Right Man/Wrong Groom by Patrice Wilton

Nadine admired the simplicity of the one carat diamond and gold band that looked so pretty on her finger. Smiling, she picked up her key and dropped it into a pastel clutch and turned on two table lamps. She was ready to greet her soon-to-be husband and entice him back for a glass of champagne. She followed the noise that led to the pool—was that Michael’s laugh? Why hadn’t he knocked on her door? A little hurt tugged at her, but she pushed it away. She was not going to be moody and demanding. Of course he would be happy to see her. He was probably being thoughtful and kind, believing it best to let her sleep after the partying last night. But still. She would have welcomed him in her bed, and after their lovemaking they could both have fallen asleep, she in his arms. His back was to her, and he was drinking a beer and talking with her friends. His friends from home—whom she’d met a time or two—were tossing a beach ball back and forth in the pool like they were throwing a football for the winning catch. She tried to remember their names. One was Chad and the other was Rob, but she didn’t know which was which. They’d all attended Rollins college together on sports scholarships, and had a snooty attitude that she didn’t like. Michael wore a swimsuit too, so he must have been here for awhile. He’d obviously had time to go to his own cabin to change. Why were they in separate cabins, anyway? They’d been living together for the past year, and she wanted him with her. She should speak to Anna and have his things moved. Her dad had set up the arrangements, true, but the days had long past when a bride and groom had to defer to old fashioned morality! Oh, stop it! They would be married in days, and she didn’t have to claim all his time. Their relationship had never been like that. She was either flying off or he was, on tour. They’d been quite content with that status quo. So why the insecurity now? She didn’t believe the things in the paper. Nobody did. But she’d questioned the picture of him kissing a girl after his win. He’d told her she was just a woman in the crowd. She’d jumped on him and in his excitement he’d kissed her. No big deal. Nadine believed him. They were engaged and it was just an innocent kiss, a celebration. But she should have been there. It should have been her arms around his neck, his mouth on hers. She blinked to rid herself of the memory and any threat of tears. She was the one wearing his engagement ring and walking down the aisle, and it wouldn’t matter how many trophies he won, she’d be the person he’d come home to night after night. Her eyes roamed over his bare back and shoulders. Perfect profile, wavy brown hair and a friendly grin. Tall and strong from the hours he spent in the gym. His long legs and arms were tanned from his days playing golf, his broad back and chest fair in comparison. He had a light dusting of hair across his pecs, dark and fine, inviting her tongue all the way down to his jockey shorts. And then… Melody looked up and saw her. Her bridesmaid waved, and said something to Michael who turned toward her, a welcoming smile on his handsome face. “Michael!” She raced forward, and then stopped as if struck by lightning. A man stepped up to him, handing him a full beer. She knew that man. She had loved that man. His brother, Jeremy.

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