Finding a Hart

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Chapter 52

Stephanie

“I’m not wearing that.”

Briana groaned at Shaylee and shook the tiara she had thrust at her best friend just a moment before. “Come on, Lee! It’s a bachelorette party! I wore a penis tiara for mine.”

“You insisted on wearing a penis tiara for yours,” Shaylee said wryly, still not taking the crown from my sister. “No.”

Shaylee and Briana’s friend, Hannah, put down her finished drink and grabbed the tiara. She settled it over her platinum blonde hair. “I’ll wear the stupid thing if it will stop your fighting. Now, it’s time for you to get on the bull, Shaylee.”

Shaylee, Bri, Hannah, Alyssa, Kara, and myself were at a country bar, our third bar of the night, for Shaylee’s bachelorette party. She was leaving for Maine in a few days and would be married in just one week.

Even though Alyssa and I were older than Shaylee and Briana, we had all basically grown up together. Kara was a late addition. She and I had met for lunch earlier that week and I had insisted that she come with us. Hannah was a friend of Shaylee’s that she had met during one of her summers in Maine and apparently those three were quite the trio at that point.

We had all been told to wear jeans and had been given black tank-tops that said ‘Bachelorette Party’ on them. Shaylee was wearing a white one that declared her as the bride to be and even though she complained about it being cheesy, she loved it.

Drew’s bachelor party was also happening at that moment, although I had no idea where the guys were. I did know that Jared was with them since Marco had invited him to join.

Thankfully my mother had jumped at the chance to babysit Chris for us. She had tried to get us to leave him with her overnight but neither Jared nor I were on board with that idea. Even though he had only met my parents a week before, I knew he trusted them but he just wasn’t ready to spend a whole night away from the little guy. Hell, I’d spent many nights away from him but I wasn’t ready for it either.

“What are you grinning about over there, Steph?” Shaylee asked with a grin once she had been bucked off of the mechanical bull and I snapped out of my daydream to meet her eyes.

“Oh, nothing. Just zoned out.”

Alyssa snorted into her drink. “Stephanie’s getting it on the regular so she can’t think of anything else.”

I could feel my face warm slightly and I smacked my best friend on the arm. She had a point, though. In the six days since we had confessed our feelings for each other, Jared and I seemed to be making up for lost time.

“I should have known they were going to end up together,” Kara commented with a slight slur to her words. She, Alyssa, and I had formed quite the friendship since I first met her in the NICU. “They had goo-goo eyes for each other right from the get go.”

“This is Shaylee’s bachelorette party, so why are we talking about me?” I held up my bottle of beer and gestured to the woman of the hour. “Let’s talk about her.”

“Oh, good idea!” Briana was completely wasted and the shot she downed that very moment wasn’t going to help anything. “Let’s share our favorite memories of Butler.”

Everyone had a great memory to share except Kara, who just raved about the bride’s bull riding skills. When it was my turn, I smirked at Shaylee and she immediately shook her head. She knew what I was going to say.

“Don’t do it, Steph.”

“So,” I started, ignoring her pleas. “My favorite memory of Shaylee Butler is from my first year of college. I decided to go to Mom and Dad’s to grab lunch when one of my classes was cancelled and heard a noise from the back of the house.”

“Stephanie!” Shaylee lunged across the table to try and cover my mouth but I laughed and moved so she couldn’t reach me.

“I went back to investigate and found Shaylee in her bra and underwear in Austin’s bed. He was in just his underwear and trying to unhook her bra while clumsily making out with her.”

“What?” Briana yelped, her eyes wide as she stared at her best friend. “You and my brother?”

“Oh, god.” Shaylee dropped her bright red face into her hand and shook her head. “Nothing happened. Stephanie’s interruption killed the moment and she took us both back to school. It was that day I ditched because I didn’t want to go to the career fair.”

My sister’s eyes were scrunched up like she was in physical pain. “Shaylee and Austin. I need brain bleach.”

“Here.” Hannah pushed a shot glass towards Bri with a laugh. “This should help.”

Another hour later, most of our group was drunk and even I was feeling a little tipsy. We were still at the same bar and all of us had taken a turn on the bull at that point. We were standing at the bar, trying to decide what to do next, when tattooed arms wrapped around Shaylee from behind. She jumped slightly before glancing over her shoulder. When she realized who her admirer was, a broad grin stretched across her drunken face.

“Hello, future husband.”

Drew Moore was a good looking man. I had only met him a few times but I could tell he was a great guy already. He adjusted the red Arizona Diamondbacks hat that he was wearing backwards on his head and ran his other hand along the trim beard on his chin. He pressed a kiss to Shaylee’s lips and offered her a smile that made it obvious that she was his whole world.

“Hey, beauty queen. Are you having fun?”

“So much.”

I turned my head and immediately locked eyes with Jared as he walked up. Marco was with him, along with a couple of other guys I didn’t know.

“Hey, sweetheart.” He stopped in front of me and dropped his hands to my waist. I grinned and leaned in so I could give him a quick kiss. “Are you ladies having fun?”

“Yeah. What about you guys?”

He nodded and flexed his fingers slightly. “It’s been nice letting loose but I miss the baby.”

“Oh, thank god.” I pressed my cheek to his and sighed. “I thought I was abnormal because I missed him, too.”

“I’m so glad you two got together.” Alyssa stumbled over to us with a grin. “Although you’ve basically stolen my roommate from me.”

Jared shrugged his shoulders and pulled me to his side. “I can’t even be sorry about it.”

“Maybe it’s time for you to date,” I suggested to my best friend and she scrunched up her nose like it was the most ridiculous suggestion in the world.

“I’m too busy conquering the world first. I’ll date later.”

Kara staggered over to us and sighed. “Hear, hear. I haven’t gone on a date in two months and it’s been glorious. I do miss sex, though.”

Jared closed his eyes at the same time I let out a snort of laughter. About three other guys that were around us heard Kara’s declaration. When they looked her up and down, my boyfriend shook his head.

“Anyone ready to call it a night? I didn’t drink tonight and would be happy to drive you home.”

After hugging Bri, Shay, and Hannah and ensuring that the other half had a ride home, Kara and Alyssa squished into Jared’s backseat on either side of the car seat base. We dropped them off at the house I shared with Alyssa and I made sure they were both tucked in her bed before leaving them.

Chris was asleep when we got to my parents’ place and it was easy to transfer him into the crib when we got home. The second we were out of the nursery, Jared pushed me up against the wall and gave me a long, hard kiss.

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