Chapter 1: What a terrible wedding
Chevelle Kingsley was standing behind the opened doors that would lead her down the aisle. Her long red curls gracefully wrapped around her shoulders, which were bare from the design of the elegant wedding dress.
She looked at her father, who checked his watch again.
“He’ll be here,” she said, tapping his arm. “The more you look at that thing, the tenser the guests become.”
“He should’ve been here forty minutes ago,” he said with a huff.
Her bright green eyes shone with confidence as she proclaimed, “Someone like Liam can afford to be as late as he wants.”
Murmurs of “she looks gorgeous” echoed through the crowd, blowing up her already inflated ego.
“I’m telling you, he’s not coming,” one of the guests whispered.
“Have you met her? I wouldn’t show up either if I were him,” another said.
The gossip came as no shock to her. She was used to that kind of thing, and she would handle it the same way she always did.
She stood taller, stuck out her chin, and looked down upon them.
They can talk all they want. I’m the one who’s about to get married to a billionaire, she thought haughtily.
She scanned the chapel. The guests were seated in rows like the poor little sheep she thought they were. An endless flood of suits and designer dresses with no personality behind the labels.
Thunder rumbled outside, causing a jolt to pass through a few of the older ladies. Chevelle rolled her eyes at their reactions.
It was her wedding. She’d also been waiting for her groom to arrive for God knows how long. But she wasn’t acting like a scared little mouse.
“You know how much is riding on this marriage, so you better not screw it up,” her father said as he tightened his grip on her arm.
“Relax, Daddy. Liam will be here.”
Lightning streaked across the sky once more, followed by yet another clap of thunder. A baby wailed as an older lady clung to her grandson’s arm looking for protection.
Her father looked out of the window; concern etched onto his face. “Rain on your wedding… It’s a bad omen.”
“Would you stop overreacting?” she asked in a loud whisper. “Everything is fine!”
“Then why isn’t he here already?”
“I don’t know.” She rolled her eyes. “Maybe he got lost. I mean, it’s not like he’s doing this on purpose. He’s lucky to be marrying me and he knows it.”
She tapped her foot in annoyance. How could he make her wait like this? In front of all of these people! It was supposed to be her big day, and he was making it all about him!
Nearly an hour after the ceremony was supposed to start, there was still no word from Liam.
“Let’s face it, darling. He’s not coming. The deal’s off,” her father scoffed, paying absolutely no attention to her feelings.
“If he’s not dead or dying, he will be when I’m through with him!” Chevelle said, venting her frustrations.
More thunder ripped through the hall. Chevelle was about to turn around when the doors to the chapel swung open. Liam walked in with an arrogant smirk on his handsome face.
Her jaw dropped at the sight. “Where the hell is your tux?! Where have you been?!”
Liam ignored her blindly, infuriating her even more. She felt like she was going to explode. And the feeling grew with each step he took toward the priest.
“Have you forgotten that you’re supposed to be getting married right now?” Chevelle snapped as she took a few steps into the chapel. “You’re late and you aren’t even dressed!”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” he said coldly as he waved her off.
With a huff of annoyance, she slapped her flowers into her father’s chest and followed him down the aisle.
“How dare you talk to me like that?”
She was about to continue but stopped dead in her tracks at Liam’s words, “I’m sorry for wasting your time, Father, but there won’t be a wedding here today.”
Everyone gasped in shock as the priest nodded and rushed out of the room. She was standing in the middle of the aisle. Her long white dress trailed behind her, and she folded her arms.
“There must be some kind of mistake. Are you saying you’re leaving me at the altar?!”
She threw her arms up as the urge to slap him overwhelmed her. It was like she didn’t exist. Like she was talking to a brick wall.
“Are you kidding me right now? I want an explanation!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Liam laughed, and it was enough to make her snap. He finally turned to face her and if looks could kill, he’d be long gone.
“You’re so useless! Not only are you late, but you’re dressed like a homeless person. You reek of alcohol! Not to mention, your attitude stinks more than a skunk that just went off!”
Liam stalked up to her as he ran his fingers through his slick hair. His lips curled into a cruel smile and a sparkle of something she didn’t understand flickered in his eyes.
“You want an explanation?”
His husky voice was rougher than usual, and it was laced with spite.
“Well, let me give you one. You’re manipulative. A control freak who can’t even let go in the bedroom. You’re holding me back from what I could be because you’re afraid I’ll be better than you.”
His fists balled. His jaw clenched, and there was fire in his eyes.
“You don’t see my greatness! You’re nothing more than an airhead! All you’re good at is breaking people down! But I won’t take it anymore. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life with someone who has such a bad personality.”
He grabbed onto a beautiful young woman and pulled her against him.
