Free Spirit

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Chapter 3


“I just got here, Hannah,” I snapped. “Can I have five minutes to get settled before I start my duties as your bitch?”

“My bitch?”

“Yeah. Isn’t that the job of a Maid of Honour?”


“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not, Alexis,” she sighed. “But I think my Maid of Honour shouldn’t be so wrapped up in her own childish games, that she forgets about her duties all together.”

“I haven’t forgotten, Hannah,” I said, rolling my eyes. “And how am I being childish?”


“Yes, really?”

“You asked Paddy to pretend to be your boyfriend to make Osk jealous.”

“So? He could’ve said no.”

“No, he couldn’t. He can’t say no to you, and you took advantage of that, just like you always do.”

“Paddy is getting a pretty good deal.”

“How do you figure?”

“Um, he’s getting a free vacation. And he gets to attend a famous rock star’s wedding.”

“Paddy is rich. The free vacation probably isn’t a big deal to him.”

“Okay, but he gets to go to a secret wedding, and be one of only fifty guests.”

“He just wants to be with you, Lex. Paddy is in love with you.”

“He is not. Stop saying that.”

“How can you not see it?”

“Because it’s not true.”

“Whatever.” She spun on her heel and headed for the door.

“Hannah, wait!”

She ignored me, slamming the door behind her.

I flopped on the bed with a heavy sigh. Hannah should’ve picked someone else to be her Maid of Honour. Cleo probably would’ve done a better job than me.

I sucked.

I was a shitty sister.

And a shitty human being.

Paddy came back while I was in the middle of my meltdown, crying my eyes out like the baby I was. He laid down beside me and pulled me into his arms, holding me while I soaked his shirt with snot and tears.

“Feel better?” he whispered when my sobs turned to quiet whimpers.


“Do you wanna talk about it?”

“I’m a terrible sister.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Hannah thinks I am.”

“Did she say that?”


“What did she say?”

“She doesn’t approve of my plan to make Osk jealous by pretending you’re my boyfriend.”

“I can understand that.”

“You think it’s dumb, too?”

“I think you can do better, Alexis. If you have to chase the guy, and resort to this kind of thing to get his attention, then he’s probably not that into you. I told you that on the plane.”

“But I really like him. And I think we could be good together.”

“You can’t make someone want to be with you.”

“Maybe he just doesn’t know he wants to be with me, and he needs a little push to figure it out.”

“I think you need to focus on being here for your sister, and whatever happens, happens.”

“You think I should apologize to Hannah?”


I stood in front of my sister’s door with my head down. Why did I always start shit like this? Hannah was getting married in a couple days. I was supposed to be there for her on the most important day of her life. That was a Maid of Honour’s duty. A sister’s duty.

The door swung open before I’d worked up the nerve to knock. But it wasn’t Hannah. It was her fiancé. And he looked pissed.

“What do you want?” Miles barked.

“I’d like to talk to my sister.”

“If you’re coming to bitch and complain about your room, then forget it.”

“I came to apologize.”

“You better.”

Hannah appeared behind him with her arms folded across her chest. “What now?”

“Can we talk?”


Miles stepped back, allowing me to enter the large suite. They had a full-sized couch.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m a shitty Maid of Honour. You should’ve picked someone else.”

“Are you backing out?” Hannah gasped.

“What? No!”


“I don’t wanna fight with you,” I said, sniffling back tears.

“I don’t wanna fight with you either, Lex.”

I pulled her into my arms, squeezing her tight. “I love you, big sis.”

“I love you too, little sis.”

“This is quite the spread,” Paddy observed as we walked along the dinner buffet. We weren’t allowed to serve ourselves. If you saw something you wanted, the guy behind the counter would dish it onto your plate. Covid changed the way we did a lot of things. And the buffet was one of them.

“How do you stay so thin, young man?” Miles’s mother, Madeline, chuckled as she observed Paddy’s heaping plate of food.

“I don’t know,” Paddy laughed.

“It’s certainly not from lack of eating,” I muttered.

“I heard that, babe,” he said, poking me in the side.


I guess we were in boyfriend girlfriend mode.

Cleo eyed us curiously. I wasn’t quite sure how to factor her into this fake relationship performance. So, I didn’t say anything to her, hoping she wouldn’t notice. My autistic sister was usually too preoccupied with her own thoughts to analyse other people’s behaviour, unless it directly affected her.

“Cleo, honey,” Madeline said softly. “You need to eat more than just mashed potatoes.


Seriously, lady?

Cleo had been living with Miles and Hannah for a year. Madeline also lived there, along with Mile’s daughter, Lucy. She should’ve been familiar with Cleo’s food preferences.

Cleo was very picky. She was content to eat the same thing everyday. Content wasn’t really the right word to describe my sister. She had a temper. And any change in her routine could set her off. She preferred simple foods, and she didn’t like anything with a lot of ingredients. Most of the dishes on the buffet didn’t meet that requirement.

“Is there any way we can get a plain piece of chicken with no sauce?” Paddy requested. “And some peas that haven’t been mixed with carrots and peppers?”

