“Just have to survive standing out there in the damn tux first,” I said.

Steel shot me a warning glance from where he stood across the room.

“They’re not that bad,” Brent said as he took the seat across from me.

I didn’t respond. If they all wanted to lie and pretend that we were fucking comfortable, that Steel wasn’t hurting a little, and that it was wrong Scarlet wasn’t here, fine. But I wasn’t going to fucking pretend.

“Dixie wanted something small. It grew as her mom and dad got more involved. She wanted them to be happy, so she went with it.”

“Sweetest bride I’ve ever seen. Aren’t they supposed to be bitches? There’s a show about it or something,” Brent drawled

Everyone turned to look at Brent after that comment. He shrugged. “There is. Don’t tell me y’all haven’t seen the damn commercials,” he said defensively.

“Dix has never been a bitch.” Dallas only stated what everyone already knew.

“Steel will disagree. He called her one loudly when he was drunk on main street once,” I added since they all wanted to act like that shit didn’t happen. All this jolly happiness annoyed me.

“Jesus, Bray. For once use a filter,” Brent said angrily.

“Only pointing out the facts.” I smirked.

“It’s okay.” Steel walked toward us like we were about to tie up and start swinging right there. “He’s right. I did. I was hurt. I was drunk. That was a different time. Dixie has never been a bitch, but I was a jerk. I was also selfish. I knew who she loved. I wouldn’t let her go even knowing I wasn’t her first choice. I was wrong. I made it right though,” Steel paused and turned his gaze to Asher. “And today, I get to watch the brother who has never had one selfish motive when it comes to us marry the girl he was meant for. I’m happy for you. No one needs to doubt that.”

Asher stood there only a moment before moving toward Steel. They hugged. Mushy shit. I needed that whiskey.

“If I get called a pussy by any of you for crying I will beat your fucking ass. I am bigger than all of you now. You don’t want any of this,” Dallas said as he wiped a tear away.

Asher laughed, and I saw the unshed tears in his eyes. They were all a bunch of pussies.

“Don’t,” Brent muttered.

I looked at him and he stared back at me. “Don’t. Whatever you are thinking . . . don’t say it.”

I laughed bitterly. “Whatever.” I stood up to put some distance between the emotional outbursts and see the crowd for myself.

“Ten minutes.” Brent smiled.

“Woohoo!” Dallas cheered.

I ignored their ridiculously happy sentiments and studied the crowd. They were all seated now. It was packed. Standing room only. They would all see the beautiful bride and believe in the fairytale that they’d watched unfold. If anyone deserved a fairy tale, it was Asher. I wanted them to have their day and to be happy. I just fucking hated that no one seemed to care that Dixie’s best friend wasn’t here. No one noticed her absence. It was as if Scarlet had never existed.

I caught flash of red hair wading through the crowd, jolting when I thought it might be her. I scowled and cursed myself. Always. I did it every time. I didn’t stand there a minute longer, trying to see more of the girl attached to the hair because there was no point. The girl was never who I wanted it to be.


IT WAS SILLY to think everyone knew what had happened between the Sutton twins and me, but it felt as if they did. I was sure many had heard about the night outside of Jack’s when Bray decided he would no longer watch me be with Brent. His decision had been as terrifying as it was thrilling. It shouldn’t have been thrilling, but Bray had made a move and claimed me. He’d never said he loved me, but he had called me his. I’d never been claimed. Most of my life I lived clinging to the only semblance of security I had. Afraid that at any moment it would be gone.

The ache that came with thoughts of Bray returned. We never had a chance to be happy and I knew we never would. Shaking my head to clear it, I scolded myself mentally. I’d come to the wedding to see Dixie. I was here to watch my best friend get married. When it was over I’d find her, congratulate her, tell her I loved her, and would be on my way. She didn’t need my drama spoiling her special day. It was the only reason I hadn’t gone to see her before she walked down the aisle.

I wasn’t going to give her something to worry about when she should be enjoying every moment of her important day. She’d planned it in her head a million times for as long as I had known her. Now her dream was coming true and it would be perfect. Asher would make sure of that.

“Haven’t seen you around. Where’ve you been?” Hannah Watson leaned forward from the row of seats behind me and whispered close to my ear. I’d noticed her when I sat down. The smile I gave her should have been enough. There was no reason for us to speak. We weren’t friends. I had a memory of her in the second grade laughing at me on parent’s day when I was the only child with no parent present. We had spent days preparing. Our teacher had us cook the meal we would feed them. All the time I knew my parents weren’t coming. I didn’t like Hannah since then, even if she had only been eight at the time. Besides why was she here?

I turned to look at her and respond politely when my eyes locked with Dallas Sutton’s. He was standing on the front porch and was staring directly at me. The smile on his face was genuine and I was sure his was the only smile I would receive from a Sutton boy today. He gave me a slight nod of his head to let me know he was pleased I had come.

If he hadn’t drove to Robertsdale this morning, I don’t know if I would have gotten the courage to be here. Something about knowing that one Sutton boy thought I should be here gave me the added nudge I needed. Reminded me of what was important.

I heard Hannah say something else and although I wasn’t sure what she was saying, I was reminded I hadn’t responded to her nosy ass comments. I broke eye contact with Dallas and focused on Hannah. “I moved,” was all I said trying to hold my tight smile. I turned back around not checking to see if Dallas was still there and if he was alone. They’d all know soon enough I was here.

The only person who mattered, the only person who would possibly be angry was Bray. Brent too, but not the way Bray would be. I’d run from the disaster I’d created in their eyes. Neither knew that losing Bray and hurting Brent would send me back into the darkness. Bray’s presence in my life had held it back. When we were together, there was calmness.

The music changed and the whispering around the guests stopped. Eyes shifted toward the house and the door opened. Out walked Asher Sutton. He was tall, beautiful, and the smile on his face was genuine. He wasn’t nervous. There were no second thoughts for him. No doubts. He knew his life was with Dixie. I envied them both.

Asher was a good guy. Noble, steadfast, sturdy. You never doubted him. He was selfless. He was dependable. He was better looking than any one man should be. Dixie had chosen well. I was happy knowing she would always be taken care of and loved so completely.

I held my breath as the next brother stepped through the door. I thought there was a good chance it was Bray. It wasn’t though. It was Steel. That surprised me. I hadn’t imagined he’d be the brother standing next to Asher today. After all they had been through with Dixie I figured one of the twins would be in that spot. Steel looked at peace. He didn’t look broken or pained.

Tags: Abbi Glines South of the Mason Dixon Romance
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