Page 9 of Stealing the Bride

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“No.” I cut her off with one word and then place the basket of food I dropped off earlier today on the kitchen island. “Relax, Vanna. You’re not going anywhere.”

Chapter Seven


Lawson’s eyes are so kind, but if he wasn’t there to rescue me, I might be intimidated by his size alone. He’s rough, but there’s a softness to him. For some reason, I’m relaxed and calm, even though being all alone with a man I don’t know should scare me. At the moment, I know I don’t have to deal with anything, and there's peace in not worrying.

I’m sure no one has a clue where I am, but Nick’s family always has a way of getting their hands on what they want. I would think Nick’s mom would be happy about this, but maybe not. If she really did send out invitations or save the dates, it would piss her off to have to tell people it’s canceled. Not because she’s losing me but because people would gossip. After seeing Nick's reaction, I’m confused because I didn’t think the fallout would be this intense.

I assumed our break-up would be one awkward conversation and then we’d both come to terms that we let this whole thing spiral out of control. There’s no way we could marry each other after what happened, and I’m shocked Nick thought I was being ridiculous. He never fought for anything unless it was being the favorite.

Nick never acted that way before, and it caught me off-guard. It’s strange how his cheating wasn’t a shock, but him putting his hands on me and being forceful was. I didn’t see that coming because in a lot of ways, Nick goes with the flow and nods along right with me. Today I saw darkness in his eyes. It scared me because he was throwing a tantrum like a little boy that didn’t get the toy he wanted. It’s never been clearer to me that’s what I am to him because I was used when needed and forgotten when not.

I always assumed I wasn’t the worst at sizing people up after being in foster care, but my skills might not be as good as I hoped. When I think about it, I never let anyone get close, so how could I be? Unless I went deeper than the surface level, there would be no way to learn what to watch out for.

There were a few girls I always studied with, but I don’t have girlfriends. When I picked up odd jobs here or there, I never went out with co-workers. If I kept people at a distance, no one could hurt me. That has really been settling in for me over the past twenty-four hours. I wanted a family but also didn’t want to be close to anyone. How did I think that would work? Nick’s family really did fit that part, but I don’t actually want them.

Lawson saved me, so that has to mean he wouldn’t hurt me. If he wanted to do something terrible to me, he would’ve already. I passed out in his car, and he brought me into his home and took care of me. Now he’s insisting I stay because he’s worried that my ex might try to come back.

“You need to eat.” I watch Lawson pull a few items out of a basket.

“You don’t have to do all that.” I glance around the house, realizing I’m not sure where I am, but the place is nice. It’s rustic but modern. We must be right outside the city because I couldn’t have been asleep for long. When he carried me in, it was too dark to see much beyond the stars in the sky.

“My mother wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t feed you.” He gives me a playful smirk.

His comment puts me at ease as the smile meets his eyes. I can tell he adores her, because when my ex talked about his mother, he was always rolling his eyes or sighing. Not that I can blame him.

“We can’t have that.” Besides, I do want to stay, if only for a little while. By then hopefully the drama will have passed, and I can be out of his way.

“You like pasta?”

“‘Like’ is putting it mildly.” My stomach lets out an embarrassing grumble. “Oh god.” I put my hand over it to try and muffle the sound, but I have no doubt my face is turning red.

“See, you need to eat. It’s probably part of the reason you passed out.”

“I’ve been on a diet,” I admit.

“Why?” Lawson’s expression of utter confusion only makes him more handsome.

“I’ve got to fit into a wedding dress?” A pan slams down onto the stove, making me jump.

“When you need a wedding dress, get one that fits. Not one that you have to fit into.” He shakes his head and mutters something under his breath.