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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:20

Natalie frowned into her coffee cup. “That’s exactly the kind of heartache I want to stay away from. I can’t understand how someone could go through that and be willing to dust themselves off and try again.”

“It’s called hope. And I can’t understand how someone could go through their life alone. Having a family, having children and seeing them grow up is what life is all about.”

“Exactly. It’s survival of the species, our own biology tricking us into emotional attachments to ensure stability for raising the next generation. Then it fades away and we’re left feeling unfulfilled because society has sold us on a romantic ideal that only really exists in movies and books.”

Colin could only shake his head. “That’s the worst attitude about love I’ve ever heard.”

“I don’t force anyone else to subscribe to my ideas. I didn’t come up with this overnight, I assure you. I learned the hard way that love is just a biological impulse that people confuse with Hallmark card sentiment. Have you ever noticed that all the fairy tales end when the Prince and Princess get married? That’s because the story wouldn’t be that exciting if it showed their lives after that. The Prince works too much. The Princess resents that she’s constantly picking up his dirty socks and wiping the snotty noses of his children, so she nags at the Prince when he comes home. The Prince has an affair with his secretary. The Princess throws the Prince out of the palace and takes him to court for child support. Not exactly happily ever after.”

“Don’t ever write children’s books,” Colin said drily.

“Someone needs to write that book. That way little girls won’t grow up believing in something that isn’t going to happen. It would save them all a lot of disappointment.”

Colin had tasted every inch of Natalie last night and there hadn’t been the slightest bitterness, but now, it seemed to seep from every pore. He was frankly stunned by her attitude about love. It was even more deep-seated and angry than Pam’s negative ideas. Pam just didn’t want the strings of marriage and monogamy. Natalie didn’t believe in the entire construct.

“Hopefully you weren’t disappointed with last night.”

“Of course not. Last night was great, Colin. It was everything that I’d hoped it would be, and more. And by stopping right now, we get to preserve it as the amazing night that it was.”

He knew she was right. He could feel it in his bones. But he also couldn’t just let this be the end of it. He wouldn’t be able to finish dealing with the wedding plans and the house, being so close to her, without being able to touch her again. “What if I wanted another night or two like last night?”

Natalie watched him with a suspicious narrowing of her eyes. “Are you suggesting we have a little holiday fling?”

He shrugged. Colin had never proposed such a thing, so he wasn’t entirely sure. “I did bet you that I could put a little jingle in your step. I think the time we spend together would be a lot more fun for us both if we let this attraction between us be what it is. No promise of a future or anything else, and you don’t have to dash from the bed like a thief in the night. What do you think?”

“It sounds tempting,” she admitted. “I wouldn’t mind getting a little more of those toe-curling kisses you promised me. But you have to agree that after the wedding, we part as we started—as old friends. No hard feelings when it’s over.”

“Okay, it’s a deal. I promise not to fall in love with you, Natalie.”

“Excellent,” she said with a smile before leaning in to plant a soft kiss on his lips. “I don’t plan on falling in love with you either.”

“So, what do you think?”

Natalie hovered in the doorway of Colin’s family home, her mouth agape in shock. It had only been a week since she was in the house, but it had been completely transformed. “Is this the same place?”

Colin smiled. “A lot has happened since you were here. While I have been busy planning Lily’s wedding and seducing you, I couldn’t just sit around doing nothing all weekend while you were working, you know.”

He’d worked magic in Natalie’s opinion. A lot of the old furniture and things they didn’t want to keep were gone. In their place were new pieces that looked a million times better. There was new paint on the walls, updated light fixtures and window coverings...the place looked better than she ever remembered. “You’ve worked a miracle.”