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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:14

Natalie wasn’t sure how much her body could take of being in close proximity to Colin as friends. She wanted to run her hand up his tanned, muscular forearm and rub against him like a cat. While she enjoyed indulging her sexuality from time to time, she didn’t have a reaction like this to just any guy. It was unnerving and so inappropriate. This wedding couldn’t come fast enough.

“Thank you for all your help with this,” Colin said as Natalie closed up and they walked toward the door.

“That’s what I do,” she said with the same polite smile that was starting to make him crazy. He missed her real one. He remembered her carefree smile from her younger days and her seductive smile from the engagement party. This polite, blank smile meant nothing to him.

“No, really. You and your business partners are going out of your way to make this wedding happen. I don’t know how to thank you.”

Natalie pressed the alarm code and they stepped outside where she locked the door. “You and Lily are like family to me. Of course we’d do everything we could. Anyway, it’s not like we’re doing it for free. You’re paying us for our time, so no worries.”

Their cars were the only two in the parking lot, so he walked her over to the cherry-red two-seat Miata convertible. Had there been another car in the lot, he never would’ve guessed this belonged to Natalie. It had a hint of wild abandon that didn’t seem to align with the precise and businesslike Natalie he knew. It convinced him more than ever that there was another side to her that he desperately wanted to see.

“Let me take you to dinner tonight,” he said, nearly surprising himself with the suddenness of it.

Natalie’s dark brown eyes widened. “I really can’t, Colin, but I appreciate the offer.”

Two up at bats, two strikeouts. “Even just as friends?”

Her gaze flicked over his face and she shook her head. “You and I both know it wouldn’t be as friends.” Turning away, Natalie unlocked her car and opened the door to toss her bag inside.

“I think that’s unfair.”

“Not really. Listen, Colin, I’m sorry about the other night at the party. I’d been hit by a big dose of nostalgia and too much wine and thought that indulging those old teenage fantasies was a good idea. But by the light of day, I know it was silly of me. So thank you for having some sense and keeping me from doing something that would’ve made this whole planning process that much more awkward.”

“Don’t thank me,” Colin argued. “I’ve regretted that decision every night since it happened.”

Natalie’s mouth fell agape, her dark eyes searching his face for something. “Don’t,” she said at last. “It was the right choice.”

“It was at the time, but only because it had to be. Natalie, I—”

“Don’t,” Natalie insisted. “There’s no reason to explain yourself. You made the decision you needed to make and it was the right one. No big deal. I’d like to just put that whole exchange behind us. The truth is that I’m really not the right kind of woman for you.”

Colin wasn’t sure if she truly meant what she said or if she was just angry with him, but he was curious what she meant by that. He was bad enough at choosing women. Maybe she knew something he didn’t. “What kind of woman is that?”

“The kind that’s going to have any sort of future with you. At the party, I was just after a night of fun, nothing serious. You’re a serious kind of guy. Since you were a teenager, you were on the express train to marriage and kids. I’m on a completely different track.”

They hadn’t really been around each other long enough for Colin to think much past the ache of desire she seemed to constantly rouse in him. But if what she said was true, she was right. He wanted all those things. If she didn’t, there wasn’t much point in pursuing her. His groin felt otherwise, but it would get on board eventually.

“Well, I appreciate you laying that out for me. Not all women are as forthcoming.” Pam had been, but for some reason he’d refused to listen. This time he knew better than to try to twist a woman’s will. It didn’t work. “Just friends, then,” he said.

Natalie smiled with more warmth than before, and she seemed to relax for the first time since he’d arrived. “Friends is great.”

“All right,” he said. “Good night.” Colin leaned in to give Natalie a quick hug goodbye. At least that was the idea.