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“You fucking asshole!”

“Yeah, but then again, you knew that too.”

We finish dressing in silence and right before I turn to leave, I pull her to me, making sure there is no room for miscommunication here.

“Don’t cross me again. I want to play again, maybe I will call, but do not fucking cross me.” I open the door and wave my hand for her to proceed me. Locking up and jogging back down the stairs, I leave Mandy to fend for herself. She got what she wanted; I got what I needed. End of story.

Everyone seems to have carried on without me, and by the time I make it back to their post at the bar, the girls have started another round of ridiculous as fuck drink ordering. Maddox and Beck seem to be the only motherfuckers as sour as I am.

“GREG!” Izzy screams. She giggles a few times and almost falls to the floor before Axel grabs her. “Gregory Cage! Why did you run my friend off? Huh? She was finally having a good time.” She pouts and has some kind of silent conversation with herself for a few seconds, and then, before I can even open my mouth, she moves her attention back over to Emmy.

“Just ignore her man; she’s been all over the fucking place since Dee started with those fucking pussy drinks.” I look over at Beck, wondering why the fuck he is putting up with this shit again from Dee.

“Warned them last time, when the pussy drinks start coming out, I’m gone. You’re on your own, motherfucker.” I laugh and make quick work of saying goodbye. There’s no telling how long they will stick around tonight, and after all my shit, I’m not in the mood to stick this one out.

I catch Mandy standing in the corner shooting daggers at me on my way out. It might be time to cut that one loose before she becomes even more of an issue.

Chapter 6

The morning of Axel and Izzy’s wedding is a mess. Everything seems to be going wrong. Axel is having a fit trying to keep Izzy calm over the phone. Dee won’t stop blowing my phone up about every fucking thing from flowers to condoms for Axel. Last time I checked, he is a grown fucking man and can take care of that shit on his own. The last call about grabbing Izzy’s panties before leaving their house is met with the dial tone. I might love her like a sister, but no fucking way I am digging through her underwear.

I have managed to get all the small fires out before finally making my way back to their house. Emmy has been frantically setting up the backyard for the reception to follow the wedding. After spending all day yesterday setting up the tents and tables, not much is left to do other than the chairs and shit. Between the two of us, we manage to finish it up and make it back to the church in time to get ready.

Before I can even throw the truck in park, she climbs out and runs. Not just runs, but takes off in some mad sprint like someone just yelled cake at fat camp.

“Emmy!” I yell across the parking lot. “Babe, what’s the hurry?”

“Don’t give me your sass, Greg Cage! You know we were supposed to be here an hour ago.”

I call bullshit. Emmy might be many things, but she is shit at hiding something that’s weighing hard on her.

“Try ten minutes ago, babe. What’s really got you tied up? You’ve been quiet this week.”

She quirks her brow at my quiet remark. Truth is, she is always quiet and always assessing. Axel is convinced she has some magical powers. Izzy thinks she is trying to make herself invisible. I think she just has a bad crush on the wrong dude.

I know what’s eating her today. Maddox is bringing a date. No one we know, but he told Izzy the other day to expect one. I think his exact words were, “Girl, gotta date.” Luckily, Iz speaks Maddox Locke, because even now, after almost fifteen years, I still don’t understand the motherfucker. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, but he waited until Iz was chatting with Emmy up front at the office to make his grand announcement. Subtle.

“Em.” I say, “Don’t waste your time. As much as I hate to say it, Locke is just never going to be the man you wish he was.” She closes her eyes tight, nods her head, and spins on her heels. Before I can even breathe, she disappears.

I make a mental note to pull him aside and remind him again that he needed to set this straight. I’m sick of watching her mope around and wait for something that will never happen.

After grabbing my tux out of the truck, I take off into the church and search out my girl. Ever since the first day I meet Izzy, even though the circumstances sucked, I have known that she will always hold a piece of my heart, a piece I thought was forever lost when Gracie died. It isn’t hard to love her. Watching her struggle to survive what her ex-husband put her through isn’t easy.

The last year, give or take some time, has been a real struggle. In a sense, I am beyond relieved that someone I consider blood isn’t in danger; won’t be in danger. But, the flip side of that is the knowledge that she doesn’t need me anymore. Sure, she will always need me, but not the same way. She doesn’t need me to make sure her demons will stay away. I don’t think I will ever get used to the fact that my girl doesn’t need my protection anymore.

I can even admit to myself that I have a hard time trusting even Axel with her. It just hits too close to the pain. Grace. There isn’t much about Izzy that doesn’t remind me of Gracie. The only difference is that Gracie… Gracie didn’t win. She didn’t win, and I wasn’t there to make sure she did. Walking Izzy down the aisle today will be bittersweet. Beyond bittersweet. My girl found her other half, finally, and they deserve this. But even knowing this, I can’t help the crushing wave of pure agony that swims through my body.

