Mending Heart

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Chapter 23

The Wedding

“We’re all just a bunch of sinners, but we do the best we can.” – Dolly Patron


“Meg!” I gritted, poking her side. “Stay still.”

“I’m trying.” She snapped back, shooting me a sharp glare. “I knew I should have gone on a detox last week.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her.

I was currently trying to zip up her wedding dress, but we were having some issues with the zipper. “Suck it in,” I mumbled, once again tugging at the zipper on the back of the dress. After a few more tries and nearly breaking my nail off, I finally got the zipper to go all the way up.

The big day had finally arrived, and Megan looked like she was seconds away from throwing up all over the hotel room carpet.

I did tell her it wasn’t too late to back out and that I could have an Uber here in ten minutes, but all that did was earn me a smack on the shoulder. Of course, I was partially joking. But if that’s what she wanted, I wasn’t going to stop her – I would be right by her side in the getaway car.

I wish someone had offered me those same words of advice seven years ago.

“There.” I smiled triumphantly behind her in the full-length mirror. “You look beautiful, Meg.”

“Thank you.” She smiled brightly, admiring her reflection. She had on a white Floral Applique Tulle Ball Gown designed by Pnina Tornai that cost more than I make in a month. Her hair was pulled back in a low chignon with gentle twists feeding into it, and lots of loose pieces around the face. And to top off her look, Megan also wore a crystal headband which added a bit of sparkle to an otherwise classic look.

“Are you girls ready?” Megan’s mom, Jenny, poked her head through the door.

“We’ll be right out mom,” Megan replied before turning to face me. “I know I don’t say this enough,” She smiled, taking my hands into hers. “But I am so grateful to have you as my best friend. This day would have probably gone to shit a long time ago if it weren’t for you.”

“You promised you weren’t going to cry.” I narrowed my eyes at her, fighting back my own tears. My best friend was all grown up, and before I know it, she was probably going to start popping out kids too.

“Shut up.” She rolled her eyes, blinking rapidly so none of the tears that had welled up would fall and ruin her makeup. “Thank you for being my maid of honor and putting up with my bridezilla attitude the past month.”

“At least you can admit it.” I snorted, picking up the flower bouquet and handing it to her. It was a mixture of red and white poppies and roses, with a touch of blush and green throughout the design. “It’s showtime.”

With one last glance at her reflection, Megan took the bouquet from me and headed for the door – with me not too far behind.

........

The church ceremony was held at the Fourth Presbyterian Church not too far from our hotel, followed by pictures on the Chicago Riverwalk.

The photographer Megan hired must have had a severe case of OCD because we were outside in the searing sun for at least three hours. It was hot, humid and I could feel the make-up begin to melt off my face.

While Chicago winters are typically brutal, summers aren’t much better. Especially in one hundred degrees weather, in August.

“One more.”

“Just like that – smile!”

“Now one with the bride and maid of honor.”

I was just about ready to tell the photographer to shove that camera where the sun doesn’t shine, when he finally said we were done.

“You’re not allowed to get divorced,” I whispered to Megan on the way back to the limo. “There’s no way in hell I’m going through this again.”

“I second that.” Wena piped up from next to us. “This is not the kind of weather where I want to spend hours outside.”

“You guys love me.” She threw her head back and laughed.

“I’m pretty sure we’re all starting to question our love for you right now.” Eunice snorted, adjusting the straps on her dress. The five of us – Eunice, Sam, Wena, Ellie, and I – all had on identical dusty blue Freya satin charmeuse dresses with spaghetti straps and a rather provocative thigh slit. Our hair had been curled into mermaid waves, and a floral crown made out of white and light pink roses rested on each of our heads.

The reception was being held in the same hotel where we got ready, which was convenient because I desperately needed to go put on some deodorant and spray a fresh batch of perfume.

While the rest of the guests continued to filter into the reception hall, the bridal party took this as an opportunity to freshen up before meeting up again so we could all enter together. My “date” – and Eric’s best man – was his older brother. He had flown in from San Diego just for his little brother’s wedding.

I think he said his name was Hayden?

