Hello fellow readers and authors!
I thought I’d start this month out with a free read from my bestselling novel, Designing Love. This is the first chapter, “Something Blue”, where the hero of the story is faced with the chore of being the best man at the wedding of his ex-woman and best friend, two people who betrayed his trust.
from Designing Love
“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
The groom lifted the ivory veil and gazed at his new wife with pride. Tears of joy trickled down her face. Smiling, he palmed her flushed cheeks and captured her pink, pouting lips with a kiss.
A roar of applause erupted across the terrace. Butterflies were set free and tears filled the eyes of many envious women. Helicopters hovered overhead, harboring anxious paparazzi, who attempted to snap a money-making shot of the star studded event. Too bad a huge tent blocked their view of the lovely ceremony.
“I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Hanks,” the priest announced proudly.
Maintaining a smile, that fought to leave his face, Devon Sparks patted the back of the groom, his best friend, Roland Hanks; the man who’d just married the woman of his dreams, after only three months of dating.
A beautiful love story, if you believed in that kind of shit.
Stacy Ann Larson, Devon’s former live-in girlfriend, fanned her face, trying desperately to dry the tears that proceeded to wreck her make-up. All twelve of her delighted bridesmaids surrounded her. Squeals and cheers of glee erupted from them.
Devon winced. Damn bridesmaids. He could think of a thousand other places he’d rather be than standing there watching the woman he loved beaming with happiness at being married to another man.
But he had to be there. He was, after all, the best man.
“Aw man. I’m the luckiest son-of-bitch in the world.” Roland yanked him into a back-slapping hug.
Returning the manly embrace, Devon recalled him shouting those same words while cuddled up with three sex-drained strippers last night. It wasn’t a surprise to him at all. Devon knew his friend of eighteen years would’ve taken a taste of the women as soon as they sashayed into the hotel room. Two blondes and one brunette, all prepared to give Roland, the super model, a happy send-off into the bonds of matrimony. Thanks to Kevin, his fraternity brother who set up the whole shindig.
“Dev, I want to thank you for coming out to be my best man. I couldn’t have done it without you,” he praised, honest emotions behind his glazed grey eyes.
Yeah, thank me for pulling your ass out of bed with three strange women and getting you into the shower to wash the scent of pussy off you, so you could make it to your wedding on time. Thank me for mixing up the concoction to sober your ass up, so you wouldn’t pass out at the altar, while marring my ex-girlfriend; whom I happen to still love. Yeah, dude, you owe me a big ass thank you.
He glanced over Roland’s shoulder. Stacy Ann was watching them with anxiety in her deep blue-green eyes and her bottom lip tucked between her teeth. Probably worried he’d make a scene. Hell, he couldn’t even put it past himself. The thought of getting pissy ass drunk and confessing his undying love for her in front of the wedding party had actually crossed his mind, but he wasn’t partial to humiliation, so the thought was quickly dismissed.
“Hey man, the two blondes wanted you bad,” Roland whispered. “They were disappointed you didn’t join in.”
“Next time, buddy…” Devon drew back and gripped his friend’s shoulder to move him in position to take his new wife’s arm. “Next time,” he finished on a mumble beneath his breath.
Sure, he could’ve told her she was making the biggest mistake in history by marrying Roland Hanks, but he knew his words would be ineffectual. She’d either hate him for revealing the truth or accuse him of being jealous and resentful. Either way he’d lose.
Devon held his arm out to Kimberly, the maid of honor, so they could take their positions to follow the groom and bride.
Beaming up at him, she took his arm and whispered, “Devon, you should be the one standing next to her as the groom. Yeah, he may be a big time celebrity and all, but he can’t compare to you. You’re the better man, hands down.”
Smiling warmly, he patted her white gloved hand. “No, sweetheart, I’m just the best man.”
Even Kim knew he still loved Stacy Ann.
Any other man in his position wouldn’t be this calm or willing to act as if he wasn’t torn up inside. But what was he to do? Even though Roland had broken the cardinal rule of friendship and went after his woman when he saw things were going bad, he couldn’t hate him for it. Truth was, he loved the guy like a brother and would always love him as such.
Sure, he had his moment of retribution when he beat Roland to a pulp for fucking his woman, but the satisfaction evaporated when he realized Roland was Stacy Ann’s choice. Roland’s lifestyle as a super model reeled her in like fish on a hook. She wanted the kind of life he could give her, to be talked about, seen in magazines, and envied by woman all over, for marrying the supposedly sexiest male model on this side of the equator. To her, it was better than being with a mere architect who was married to his job.
