“I’ve got plenty of time. Just have to slide into the dress. My hair and makeup are already done.” I bat my long false lashes at him, and he grabs my wrists and pulls me to his chest.
“You look beautiful, Cal. I’m sorry I’m so distracted.”
I hold out the white gloves, and he flexes his hands into them. “And I’ve never seen a more stunning man in uniform.”
Asa is Weston’s best man, and I’m the maid of honor. If someone would have told us this would happen as kids, we’d have all moaned and groaned and protested because of how gross the idea was then. But now, it feels as natural and organic as breathing. I can’t fathom a single one of us with a different partner. The universe had a plan, and we fell right into it. It’s always been the four of us, and hopefully, it will go on always being that way.
I need to get to Crosby’s dressing room and help her pin her tremendous veil. Asa has stood up and sat down three times since I started with the white gloves.
“I should go help the bride.”
“Yes! Go. Stop enabling me,” he says with a smile. Asa likes to throw my medical terms right back at me whenever he gets the chance—good-naturedly, of course.
“Can you tie your shoes?” I smile and stand on tiptoe to kiss his sensuous lips.
“Tighter than I tied you to the bed.” Asa grabs me around the waist and goes for my neck, scraping his teeth along the tender cords. He’s such a crazy neck man; I swear he’s half vampire. Like clockwork, the baby-fine hairs on my neck stand on end, and my skin prickles at the sensation.
“Stop! You’ll mess up my hair. I have to help BeBe.” I slip out of his grip and run toward the door of the dressing room. My heart’s pounding from our play and the memory of the first time he tied me to the bed. “I’ll see you in the chapel,” I say and blow him a kiss. Asa’s brows knit at the adieu as if I’ve said something that struck a chord with him.
I run down the long, carpeted hallway of the church and swing down the stairs until I get to the larger dressing rooms. My pink dress that Crosby designed is hanging in a garment bag on the coat rack. Somehow, my incredible designer best friend managed to make me a gown that looked simultaneously sexy, classy, and girly. Not only that, but the color and style are so me. It’s the palest blush of pink, like the deep center of a white rose, and it looks even more fantastic on me.
Slipping it on quickly in the bathroom, careful not to ruin my hair, I wonder if Asa and I will ever get married, maybe someday in a church just like this.
Watching Crosby walk down the aisle with Jim Dashen takes my breath away, and I’m not the one marrying her. The love she and her dad share is written all over their faces, and I don’t think there’s a dry eye in the church, wedding party included. When I look over at Asa standing stoically in his uniform, my heart throbs in love and admiration. This is the kind of man he is, standing up for his family, his country, fighting for his life—he does it all with grace and dignity. I’m so in love with him, my chest can barely contain my heart. When he looks at me with that intense and passionate expression, my loins clench in response. This is what he does to me.
I make it through the ceremony; my mascara doesn’t. But it was stupid to reapply in the car because the Dad and Daughter first dance with Jim Dashen, one arm on a walker and the other around Crosby, got rid of any lingering traces of makeup.
“Can I dance with you?” Asa grasps my upper arm from behind and startles me. The lights are low, and the entire ballroom is decorated in a zillion fairy lights, while giant yellow globe lanterns appear to be suspended in midair. Asa’s changed into a casual suit for the reception. Something about the slate gray color on him has me wanting to tear off his clothing.
“We made it through,” I whisper into his ear. I wrap my arms around his neck as he yanks me into the protective wall of his chest. His mouth immediately begins caressing my neck. I tip my head back and giggle.
“Move in with me. I mean, let’s move in together,” he says as he attacks the supersensitive shell of my ear.
“To your parents’ house?” I giggle. “What happened to taking it slow?”
“Callie, I’m done. Finished. You ruined me. Seeing you in that dress at the church… Just now, under these lights. Do you realize what you do to me? I can’t even think straight when there’s another man talking to you. I get jealous of your other clients because your hands touch them, and because you genuinely care, too. Every night, I wish you were in my arms. It’s not too soon for me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s taking us too long to get there.”