Frayed Page 108

I take deep calming breaths and search the space for her. My eyes land on the restroom and I decide to slip inside there first. What the hell am I so nervous for? I splash cold water on my face and when I look up to straighten my tie, I\m staring into the reflection of the face of the man I haven\ seen in over a year. The man who for far too long I thought stole my girl from me. The same man Dahlia chose to marry. And up until today I didn\ realize she must love him in a very different way than she ever loved me. And right now, strangely enough, I\m thankful for that.

River Wilde\s green eyes narrow on me as he takes another step inside. His resemblance to Bell is unbelievable. Their facial features, skin tone, and eye color are so much alike it\s uncanny. I\ve recognized it before, but right now I see it clearer than day.

’’What are you doing here?’’ he asks. His tone is even and controlled.

Trying not to let my nerves rattle me and not wanting to upset anyone, I look at him and say without pretense, ’’I came to talk to your sister.’’

His bow tie is undone and hangs to either side of his collar. His eyes look slightly glassy as though he might have had a few drinks. His piercing gaze makes me feel we are in some kind of silent stare-down. But I don\ avert my eyes. Instead I allow him to study me. I get the feeling he\s trying to gauge my intentions. I\m okay with that. Then I notice his fingers tighten into fists and think, F*k, I\m not here to fight with him.

Finally he says something. ’’Did you tell her you were coming?’’

’’No.’’ I\m trying not to let his attitude get to me.

’’Then I think you should leave.’’

’’I need to talk to her.’’ I\m not sure what she told him, if anything, about what happened, but I don\ like the impression I\m getting from the way he\s glaring at me. Silence hangs between us for a few long moments.

His face is like stone. ’’If you hurt my sister ’’

I don\ give him a chance to finish, because the words leave my mouth without a thought. ’’I would never hurt her. I love her.’’

My knees start to shake and I grab the counter to steady myself as it occurs to me that I need her in my life because I love her in a way I\ve never loved anyone. The part of me that I thought died a long time ago didn\ . I just couldn\ find it.

That\s how I feel about her. She\s my missing piece my Rosebud.

Those are the emotions I\ve been feeling that I haven\ been able to figure out. F*k me. It\s not the same kind of love I felt for Dahlia. What I feel for S\elle is somehow different deeper, more consuming maybe. I don\ know, but I do know Noel was right. It\s not something any man wants to think about. Comparing the love for one woman to another seems wrong.

I shove all these thoughts aside, knowing all that matters is making sure she\s in my life, because without her I don\ feel whole.

The shock on his face has to mirror mine.

’’I\m going to find your sister now,’’ I tell him in a surprisingly even tone. Then I walk past him and out of the room without a second glance.

Ivy plants are scattered through the room, and twinkling lights are strung beside paper lanterns. Banners reading HAPPY NEW YEAR and CONGRATULATIONS, XANDER AND IVY are wrapped around the chairs. Champagne bottles, party hats, and noise blowers decorate the tables along with white candles of all shapes and sizes. But what I notice most is the sheer amount of gold and silver confetti that dusts the floor and all of the wedding guests. It looks as though they might have celebrated midnight a little early.

When I drag my eyes over to the couples dancing on the clear platform over the pool that makes them look suspended in air, I spot her parents first. Charlotte has her arms around her husband but gives me a wave and Jack nods hello. My breath hitches when my eyes dart to a couple dancing beside them. I immediately spot the mass of red curls tumbling down her back.

Time stands still as I stand frozen in the glow from the dance floor beneath me. She\s all I can see as I drink her in. A vision of beauty, she\s wearing a long silver satin dress that skims her body to perfection. Her back is bare and her skin looks soft and smooth. As my eyes drop, so does my heart. Someone else\s hands are wrapped around her waist, resting just above her ass. I nearly jump out of my skin when I see his fingertips caress the dip at the bottom of her spine.

As if she senses me, she turns in my direction. Her green eyes flash in surprise, but her gaze catches mine and holds it. In that moment I see what I\ve somehow known but not understood. I remember thinking so long ago that she looked at me as if she got me, understood who I am. I\ve thought that since the first time I laid eyes on her. But it\s not until right now that I really understood it. It has to be because she loves me as I love her.

The guy with his arms around her is tall, with dirty blond hair and a spray of freckles across his nose. He\s wearing a white T-shirt with a screen-printed bow tie on it, black scuffed boots, and a tux with his jacket unbuttoned. His skinny downtown biker look makes my blood boil. Has she already moved on? I take a few slow breaths, trying to calm the jealousy erupting within me.

The music changes from a slow ballad to an upbeat tempo and more people rush the dance floor. I keep my eyes pinned to her, and when I\m sure I can handle whatever the situation brings, I slowly make my way toward her. Thank f**k she pulls away from the guy who still hasn\ removed his fingers from her back even with the start of a new song. She pops up on her toes and whispers something to him. He nods and finally drops his hands.

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