When they were together, Stacy Ann had demanded his attention twenty-four seven. The time he spent creating his buildings was a major source of dissension between them. The first month with her had been magical. He spent every waking hour doing for her, pleasing her, cherishing her. Then the beautiful minx somehow talked him into taking her in, sharing his home with her.
Like a dummy, he complied.
Two years, they argued over his dedication to his work. Twenty-four months, she demanded time he wasn’t ready to give. And it took him a hundred and four weeks to realize he and this woman were on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Nevertheless, he loved her. He still loved her.
Even after their final fight, which cost him the love of his life, Devon passed out false forgiveness. He forgave Roland, of course after he dropped to his knees and begged for it. He forgave Stacy, even after she came to him, a month ago with news of her engagement to his best friend.
That same day, she mounted Devon, and cooed words filled with erotic promises, and loved him hard and long, for closure. But she left him with an open gaping wound in his heart.
As they gradually moved along the terrace, Devon felt the eyes studying him intensely. It was almost as if he was getting more attention than the married couple in front of him. Scanning the area, he saw the eager women ogling him. He almost laughed.
Yes, he was the single friend who every woman with an itch wanted a piece of. Even an elderly woman, who stood aside, batted her eyes at him. He could do nothing but flash a tight-lipped smile at her. Now that’s just wrong. She is someone’s grandmother.
Finally, they made it to the reception hall where they took their assigned seats at the newly married couple’s table. The wedding coordinator rushed up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Please tell me you have a speech ready.”
“Don’t need one,” he murmured, watching the guest file into the sizeable room.
“Yes you do,” she whispered harshly.
Bathed in her spearmint coated breath, he turned and looked at her. “Relax Karen, I have it covered.”
She folded her lips in and patted his shoulder. “You better, mister, or it’s me and you after this reception.”
Grinning, he squeezed her hand. “Threat taken.”
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Everyone’s attention shifted to him when he tapped the champagne glass with his fork. Glancing at Stacy Ann and Roland, he slowly stood.
“For those of you who don’t know…”
He heard Stacy taking in small sips of air. This was the time in the ceremony where he was supposed to screw things up.
“Roland and I have been friends for eighteen years.” But he wouldn’t dare screw up their perfect wedding day, even if he hated himself at the moment.
Devon plastered on a phony smile as he went on to spill out false words about the strength of his everlasting brotherhood with the groom to the crowd of onlookers who probably didn’t give a damn. Lightening the mood of the evening, he told jokes, which were funnier to the women than men. Naturally so, since they were all trying to get his attention. Finally, he ended his Oscar-winning performance by lifting his champagne glass.
“To the coolest guy I know – my brother,” He turned his gaze to Stacy Ann, who looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. “For finally finding the love of his life. May you two cherish one another until the end of time.”
End of performance.
Everyone applauded. Roland shot to his feet and pulled him into a bear hug. Over Roland’s shoulder, he stared at the woman who still owned his heart.
“Thank you,” she mouthed giving him a smile which nearly sent him over the edge.
Kim stood to give her I think Stacy Ann is so awesome speech, but Devon was too flustered to stay and listen. Retaining his happy façade, he moved from the table, navigated the outskirts of the hall, to make his way to the back of the building, then slipped into the bathroom.
Kim’s cheerful voice followed him into the handicap stall. His heart raced and stomach hurled. Sickened, he leaned over the commode and brought up the food he’d eaten earlier.
At that moment, he was utterly disgusted with himself. How could he have let this happen? How could he have let Roland talk him into coming to the wedding, and being the best man at that? What the fuck!
He should’ve cast them both out of his life the moment he found out about their love affair. He should’ve burned everything Stacy Ann had left in his house instead of pretending she’d never left. What the fuck was his problem? He’d never let anyone run circles around him. So why was he doing it now?
He pushed out a hard breath and shook his head.
Spitting out the last bit of his pride, he moved over to the sink. He triggered the sensor beneath the faucet, filled his cupped hands with water,
tossed it in his mouth, gargled then spat it out. Sighing, he filled his hands again and doused his face. Reluctantly, he stared at his reflection in the mirror, wishing for the power to transport elsewhere.
Another round of applause blared through the ceiling speakers as Kim concluded her speech. With sadness clouding his blue eyes, he watched the droplets of water drip from his face. He dreaded having to go back out into the pit of shame. If only he could just linger indefinitely in the bathroom.
