Watching the love of my life walk down the aisle toward me isn’t something I had noted down on my bucket list. Things like driving a Lamborghini with 200 mph along some deserted road, joining the mile high club, and going skydiving are on that list and no mushy, lovey-dovey romance crap.
Yet here I am, stupidly shifting from one foot to the other with a slightly racing heart like some lovesick puppy. My eyes are fixed on the most beautiful woman here today. Fuck, she is the most beautiful woman almost everywhere. And the wedding dress she’s wearing along with her gorgeous smile makes her look even more beautiful.
Too bad she’s not my bride, but my brother’s. So technically, Amy’s not walking toward me. It’s my brother, Ben, who’s the lucky bastard she’s directing that sexy smile at. He’s the one who gets to hold her, kiss her, fuck her, and I could hate him for it.
But of course, I don’t. He’s my big brother, and even though we’re not getting along too well most times, we’ve been through some tough shit together, and I can count on him whenever I need him.
The other thing is—when you get attached to something, that always goes along with the fear of losing it. I lost my best friend a few years ago, and that was my lesson not to get attached anymore. So saying that Amy is the love of my life might be a tad exaggerated. I don’t do love, but if I did, she’d be the closest to holding my heart.
“Mommy!” a screech tears me out of my gloomy daydreams. My one-year-old niece, Bella, squirms in my arms, stretching her tiny hands out toward Amy.
Yes, they even have a kid and another one on the way, so fat chance that Amy and I are ever going to be any kind of thing. Which means it’s time to get over that fucking crush.
“Yes, baby girl,” I whisper to Bella, “there’s your mommy. But now we have to be quiet. Shh.”
Bella giggles as I put my finger on my lips, and she mimics me. I pass her over to my dad, who sits in the front row so I can fulfill my duty as my brother’s best man. I somehow endure the wedding ceremony without rolling my eyes too much when Ben and Amy declare their undying love for each other. I manage to hand Ben the wedding bands with a smile, and I even congratulate the newlyweds with a heartfelt hug.
Great, now that this part is done, it’s time for alcohol. I grab a champagne flute from one of the waiters′ trays and empty it in one gulp. I mingle with the crowd, talk to some people I know here and there, and drink more champagne.
This would actually be a great party, but I can’t bring myself to enjoy the festivities. When Ben and Amy cut the wedding cake, I take the opportunity to wash down my piece with more champagne before I sit down at one of the tables to enjoy a little time alone with my drink.
I turn to the voice that called my name, and I smile when Lauren comes up to me. She gives me a margarita glass and clinks it with the one she holds in her other hand. Always happy to have more alcohol, my smile widens as I take a sip. But it falters immediately when I realize the woman in front of me with the sweet and innocent smile wants to poison me. “What the fuck? Lauren! You forgot to put the alcohol in this one.”
She sits down next to me and laughs when I glare at her. ”Aw, honey, I think you’ve already had enough for one day. It’s only 3pm. Getting wasted on your brother’s wedding day isn’t the best idea.”
I roll my eyes. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
“I know. But maybe you could use a friend.”
I narrow my eyes at her, trying to figure out what she’s getting at. “What are you talking about?”
With a deep breath, she leans towards me and takes my hand. “Look,” she says with a frown. “I’m maid of honor and Amy’s best friend. That means my job is to make sure things run smoothly today. I’ve been watching you, Aaron.” She moves even closer and whispers, “I saw the longing looks you directed at her.” She tilts her head towards the dancefloor, where Ben and Amy are getting ready to perform their wedding dance.
My eyes dart to the woman in question, and I rub my chest with a frown.
Lauren sighs. “Oh, boy. Aaron, are you still hung up on Amy?”
I look back at Lauren and snort. “What kind of stupid question is that?”
“Well, are you?”
“Of course not. She’s my sister-in-law, and I couldn’t be happier for my brother.”
Lauren bites her lips and slightly shakes her head. “I just wanted to check up on you. I don’t want you to get drunk and cause trouble.”
I roll my eyes. “Who do you think I am? I would never ruin my brother’s big day.”
She studies me and nods. “Okay. But if you need to talk or something, I’m here for you. And please, don’t take this the wrong way.”
I shake my head. “Don’t worry. It’s all good. Thanks, Lauren.”
She gets up and gives me a peck on my cheek. “Go easy on the champagne, okay?”
Because I actually like Lauren, I hold back the eye-roll. “Yes, ma’am.”
Once she’s gone, my eyes scan the wedding party. Everyone gathers around the dancefloor. I spot one of the bridesmaids standing by herself, watching Ben and Amy perform their first dance.
I grab two new glasses of champagne and walk over to her. “Hello, beautiful,” I say as I hold out the glass in front of her. “I see you’re all out of drinks. Champagne?” I give her a charming smile, which makes her cheeks flush.
She suppresses a grin when she takes the glass from me. “Thanks,” she says with a quiet giggle. Great, this should be easy.
“Why are you standing here all alone? Your boyfriend has no manners.” I know, lamest trick in the book, but it works every time.
“Oh,” she laughs. “There’s no boyfriend you need to worry about.” She winks at me before she empties her glass in one go. “Hi, I’m Michelle.” She holds out her hand.
