Read Never a Bride: A Short Story Online

Authors: Traci Hall

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #90 Minutes (44-64 Pages), #Contemporary Fiction, #Short Stories

Never a Bride: A Short Story (4 page)

BOOK: Never a Bride: A Short Story
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Jared caressed her cheek, her shoulder. Her eyes opened, stormy blue. Daring, challenging. He kissed her, pressing his lips to hers. Ready to back off at the first sign of rejection.

Instead, she sighed before kissing him in return.

He shut the door.

 

* * *

 

Sheena’s traitorous body molded itself to Jared. She heard him shut the door, then slide the chain lock. He’d always been more concerned about that stuff than she. He used to be her champion, her guardian. When had he developed feet of clay? Why had she set him on a pedestal?

His mouth pressed against hers, inciting passion with a flick of his tongue between her lips. Her skin felt alive for the first time in months and her heart hammered in remembrance of Jared’s love.

She felt it wash over her, warm, sensual, his hands following the emotional caresses. He walked her backward to the couch, his hands on her hips, thigh to thigh. His fingers touched the bare skin above the waistband of her jeans. Rough against smooth, the touch electric. They’d been great together, their deep emotional connection creating a physical bond that was explosive and lovely at the same time.

Jared’s sincerity worked its way past her defensives, conquering her guarded walls. She’d missed him so much, never having a chance to tell him good bye. His apology soothed her wounded pride. His hands and mouth boosted her confidence.

Just this once more, she told herself. To say good-bye.

He moved her shirt up and over her head. She unbuttoned his dress shirt, naked from the waist up, knowing his eyes were on her. Taking her time, breathing him in, the smell of his shampoo, his aftershave.

He caught her to him, chest to chest. Her breasts tightened in anticipation as he bent his head to her nape, his hands everywhere. Pleasure spiraled through her body, even as her heart pounded a warning.
Bad idea.

She didn’t listen, bound by the sensual onslaught of love denied for too long. The bittersweet taste of passion and regret, desire and betrayal. Pleasure with a dark streak of pain.
Jared.

“I’m sorry if I didn’t listen closely enough.” She nuzzled her face in the indent between his shoulder and neck. “I suppose I got carried away. Wanting the best to last a lifetime. Creating memories.”

“I liked our early morning rides through the trails. You and me. Those memories kept me up at night, thinking I might never hold you again.” Both naked now, he traced her ribs. “I need to feed you pancakes.”

“And fatten me up? You don’t like chubby girls. You said so.”

“I was an idiot. I love you, no matter what you look like. No matter how many cupcakes you want me to taste. Or shows about wedding dresses you want me to watch. I wasn’t as understanding as I should have been.”

Her heart stretched, aching, wishing she could believe. She didn’t. This passion between them was just that. She’d scratch an itch, and move on with her life. She’d say good-bye on her terms. “I’m sorry I told you to kiss my ass.”

“I should have done it.” He flipped her over, delivering a loud smooch on each cheek. “I never would’ve left.”

She squirmed to a sitting position, eye to eye with Jared. She framed his face between her palms. “I’ve missed you.” It was an understatement. He was color to her black and white world, a symphony in silence.

He kissed her, sweeping away her worries with the brush of his hand over her hip. “I love you.”

She gritted her teeth, wishing he’d stop saying that, battering at her heart. Kissing his mouth, she stole the words before he could say them again. She rationalized her actions, knowing that come tomorrow she’d have to cauterize the wound all over again.

“Tonight is for us,” she whispered, forehead to forehead.

Their touches had a vulnerable edge. They’d never hurt each other before. Sheena questioned her motives, wondering if she’d been wrong. He should have talked to her. Shouldn’t have left her alone. Had she made him an object? In her mind, the wedding was all about celebrating their love.

“Forgive me?”

Because she couldn’t, she chose not to answer, absorbing his love as if she were a dehydrated sponge.

“It’s not that simple, Jared.”

“You’re still letting the wedding come between us. What will it take for you to understand?”

A bell sounded in the far off corner of her mind but she kissed Jared instead of paying attention. “I don’t want to talk about our failed wedding. I don’t want to talk about love or forgiveness. I just want to feel you, Jared.” She brought her hand to his warm chest, tracing the vein pulsing at his throat.

“You don’t want to admit you love me.” He nuzzled her neck. “I won’t hurt you again, Sheena. I promise.”