“Yeah, I get like that too.”
Slowly, he turned his head to see a sexy redhead propped against the open stall with a seductive intention gleaming in her piercing green eyes. A silky burgundy gown clung delicately to her lean curves. Tan freckles dotted her milky white cleavage. She had the type of beauty that belonged in front of a camera. Definitely a model, most likely Roland’s guest.
“When I have to get up in front of a crowd of people…” She smoothed her hands down her gown, displaying more of her slender frame. “My nerves get the better of me and I end up running to the bathroom too.”
Casually, he eyed her up and down before turning back to the sink. He snatched a paper towel from the dispenser and dried his face.
“Have I wondered into the ladies room?” he asked, balling up the paper to toss it into the trash.
“No, you’re in the right place.” Her eyes roamed desirably over him.
Something so recklessly dangerous and erotic sparked within her gaze. He nearly snatched her from where she stood to pin her to the wall. That would be rich; fucking some random chick in the bathroom during his friend’s wedding celebration.
But it wouldn’t happen. Not today. He was too damn distraught to act on such an exotic fantasy.
Offering her a sheepish grin, he moved past her to exit the stall, grazing his fingertips across her belly in the process. She quivered against his soft touch.
He leaned in until his lips were almost touching her ear. “For the record, I usually like to pursue my lovers, not the other way around.”
The air from her shaky sigh tickled the side of his face. He inhaled the scent of her sweet perfume, and stepped away, leaving her speechless. Suddenly eager to get out of restroom with the promiscuous nymph, he headed toward the exit.
He’d seen women do some pretty interesting things to get his attention, but following him into the rest room was a little extreme.
Holding the door open for her, he watched her saunter across the tile like she was on a cat walk. “You act like you haven’t already pictured yourself between my thighs.”
At her bold words his cock stirred to life as she brushed past him. He smiled, raked his hands through his hair and watched her behind sway provocatively. Although her approach was a bit off putting, her raw sensuality gradually drew him out of his doleful mood.
He looked out onto the dance floor to see the celebration was well on its way. Baby got back from Sir Mix A Lot blared from the speakers while several people, without back, gyrated and jerked on the platform in the center of the room. Chuckling beneath his breath, he shifted his eyes back to the redhead to catch her watching him.
Amused, he moved to her side. “I can’t figure out for the life of me why people with no ass feel the need to dance to this song.”
With laughter dancing in her eyes, she snickered. “My sentiments exactly, that’s why I’m not out on the dance floor.” She looked out to the crowd and sidled closer to him. “So what’s it going to be, handsome? Are you going to take me back to your place, or are you going to continue to act like you don’t want a piece of me?”
A half smile curved his lips. Should I?
Devon looked across the packed hall at the head table. Stacy Ann watched him intently. To her right, Roland slapped high fives and joked with his groomsmen. The champagne was already taking affect on his wild friend. After a swift perusal of the scene, he locked eyes with Stacy Ann.
“Don’t let the looks fool you darling,” he said to the redhead without wavering from Stacy Ann’s gaze. “I’m damaged goods.”
“Aren’t we all? Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I want your body, not your heart.”
Smiling more to himself than at the gorgeous bride staring at him from across the room, he slid his gaze to the eager beauty to his side. Why shouldn’t he have a piece of her? Hell, it was a lot better than sitting around lapping at his wounded heart. From his peripheral, he saw Stacy Ann stand and leave the table.
“What’s your name?” He gently cupped her elbow.
“Carmen,” she breathed out as if his touch had her at a loss for breath.
He ushered her toward the exit. “Nice to meet you, Carmen.”
He turned his head toward the strident call of his name. There stood Stacy in her lovely wedding gown, her hands planted on her hips. “Are you trying to sneak out, Devon?” she asked, darting her eyes at Carmen.
“No, I wasn’t sneaking anywhere. I was simply leaving.”
“You can’t leave.”
“Wait, Devon. That’s not right. You’re the best man. Roland would be upset if you just left.”
“Really? Well let’s put it to the test, shall we?” He looked toward the head table, got Roland’s attention, nodded to him then nodded toward Carmen. With a dumb ass grin crossing his face, Roland nodded back, signaling his approval with two thumbs up. “See, no problem there.”
“But – but Devon, you owe me a dance.”
And there it was. The sweet tone she used to get whatever she wanted from him; the soft needy appeal that always turned him to putty.
“It’s my wedding day. Can’t you spare one little dance for me?” she coaxed, pouting her mouth.
