Breaking Love (Broken Love #4), p.3B. B. Reid
“Is it wrong to want elegance at my daughter’s wedding?” My mother’s voice brought me back to the situation unraveling.
“No, but there’s a difference between elegance and excessiveness. Adding ten dozen more flower arrangements will turn her wedding into a greenhouse. Someone might think this is a convention to preserve Earth.”
“Young lady, this is my daughter’s wedding.”
“Yes, but I don’t see any other maid of honor in the room.”
I took that as my cue to leave and backpedaled from the kitchen before I could be swept up in the shit storm. When I was safe, I turned on my heel only to meet the stormy gaze of my best friend.
Whose calls I haven’t answered in three months.
“They’ve been bitching at each other for the last half hour,” he offered, his stare never wavering.
I fought not to fidget. Guilt constantly ate at me since the day my father delivered his ultimatum. It nearly devoured me now.
I saw the question in his eyes and the anger, but neither of them gave me pause like the glimpse of hurt I witnessed just before he disappeared.
With a few deep breaths, I was able to will my legs to move.
I needed to make it right with him.
But not today.
I had a plan to appease my father and keep my friendship with Keiran, but one that couldn’t involve him because I knew he wouldn’t go the safe or sane route if he knew about my father’s threat.
So, I stayed away.
Soft music floated in through the french doors leading to the garden area where the wedding would be held. I managed to make it to the stairs this time around after everyone had been seated.
I ascended the stairs in search of my sister and found her in her room, dressed in only a blue robe and playing with Kennedy on the floor.
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready?” I said by way of greeting. “Your guests are already seated.”
“Uncle!” Ken screamed when she spotted me. She ran over and caught her balance when she teetered by grabbing my leg tight. Her dark curls were pinned in a ponytail and held with a royal blue bow to match her dress. Innocence showing in her eyes as she looked up at me, the reminder of how we almost lost her still fresh. I felt the need to hold her close, so I picked her up high in the air before settling her against my chest.
“What’s up, troublemaker?”
“I not a trouble,” she pouted.
“Of course not. How could a pretty girl in a pretty dress be trouble?” I asked myself that very question almost every day. Those days I pushed myself the hardest.
“Daddy said I’m a princess.”
“Your daddy doesn’t know anything. You’re the princess.”
“Where’s Lake?” Sheldon cut in. “I need her to help me with my dress.”
“She was downstairs arguing with Mom about the flowers. I wanted to see if you needed anything.”
“Sure! Could you help me with my hair and makeup?”
“I don’t think so.”
“It’s simple really. Try not to make me look like an overdressed hooker and—”
“I meant, I won’t do it.”
She let out a dramatic sigh and moved closer to lay her hands on my jacket. “Dash, I love you like a brother—like a twin brother—but if you keep your grumpy attitude at my wedding, I won’t have any other choice but to cut you. Try to find that infamous charm deep, deep inside and turn it on for my day, okay? Who knows… maybe you’ll finally meet someone.”
Nervousness crept in when I remembered the other reason I came to find her. “I wanted to talk to you about that. I brought a guest.”
“Funny. I don’t remember your mention of a plus one a few months ago when the invitations were sent.”
“That’s because I didn’t have one a few months ago.”
“Dash,” she shrieked and stomped her foot.
“What’s the big deal?”
“Nothing, I suppose. Who is it?”
“You heard me, Sheldon. I brought her with me. Is that going to be a problem?” I didn’t mean to sound so cold, but guilt was tough to deal with while keeping a smile.
“Why did you bring her? I thought you were done with her after…” Her voice trailed off and a guilty flush colored her cheeks.
“After Willow,” she finished quietly.
“Sheldon, it’s been four years. Let it go. She’s probably married by now.”
“The only way she’s getting married this young is if she was knocked up by some—Oh… sorry,” she amended at the look on my face.
The thought of her with someone turned me cold, but the thought of her giving someone else what I wanted with her made me want to kill something.
“There’s more, but I’m not sure now is the time—”
“If you think you’re leaving this room alive without telling me, think again.” She plopped her hands on her hips, letting me know she was serious.
“Fuck.” I ran my fingers through my hair and instantly regretted it when I remembered the occasion. “Just remember… you wanted to know.”
“Rosalyn and I are getting married.”
She took a step back in shock. “To separate people?” she asked lamely.
“Come on, Sheldon. Don’t make me say it.”
“Say it, brother. Let me hear how much you don’t want this.”
“What’s the big fucking deal? We say a few words, we’re bonded forever, and our families will keep rolling in the dough.”
“Except you won’t be happy.”
“I haven’t been happy for years, little sister. What’s a few more.”
“It’s a lifetime,” she cried. Tears pooled and rolled down her cheeks, which she carelessly smeared on my jacket. “And I’m only younger by twelve minutes.”
