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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:24

Judging by the look on Natalie’s face, he could tell she wasn’t convinced. She was so jaded by other people’s relationship failures that she couldn’t fathom two people actually loving each other enough to fight through the tough times.

That worried him. Despite what he’d overheard at Amelia’s Christmas party, he didn’t feel that confident that Natalie would stay in his life. She might love him, but she was still a flight risk. When this wedding was over, the two of them might be over, too. That was the thought that kept his feelings in check when they were together.

“You know what?” he said. “Let’s just put all these files in a box and I’ll go through them later. I think clearing the room out is time better spent.”

Natalie just nodded and started unloading files from the desk drawer into the file boxes he’d bought. They worked silently together until the room was empty of personal items, and then they hauled the boxes downstairs and into his truck.

And yet, it made him feel emboldened, too. He’d gone into this whole situation with Natalie consciously holding back. It was defensive, to keep himself from getting in too deep and getting hurt, but it also occurred to him that it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If he didn’t give all of himself to Natalie, she wouldn’t ever do the same.

If he wanted to keep Natalie in his life, he had to fight for her and be bold. His parents fought to stay together, and he was willing to do the same. But what would give her the confidence to believe in him and their relationship? She was so determined to think of marriage as a mistake that most people struggled to get out of. How could he convince her that he was in this for the long haul and she shouldn’t be afraid to love him with all she had?

There was only one thing he could think of, and it was a major risk. But, as his father told him once, no risk, no reward. That philosophy had helped him build the family landscaping business into a multimillion-dollar operation across the Southeast. He had no doubt it would succeed. If he could pull it off, there was no way Natalie could turn her nose up at it.

Just like his Christmas bet, he intended to get everything that he wanted and make it into something Natalie wanted, too. He knew exactly what he needed to do. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

“What are you doing Wednesday night?” he asked.

Natalie looked out the window at the twinkling Christmas lights up ahead and knew exactly where they were. “Are you taking me to the Opryland Hotel?” Natalie asked.

“Actually, no, we’re going someplace else.”

Sitting back in her seat, she watched as Colin slowed and pulled into the parking area for the Grand Ole Opry. At that moment, she perked up, her mind spinning as she tried to figure out what day it was. It was the sixteenth. Blake Wright’s concert was here tonight. But it was sold out...

“Did you...? Are we...?” She was so excited she couldn’t even form the words. Why else would they be here if he hadn’t managed to get tickets to the show?

“Yes, I did and yes, we are,” he answered, pulling into a parking space.

She almost couldn’t believe it. “There were no tickets left. They sold out in ten minutes. I know—I called.”

Colin nodded as he turned off the car and faced her. “You’re absolutely right. There were no seats left.”

Natalie narrowed her gaze at him. “So, what? We’re just going to lurk by the back door to see if we can get a glimpse of him?” She was willing to do that, of course, but it didn’t seem like Colin’s style.

“Something like that. Come on.”

They got out of the car and he took her hand, leading her away from the crowd at the entrance and around the building toward the back. The door they were headed for said Private Entry in big red letters, and a very large man in a tight T-shirt stood watch. Colin didn’t seem to care. He marched right up to him and pulled two tickets out of his jacket.

No, wait. Natalie looked closer. They weren’t tickets. They were backstage passes. The security guard looked them over and checked the list on his clipboard.

“Welcome, Mr. Russell. So glad to have you joining us tonight.” The mountain of a man stepped aside and let Natalie and Colin go into the sacred backstage of the famous concert hall.