He was the sexiest best man the maid of honor had ever seen, and he wouldn’t stop looking at her.
Stomach clenched tight with longing, she stared into his gorgeous obsidian eyes and wondered how she was going to have the courage to tell them that their one incredible night together, that night that should have never happened, but did, had resulted in a little surprise on the way.
That the stork would be paying them a visit in eight months or so.
The thought alone made her legs tremble. Clutching her white orchid bouquet with trembling hands, Kate Devaney forced herself to focus on her sister, Molly, and how stunning she looked up on the altar in her snow-white wedding gown next to the drop-dead-gorgeous groom.
The fresh noon sun lit her lovely pink-cheeked face, its warm rays illuminating the couple as they stood before the priest. They were surrounded by an explosion of white casablancas, orchids, tulips and roses. The train of the bride’s wedding gown reached almost to the end of the red velvet carpet, where the guests sat in rapt attention on rows and rows of elegant white benches. Molly’s voice trembled with emotion as she spoke her vows to Julian, her best friend for forever, and the man she had always loved.
“I, Molly, take you, Julian John, to be my husband…”
Kate’s heart constricted with emotion for her little sister, but no matter how much she fought the impulse, her eyes kept straying to the right side of the groom… to where the best man stood towering and silent.
Her tummy quivered when their eyes met again. his eyes were hot and tumultuous, his jaw set tight and square as a cutting board.
He’d been looking at her for every second of the ceremony, his palpable gaze boring pinprick holes through the top of her head.
What a pity that his fiancée wasn’t at the wedding, so that he could go and stare at that blonde and leave Kate alone, she thought angrily.
But no, he haunted her. This man. Day and night she thought of him, wanted him, ached for him, while every second of the day she tried futilely to forget him.
For the past month, it had been a struggle to ignore the enticing memories of the things he’d said to her, a struggle not to remember the way he’d held her in his strong, hard arms like she was more precious than platinum.
She’d told herself, every night for the past thirty nights, that they would never work, and when she’d finally heard of his upcoming marriage, she’d had no other choice but to beleive herself.
It was fine. Really. She hadn’t wanted to marry him. She would never marry unless she could have what Molly and Julian had; if Kate couldn’t have a little piece of real love for herself, then she’d rather be alone.
So tomorrow she was leaving. She had a one-way ticket to Florida, Miami, to be precise. Where she could begin a new life and never have to see the man she loved with another woman again. But before she left, she must let him know the truth. A truth she had been carefully keeping to herself for a month, not wanting to detract from the joy of Molly’s big day.
Molly was her only sister; Kate had practically raised her since they had both been orphaned as little girls. She wanted Molly’s wedding day to be perfect.
Yes, Kate was pregnant, but there was still plenty of time to find the right moment to tell Garrett about it. If only he’d stop looking at her like he wanted her for lunch, making her insides twist and clench with yearning.
“You may now kiss the bride!”
Startled, Kate couldn’t believe she’d missed so much of the ceremony, and then she watched as the handsome, blonde-haired Julian lifted Molly into his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather and kissed the breath out of her.
Arms twining around him, Molly squeaked in delight as Julian swung her full circle, still kissing her. But as he pulled back with a frown and murmured, “Oh, crap!” when he realized Molly’s train had gone round and round both their bodies.
When they looked down at the coil around them, they both burst out laughing, then they started kissing again, Julian’s open hands engulfing all of Molly’s petite face as he cradled it.
“I got it,” Kate said, laughing as she easily detached the train from her sister’s dress. With Molly in his arms, Julian hopped out of the tulle and carried her down the aisle to the cheers and claps of their guests and the blaring sound of the “Wedding March.”
They looked so happy, so in love, as they headed for the beautifully decorated gardens where their outdoor wedding celebration was to take place, leaving Kate behind with a pair of stinging eyes, the train and the best man.
As Kate began gathering what felt like a hundred miles of tulle, Garrett game over, bringing her the other end of the train. She couldn’t seem to look up at him. God, why was she even blushing? They’d grown up together. He should be a man she was comfortable with and instead she was a wreck just wondering how she was going to tell him.
Despite how much it hurt her to know he was marrying someone else, she didn’t want to ruin his life, because he’d always protected and cared for her. Always.
And she feared this news was going to be a whopper for him.
Suddenly his tan, long-fingered hands captured and stilled hers, and she held her breath as the warmth of his palms seeped into her skin. She looked up and into those riveting onyx eyes, her lungs straining for air.
“Tell me if I’m mistaken—” his voice was low, his eyes so unbearably intimate she could die “—but did my brother just marry your sister?”
She wouldn’t stare at his beautifully shaped lips as he spoke. She wouldn’t. But, oh, God, he was so handsome she could burst from it. “It only took a full hour, Garrett. You couldn’t have missed it,” she said, trying to keep her voice level.
And yet, maybe she was hallucinating, but… was he staring at her lips? “Apparently I did.”
“You were standing right there. Where were you? Mars?” She straightened and rolled her eyes, ready to leave, but his voice, the intensity in his words, stopped her.
“I was in my bedroom, Kate. With you in my arms.”
She was utterly still, her back to him, while every inch of her body fought to suppress a tremor of heat that fluttered enticingly down her spine. His words seduced her body and soul in ways she couldn’t even believe were possible. Her legs felt watery and every pore in her body quivered with wanting of him. His words transported her to his bedroom. To his arms. To that night.
No, no, no, she couldn’t do this here. She just couldn’t.
Shaking her head almost to herself, she started down the beautiful red path that led to the Gage mansion, painfully aware that he followed.
“Kay, I need to talk to you,” he said thickly.
That low, course timbre managed to do sexy things to her skin, and her physical response to him irritated her beyond measure.
“If it’s to tell me about your wedding, I already know. Congratulations,” she said in a voice as flat as the bottom of her shoe.
“Then maybe you can tell me the details, since apparently you know more about it than I do? Dammit, I need to talk to you somewhere private.”
He grabbed her elbow to halt her, but she immediately yanked it free. “I need to talk to you, too, but I’m not doing it here. Nor am I doing it today.”
He followed her again with long, easy strides, the determination in his voice nearly undoing her. “Well, I am. So just listen to me.” He stopped her again, forced her to turn and stared heatedly into her eyes. “I don’t know what happened to me the other day, Katie… What you told me so damn winded, I swear I didn’t know where to begin…”
She covered her ears. “Not here, please, please not here!”
He seized her wrists and forced her hands down. “I know I hurt you, I know you don’t want me to apologize, but I need to say I am sorry. I am sorry for how things have gone down and for hurting you. I’m sorry how it happened, Katie. I wish I’d done it differently. If I could take it back, I would, if only to get you to stop looking at me like you are just now.”
His apology was the last straw. It really was. The last. Straw. “You wish to take the night back, that’s what you wish?” The pitch of her voice was rising, but she couldn’t control the hysteria bubbling up inside her chest, couldn’t stop herself from incredulously thinking, How can I take back the baby you gave me, you ass! “Oh, you’re something special, do you know that? You’re something else. I can’t even believe I let you put your filthy paws on me, you no-good—”
“Goddammit, I really didn’t want to do it this way, Kay. But you’re giving me no choice!” Teeth gritted, he scooped her up into his arms and stalked across the gardens toward the house.
“Wha—” The tulle train fell inch by inch from her grasp and trailed a path behind them as she kicked and squirmed and hit his chest. “Garrett, stop! Put me down! What are you doing?”
He kicked the front doors open and carried her up the stairs, his jaw like steel, his hands blatantly gripping her buttocks. “Something I should’ve done a long, long time ago.”