“You’re just so fucking arrogant. And there wasn’t a day in our relationship when I didn’t see you being mean to someone. Wynonna is a hundred times better than you,” he spat.
Chevelle eyed the girl in his arms. Wynonna Avici. Her best friend… until now.
With her long blonde hair and ice-blue eyes. She was stunning, like one of those models you see in fashion magazines.
“Oh please,” Chevelle said with a dismissive wave.
Chevelle caught her father’s eye and was reminded of the reason for all this. So, she did the one thing she thought she’d never do.
“You’re making a mistake,” she said with a smug smile as she grabbed onto his elbow. “We both know she’s not marriage material. Now stop messing around and go get dressed.”
“The only mistake I made was dating you,” he said in a cold tone, pulling his arm from her grip.
Chevelle tried to grab him again. Before she could register the movement, she felt the sting on her cheek when he slapped her.
With that, Liam and Wynonna walked out of the chapel together. Chevelle was left embarrassed and utterly distraught. She was lost for words.
She was acutely aware of her limbs as tears flowed down her cheeks. Long black streaks left by her mascara created a path that ended where it dripped from her chin onto her exquisite dress.
She looked around at the guests, who were all leaning forward like they were watching their favorite soap opera.
She turned to leave, but her path was blocked by her parents. They didn’t look happy at all.
“This is all your fault!” her mother said, and her fury burned hot in her green eyes. “You just cost us everything! How could you be so stupid?!”
“Have you lost your mind?!” Chevelle asked in disbelief. “My fiancé just dumped me in front of everyone and somehow, it’s my fault. That doesn’t make any sense!”
Her rage and disbelief clashed within her chest like a whirlwind threatening to break free.
“I’m the victim here! I’m the one who just lost the man I was supposed to marry! To my best friend!” Her voice rose with each sentence. “Yet you’re all treating me like I’m some kind of villain!”
“You heard the man,” her father scoffed as he waved to the door. “He wouldn’t have left if it wasn’t for your rotten personality!”
He shook his head disappointedly, making her feel worse. It was as if she was just a pawn in their game.
“Your bad attitude has not only cost you a good husband, but it’s cost us a rich son-in-law! This proves how useless you are! Can’t get a job… Can’t keep a man...” her father continued.
Chevelle couldn’t believe what was happening. She still didn’t understand why they were blaming her. This time it really wasn’t her fault.
“You’re completely worthless!” her mother snapped. “You’ve cost this family enough already! With your mindless spending and the bad attitude we’ve had to put up with.”
Her mother took on the snobbish look Chevelle had gotten so used to. Her face raised, nose sticking up at the ceiling, and pursed lips.
“This was supposed to be our return on investment! But you’ve ruined everything! You don’t deserve the Kingsley name! You don’t deserve the life we gave you!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Chevelle asked as her confusion grew.
“It means you’re not part of this family anymore. Make sure you and your things are gone by the time we get home,” her father said.
“What?! You can’t do this to me! I’m your daughter!”
His words hit her with the force of a wrecking ball, knocking the air out of her lungs. This was the lowest point in her life.
Her eyes scanned the crowd, and she realized that no one was on her side.
The guests were all whispering amongst themselves, and she didn’t have to hear their words to know what they were saying. It’s not like they were trying to hide it.
The dam within her finally burst, and she sobbed. She had absolutely no one to turn to.
None of these people cared about her. Not one of them came forward to help her or defend her. It was only then she realized how greedy the people in her life truly were.
“Fine! It’s not like I need any of you anyway!” she said in an attempt to hold on to a sliver of her dignity.
Chevelle picked up her dress and ran, trying to get out of the chapel. Her vision was clouded from the tears, and she was completely lost.
She finally found the exit door and pushed it open. She ran out and bumped into a rock-hard body.
The force knocked her off balance. Her body bowed backward, and her arms flailed as she desperately tried to grab onto something to stop herself from falling.
As if everything was happening in slow motion, she saw the man’s umbrella dropping to the ground. His arm wrapped around her waist and suddenly she was pressed up against his muscular chest.
Chevelle didn’t know when she grabbed onto his arms or how he managed to catch her so quickly. Hell, she didn’t even know who he was. But there was something about him that made her feel… safe.
Was it the musky scent that clung to his shirt? The firm grip he had on her? Or was it just being in someone’s arms when she needed it most?
Chevelle looked up then, and she was shocked by who she saw. Even though the rain poured down on them and her vision was hazy, Chevelle recognized the face.
Wynonna’s older brother truly was a sight to behold. He was tall and fit, with luscious ash blonde hair that anyone would want to brush their fingers through.
Their eyes met, his deep blue gaze burning into the icy green of her own.
She felt his heart thudding beneath her palm. The warmth of his breath caressed her cheek. And at that moment, she felt more vulnerable than ever before.