Wiping his hand down his face, he reluctantly shook his head. “Stacy Ann, I really don’t want—.”
“I have a business proposition for you, one which requires your expertise in architecture.”
He perked up. Now she was talking his language. “One dance,” he grumbled sternly, taking her arm to lead her to the dance area.
He glanced back at Carmen and she mouthed, “I’ll be right here.”
Twirling Stacy Ann out on the floor, he swayed her to the song, Quando Quando Quando.
Guests moved about on the dance floor, too focused on their own steps to pay them any attention, which suited him because he wasn’t in the mood to be in the spot light. He glanced to his left to see Roland clumsily twirling Kim about while she tittered like a school girl. The sight briefly brought a smile to his face.
Giggling, Stacy Ann beamed up at him. “You were always a fabulous dancer.”
“Cut the shit, Stacy Ann. What’s the proposition?”
She narrowed her eyes and pushed air swiftly through her teeth. “You were really going to leave with her, weren’t you?”
“I am going to leave with her. And what does it matter to you anyway?”
“She’s my cousin, Devon.”
Glancing at the patiently waiting redhead, who kept her eyes glued on him, he smiled. He’d only met Stacy Ann’s mother and father, no uncles, aunts, and definitely no cousins, but the fact Carmen was family to her didn’t shake his resolve in the least.
“And this means what to me, exactly?”
He almost chuckled when she huffed in irritation. “She’s only trying to get with you, because she knows you and I used to be an item. She’s always been jealous of me and always wanted everything I had. She’s just using you to get under my skin.”
“Again, I should care about this because?” Smoothly, he dipped her for the cameras.
“You don’t have to be so bitter, Devon. You and I are still friends and I still love you,” she disclosed softly, so only his ears caught her words. “I know this is a lot to ask of you, but it’s a matter of respect. Please don’t sleep with my cousin.”
“Respect!” he shot back a lot louder than he intended. He stepped away from her. A few heads spun in their direction, but he was too damn appalled to keep up the façade of civility.
Hesitantly, she reached out, pulled him close and smiled for the onlookers. “Don’t make a scene,” she hissed through clenched teeth. “I’m not trying to rile you up. I’m just asking for a favor.”
Grounding his teeth in frustration, he took her hand and gracefully spun her out then back into his arms again. “Alright, I won’t sleep with her, but I will sleep with the devilishly sexy brunette staring at me from across the room. Oh, and look at that, she winked.”
“No, don’t.” Stacy Ann whined, without turning to see who he was referring to.
“Why, is she your cousin too?”
“Look, this is a terrible position for me and it’s just going to take me a while to get used to the idea of you being with someone else. Like I said, I still love you, but at the same time, I love Roland too.”
Devon turned to pull away from her, but she held on tight to his jacket.
“Part of me still belongs to you, Devon. You know that. So, please, just give me time.”
He briefly closed his eyes, placed a hand on the center of her back and grazed his fingers across the pearl buttons which held the lovely gown together. As not to give away his desire for her, he moved her around the dance floor, fighting to keep a respectful distance between them.
“Okay. Tell me about this proposition.”
Smiling wider, she petted his chest. “Thank you, Devon. I want you to design a house, two levels. There are no budget constraints, really. I want this house to be suitable for Roland and me to start a family. Our dream house.”
The record scratched in his mind, ceasing the crooning voice of Micheal Buble.
Did she just ask him to design a house for her and Roland? One of which they’d build a family in?
Unpleasantly surprised, he stared at her not moving, not even breathing for a moment. This was coming from the same woman who confessed she never wanted to have children. Now all of a sudden she wanted to create a family, with another man?
Of all the things she could’ve done to rip his heart out, this was at the top of the list, but believe it or not, he couldn’t turn her down. He’d never turn down an offer to do what he loved, even if it was offered by two people, who seemed like they wanted to destroy him.
“Excuse me,” he choked out, backing away from her.
After bowing politely, he turned and moved swiftly off the dance floor. He darted to the back of the hall, grabbed Carmen’s hand and pushed through the double doors without looking back.
Fuck the promise! He needed someone to distract him from fucking hanging himself.
His inner voice told him not to do it, but he’d already set in his mind that he would. He would design their dream house. He’d design one so spectacular they’d never want to leave it, once built. But to do so, he’d need several bottles of scotch and many nights of mind numbing sex with a beautiful stranger.
Copyright © Yvonne Nicolas 2010
Wanna know what happens next? 😀