Old Fashioned Sweetie by Megan Wade
Who on earth plans a wedding in a day? Me, that’s who. And it’s not even my wedding. It’s for my best friend, Jade, who last night went on a blind date with one guy and came back engaged to another. It’s so crazy that instead of trying to wrap my head around, I’m just going with the flow. Why? Because Jade is my ride or die bestie, and if she calls me and says, “Find me a dress, I’m getting married at four,” then I’m getting in my ass into gear and coming through for her.
Which brings us to my current situation, driving down a long stretch of road through what seems like unending woodlands with a freshly laundered wedding dress I found at the thrift store hanging in the back, and a suitcase full of everything I could think Jade would need for her impromptu wedding night and honeymoon. I might be in a bit of a fluster, but this big rush will all be worth it if it makes my bestie happy. She deserves a little luck in her life.
‘Your destination is five hundred yards on the left,’ my navigator announces, making me wonder if the robotic woman is actually on crack because I can’t see a damn thing. But then suddenly, there it is. Valentine’s Bar and Grill. I slow down and turn my indicator on.
With only a few cars in the parking lot, I pull up next to Jade’s red VW Beatle and cut the engine, stepping out of my beat up Hyundai and stretching with my hands pressing into my lower back, arching and twisting to try and work out a few of the kinks in my spine the two hour drive caused.
A bird calls out in the distance as I inhale the sweet mountain air. This place is super peaceful. I can see why Jade gushed about how gorgeous Whisper Valley was when I spoke to her on the phone this morning. Everywhere I look there’s trees. I feel a serene beauty here.
The sound of crunching gravel to my right causes me to turn around, my stomach doing a twisty-whoo-hoo-hallelujah dance at the sight of a rather large, well-built man sporting a smile that just makes my panties spontaneously combust. “You the best friend?” he drawls, dark brows arching as he slows to a stop beside me. I suck in a breath, considering my words for a moment because what I should say, and what I want to say are two very different things. I don’t think blurting, ‘I’m the woman waking up in your bed tomorrow morning,’ is appropriate. One, because I’m not entirely certain this isn’t the guy Jade is marrying today—that would be wrong on so many levels—and two, because I am never, ever forward with any man. Ever. I’m a little old fashioned when it comes to relationships. So now is not the time to go against my core beliefs. Although, I’m starting to wonder if there’s something in the air of these here mountains. If my reaction, coupled with Jade’s love at first sight revelation, is anything to go by, it seems it has the ability to turn good girls into horny little devils…
“Hello?” The dark-haired god of a man waves his hand in front of my face like he’s checking to see if anyone’s home. They are. They’re just thinking naughty, naked things when they should be straightening their halo and answering a question.
“Huh?” I ask, blinking and trying to shake the haze from my eyes. I feel like Pepé Le Pew floating in the air after Penelope Pussycat. Please tell me this isn’t the groom.
“I asked if you were Jade’s friend,” he repeats, one side of his mouth kicking up in a spine tingling smile. “She said you were coming with her dress.”
“Oh. Yes. That’s me. I’m the friend.” I thrust my arm out, ramrod straight, then awkwardly shake his hand with far too much excitement. I do not manage my attraction to the opposite sex very well. I have a long and drawn out history of becoming a bumbling fool the moment a good looking guy so much as smiles at me. This interaction is obviously exhibit A.
He seems to find my level of weird amusing though and goes along with it. “I’m the brother. Vaughn’s the name.” Thank fuck he isn’t Kellan!
I’m not quick enough to stop the relieved gasp from flying out of my mouth, but I do manage to stop myself from twirling and giggling. “Charity.”
“Pretty,” he replies, his hand still holding mine as I blush up a storm. “Your name, I mean. Shit. That sounded like a cheesy pickup line, didn’t it?”
“A little.” I laugh. “But it’s OK. I liked it.”
He quirks a brow then leans in a little, making everything about this moment feel so much more familiar. “Like isn’t a strong enough word for me, sweetie. If I compliment you, I want you to fuckin’ love it.”
My breath catches as I struggle to keep my chest from heaving and giving me away. Be cool, Charity! “OK!” I squeak.
Giving me a wink, he steps forward, leaning past me to pull open the back door of my car. I get a whiff of his woodsy scent and wonder if it’s cologne or if he just naturally smells that way. Maybe he rolls about on the forest floor with a bevy of willing women? I try to shake that thought away. I don’t want to think of him like that. I want to think of him as mine.
Whoa! What the hell was that thought? I am not the possessive type.
Taking the plastic-covered dress that he hands me, I step aside as he pulls the suitcase from the seat and hefts it out. “You packed light, I see.” His words are punctuated when the bag hits the gravel with a thud.
“I wasn’t sure how much she’d need, so I just fit as much as I could in there.”
“Somethin’ tells me they won’t be wearin’ much where they’re headed.”
“Oh. Yeah. Of course. Gosh. I didn’t even think about that. Honeymoons aren’t really normal vacations, are they?”
“Not if I was the groom,” he says with a smirk. “I’m sure Jade’ll be grateful to you though.”
“I think she’s grateful to everyone right now. A wedding in a day. It blows my mind. You seem very calm considering your brother has decided to marry some woman he just met.”
Vaughn bounces a shoulder as we walk across the carpark to the front of the log cabin style bar. “Kellan has always been a headfirst kind of guy. And normally, I’d be the first one telling him to slow down. But I dunno. This time feels different. Like maybe he actually found his one, you know?”
I let out a sentimental sigh as we pass a sign that says, ‘CLOSED FOR PRIVATE FUNCTION’.
“Gosh, I really hope this works out for them. Jade deserves so much happiness.”
“She seems like a great girl. And I’m sure they’ll make it work. Two lovin’ souls always find a way.” He gestures for me to head up a small flight of stairs as soon as we’re inside. I’m conscious of the fact his eyes are level with my ass the entire time, and I don’t know whether to add a little sway or just climb the stairs normally. I don’t think I manage either, because I have a moment where I forget which foot is left and which is right and I end up catching my toe on the step. Vaughn’s hand lands on my back immediately to steady me. Swoon.
“You OK, there, sweetie?” I can barely breath, so I just nod. “OK. Watch your step. I’ve gotcha.”
I feel more like a toddler finding his feet than a sultry woman trying to impress a hot guy, and the walk up the rest of the stairs feels excruciatingly slow.
“Thanks for catching me back there,” I say, a little out of breath when we reach the landing and he sets the suitcase down.
“Any time,” he says, a slow grin curving his perfectly shaped lips. I’m not sure why my fingers burn with the urge to brush against them, but they do.
“Nice to know.”
His grin turns into a chuckle as he swipes a hand across his jaw then nods toward the closed door. “You’ll find your friend in there.” He reaches past and knocks on the richly stained wood. “Guess I’ll see you when it’s time to get started.”
“OK,” I practically whisper, watching as he turns to walk away and I get an unobstructed view of his jean-clad ass. Yum!
It’s when I’m admiring his rear end that Jade suddenly opens the door and drags me inside. “Thank god you’re here! I can’t believe I’m doing this. I need you to tell me it’s OK.”
Placing my hands on either side of my best friend’s shoulders, I look deep into her eyes and smile. “Do you want to marry this guy?”
An ooey-gooey grin takes over her face and touches her eyes. “Yeah. I really do.”
“Then I don’t think you have a single thing to worry about. You follow your heart, and I’ll have your back every step of the way.”