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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:15

Natalie knew immediately that she had treaded into some unpleasant territory. She wasn’t quite sure how to back out of it. “Oh. I guess I misheard.”

Sometimes Natalie hated being right about relationships. Bad things happened to really good people when the fantasy of love got in the way. She took a large sip of the wine to muffle her discomfort. “I’m sorry to hear that, Colin.”

A smile quickly returned to his face, although it seemed a little more forced than before. “Don’t be. I did it to myself. Pam had been adamant when we started dating that she didn’t want to get married. When she told me she was pregnant, I thought she would change her mind, but she didn’t. I think she finally gave in only because I wouldn’t let it go. I should’ve known then that I’d made a mistake by forcing her into it.”

Natalie stiffened with a piece of pizza dangling from her hand. She finally released it to the plate and cleared her throat. “Not everyone is meant for marriage,” she said. “Too many people do it just because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.”

“If someone doesn’t want to get married, they shouldn’t. It’s not fair to their partner.”

She slid another slice of pizza onto his plate. Instead of opting for the perfectly good dining room table, Natalie returned to her perch at the breakfast bar. That’s where she’d always eaten at Lily’s house. “That’s why I’ve made it a policy to be honest up front.”

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Colin followed suit, handing her a napkin and sliding onto the stool beside her. “And I appreciate that, especially after what happened with Pam. You’re right though. I’m the kind of guy that is meant for marriage. I’ve just got to learn to make better choices in women,” he said. Pam had been his most serious relationship, but he had a string of others that failed for different reasons. “My instincts always seem to be wrong.”

Natalie took a bite of her pizza and chewed thoughtfully. She had dodged a bullet when Colin turned her down at the engagement party. She’d only been looking for a night of nostalgic indulgence, but he was the kind of guy who wanted more. More wasn’t something she could give him. She was a bad choice, too. Not lie-about-the-paternity-of-your-child bad, but definitely not the traditional, marrying kind he needed.

“Your sister doesn’t seem to want to get married,” Natalie noted, sending the conversation in a different direction. She’d never seen a more reluctant bride. That kind of woman wouldn’t normally bother with a place like From This Moment.

“Actually, she’s very eager to marry. It’s the wedding and the hoopla she can do without.”

“That’s an interesting reversal. A lot of women are more obsessed with the wedding day than the actual marriage.”

“I think she’ll appreciate it later, despite how much she squirms now. Eloping at the courthouse was very underwhelming. We said the same words, ended up just as legally joined in marriage, but it was missing a certain something. I want better for my little sister’s big day.”

“She’ll get it,” Natalie said with confidence. “We’re the best.”

They ate quietly for a few moments before Colin finished his slice and spoke up. “See,” he said as he reached for another piece and grinned. “I told you that you’d have dinner with me eventually.”

Natalie snorted softly, relieved to see the happier Colin return. “Oh, no,” she argued with a smile. “This does not count, even if you add wine. Having dinner together implies a date. This is not a date.”

Colin leaned his elbows on the counter and narrowed his eyes at her. “Since we’re sharing tonight, do you mind telling me why you were so unhappy to see me yesterday at the chapel?”

“I wouldn’t say unhappy. I would say surprised. I expected Lily. And considering what happened the last time I saw you, I was feeling a little embarrassed.”

“Because I hit on you and failed miserably. It was stupid of me. It was a momentary weakness fueled by wine and abstinence. And since you passed up the chance, this is definitely not a date. We’re on a nondate eating pizza at your childhood home.”

A knowing grin spread across Colin’s face, making Natalie curious, nervous and making her flush at the same time. “So that’s what it’s really about,” he said with a finger pointed in her direction. “You were upset because I turned you down that night at the party.”