Best and Honor

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Chapter 12


I swipe my thumb across the beading condensation on the outside of my second whisky and soda. There was just no way I could stay in my room any longer wondering what was happening between Sophie and Evan. After shaving and taking hot shower, I’d put on my black slacks, crisp white collared shirt, thin black tie and my light gray sweater. I then paced my room for twenty minutes before deciding I needed to get out of there before a wore a hole in the carpet.

I’ve checked my phone every five minutes for the past hour, but there are no missed calls or texts from her and now my heart is pounding in my chest as thoughts of her with Evan are running through my head. I can hear the restaurant growing increasingly noisy behind me as many of the VIP wedding guests begin to fill the reserved tables. I take another sip of my drink and let the burn distract me from the maddening thoughts.

Maybe I should have said something. Would it have made any difference if I told her how I’ve felt about her all these years? I wonder if I should have tried to kiss her again or maybe insisted I hung out and made sure she got back to the hotel safely. I guess none of that matters now, what’s done is done. I’ll know from the look on Evan’s face if it worked out for him. I set the empty glass back down on the bar and turn around as Evan and Rachel enter the room.

He’s smiling at his friends and family, but I can see the detached look as he tries hard to pretend this is what he wants. I can’t even begin to describe the weight that lifts from my shoulders. I lean back, resting my elbows on the bar behind me and wait for her to enter before I’ll take my seat at the head of the table with the bride and groom to be. Evan has his hand on Rachel’s back as he glances over in my direction, the anger in his eyes is clear when they meet mine but he quickly looks away.

I feel her enter the room before I see her. The backdraft before she steps through the large arch and into the restaurant. For a moment, all the oxygen is sucked out of the room before I feel the burning explosion of her body emerging through the doorway. God, she’s beautiful. My heart stops for a moment, as time seems to stand still. Her hand is gripping a small clutch at her side, the other playing with the dangling silver earing in her ear. She has her long hair pulled up off her neck in an elegant roll and pinned at the base of her head. It’s the perfect mix of messy and meticulously placed. I love the way it allows me to see the smooth, tanned skin of her neck.

The deep blue color of her dress stands out against the olive glow of her sun-kissed skin. A lacey overlay covers the entire dress, hanging slightly longer than the layer closest to her naked flesh. It brushes across the middle of her thighs, allowing my eyes a peek at the smooth skin of the sexiest legs I’ve ever seen. Her heels are nude and make her legs look even longer as she stands away from the group, seeming to search their faces for one in particular.

Her eyes meet mine and I can’t help the grin that curls my lips when she smiles at me from across the crowd. She begins to make her way over, barely dodging the arms of the familiar people who reach out to welcome her. She smiles at a few, motioning that she’ll be back in a minute.

“I think you have the right idea,” she says a little breathy and I can hear the nervousness in her tone. Stepping past me, she sets her clutch on the bar and holds my empty glass up to the bartender. I chuckle and spin around, resting my elbows on the bar again. The bartender places a new drink in front of me and one in front of Sophie. She takes a big sip, and then sets it on the bar with a sigh of pleasure that has my body at attention again.

I want to ask her how it went. I need to know what happened and if I now have the green light to make her mine. I run my finger around the rim of my glass as she takes another drink of hers, never opening her eyes as if it’s the most delicious thing she’s ever had cross her tongue. I can’t take my eyes off of her. I lean in, letting my lips brush her ear very lightly. “You have no idea how gorgeous you are. I could stay right here and watch you all night.”

I see the blush rise from her neck up to her cheeks when I back away just enough to get another good look at her. She lets out a small breath but keeps her eyes closed. I know her nerves must be shot after the conversation with Evan and having to be here tonight. I lean back in again, this time wrapping my arm around her waist and pulling her into me again. “I’ve been going crazy since I left you on that beach.” Now I close my eyes, mustering all the courage I can to tell her what I need to. “Tell me he lost you. Tell me he was too late because I don’t think I can spend one more night this close to you with out making you mine.”

