Frayed Page 53

I pull away. ’’I have to go check on Dino and Matt.’’

She nods.

I spend what\s left of the night talking to the guests and trying to avoid both Tate and Romeo, who have approached me numerous times together and separately. My phone vibrates in my pocket. I pull it out and read the message.

I should be there in about twenty minutes.

I text back.

I can\ wait to see you.

I can\ wait to do a lot of things.

My nerves flutter like the butterflies in my stomach, but I don\ have much time to think about them because the music begins and I know it\s time for the engagement announcement. Keeping my mouth shut has been difficult but I managed it. River starts to sing ’’Marry Me,’’ the No Doubt version, of course Xander always said Ivy looked like Gwen Stefani. As River sings, Xander braces his arms around Ivy and they dance. My mother has tears streaming down her face and when they finish she goes to hug them.

A tinge of jealousy flares within me. River and now Xander both of my brothers have found their happily ever after. Will I ever find mine? But I push that aside because I couldn\ be happier for my brother. Our family has been through a lot, but I think Xander has been through the most. He deserves this. I notice Jack flash a grin at them and then engulf Ivy in a huge embrace.

Dino elbows me. ’’Didn\ you want these?’’ he asks.

’’Yes, oh yes.’’ For the first time as I thank Dino I think Ben might be right he\s interested in me. I\m flattered, but it\s almost laughable, as he\s so young.

I wave my hands toward River and he crosses the room to grab the champagne.

’’You\ e on fire,’’ he comments.

I laugh. ’’I\m prepared.’’

’’No, for real. You\ e so red. Are you okay?’’

I jab the bottle at him. ’’I\m fine. Let\s get a move on.’’

Dahlia is at his side, snapping pictures, and I trail behind with the tray of champagne flutes.

’’Pssttt,’’ I say to her.

She looks over her shoulder.

’’Happy anniversary.’’

She smiles. ’’Thank you.’’

We all circle around Xander and Ivy, and River tugs on the cork and it goes flying. I jump, startled by the noise. Laughter fills the room when he spills a little on the floor and flashes a grin. ’’I always say I\m not much of a bartender.’’

Xander whispers something to him that I can\ hear. River nods and then the two embrace, pulling me in as well. Now tears well in my eyes. I love them so much.

River turns back to the crowd and hoists a glass high for a toast. ’’To Ivy and Xander. To true love.’’

We all clink our glasses and my tears of joy spill over.

I make a toast next. ’’To Ivy and Xander if I ever doubted fate you\ve changed that for me. Because of you I believe in fairy tales, butterflies, and destiny.’’

Everyone looks at me questioningly. I shrug with a smile and they all let it go and start sipping their champagne.

When everyone starts to converse, I whisper in Ivy\s ear, ’’I have to leave, but I\ll be calling you to plan the wedding.’’ And with that my heels click the floor as I dash as fast as I can toward the door.

CHAPTER 17

Navigate Me

Ben

The road between Laguna Beach and LA is once again becoming very familiar territory to me. In my BMW X-5, I head toward the City of Angels. I have a thing for BMWs always have. I remember my father driving the oldest, ugliest orange BMW when I was a kid. They\ e some of the clearest memories I have of him. I\d be sitting in the backseat on the perforated black leather and watching as my father jammed his foot up and down when he tried to unstick the clutch or when he\d pound his fist against the stick next to him because he couldn\ get the gears to shift. We\d almost always roll out of the driveway backward and my dad would yell words my mother would scold him for. I didn\ understand why either of them seemed upset when to me it was nothing but fun. I\d sit in the backseat and laugh at them both.

Approaching the seemingly infinite lights that twinkle all around me, I find it odd to feel the start of a smile when I look ahead. I\ve always hated LA, but for some reason I don\ see it as pretentious anymore. Instead it reminds me of Bell. The music in the car is low because I don\ need to blast it to ease my thoughts as I careen through the streets. The night seems oddly quiet. But as I coast onto the streets of LA, the quietness fades. The tree-lined streets become lively, but it\s not with cars. Trick-or-treaters fill the sidewalks pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, and even a few Batman costumes parade door to door. I pass the LA Times building lit up in orange and remember how excited I was to start working there so many years ago. So much has happened since then. But I\ve put the past in the past and I\m moving forward.

The traffic light turns red and I stop and take the time to reread our texts from earlier. My anticipation of what the night is going to bring only grows by the moment, as does the size of my cock. The light turns green and I drive even faster to get there. Cars are emptying out of the parking lot as I pull in. I had considered attending a million different times, but each scenario ended with putting S\elle in an awkward situation and I didn\ want to stress her out when this was meant to be a happy time for her family.

Putting my BMW in PARK, I look toward the car in front of me. The license plate reads T WYATT. What the f**k is that ass**le doing here? I swivel my gaze toward the building and I\m caught off guard by the sign before me. Dahlia had told me what she named the company she started with her husband. But hearing about it and seeing the evidence in person are entirely different. Erected to the side of the pathway leading to the building\s glass doors stands a huge rectangular concrete sign with the words TYLER RECORDS AND AMAZING GRACE STUDIOS scripted across it in rose letters.


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