Standing in the fancy dress shop boutique, Layla Grey thought her heart was about to launch out of her chest. Panic was settling in, making her aware of just how unsure she was about her future. “I’m getting married.”
Zerina looked at Layla as if she smelled something awful. “Is this news to you?”
She glared at her sarcastic and purple-tipped-haired friend. “Of course not, but the wedding is only a few days away and I don’t even have the menu finalized.” She waved her hand down the front of her body, indicating her dress that was too big. “Did you happen to notice how this dress doesn’t fit?”
“Well, maybe you should eat more cheeseburgers. Shit, Layla, does Luke even feed you?”
Layla rolled her eyes. Eating had been the last thing on her mind these days. “The only thing that worked out as it should have is the venue. The church is perfect. The reception location is locked down.”
“That’s a start,” Zerina said, trying to sound less than her sarcastic self. It wasn’t working.
“Great. Church. Check. Reception hall. Check. No dress, food, or transportation, but hell, who needs clothes and food for a wedding, right?”
“Wow,” Zerina drawled out. “You sounded a lot like me just then.”
Layla had been trying to avoid sounding bitter, worried, and freaked out, but that was exactly what was happening to her. With only a few days left until her wedding date, she was starting to lose all hope of having the perfect wedding she’d always dreamed of having.
An image of Luke surfaced in her mind, the man she was supposed to spend her life with, and somehow over the last year, he had become a stranger to her.
Why am I getting married?
“Why the frown?” Sam Whitmore, her now-married best friend and former boss, asked. “You look like you lost your best friend.” She waved her hands over her head. “Lucky for you, I’m right here.”
Layla smiled and gave Sam a hug. “Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t miss it. I live for dress fittings,” Sam snickered, as did everyone else in the room. Dresses were not Sam’s thing. Jeans, T-shirts, and combats boots made up 98% of her wardrobe. The other 2% were unmentionables.
“Your dress is over there,” Layla told her, pointing toward the first dressing room.
Red hair and bombshell built, Brynn Sloan stepped from the other dressing stall like the new model of a game show. The silvery dress molded to her large breasts as if it was more like skin than fabric. One deep inhalation of breath and a seam was likely to split. She fanned her hands outward and then back to her hips. If any one of them could be a supermodel, it was her.
“What do you think?” Brynn asked, her full mane of hair draped over her shoulders in long loose curls.
Zerina chuckled. “I think you’ll be collecting dollar bills from the guests as you slutty on down the aisle.”
“Zerina,” Layla barked.
“What?” Zerina questioned, her face distorted and her eyes wide. “It’s the truth.”
“Don’t fret, Layla. Any money I collect will go straight back to you.” She winked, clearly unaffected by Zerina’s blatant remark.
“That’s my girl,” Sam cheered.
Brynn shrugged. “It’s what family does.”
She and Sam retreated back into the dressing rooms. Layla plopped down on the sofa, still waiting for the seamstress to return. “Maybe I should just wear something else.”
“Like what? Leather?” Zerina said with a snort. “That would be hawt, by the way.”
“Do you take anything seriously?”
“Yes. Sex, beer, and pizza. Ask Jeremy.”
Layla’s chest tightened, her ribs preparing to crack from the tension. “Things are not working out the way I’d hoped, Z. I’m worried that it’s all going to suck.”
“What’s gonna suck? Your dress can be fixed. Your menu will get finalized. You already have your marriage license, so no matter what your dress looks like or how good or shitty the food might be, the important thing is that you and Luke will be happily married soon.”
Zerina was right, but Layla still couldn’t scrub the worry from her mind. She wanted things to work out as she always dreamed they would. What woman didn’t want a perfect wedding day? The perfect dress and hair. The perfect little church and reception.
The perfect husband—a man I haven’t seen much of these last several weeks.
The seamstress returned, pulling Layla from her spiraling negative thoughts, and positioned her back up on the pedestal, where the seamstress began inserting new pins. She felt bad for the older woman who’d agreed to make Layla’s dress. Layla had proven to be a difficult client. Stress had ruled over Layla in the past months, and since the last dress fitting, she’d lost fifteen pounds. She was skin and bones.
Layla heard the mumbling of voices around her, but she tuned them out. Her mind was so caught up in everything else she couldn’t join in on the giggles and laughter that was happening all around her. She wanted to enjoy all things her wedding, but the anxiety was proving to be too much. Her stomach was in knots, her body fatigued, and her mind was pummeled by disaster scenarios. At this point, she had little energy for fun.
“Did I miss anything scandalous?” Liza, her twin and overprotective sister, asked.
“Only that the bride’s wearing her bottom lip as a nose ring.” Zerina sure did have a way with words.
