“Come on.” He nudges his head toward the door. “Time to loosen up, man. It is a party, after all.”
I walk with him to the bar and order another beer. And then two more before we pack up and get back on the bus. Twenty minutes later, we’re being dropped off at the venue. Courtney grabs me and links her arm in mine and rests her head on my shoulder.
“Feeling okay?” I ask.
“Fabulous!” She squeezes me tighter. “We have to walk in together,” she says, wiggling her arm. “So, you have to escort me one last time, Deputy.”
I narrow my brows at her because I have no idea what she’s talking about.
“It’s tradition,” she begins to explain. “The DJ announces the wedding party and then the bride and groom as we walk to the head table.”
“What’s your drink count now?” I ask, knowing damn well she didn’t stop at two.
“Oh, I’m totally fine. I ate some saltine crackers I had in my purse. It has to hold me over at least until I give the maid of honor speech.”
I laugh. “I’ll be sure to record that.”
She playfully smacks me. “Don’t be a douche. You have to say one, too.”
“I know, but I can hold my alcohol, unlike someone.”
“I have no problem holding my alcohol,” she says with amusement, raising the glass in her other hand. “See?”
I swipe it from her and sniff it. “Clearly,” I deadpan. “C’mon, let’s go.” I escort her, and when we walk inside, she slides her arm out and grabs ahold of my hand, linking her fingers through mine. It’s no big deal, and I know it’s all for show right now, but it does something unexpected to me. She’s held my hand dozens of times, never meaning anything, but this feels different, and I’m not sure why.
Once we’re seated and the food is served, I’m ready to give my speech. Travis is so much more than a friend, and although I know he knows that, it makes me emotional just to think about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve been through together.
I stand up and grab the microphone that was left on the table. Clearing my throat and grabbing everyone’s attention, I begin.
“There isn’t a time in my life I can remember when you weren’t in it. From our awkward teen years to our college years sharing a house together to you falling in love with my sister, you’ve always been there for me.” I stand there looking down at Travis and Viola, who are both looking up at me from their seats. Their fingers are tightly weaved together, and wide and gleeful smiles fill their faces. Seeing them so happy together causes me to feel an overwhelming amount of joy for the two of them. I love that my childhood was filled with memories of us.
I continue my speech and end with a joke because he did marry my sister, after all.
“May your invisibility cloak save you when you need it the most.” I chuckle, knowing they’ll get the reference.
“Good speech,” Courtney whispers over my shoulder from behind me. I hadn’t seen her coming, but I’d been in my own little world so I could’ve missed the President with how much my mind is racing.
“Thanks,” I say as I turn around and face her. “Yours wasn’t too bad, either.” I chuckle, amused by her too-honest speech.
“Hey,” she says defensively, “I had people crying they were laughing so hard.” She smiles proudly and so do I. It’s true. Courtney blew it out of water. “I thought your grandma was going to have a heart attack; she was snorting so loud.”
“She was choking on her water because the last time she heard the word fanny—”
“What?” she interrupts me. “Fanny is a very suitable term to describe your sister’s ass. I was only trying to keep it PG.”
I shake my head at her and laugh. Courtney’s always been good at putting a smile on my face. “If we were in England, fanny would mean something much different.”
“Do you think your grandma is British?” Her eyes widen in fear.
I bust out laughing at how genuine her voice sounds. “I think you’re safe.”
Her head falls back as she groans and images of her in my dream immediately surface in my mind. I blink, hoping it pushes them away, but it does nothing to erase them. I need a distraction.
“Logan looks like he needs a wingman. I’m going to grab a drink and rescue him from the middle-aged woman who hasn’t left his side since dinner.” I smirk, knowing damn well he’s capable of getting away, but I can’t breathe with Courtney right next to me, not with the way my head is persistent on reminding me of what I can’t have.
“What’s Logan’s deal?” she asks, following close behind me.