“Uh, sure,” the server replied, wrinkling his brow.

“Thanks, man.”

“Your boyfriend is really good with Cleo,” Madeline whispered once we were seated at the table.

“He’s had lots of practice,” I explained as we watched my boyfriend cut up Cleo’s plain chicken breast into even slices, each one exactly the same thickness. “I’ve known Paddy for a long time.”

“You two make a cute couple,” she said, patting my hand.

“Yeah,” I agreed absently, my eyes scanning the room.

Where was Osk? I needed to get eyes on his date. Size up the competition and put my plan into action. But there was no sign of him. He was probably fucking the floozy bitch.

Osk was a horny guy. He always seemed to have a hard-on. The first time I met him was at his manager’s Canada Day party the year before. He flirted with me all afternoon, feeling me up in the pool before we snuck off to the laundry room, where he fucked me on the dryer, with it turned on. When I moved into the apartment above the bakery, he stopped by quite regularly. Sometimes, he even spent the night.

We never went out on dates. Osk didn’t require a bodyguard like Miles, but the paparazzi harassed him if they spotted him. He said he didn’t want them dragging me through the tabloids like they did to Hannah.

When he invited me to go skiing over Valentine’s Day Weekend, I was ecstatic. I’d never been skiing, but I imagined a romantic weekend of snuggling in front of the fire. We never left our private chalet once the entire weekend. Osk had food delivered, and we fucked day and night. It was the hottest weekend of my life. I couldn’t sit down for several days without a pillow and some Ibuprofen, but it was so worth it.

“Are you planning to eat any of that food?” Paddy asked, wrenching me from my hot daydream.

“Of course,” I snapped. “If you’re still hungry, go back up for seconds.”

“I wasn’t asking if I could have it,” he said.

“I rode on a plane,” Cleo announced.

“Oh right,” I laughed. “I forgot you’d never flown before.”

“How was it, Cleo?” Paddy asked.

“I didn’t like it one bit!”

“How come?”

“It hurt my ears.”

“Chew gum next time, kiddo,” Paddy suggested.


“Dad tried to give her a piece,” Lucy explained. “But she wouldn’t take it.”

“I don’t like it here,” Cleo said. “I like to stay home.”

“It’s gonna be so fun, Cleo,” Lucy said. “Trust me.”

Cleo smiled shyly as she organized her peas into groups of three. “You’re my best friend,” she said without looking up.

“And now we’re gonna be related,” Lucy said.

Cleo glanced up from her plate, her brow scrunched up. “How?”

“I dunno,” Lucy laughed, throwing her hands in the air.

“I think Cleo will be your step aunt,” Madeline suggested.

“Weird,” she muttered, shaking her head.

“This is so cool!” I ran to the railing to gaze out at the city, the lights a sea of colour against the backdrop of the towering mountains and glaciers.

The rustic rooftop bar was small and cozy, with faux log walls and weathered wooden picnic tables. The concrete floor was littered with peanut shells. A shiny, wooden bar stretched the entire length of one wall. Country music blasted from the speakers.

“What do you want to drink?” Paddy asked.

“Whatever they have on tap.” I loved beer. I wasn’t into those fruity cocktails Hannah liked to drink.

I sat down at an empty table, taking in the small crowd of strangers. Hannah’s guest list only had three people. Paddy, Cleo, and me. We didn’t have any family. Our grandparents died years ago. And both of our parents were only children.

Miles didn’t have any family either, other than his mom, Lucy, and an uncle. The forty-seven guests on his side were mostly people from his management team and his band. I heard there might be a few high-profile celebrities, but I hadn’t seen any yet.

Paddy placed a glass of beer on the table before sitting next to me on the bench. “How is it?” he asked after I took my first sip.

“Really good. What is it?”

“Galaxy White IPA.”

“Do you wanna try it?”

“No thanks.”

“I wonder where Miles and Hannah are,” I said, glancing around the bar.

“Yeah. I thought they’d come up for air at some point tonight.”

“No kidding,” I laughed. “Miles is forty-six. There’s no way he can go all night. If they don’t stop, Hannah will be limping down the aisle.”

“It’s showtime,” he whispered, sliding closer to me. “Drummer boy just walked in.”

“Really?” I resisted the urge to turn and look. “Is his date with him?”


“Is she pretty?”

“She’s okay. My date is much prettier.”

I blinked, caught off guard by Paddy’s compliment. He didn’t normally say shit like that to me.

Why is he staring at my mouth?

Holy crap.

What the fuck is happening?

He leaned in, his hands coming up to cradle my head. I opened my mouth to ask him what the fuck he was doing, but he silenced me before I could get the words out.

Paddy was a sweet and gentle guy, but his kiss was neither of those things. He claimed my mouth with aggression, his tongue plunging between my lips. The kiss was greedy and urgent, his teeth clashing against mine while his tongue swept through my mouth with hungry strokes of passion.

To say I was shell shocked would be an understatement.

I was blown away by his kiss.

My knees were trembling.

My panties were drenched.

And my best friend had a smug grin pasted across his face.

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