Page 10 of Stealing the Bride

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I bite the inside of my cheek. I didn’t know a man could be both aggressive and sweet at the same time, and it makes Lawson so much more alluring.

“I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon,” I say, and Lawson lets out a grunt while he keeps working in the kitchen.

I steal glances when he’s not paying attention, and as he cooks, I can smell something amazing. When he does look up, I quickly pretend I wasn’t staring at his profile. All the hard masculine lines of his face and the scruff of his beard are hot. Nick is a boy in comparison to Lawson.

Weirdly, I don’t think Nick ever asked if I was hungry, and he would be lost in a kitchen. Not that I’m much better, but still he could have asked. A few times I have tried cooking recipes I come across online, and it was fun. I’ve kept that tucked away in the back of my mind hoping that one day I’d have a chance to cook for a family of my own. It’s my dream to sit around the table together as a family that truly loves each other.

Overwhelming emotions fill me, and I swallow them down the best I can.

“You okay?” Lawson asks, and I guess I’m not hiding them as well as I thought.

“It’s just a lot.” I shrug, not wanting to unload my problems onto him. I don’t think I’ve ever unloaded them to anyone because they’re mine. The idea of someone else wanting to hear about my worries or cares doesn’t register. People ask as a way of being polite, but nobody ever says them.

“He was a dick. Not marrying him is a good thing.”

“I know. It’s not him. I mean, in a way it is, but it isn’t. Never mind. I sound crazy.” I wave it off, reminding myself again no one wants to hear this.

“You sound like you thought that asshole was a good idea in theory. Maybe only good on paper?” I nod. “Anyone can be good on paper. Until you dig.” The way he says it makes me think he’s had experience in it. What would he find on me? Not much, I suppose, since I’ve never kept anyone or anything close.

“I didn’t dig. Hell, I didn’t even try to scratch the surface.”

“I can guarantee you wouldn’t find anything worth a damn on him,” Lawson says, and I snort a laugh because he’s not wrong.

I bet if I gave Lawson a small scratch, I’d find something cozy and sweet. For some crazy reason, I want to get a peek inside the mystery man that is starting off way too good to be true.

Chapter Eight


“You’re lying!” Vanna shouts and then falls into a fit of giggles.

I hold up three fingers and put my hand on my chest. “Scout’s honor.”

“There’s no way that’s true.”

“Why would I make that up? I never even told my brothers.”

“It’s Ari and Mack, right?” she asks, and I nod. “From what you’ve told me, I can imagine why you’d keep that a secret.”

“Exactly. And it might have been a little traumatizing.” I smile, and she laughs again.

“Was that your first time away from home?”

“Other than staying the night at a friend's house or at my grandparents’. It was a two-week summer camp, but after that first night I wanted to go home immediately.”

“What made you stay?” She grabs some bread out of the basket on the coffee table between us and uses it to wipe up the pasta sauce on her plate.

“Because I knew my brothers would give me shit if I came home early.” After I made dinner, we moved to the living room to eat in front of the fire. There’s a small coffee table in here, so we sat on the floor across from each other.

“You thought a fish bit your dick off.” She laughs again, and I love the way her head falls back and she grabs at her side. “Was that not enough of an excuse?”

“Not to them.” I shake my head and push the plate of cookies toward her. “Now it’s your turn to tell me something funny that you’ve never told anyone.”

“Something funny?” She cocks her head to the side. “It would be easier to tell you something I’ve never told anyone.”

“Why is that?” I take a cookie and chew on it while she thinks it over.


I nod. “I always want the truth.”

“It’s because I don’t share much.” She takes a sip of her wine, and it feels like she’s avoiding the subject.

“You didn’t share with him?” I don’t want to bring up the asshole, but deep down I want to know that she’s telling me something that doesn't belong to anyone. Especially him.

“No, never.” She’s quick to answer before she finishes her wine.

“All right then, tell me something just for me. It doesn’t have to be funny.” I grab the bottle and refill her glass. “But I want something that’s only mine.”