“No, it isn’t. Dad isn’t being fair. He—”
“Hey, hey,” I soothed and grabbed the handkerchief in my pocket to clean her tears. “Stop that. It’s your wedding day. My problems aren’t important today.”
I waited patiently for her sniffles to subside, and when she was stable, I let her go. I thought I might make a clean escape before my own emotions rose to the surface, but her trembling voice stopped me.
“I never thanked you.”
“For what? I just wanted you to stop slobbering all over my suit,” I tried to joke.
“As ugly as you are, the ladies won’t mind, I’m sure. I just wanted to thank you for still being my big brother. You say you’re fine, but something is changing you. I just hope you won’t let whatever it is consume you.”
“Come on now… have I ever let you down?”
“I wouldn’t have minded you kicking Keenan’s ass a few more times.” She giggled.
“It would have been my pleasure if I thought it was actually warranted. He has his flaws, but I always knew it would work out. He’s open for you. For someone like him who has lost what he’s lost, it should have never happened, but it did. He let you in because he trusts you. He trusts you because he loves you. You make him vulnerable, but he relies on you to keep him whole. It’s love, and I would never have let him take it away from you.”
“So, shouldn’t I do the same for you?”
I took a deep breath and released it again. I was beginning to think she might never let the idea of Willow and me go.
“It’s done.” My jaw clenched. I released the tension by adding, “I’m fine with it.”
“But won’t be happy.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that happily-ever-after isn’t meant for everyone?”
“Has it ever occurred to you that it can be if you would pull your head out of your ass?”
“Sorry, sis. My head is a permanent part of my ass. Now, if you’ll excuse
“So where is she?”
“Your fiancée,” she answered impatiently.
“I had her wait in the car.”
Her shriek of laughter pierced my ears. “Could you be any more of a dick?”
“I wanted to make sure of your answer before bringing her inside.”
She quirked an eyebrow. “And if I’d said no?”
“I would have sent her away.”
“Aww, you would do that for me?”
“Don’t be a smartass.”
“Sorry, one of us had to be the smart one.”
“You know what that means, right?”
“It means I got the looks.”
I closed the door just in time to miss the missile thrown at my head and made my way downstairs, which was completely empty now. Lake and my mother must have stopped arguing long enough to ensure all the guests were now seated in the garden.
I peeked out one of the windows facing the garden to see a smaller party than I would have guessed for a Chambers. My dad had luckily only invited his closest friends and business partners. After all, it was only his daughter getting married and to someone he didn’t approve of. If he had his way, he would have married her off to the son of a partner for a more lucrative deal.
My father wasn’t the worst parent, but he wasn’t the most supportive, either. I told myself it could have been worse when I caught sight of Keiran standing just inside the french doors.
He could have tried to kill us for money.
“Hey, Keiran. It’s nice to see you again.” Diana Fulton, the daughter of Keiran’s former mentor, turned enemy, sashayed through the doors leading to the garden.
“Di.” He nodded his head, but the tight line of his lips told me being cordial was the last thing he wanted. “I trust you’ve kept my brother in trouble?”
“Oh, you know it, big guy. We’ve torn the streets of L.A. apart with our whoring and ravishing.”
He grunted and then twisted his lips with amusement. “I never said I thought of you that way.”
“Then how do you see me?” she grinned and flirted.
“As a nuisance,” he replied before walking away.
“Aww, you’re just jealous because I gave you a run for your money as best man,” she called after him.
I wondered if it was all an act or if she was really that shameless considering her and Lake were somewhat close. No one could have ever predicted how close she and Keenan had become much to Sheldon’s displeasure.
She still hated that girl, though no one knew why. Not even Keenan.
When her eyes landed on me, her smile widened lasciviously. “Well… if it isn’t the King of the Boardroom, come to grace us with his presence. Or is it the bedroom that you dominate best?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I regarded her carefully as she approached and felt surprised at the spark of my dick awakening. Her chest was on display for me to appreciate so I made no effort to hide my interest. It had been a while since I’d gotten laid, and though her presence affected my dick, I was safe. Her effect on me had no power where it counted.
“I would. So, what do you say we ditch this party and have one of our own?”
“I’d say that is a tempting offer, but one I’d have to decline.”
“Oh? At the risk of sounding like a desperate slut, may I ask why? You so obviously like me,” she cooed, sneaking a peek my hard-on.
“So?” She moved closer until her breasts were pressed against my chest. The low cut bodice allowed me to see more. So much fucking more.
“There simply isn’t enough time,” I answered smoothly. I caught the surprise before she recovered and licked her lips.
“A quick fuck can be just as pleasurable as a lingering fuck.”
“I have no doubt, but as much as I would love to fuck the shit out of you, I’d still have to decline.”
“Now I’m really curious.”