She arched, offering her body while protecting her heart. “I don’t want your promises. Not anymore.”

Jared’s eyes darkened as he lowered his mouth to hers. “Trust me, Sheena. Let me prove my love for you.” He spent the next few hours leaving her speechless.

When she woke on the couch long after midnight, Jared was gone. No note, though the afghan was pulled to her chin, covering her from head to toe.

The door was locked, all of the lights off except the one in the hallway – it looked like he’d never been there. The soreness between her legs let her know he hadn’t been a dream. A fantasy created by her broken hearted mind. A mistake, yes. But real.

Damn him. He hadn’t even let her say good-bye. She cried until eight in the morning, then hopped in the shower, determined to be the best maid of honor ever.

Chapter Four

 

 

She picked Lisa up at nine sharp. The wedding wasn’t until two that afternoon, so they had plenty of time to handle emergencies, if any should come up. Sheena was prepared for the worst.

“You’ve been crying,” Lisa said, sliding into the passenger seat after stuffing her bags into the surprisingly spacious Kia hybrid trunk.

“Got shampoo in my eyes. We need to stop at the corner store and pick up some Visine.”

“I remember when I needed eye drops every weekend,” Lisa said with a bemused sigh. “But I’m pretty sure you aren’t stoned.”

Sheena burst into surprised laughter. “That would be no.” Pulling into traffic, she shrugged. “Maybe not a bad idea. But now that you are
enceinte
, that puts you out of the running for partying like a rock star. Who am I supposed to get into trouble with?”

“You didn’t get into trouble, ever,” Lisa grinned. “That was me.”

“Well, since you are out of commission for a while, maybe I should take up where you left off.”

“That I’d like to see!” Lisa laughed, then studied Sheena’s face. “You were too crying. Liar. Want to talk about it?”

“No,” Sheena said, granting Lisa a huge, fake smile. “This is your special day. So, pancakes for breakfast? Anything you want, that I can give, you got.”

“Well, I was craving peanut butter and banana ice cream.”

“For breakfast?”

“It would just make me throw up, anyway, so it’s not a good idea. How about a bagel?”

“Mm. Onion. Cream cheese and lox?”

Lisa turned green. “Plain. Toasted.”

“I think an egg might be good for you, too. Protein.”

Pressing her knuckles to her mouth, Lisa shook her head. “No. Nope, no egg. Roll down the window, would you? This is like being perpetually hung over.”

Sheena watched in sympathy as Lisa stuck her head out the window, gulping air as if she were a puppy.

“What can I do?” Sheena slowed to twenty miles an hour, ignoring the honks behind her.

“Just drive. Get to the wedding hall. They have the perfect bathroom for puking.”

“You scout venues for good puking stalls?”

“Don’t judge me.”

Sheena sucked in her lower lip to keep from laughing. She’d planned on keeping her Jared mistake to herself, but seeing her best friend in abject misery made her change her mind. Lisa needed something to think about besides throwing up. “I slept with Jared last night.”

Lisa pulled her head in so fast she bonked her head on the window frame. “Damn it! You did what?” She rubbed the top of her head. “Just what I need. A concussion, to add to the nausea.”

Sheena’s throat tightened. “Sorry. Are you bleeding?”

“No. Spill!”

Clutching the steering wheel, Sheena fought back tears of regret. Of idiocy. Of feeling like the biggest moron of all time. “I was
that
girl.”

“That girl?”

“Yeah,” Sheena confessed in strangled tones. “The one that sleeps with her ex in a desperate attempt to rekindle something lost or broken.”

“Not too broken. I saw the way you guys looked at each other.”

“After an amazing night of sex – no, it was making love – we connected on every level, Lis, just like before. Only richer, somehow, for having been tested, oh damn it.” Unwanted tears coursed down her cheeks.
How could I have been so stupid?

“What happened?”

“When I woke up, he was gone.” Sheena snapped her fingers in disgust. “Poof.”

Lisa inhaled slowly, then exhaled, her skin less green. “He probably had to go get his clothes and stuff from the hotel, to get ready for the wedding.”

“You know that’s bullshit.”

“Yeah. I know.” Lisa studied her manicure as if the answer to Jared’s behavior might be in the peach lacquer’s glossy finish. When she looked up, her eyes were as shiny as her polish. “I’m sorry. But you aren’t stupid, Sheena. Jared was the love of your life and you never got to say good-bye. Never had a last kiss, or the chance to hold him close. I don’t blame you one bit for jumping at the opportunity.”