I stare at her, momentarily stunned to silence. I thought she was the shy and quiet type, but I was wrong. I take her hand and place a quick, gentle kiss on her knuckles. “Nice to meet you, Michelle. I’m Aaron.”
She nods and leans closer. “I know. You’re Ben’s brother.”
For a split second, I wonder if I’ve already met her; she’s one of the bridesmaids after all, and I might have run into her at the rehearsal dinner or one of the other wedding-related events where my attendance was required. But I come to the conclusion I haven’t; I would have remembered that nice rack. “Yes, I am,” I respond.
She gives me another smile before she looks over to the dancefloor. “Amy looks stunning, doesn’t she?” she says with a sigh.
“A white wedding dress makes every woman shine,” I tell her. “Me on the other hand... I prefer lavender.”
I smirk as she looks down to her dress that is—correct—lavender. She lifts her gaze to me, and when she gives me the smile, I know she’s mine for the rest of the day. I move closer to her. “You wanna go for a little walk along the beach?”
Hey, why not use the location to my advantage? We’re in the Hamptons, after all. Henry, one of Ben’s friends and Lauren’s boyfriend, convinced his parents to let Ben and Amy use their property for the wedding. And it’s perfect: a beachfront home with a garden that overlooks the ocean.
So when Michelle nods, I grab her hand and pull her away from the crowd that is still watching the newlyweds dance.
We walk along the beach silently until we can’t hear or see any more of the party. “Okay, Michelle,” I say. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
She shrugs. “There’s not much to tell. I just finished my second to last year of college. Next year around this time, I’m hoping to have my business degree. What about you? What do you do?”
“I’m head of security at the Kingston Bar.”
Her eyes widen. “The Kingston Bar? That upscale place in Midtown?”
She stops walking and turns to me. “I’ve always wanted to go there. Well, I have a reason now I know it’s your workplace,” she says with a smile that becomes more and more seductive.
I laugh. “How come I haven’t met you before during the wedding preparations? I don’t remember seeing you at any of the rehearsal stuff.”
“I filled in for my sister. She was supposed to be a bridesmaid, but she broke her leg yesterday when she fell down some stairs. Luckily, we’re the same size, so I saved Amy from cardiac arrest,” she laughs.
“Oh, I hope your sister is okay under those circumstances.” When she nods, I ask, “And how did you know I am Ben’s brother?” I lean in a little as I tuck a stray strand of hair, which escaped her plait, behind her ear.
Even though she gives me a confident smile, the slight blush that suffuses her cheeks gives her away; she’s moments away from succumbing to my advances. “I picked up my sister after the rehearsal dinner on Thursday,” she explains, “and you caught my eye. So I asked about you.”
Wow, I like her forwardness. I raise one eyebrow. “You asked about me? What a coincidence then that you caught my eye today.” I take a quick look around, and when I’m sure there’s no one near, I cup her face with my hands and tilt her head up so I can crash my lips to hers. As I expected, she returns the kiss and lets me deepen it right away. Our tongues meet, and she eagerly presses her body against mine.
After exploring her mouth for a few moments, I pull her after me over to a small pavilion a few feet away with a bench and —what’s more important—a small table which I lift her up on. I step in between her legs, which makes her dress ride up, and I stroke the bare skin on her thighs. She moans as she pulls me closer so we can continue to kiss.
“Where are you staying tonight?” I ask when we come up for air.
She leans back a little and frowns. “Well, my sister booked a room at this Inn not far from here, but as I don’t really know anyone from the wedding party, I wanted to go back to New York later today.”
“Stay with me then.”
When she smiles and wraps her arms around my neck to kiss me again, I guess I have my answer.
When we return to the party an hour and a little make-out session later, we run into my brother, and of course, Ben sees the smile Michelle gives me before she excuses herself to the restroom.
He turns to me with a glare. “You fucked one of the bridesmaids?”
I snort. “I haven’t fucked her.” I roll my eyes and mutter to myself, “Yet.”
Ben groans. “Dammit, Aaron! You can’t be serious.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “I don’t see how this is any of your business, but I intend to take her with me to my room tonight.”
“To your room?” my brother scoffs. “Where are you gonna sneak off to in the middle of the night like you usually do?”
“Fuck you, Ben! What’s wrong with having a little fun? Don’t act like a moralizer now that you apparently are the responsible adult out of the two of us—being married and all.”
He lets out a long, frustrated sigh. “Are you ever gonna change?”
I cross my arms in front of my chest. “Don’t hold your breath.”
For a few moments, we glare at each other. I don’t get what his problem is. But after I’ve taken a couple of deep breaths, I realize it’s my turn to take a step toward him. “Look, I’m sorry,” I say. “I don’t want to fight with you today. I promise I won’t be the cause of worry for either you or Amy. I’ll behave.”
Ben sighs heavily, but finally, that huge frown on his forehead disappears. “Okay. I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to snap at you. Come on; we need to find Dad and remind him to take his medication.”
I nod and smile at him before we go looking for our father. See? I can be a responsible adult too. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have some more champagne now and a hot bridesmaid for dessert later.