Opening my eyes again, I move back, watching closely as her eyes open and turn to mine. Her voice is intoxicating as she turns and presses herself against me so she can reach my ear. The heat of her breath across my skin has me so revved up I want to beg her to forget the dinner and come up to my room with me right now. Her hand grips my bicep as she whispers, “He was too late. It seems I’ve moved on to bigger and better adventures.” She moves her face back for just a second and I turn my head to look into her eyes. That’s the best news I’ve ever heard. Her hand on my arm pulls me back against her. “Would you be interested in that?” She’s teasing now, her arm gently stroking up mine until it is wrapped around my neck.

“I’ve been interested in that—in you—since I first saw you. You’ve been in my dreams since I was a teenager. I just want to make sure you’re OK with what might happen if Rachel and Evan find out.” I hate to remind her, but right now we are pushing the boundaries in front of a few mutual friends and I know pushing it any further in public is going to lead to stares and raised brows.

“I don’t want to take any attention away from the bride.” I feel her arm slide from my neck as she puts a little space between us. With a quick look over her shoulder, she surveys the room for any sign that we’ve been obvious. I love that she was so lost in me she hadn’t seemed to notice the other people.

“Unless you plan on leaving the room, I don’t think you can be successful at that sweetheart. You’ll always take the attention off Rachel when you’re around.” I’m rewarded with a smile and it warms me deep inside. I offer her my arm and she takes it. I lead us over to the group and I feel her hand leave as various people come up to greet us. I feel the loss of her immediately even though she is still close. I want her with me no matter what the consequences are. If Evan is a true friend, he will want me to be happy even if that means I date her. If he can’t accept it then I guess our friendship has had a good run, because she’s my future.

When the hostess finally announces it’s time to get started, I find my place setting and feel a great relief when I see that Sophie will be beside me. I watch as she glances down the table, searching for her name card and raising her smiling face to mine when she sees where it’s placed. I pull her chair out and she sits, scooting a little closer to my seat as she moves hers closer to the table.

We are offered our choice of three meals and the wine begins to flow. I notice she’s taking it easy now on the wine, mostly cradling it in her hand as she chats with a few of the women around us. I’m trying not to be obvious as I sneak a glance at her every so often. When our salads arrive, the table quiets down and I can’t take not touching her any longer. I slip my hand under the table and rest it on her bare knee. No one will be able to know it’s there except the two of us, and it seems like the perfect solution to my need to have her skin on mine.

Sophie doesn’t acknowledge it, playing into my game of being stealth. Conversation begins to pick up again as people finish their salads and the wine continues to be poured, creating a buzz for a lot of the people around us. When she lifts her glass to her lips again, I slip my hand up a little higher on her thigh. She pauses for a second with the glass resting on her perfectly plump lower lip and I know my touch is most definitely affecting her. I love it.

We don’t talk to each other the entire time we are seated at the table. I catch a glimpse of Evan watching us every so often, but I don’t let on that anything is happening. Instead, I wait for a moment where she isn’t wrapped up in another person and I slip my fingers softly along her inner thigh, slowly advancing my position on her leg. I’m beginning to think I have the upper hand until she laughs at something another guest has said and sets her hand high on my thigh, squeezing for a second before letting it climb higher and dangerously close to the center of my lap.

We are served dinner, but I barely pay attention to it. I can’t focus on anything anyone is saying, my attention completely on the way her warm and slightly gripping hand feels on me. It’s sending heat up my leg and to the part of my body that has been aching for her all night. It’s a dangerous game we’re playing, but I couldn’t stop it if I tried. The truth is I don’t want to. Just when I think I can’t take it any longer, Rachel announces we’ll be moving out onto the beach to go through the ceremony quickly for practice.

I don’t want to let her go. It’s the most primal of all feelings, a deep need to touch her and make sure she knows just how badly I want her. I don’t think I’ve ever been so turned on by just a hand on my thigh. I know it’s more than that. It’s her voice, her laugh, her scent and the way the air between us seems charged with an energy that’s almost visible.

As everyone begins to file out into the hotel lobby I strengthen my hold on her thigh, signaling to her not to move. She doesn’t fight it, just plays with her glass as if she needs to finish the last sip. When I’m sure enough people have left and the attention is no longer on either of us, I lean into her and let my hand move the last few inches until I can feel the lace of her panties with my finger. “Stay with me tonight.”

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