“Oh, you two are so adorable!” Molly said. Okay, maybe she was more on the drunk side of the spectrum. “Anyway, I wanted to let Alexa know that I’m about to throw my bouquet!”

A look of horror flashed over Alexa’s face before she covered it with that now-familiar big, bright smile. Big, bright, fake smile.

“Oh!” Alexa said to Molly. “Okay, great!”

Molly hugged both of them again and fluttered to the middle of the dance floor, collecting bridesmaids and female wedding guests as she went.

“I guess I should go over there.” Alexa drained her champagne glass and handed it to him but made no move toward the dance floor.

“You don’t have to sound quite so excited about it.” He pushed her in Molly’s direction. She rolled her eyes at him but walked over and joined the gaggle of women in cocktail dresses. Lauren caught her arm and said something that caused Alexa to double over in laughter. He wanted to know what had made her laugh like that and how he could duplicate it. Not only to see that glimpse of her boobs in that red bra . . . but partly to see that.

As soon as the bouquet left Molly’s hand, Alexa and Lauren took slow, steady steps backward. After a scuffle, one of the bridesmaids triumphantly raised the bouquet, but his eyes were on Alexa, by that time at the far end of the dance floor. He saw Alexa and Lauren turn to each other with identical fake pouts on their faces. This time he was the one who doubled over laughing.

Dan nudged him.

“Should we be insulted?” Dan gestured in the direction of Lauren and Alexa, clapping and pouting as the bridesmaid waved the bouquet.

Drew laughed again.

“Nah, I think we should be feeling pretty smug that we’re dating the smartest women in the room,” Drew told him. Alexa and Lauren had formed a circle with a few other women, all dancing to “Single Ladies” with their hands in the air. “Shall we join them?”

Alexa danced with Lauren, letting the movement and the laughter shake away her annoying thoughts. When she felt a hand on her waist, she turned to see Drew behind her and laughed again, at how ridiculous the evening had been and how much fun she was suddenly having. He took hold of one of her hands and swung her around to face him and laughed back down at her. Other members of the wedding party joined their group and danced with and around them, but song after song came on, and he never moved from her side.

“Water?” he said in her ear after they’d been on the dance floor for a long time.

“Yes, please.” She walked with him over to the bar.

She glanced up at the ornate clock over the bar, surprised at how late it had gotten. And how much she didn’t want this night to end. Damn it, it had been fun to be Drew’s fake girlfriend, but she knew that once the clock struck midnight, so to speak, the fairy tale would be all over.

He leaned against the bar, his jacket off, his bow tie untied, a little sweaty and disheveled from dancing. Good Lord, this guy was hot.

He rolled up his sleeves, exposing his tan forearms. She wanted to run her fingers up and down them and feel how warm and strong they were.

She needed to stop letting her imagination run away with her.

“Um,” she said. “It’s getting late, and if I want to make the last BART train back to the East Bay, I should probably leave pretty soon.”

Why had she said that? Why, when she was standing next to a hot guy, basically panting over him? If she was Maddie, hell, if she was Amy, she would have grabbed one of those hot forearms and wrapped it around her body, letting him know what she wanted without having to say anything. Sadly, she was Alexa, so she would flee instead.

He put his water bottle down and looked at her.


“Okay,” she said. Olivia and Maddie would get mad at her for not throwing herself at him, but they didn’t understand that she just didn’t know how. Plus, rejection from this guy was the last thing her self-esteem needed. Talk about the opposite of getting back on the horse; that would make her avoid horses, and stables, and all farm animals for another few years. So to speak.

He stepped closer to her and put his hand on her waist. Her hand landed on his arm, and without even meaning to, she ran her fingers up and down. Oh God, touching him like this was as good as she’d thought it would be.

“Or”—he looked straight down into her eyes—“you could stay.”

A question was in his eyes, and a smile hovered over his lips. His thumb drew slow circles on her hip and then moved up her side to her ribs. His other hand moved up to her face and traced the outline of her lips with his fingers.

She shivered.

He waited.

“Or,” she said, “I could stay.”

He pulled her against him and kissed her. Their lips clung together softly at first, then with more urgency. He tasted like bourbon and chocolate cake and everything she’d ever craved. She sighed against his lips and murmured his name, and she could feel his smile. Her hands moved into his hair, that hair that she’d been wanting to touch all night, and he kissed her harder. His hand cupped her cheek, and the gentle touch on her skin as she felt the heat of his mouth had her nerve endings on fire.

It seemed like they were all alone in that crowded ballroom. The people and the noise swirled around them as his lips touched hers, his tongue slid inside her mouth, his body pressed up against hers.

They pulled apart for a moment, and he smiled down at her.

“I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” he said, his golden brown eyes staring straight into hers. He kissed her cheek, her ear, her collarbone. His tongue traced her lips before he claimed her mouth again. She moved her hand in between them so she could touch his chest, wishing there was no fabric under her fingers but just his skin.

Her touch seemed to alight something in Drew. He moved his hands to her back and tugged her against his body. His hands felt like iron against her back, and his rough touch sent a thrill up and down her spine. She bit his lip in retaliation for the bruises she’d have the next day. He laughed and sucked her lip into his mouth.

“Sorry for interrupting,” Amy said, sounding not at all sorry.

They pulled away from each other, both breathing hard.

“What is it, Amy?” Drew didn’t look away from Alexa. He looked at her like he wanted to throw her over his shoulder, take her into a dark closet, and screw her senseless. Maybe that was just what she wanted him to do.

“Molly and Josh are about to leave. You’re needed for the pictures.”

He finally looked in Amy’s direction. Alexa tried to step out of the way, but he grabbed her hand, not letting her go.

“Great, we’ll be there in a second,” he said. Amy stood there looking from Drew to Alexa for a few seconds before she sighed and stomped away.

Drew turned back to her.

“How about instead of going to take more pictures, we go upstairs right now?”

Was this really going to happen?

She squeezed his hand and let go.

“Go take the pictures. Patience is a virtue,” she said. “Stand still.” She reached up and rubbed her thumb against his lips and cheek. “We can’t have you in the wedding pictures with my lipstick all over you. Okay, now you’re ready.”

He grabbed his tux jacket from the chair where he’d abandoned it and walked with her, hand in hand, over to the wedding party. Drew tried to keep Alexa with him, but she pushed him toward the rest of the groomsmen and faded into the background.

He tried to take this last set of pictures, to look excited and surprised to see Josh and Molly waving at the crowd, but his eyes kept straying in Alexa’s direction. Her hair was disheveled, her lipstick had mostly rubbed off, and she looked so incredible that he wanted to push her against the wall and pull that dress off her shoulders.

Amy came up behind him.

“Can you just, for the next few minutes, pretend that you ever cared about my sister and take a few damn pictures without staring over at what’s-her-face over there?”

He sighed. As much as he hated to agree with her, Amy had a point.

“Yeah, okay, fine.” He took a deep breath and turned back to the photographer. Without looking at Amy, he said, “I did care about your sister, you know.”