Liza approached Layla, wearing the ‘I’m older than you by a minute’ scowl. “I thought we talked about this.”
Layla sighed. “If I recall, you talked. I listened.”
Liza folded her arms across her chest. “Then you clearly didn’t hear a thing I said.”
She eased back, her head wobbly like a bobblehead doll. “Wait. Did you know I’d get a little tipsy?”
He kept his eyes up and focused on the direction he was heading. “I wanted you to have a good time tonight. You’ve been going full out for months, and a night of fun was exactly what you needed.”
She slumped against him, her heart heavy with the distance she’d put between them. She’d spent all of her energy planning the wedding that she seemed to never have time for Luke. When he wasn’t home, he was working. When he was home, she was distracted. She kissed him.
“I love you, Layla.” His gaze shifted to hers. “With or without a wedding, you will always be mine.”
How I wish that would be true. “I love it when you say things like that to me.”
“You’re the only one who ever gets to hear them.” He shoved open the bathroom door, his movements effortless. “I planned this night for you.”
She blinked, her eyes scanning over the bathroom engulfed in candlelight and roses. The tub was brimming with warm water and bubbles. She gasped. “Luke, it’s beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as you are.” He kissed her. “I’d offer you a drink, but you taste like you’ve had enough.”
Her breathing grew heavier at the sight of his darkening gaze. He was the only man who’d ever made her go from cold to hot in a blink. “I don’t want anything to drink.” She paused, as he lowered her to her feet. “All I want is you.”
He tugged his shirt up over his head and then reached for her hands, drawing them toward the buckle of his jeans. “And I only want you.”
Once she had his jeans unfasted, she trailed her fingertips inside the elastic band of his briefs. His cock was hard and jumped the second her hand touched the slick head and wrapped around the thick shaft. His breathing was hard, his chest rising and falling faster the more she stroked him. His hands and fingers kneaded the flesh of her arms and back—the summer dress she wore was a thin barrier.
“Take my dress off,” she told him, stopping to raise her arms above her head.
He did as she requested, lowering his mouth to kiss her neck and jawline. His hands palmed her back, one hand circling her waist to caress and massage her breast. She arched her neck, giving him access to the sensitive skin that had her toes curling the second his mouth sucked against it.
She wiggled, shoving her panties down her legs. Then she did the same with his jeans and briefs. Before she knew what she was doing, she leaped up into his arms and he placed her ass upon the counter. Then he took her mouth in a kiss that left her breathless and panting.
Lord, my man can kiss.
As his mouth and tongue possessed hers, his fingers circled her clit, swirling the moisture from her very wet and ready pussy. She was rolling her hips, silently begging him to touch her—be inside her. When he pressed a single digit into her slick heat, she sucked in a breath.
He slipped his free hand behind her neck to ease her back. She stared down at his hard body, his finger dipping in and out of her pussy. His cock was teasingly close. It had been so long since they’d done this—since he’d touched her with such wild need. Her body was on fire and the more he caressed her pussy, flicked her clit with his fingers, the closer she came to exploding. She didn’t want to wait another second to have him fill her body as he had already done her heart.
“Now,” she begged. “Please.”
Without hesitation, he clasped her hips and rolled them upward. With one hand, he gripped his cock. She kept her back pressed against the glass, as he slowly worked himself inside her, the tightness forcing her eyes closed.
“Fuck,” he groaned, rolling his head back as he filled her with every inch of his cock. “You feel so damn hot, so good.”
The muscles in his neck, chest, and arms tightened as he began to work his hips, bucking in and out of her. He took her hard, as if he couldn’t control himself. The feel of him losing himself to passion incited her to do the same. She clawed at him, raking her nails down his side and back as she drew him toward her. She dug the heels of her feet into his firm ass, pulling him toward her the same time he bucked forward.
“Harder,” she cried out, needing him in a way that felt raw and primal.
She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. All she wanted was to feel. The connection they shared was beyond anything from her wildest dreams.
His cock teased and brushed against every nerve ending inside her pussy. The tips of her fingers were the first to feel the change inside her, the rush of pleasure that would soon leave her boneless. Then the tingle of heat slid up her arms and legs, down her chest, and erupted in all directions.
“Don’t stop. Please don’t stop.”
A moment of disappointment rattled her as he stopped, but then he dropped to his knees and covered her pussy with his mouth, sucking on her clit and shoving two fingers deep inside her. She went over the edge and in a flash—blinded by the euphoric power of his commanding presence. Then he stood again, and before she could catch her breath, he worked himself back inside her and pounded away at her until he found his own release.
He placed his forehead against hers, as their breathing returned to normal. With his index finger tucked under her chin, he raised her eyes to meet his and kissed her.