I was fidgeting with the floral crown in my hair when Hayden spoke up from a few feet away. “Do you need some help with that?” He asked, amusement seeping through his hard features. Sizing him up, he was a pretty good-looking guy, but not usually my type.

“I’m good.”

“Suit yourself.” He shrugged, casually leaning against the wall. “Any idea what’s taking the newlyweds so long?”

“What do you think?” I snorted, raising an eyebrow. “They’re newlyweds.”

“Ew.” His face scrunched up in disgust. “I don’t need the picture of my baby brother doing the nasty in my head.”

“Hey!” My hands shot up in surrender as I laughed. “You asked!”

Just then, I saw Megan and Eric making their way towards us – hand in hand and smiling from ear to ear.

Is that what it looks like to be genuinely happy?

“What took you so long?” I smirked, taking in her reaction.

Megan bit her lip with a smirk. “Oh you know – just had some trouble zipping up my new dress.” For the reception, Megan had changed out of her puffy wedding gown and into a Ruched Satin Column Gown instead.

“Sure.” I tried to suppress my own amusement as I linked arms with Hayden who looked slightly uncomfortable having just heard bits of our conversation. Now that the two lovebirds were here, we could finally go in. Megan wanted everyone to enter together, hence the need to wait.

Hayden and I were entering first, followed by the other bridesmaids and groomsmen – with Megan and Eric last.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I heard the DJ announce just as the double doors to the reception hall opened. “The bridal party!”

The reception hall was exactly what you would expect a wedding venue to look like – multiple round tables scattered around the room, a large dance floor in the middle, and in the back of the room – pushed all the way against the wall – was the bridal party table. The room was dimly lit, with multiple candles at each table and fake tree branches lined with ferry lights as centerpieces.

As we passed by various tables on our way to the bridal party table, I smiled politely at the people I recognized and the strangers eagerly snapping pictures.

Name cards were neatly scribbled and placed on each plate, and Hayden guided me towards our seats.

“I am pleased to introduce to you, Mr. & Mrs. Michaels.” The DJ finally announced, and everyone began clapping as Eric and Megan walked in. I watched as Eric twirled my best friend around and dipped her, the two of them exchanging a loving kiss. Watching the way they were with one another, I couldn’t help the smile that made its way onto my face.

I was so happy for her.

..........

After dinner, I was talking to Taylor by the open bar when I felt a gentle touch on my lower back. “Would you like to dance?” Tilting my head back, I was met with Hayden’s piercing blue eyes.

I blinked stupidly before Taylor snapped me out of it. “She’d love to,” Taylor answered for me, taking my drink from me and giving me a slight nudge. I made sure to discretely flip off my so-called best friend before taking Hayden’s hand as he led us onto the dance floor.

A slow song was playing, and a few feet away, Megan and Eric were also dancing.

“So,” I began, wrapping my arms around his neck as he placed both hands on my waist. “Are you only in town for the wedding?”

“Yes and no.” He replied, his eyes scanning my face. “I took two weeks of leave so I could spend some time with my family. Afterward, I’m back in San Diego for training.”

“Do you like being a Seal?” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Megan may or may not have mentioned he was a Navy Seal last night. It’s not every day you meet one, and I was dying of curiosity.

Hayden threw his head back with a deep and heartfelt laugh. “I don’t think anybody actually likes being a Navy Seal.”

“So why do it then?” I peered up at him through my eyelashes.

“Desire to serve our country.” He shrugged as we continued to sway to the music. “I was a Navy corpsman before that, and when I reenlisted I knew I didn’t want to be stuck seaside anymore – I wanted to do something that mattered.”

“What about you?” He asked, his left hand tracing along the small of my back. “What do you do?”

“Nothing even remotely as interesting as what you do.” I snorted a laugh. “I’m a plain old boring consultant.”

“You look anything but boring to me, McKenzie.” He dipped his head, letting his lips hover just above my earlobe. The mere action heated my skin and quickened my heartbeat.

Perhaps those two margaritas on an empty stomach had not been a good idea.

“Look – ” I tilted my head back so that there was some distance between our bodies. “I’m not looking for anything serious.”

“Good.” He smirked, an inevitable blush invading my face. “Neither am I.”

I was slightly tipsy and horny – never a good combination.

