“Mom.” Lucky filled the one word with a desperate warning.

“Shush. I was just throwing ideas out there.”

“Taylor, Jack never told me the story. Why did you leave Elliott?” Michaela asked, obviously trying to change the subject.

Chatter around dropped to a low roar, a clear reminder that they weren’t alone in Elliott’s gossip central. Since she’d left straight from the ceremony seven years ago, no one had heard her side of the story. By her calculation, she’d just risen to number one on the gossip list for today.

“Oh my God.” A nearby stylist dropped her hand, foil wrappers drifting to the floor unnoticed. “You’re the Mary-Taylor who punched out her groom at the altar and then left town in a stolen car!”

“That would be my car,” Lucky said.

“Oh Taylor, that’s awful!” Michaela said, horrified. Apparently violence against your betrothed while dressed in Vera Wang wasn’t commonplace in the governor’s mansion.

“No, awful would’ve been finding out that Bobby was sleeping with the wedding planner after the ceremony was finished,” she said.

“You’re right. What did your family say?”

“Teague was great. My parents…” Aware of her audience, she tried to think of the best way to describe the total letdown her parents had served up along with the sit-down dinner for three hundred and fifty guests.

“Your mama sure was mad at Lucky,” Sissy said. Taylor looked at Lucky to decipher her meaning. His gaze was steady, his mouth a straight line of displeasure at this turn in the conversation. They’d talked about her defunct wedding day a few times over the years, but he’d never mentioned any trouble with her mother.

“Mom, we don’t need to get into that now. It was a long time ago,” Lucky said.

“No, Mrs. Landon.” Taylor leaned forward in her chair, jostling the poor girl who was probably ready to staple her ass to the pedicure chair. “Spill. I never heard this part before.”

“Call me Sissy. Well, I wasn’t invited, so I didn’t see it firsthand, but your mama smacked Lucky right across the face in front of the preacher and everything.”

“She did what?” Taylor hopped down from the chair and walked on her heels, toes splayed with those little foam thingies, to stand in front of his chair. Sissy stepped back as Taylor wedged in between his legs, hands planted on the strong muscles of his thighs, forcing him to look at her and answer her question.

“It wasn’t a big deal.” He swallowed, his breathing a little heavier now. Taylor shivered when his hands encircled her wrists, tugging her a little closer so no one else could hear them. “Your mother followed you out of the church and she saw everything.” He let the impact of his words sink in, tightening his hold on her as understanding crept into her brain. “She saw us.”

“She blamed you,” Taylor said.

“Yes.”

“She thought you were the reason I didn’t marry Bobby.”

“One of the reasons.”

“Did you try to tell her the truth?” She freed a hand from his grasp, tracing the stubble on his jaw with fingers tingling from the emotions coursing through her body.

“I think I wanted it to be true. There was a reason I wasn’t inside the church.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh.”

Taylor stroked his lip with her fingertip, his breath warming her skin where it was wet from the touch of his tongue. She inhaled sharply, her lungs burning from the fire catching in her marrow. It was too much, too intimate for this place. The town tongues would be wagging but she really didn’t care.

She leaned in closer, making sure no one heard except Lucky.

“Don’t sleep at Beck’s tonight.”

Chapter Thirteen

“Please tell me I’m not hallucinating.”

Lucky paused in the doorway to Taylor’s room, his breathing already accelerated from taking the stairs two at a time. The sight before him made his knees weaker than his first day in the field as a newbie Marine recruit. He grabbed the doorframe to keep from falling at her feet.“

It depends. What do you see?” Taylor looked over her shoulder, looking suspiciously innocent.

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