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.She shot me down each time, and then she left."Hey." I stick my hands into the pockets of my black dress pants.It's a warm July day, so I left my suit jacket in the car."You look beautiful." As the maid of honor, she's wearing a deep green dress, a few inches longer than the four bridesmaids' dresses.Hers flares out slightly and ends at her calves; her hair is up in an elaborate do, and she's holding a small bouquet of white roses."Thanks," she mutters as I adjust my black tie."I take it you can find your seat? You're in the second row."I nod and take the hint.She's obviously still mad at me, but now that we're here, I'd rather not ruin the day more for her."I'll see you inside." That said, I walk in, and I'm a stranger so far, which explains why I can walk down the aisle without anyone stopping me.Some smile and nod in greeting, but that’s it.I suppose a few wonder who I'm here with, and I can't help but think how easy it would be to crash a wedding, especially one this big.I recall Amanda telling me approximately three hundred people were attending.By the time it's three o'clock, the pews have been filled with guests, and the bells ring before the traditional wedding march begins.The four bridesmaids and then Amanda walk down the aisle to take their places at the front.Brian, Amber's fiancé, is a man I think Amanda wishes I were more like.He wants the white picket fence, the dog, the minivan, and the 2.5 children.Amanda never shies away from talking about all the things Brian does for Amber.The ceremony is over pretty quickly, and then we all pile into our cars and drive over to the hotel where the reception is.The wedding party will arrive separately in two limos, so I wait outside the hotel for Amanda to show up.In the meantime, a few guests approach me and ask if I'm the man Amanda has spoken so highly of.That makes me cringe inwardly; I had no idea Amanda had been talking about me to her extended family.Parents and siblings—I get that, but aunts and grandparents? I sigh to myself and struggle to keep the polite smile on my face.More guests trickle in, but I remain outside, standing a little to the side with all the smokers."Mr.Ford?"Shocked to hear that voice, my head snaps to the left so fast that it almost hurts.Fucking hell.It's Kayla.Not only is it Kayla, but she's dressed to the nines—as if she's a guest at a certain wedding.Her dress reminds me of the white one Marilyn Monroe wore, though this one is silky and dark blue.There's nothing of the Little Girl standing before me—aside from a pair of white ballet flats, I note.I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved, but she is still incredibly gorgeous.Her auburn hair is down, pigtails only a memory.The wispy curls tease me by resting on her chest.Meeting her gaze again, I see that she's equally shocked to see me here."Kayla," I say quietly, taking a step closer.I definitely don’t want people to hear us."What are you doing here? Are you a guest? I didn’t see you at the church." Then again, I arrived early and I was sitting in the front.She could've gotten there later, and amongst hundreds of people… Never mind."Wait…" Her eyes widen like she's figured something out."The Amanda you told me about last night—that’s my cousin? Amanda Stevens?" She looks at me in disbelief; meanwhile, I pinch the bridge of my nose and curse internally at this turn of events.They're related, for fuck's sake."Oh, my God," she whispers shakily, "your girlfriend is my cousin.I can't believe this."Neither can I, but when I see two limos pulling up to the curb, I know this isn't the time to dwell on that."We'll talk about this later, all right?" I look over Kayla's shoulder as the wedding party exits the cars."Hang on." She grasps my arm and gives me a pleading look."You haven't spoken to her yet, have you?" My brows furrow."You can't.Don’t—" she shakes her head quickly and purses her lips "—don’t break up with her."I nearly choke on saliva."Excuse me?"She blows out a frustrated breath and looks behind her before facing me again."She hates me.If you end things with her, and I'm the reason…" A dark, shaky chuckle escapes her."I'm already the black sheep of the family." At my confused expression, she goes on."Long story short: my mom and dad died when I was thirteen; Amanda and Amber's parents took me in.From the start, those two loathed me.I-I can't get into all that now, but let's just say I wasn’t the perfect little girl—I didn’t fit into their family [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]