My Gracie will never know this happiness. My Gracie isn’t here because I couldn’t keep her safe.

Never again, I vow. I will never let anyone or anything stand between those I love and their happiness.

“This church is too damn big,” I curse, walking the maze upon maze of hallways. Checking my watch and noting the time doesn’t help my panic one bit.

“Yo! G-Man. You keep muttering to yourself instead of getting your ugly mug ready, there won’t be a wedding.” Coop. Damn. If anyone could hold me up even longer, it will be this bastard.

“Well, then help me out asshole. Where can I go get ready?”

“Hey, you think there will be some single ladies here tonight?” he asks, completely ignoring me. I can feel the sweat prickling my skin. My jaw drops and my head pounds as he goes on and on about his mission. Idiot.

A slap him on the back of his sexed up head finally gets him to shut up about how weddings are a perfect place to look for new pussy. “Don’t say pussy in church, motherfucker.”

“Oh yeah? Because motherfucker is better?”

“Zeke Cooper… so fucking help me, tell me where the hell to go get into the monkey suit.”

He opens his mouth to answer, but is cut off by Izzy’s sweet voice calling down the hall, “G! Get in here!” She must have been standing there long enough to listen to Coop’s one-sided conversation about how pussy at weddings is the best, because they are all desperate for some good dick.

“Don’t fuck this day up by trying to get your dick wet.” I can hear his laughter trailing behind me as I take off in a jog towards where I heard Izzy’s voice.

I can hear the female chatter before I even make it to the door. How the hell did I miss this room on my thirty-minute search? When I open the door, what I see almost brings me to my knees. If I ever questioned the bond between Izzy and me, I have no doubts now. Pride. The overwhelming pride that takes over my system is so powerful. I haven’t felt like this since Gracie called to tell me she got her first teaching job. She had been so excited to start work at the local private school, so eager to start her life.

I shake off the pain and walk over to Izzy, wrapping her up in a hug that must have been a little too tight.

“Get off her, you overgrown ape!” She giggles against my shirt at Dee’s scorn. “You mess up her makeup, and I will kick your ass.”

“Shut up, Dee.” I pull back and smile down at Iz. “You look beautiful, baby girl.”

Her eyes immediately start to fill with tears, and I look around, trying to figure out a way to fix whatever the fuck I just broke. When my eyes land on the one person I didn’t expect to see, my body fills with instant heat. Fuck! I step back from Izzy so she doesn’t feel what this beauty has done to my body with just a glance.

I cough a few times and bring my attention back to my girl. “You ready?”

“Yes!” She all but screams in my face.

“Move, dumbass.” Dee grumbles next to me.

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, nothing my ass. Let me guess, you and Beck are playing hide and seek again? One of these days, you two will learn that it’s more fun to play hide and hump.”

“You are such… such… Jesus, that sounds like something Coop would say.”

I laugh because really, that is something that would come out of his mouth.

“Maybe so, but damn… when the hell are you two going to get your shit together?”

She gives me a cold look before turning back to Izzy and doing whatever the fuck chicks do to make something already perfect the same.

“Go get ready.” She bites out.

I turn around looking for the bathroom, and lock eyes with Nurse Sex. Fuck me, she is beautiful. Pure lust unlike anything I have ever felt hits me. I know the connection is powerful between us but this is beyond even that. Her eyes take in my appearance; all faded jeans and old black tee glory. Her eyes meet mine briefly before taking a slow ride down my body. On her way back up, her eyes pause on my dick. There is no way she can miss how turned on I am. She licks her lips before meeting my eyes and with a quirk of her lips, a wink, and a throaty laugh, she turns on her heels and walks back over to Izzy and Dee.

With my back still turned to the females clamoring about this and that, I quickly place my hand over my rock hard dick and squeeze, mentally reminding myself to play nice today. This is about Izzy and Axel, not my hormones.

Turning slowly and making sure my dick is under control, I walk over to where my bag is and take one more look at beauty. Skintight red fabric hugs her body, her tits are covered, but that doesn’t do anything to hide their perfection. Right when I’m about to turn around, I notice the shoes. Tall as fucking hell and leopard print. Her tanned legs look a mile long, and immediately, visions filter through my mind of them wrapped tight around my thrusting hips, with those shoes digging into my ass. So much for having my shit in check. Groaning slightly, I grab my bag and stomp over to the changing room in the corner.

It’s going to be a long fucking day.

Chapter 7

Well, that was interesting. Laughing to myself, I move my eyes from the door that just slammed, back to the girls, the girls that are looking at me with calculating eyes.

“What?” I innocently ask. These girls might not have known me long, but it doesn’t take much for another woman to recognize the feeling of off the charts sexual desire.

“Don’t give me that crap, Meli! You two were practically having sex in the middle of the room. I know eye fucking when I see it.” Izzy starts laughing at Dee’s outburst. I can’t tell if she’s pissed or just being a bitch.

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