads that have brought you together as well as the journey that you will now embark on together as mates. So ladies and gentleman, if you could please stand and join me in a toast to Ava and Jupiter: Here’s to love, laughter and happily ever after. Cheers!”