Because I couldn’t help myself, I ran a finger across the bare skin of her breasts. The hitch in her breath and her racing pulse encouraged me, but the sound of footsteps halted me. “My fiancée is waiting,” I said simply and left her standing alone.
I had my dick under control by the time I fled through the front doors. Rosalyn was now waiting outside the car, appearing annoyed, but I couldn’t care less. She was getting everything she wanted while I was getting none of what I needed. She could be kept waiting a few minutes.
“It’s about time. I don’t see why I had to wait in the car. It’s not as if your sister and I aren’t friends. Why wouldn’t she want me here?” She fired off before I could speak a word or even reach the car.
“Because it’s my sister’s wedding, not yours. This isn’t about you.” I wanted to add that my sister would rather eat her own tongue before calling her a friend but didn’t need the headache of the blow up that would follow.
“She said yes, didn’t she?”
I watched her smug attitude spread like a wildfire until it reached her lips and wanted nothing more than to send her away. Her acceptance to the wedding would only further delude her idea that we were meant to be.
However, before I could offer a reply, the sound of an engine roaring and squealing tires shifted my attention the dark van barreling up the long driveway. My heart rate accelerated almost as fast as the van as it sped toward the entrance. Instinct caused me to duck behind the car as did Rosalyn, who was already screaming bloody murder. I waited for the gunshots I was sure would follow, but none came. Instead, the sound of a door as it slid open, followed by a loud thud and shouting, cut through Rosalyn’s screaming. When I was sure the van had retreated, I took my first look around the car. The driver was already out and kneeling over what looked like a person. I ran over and came to a dead halt when I was able to confirm it was not only a body, but it was the body of someone I knew all too well.
MY MISSION WAS clear. How I could ever go through with it was what I didn’t understand.
As I looked around the room, I saw a mixture of emotions—surprise, wariness, fear, and anger. I could understand it because each one was warranted. I had not spoken with or laid eyes on any of them in almost four years, and my entrance back into their lives was less than exemplary.
I was just happy to be alive.
I’d deal with the fallout and consequences of that fact later.
“Is anyone going to say anything or should I start?”
“I think it’s only fair,” Keenan answered slowly. “You were the one who was just thrown out of a moving van.”
“Yes, I, um—didn’t enjoy that… if you were wondering.”
“How about, why?”
“I wanted to crash the wedding. My invitation was lost in the mail, and I didn’t want to come empty handed, so I came with entertainment.”
“Willow,” Keiran warned. It was obvious he hadn’t changed much. Threatening was still his tactic of choice. Lake, my best friend of ten years, stood by his side. She stumped me the most because for once there was no emotion in her blue-green eyes. They were blank but ever watchful.
“Right. The short, less entertaining version is that I hitched a ride and pissed some people off. That will teach me to take rides from strangers.”
“Why would you?” The rough tone of my first and former lover vibrated down my spine sending tingles to every sensitive nerve I possessed. The cold anger in his eyes matched his tone, but the way I responded to it was most frightening. I never expected to lay eyes on him again.
“Why would I…?”
“Take a ride from a stranger.”
“Because I didn’t have a choice.”
That at least wasn’t a lie.
“Because I didn’t have a ride.”
What none of them knew was for four years, every other month, on the third Saturday of each month, I visited my mother. It was a lie we managed and a secret we kept until today.
I just didn’t have all the answers.
“And you couldn’t call someone?”
“Sorry… new phone.”
“You’re lying,” Dash growled.
“I forgot how much of an expert you were at that. Figures you would be able to tell.”
“What about your mother? Your brother?”
“Look, I’m sorry I ruined this happy moment, but it’s none of your business.”
“I beg to fucking differ. You ruined my bride’s wedding day. If you don’t start talking, I’m going to make you scream the truth.”
Keenan was out of his seat and across the room before anyone could move. The violence in his eyes was unmistakable and I was taken aback by it all. I’d never known him to do anything but supply an endless run of jokes and come-ons.
His anger reminded me that I didn’t know these people anymore.
They weren’t my friends.
He kept coming, but I stood my ground even though every muscle quaked with unease. Dash moved forward to stand in front of me, but I wouldn’t mistake it as the need to protect.
Sheldon, who still had not spoken a word, managed to intercept him. Keiran and Lake also moved forward, but their concern was also for Keenan.
I needed out so I could regroup.
When I unbounded the plane this afternoon, I didn’t expect any of this. I was thrown into a lion’s den, but at this point, I couldn’t tell which were the culprits and which the lions.
I was alone and would be forever if I didn’t do what I was told. I wasn’t the one at stake. My mother and brother were.
“Maybe I should go.” Because I wasn’t the bitch they all believed me to be, I met Sheldon’s stare and searched for the right words. Once upon a time, she was a best friend, and I ruined what would have been the best day of her life. “Sheldon, I’m—”
Breaking Love (Broken Love #4) by B. B. Reid / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes