I turned to her and frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Just Bray that affects you. Not Brent.”

I sighed. “It was always just Bray.”


“ASHER DIDN’T ASK me to be the one to speak. I’m the best man but he wasn’t going to ask me to stand up and say anything. I had to ask him if I could.” Steel stood up after the meal was complete and it was time for the speech shit and toasting crap.

“This isn’t a big town and most all of you know the history between Asher, Dixie and myself. It wasn’t pretty at times. There are some moments I’d like to erase. Things I wish I could redo. Get a second chance to handle differently.

“Regardless of some actions I wish I could take back, the one thing remains . . . these two have been meant for each other from the moment Asher picked Dixie up in his truck on her way home from school after she’d had a very bad day. It was a love story, the real kind, the kind you don’t have to force. The story all of us want. To feel that way about one person and know it will be forever,” Steel paused. I glanced over at Asher and Dixie. They both looked as if they were close to fucking tears. Jesus, Asher get it together man.

“I had never witnessed selflessness. Love that went beyond, that didn’t care about the pain it caused them as long as they protected the one they loved. To live in such darkness alone just to keep it from touching someone else was something I didn’t understand. Until I witnessed Asher’s actions with Dixie. He taught me what it means to love someone. He also showed me that a man in love with the woman he is meant for will move heaven and earth to protect her above all others. That’s what I want too. That’s what we should all wait for.”

Dixie sniffed and wiped away a tear. Thankfully, my brother wasn’t crying. Yet. I rolled my eyes in disgust and took a drink of water.

“To Asher and Dixie, may your life be full of all the joy you both deserve. I love you both and I can truly say I am happy for y’all.”

Asher stood up and hugged Steel. The guests clapped. It was a real mushy ass scene. Dixie also stood and moved over to hug Steel and whispered something. They all three laughed. What a Hallmark moment. How much more of this shit did I have to sit through. Not allowing myself to look at Scarlet again was hard enough. This was just making it a living hell.

No one was talking about the marital fights they’d have or possible sickness they could face in the future. No one was going to mention how it wouldn’t always be roses and sunshine. They left that reality shit out of it.

When the three of them sat down, I leaned back prepared to listen to Meg stand up and spout some bullshit. As I recalled, she had barely been around the past ten years. I could barely remember her name. What did she know about Dixie and Asher? This was bound to be a fucking pointless speech.

“I didn’t come prepared to say anything,” Scarlet’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts and I jerked my head in her direction. She was the one standing with the microphone. Not Meg. Her red hair was draped over her left shoulder and she was smiling down at Dixie. Nervous but happy.

“But Meg asked me if I’d like to do a toast to the bride and I couldn’t say no to that,” she glanced back at Meg. “Thank you.”

Meg nodded her head and was grinning with pure relief.

“I’ve been there to witness Dixie and Asher’s story from the moment she decided she was in love with him. I, of course, thought it was a silly crush and she’d move on from it. Heck, I’d had at least three boys I was sure I was in love with by the time Dixie told me she loved Asher.”

The guests chuckled and Scarlet blushed as she continued on.

“Dixie and I were close because we were completely different. She was the ray of sunshine while I was the tornado.”

Again more laughter.

“She is the best thing that ever happened to me. She’s the best person I know. Once I thought Asher Sutton didn’t deserve her. He’d hurt her, and I’d hated him for it. I didn’t know the reason why then. If I had, I’d have loved him too for protecting her while living with the pain. I realized in the end that Asher was her fit. He was the man she never stopped loving. I could trust him to cherish her the way she deserved to be,” Scarlet paused and looked at my brother. “You’ve got the best.”

He nodded his head in agreement and kissed Dixie’s temple. Dixie was once again crying. The woman was an emotional basket case. I quickly shifted my eyes back to Scarlet.

“And Dixie,” she said. “So do you. I have never seen love so real or perfect. Until the two of you. I look forward to spoiling your children one day. I love you,” she said as emotion clogged her throat.

Dixie all but jumped out of her seat and wrapped her arms around Scarlet tightly. They both had tears streaming down their face and I saw Scarlet whisper, “Congratulations.”

Once they were done with their emotional outburst, Asher hugged Scarlet and said something that made her laugh through her tears. Even with a red splotchy face she was beautiful. Stunning. And nothing like she portrayed herself.

What she thought made her a troublemaker I saw as exciting. It was what had drawn me to her. She didn’t see it. All she ever saw was Dixie and compared herself to her. She considered Dixie’s straight and narrow ways as perfection. I found it boring as hell. Dixie was beautiful and sweet but there was no mischief. No adventure.

Scarlet was the embodiment of all that. She’d never understood that. I had been so damn sucked in by it I’d wanted to be closer to her. I understood her need for walking too close to the edge and often right over the line.

None of this mattered now. Not to me. She hadn’t been in love with me. I’d been an adventure. One she regretted. It was important I remember that. At least long enough to get her sexy ass back in her car and out of this town.

Asher and Dixie were walking to the dance floor for the first dance. It was expected for Meg and Steel to dance next then Brent and Sadie and lastly Dallas was going to dance with the other girl I didn’t know. Asher had suggested I not be assigned to a bridesmaid. Guess they didn’t trust me. I smirked as I took a drink and watched as my brother held Dixie in his arms and danced with her as the band played some slow ass song.

Sighing I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms over my chest.

“I’ll dance with Scarlet. You dance with Shelly,” Dallas said beside me.

“What?” I asked scowling at him.

“You heard me,” he replied with an annoyed expression.

Yes, I had heard him, but I had no idea what the fuck he meant. “Who is Shelly?”

Dallas sighed as if I’d just asked a stupid question. “The other bridesmaid.”

“Why are you dancing with Scarlet?” I asked him not liking the idea of my baby brother’s hands on Scarlet.

“Because considering the circumstances I am the only option. You sure as hell don’t need to be her dance partner.”

“Why do either of us have to dance with her? She wasn’t a bridesmaid.”

Dallas stood up while glaring at me. “No. But she should have been. She gave the speech and sat in the maid of honor’s spot. She is a part of this wedding party. Stop being a jerk.”

Slowly, I stood up, blocking his way. There were two different options here. One was the smart one. Dallas had a good point. His plan was solid. Made sense. I finally nodded and turned to see Steel taking Meg’s hand then Brent taking Sadie’s hand and heading out to the dance floor. I was next. I moved and while I walked the few steps over to the two waiting females I knew the plan.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance
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