“If you want,” Hayden smirked, eyes mischievous. “We can get out of here for a bit. I’m sure they won’t miss us.” Scanning the room, it seems everyone was occupied.

What the hell, I thought.

Lifting his hands off my waist, I took Hayden’s hand into mine and led him towards the exit. Walking past a family restroom just down the hall, I pulled him inside. Going up to his room or taking him to mine felt too intimate, and I was looking to stay as far away from that as possible.

Hayden lifted an eyebrow as I locked the bathroom door behind us, which I chose to ignore. Standing in front of him, he lifted me slightly so that I sat on the edge of the sink counter. My dress hitched up, and the thigh slit on the dress allowed my bare legs to dangle as Hayden’s hands roamed over my body. He began kissing my neck until his lips were about to capture mine, but I turned my head at the last minute.

“No kissing,” I mumbled, pushing his head away. The action didn’t seem to bother him much as he busied himself with pushing the straps of my dress off my shoulders. When he pushed the satin material further down so that my bare breasts were exposed, I immediately felt my nipples harden.

He continued to kiss my neck, working his way down to the valley of my breasts where he captured one of my nipples between his wet lips. With one hand supporting the small of my back, Hayden used his other hand to spread my legs. His eager hand traveled up my thigh until it stopped at my entrance. I whimpered as he moved the lace fabric of my panties aside, his fingers running up and down my wet folds.

I should probably put a stop to this before it got out of hand, but damnit it felt good.

Hayden was expertly working his fingers in and out of my pussy when I grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled his head back. “Fuck me.”

Deep down, I knew I was going to regret this in the morning, but in that moment, I didn’t care enough to put an end to it. I was lonely, turned on and I wanted a release.

He wasted no time setting me back on my feet and jerking me around so that I was bent over the sink. I was just about to remind him about a condom when I looked over my shoulder just in time to see him unzipping his pants and slipping one on.

I moaned with anticipation as he spread my legs and positioned himself at my entrance. As he began pushing against my aching core, my walls contracted around his cock and I moaned in response to him inching further inside my pussy.

“Oh god – yes!” I mumbled as he slammed his full length into. His size was impressive, I’ll give him that, but other than that there wasn’t much else to it. There was no passion, no tingles – just raw sex.

“Your pussy feels so good.” Hayden gripped my waist as he established a rhythm.

“Mhm –” I nodded in agreement. He removed one of his hands from my waist and snaked it around to my front so that he was playing with my nipples. The action sent new waves of pleasure through my body, and I felt myself inching closer to a climax.

His eyes were locked on mine in the mirror just above the sink, and I looked away. They weren’t the specks of green I wanted to have locked on mine.

If Ethan could see me now, I thought bitterly.

Hayden began gradually picking up his pace, and I could feel my orgasm approaching. “Harder.” I moaned. Eager to oblige, Hayden shifted his weight slightly until he found my sweet spot, eliciting a groan from me.

Feeling my walls begin to clench, I tensed – screwing my eyes shut as Hayden continued to thrust into me. “Yes! Don’t stop – ” I gasped, arching my back into him.

As I rode out my climax, I felt Hayden’s muscles tense as well and he released a groan. He collapsed on top of me shortly after and tried to bury his face in the crook of my neck, but I quickly pushed him off.

Our shallow breaths filled the now silent room, both of us adjusting our disheveled clothes.

Stealing one more glance in the mirror to make sure I looked presentable, I slipped past Hayden. “That was fun.”

“Can I call you?” He asked as my fingers reached for the lock on the door. My hand froze mid-air and I took a deep breath. “No,” I replied, twisting my head to look at him. “This was a one-time thing.”

I didn’t bother to wait for a reply as I made my way back to the reception hall and straight for the bar.

While I managed to satisfy an itch, I’d never felt dirtier.

I needed a drink, I thought as I headed straight for the open bar.

_______________________________________________________________________

Well – I did a thing. Kenzie sleeping with Hayden wasn’t part of the original plot, but I thought what the hell. With that being said, if you don’t like the MC/ her actions or this book – you can always stop reading!

In other news, my favorite chapter is coming up next! I’m hoping to have it out for you guys tomorrow, but no promises.

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