“I care about him.” Sheena let her tears fall, knowing they served a purpose. “I told myself I didn’t, but I do. I know it’s really over now, though. Maybe I needed to admit my real feelings before I could heal, and stop hiding.”

“I might have to kill him when I see him.” Lisa’s hand curled into a fist. “To run away again? He doesn’t deserve you, Sheena. Period.”

“He kept saying I didn’t listen to him. I say, actions speak louder than words. Twice now he’s left me. There is no third time. I’ll be okay.” She pulled into the wedding chapel parking lot, and scrubbed her cheeks dry with the palm of her hand. “I will be okay.”

“Better than okay.” Lisa leaned across the center console and pulled Sheena into an awkward, much needed, hug. “Don’t hate me. But all of this drama has made me starving. Really, really hungry. We passed a Krispy Kreme.”

“You want a donut?”

“Maybe two. The one with the cream in the center? I’ve been dieting forever and if I don’t fit into the dress, it ain’t gonna be because of
that
.” She patted her non-existent belly.

Sheena sat back, and turned the ignition. “It’s your special day, Lis. Your wish is my command.”

By ten, Lisa had gorged on donuts, gotten sick on donuts, then switched to seltzer water and saltines. The hair dresser arrived with an arsenal of hairspray, mousse and pins. Lisa had opted for a simple upsweep, with a crystal barrette instead of a veil. Classic. Sheena’s hair was curled in an over the shoulder pony tail and the woman finished by noon. They’d kept up inane chatter, avoiding the heavy topics of conversation.

“My make-up girl won’t be here until twelve-thirty.” Lisa paced the small room the wedding chapel set aside for brides. Two comfy chairs, a vanity table, a full-length mirror, an oval table with four chairs but best of all, a private bathroom.

“You sound stressed,” Sheena said, digging her iPad from her bag. “No stress. Music? You Tube videos?”

“Amuse me. I am really mad that I can’t have any champagne.” She gave the Moet bottle a dark look.

“I’m having a glass for you. Want more seltzer water?”

“No. What kind of honeymoon are we going to have, anyway? I won’t be any fun.” Lisa plopped down in the overstuffed chair, her chin trembling. “Mike’s going to be bored out of his mind. I’m supposed to be
fun.

“Hold on a second, Lisa.” Sheena typed in honeymoon activities for the expecting bride. Sheena couldn’t keep a straight face as she read from an advice site on the Internet. “Listen, you can have a glass of champagne. It won’t hurt anything. The entire bottle? Probably not a good idea. Mike will be fine. Says here you can still have sex on your honeymoon – unless you have an angry uterus.”

“Is that even possible?” Lisa held her hand over her belly.

Laughing, Sheena lifted her e-reader. “As a copy editor, I am appalled by this website and the grammatical errors. As your best friend, this is damned hysterical. You can have sex, party, dance and travel. They advise that packing for your trip, due to your rapidly changing figure, will be the most hustle. I am assuming they mean hassle, but I could be completely wrong. Should I send them my freelance business card?”

Dressed in her slip, Lisa ran to the full length mirror, eyeing her stomach and ass as if they were the enemy. “How fast can one body change?”

“I don’t see you getting fat, honey. Not with the automatic purging after every meal.”

“Mike says he’ll love me fat, chubby, pudgy – whatever. He better not be lying.” Lisa gave her slender figure a last look before picking up a cracker, sucking on the corner. “He says he loves me for me. He better remember that when my rear end is as wide as the door frame.”

Sheena chuckled, though her heart ached at remembering Jared telling her the same thing. Sharing that with Lisa probably wouldn’t help her friend’s self-confidence, since Jared had disappeared. “You are beautiful. With your hair like that, you remind me of Cinderella before the ball.”

Lisa patted her up-do. “Really? I found my prince. Kissed a lot of toads,” she said with a sour expression. “But I finally got a good guy.”

Sheena looked away before she started crying again. All of this wedding preparation reminded her of how awful her own day had been. How close she’d come to something spectacular, without snagging the happy-ever-after prize. What if the road to happiness was full of pot holes? Whoever crossed the finish line, period, was a winner?

She cleared her throat. “You got the best of the bunch. Have you heard from Mike at all today?”

“He sent me an “I love you” text this morning, but other that, I’m sure his dad and Jared are keeping him busy.”

BOOK: Never a Bride: A Short Story
2.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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