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Best of Intentions
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Nate Reynolds is everything I shouldn’t want. Aside from being my best friend’s older brother, he’s a cocky, smooth-talking, panty-dropping playboy of a cop. And yet, I’m helplessly drawn to him.
His charm and good looks reduce me to a fumbling, mumbling teenaged version of myself, which pretty much guarantees that nothing will ever come of my silly crush.
Until the night of my best friend’s wedding.
Jenny Jones is the definition of innocence. She’s also my little sister’s best friend, making her completely off limits. She’s a forever kind of girl with hearts in her eyes, where I’ve always been more of a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy.
Until a night spent between the sheets with her has me questioning everything I thought I wanted.
I tried my hardest to stay away, but you know what they say about the best intentions . . .
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“You ready?” I ask my best friend, smirking at my reflection as I straighten my bow tie in the mirror.
Yeah, that’s right. A bow tie, and a vest…the things we do for the people we love. But today’s the day he marries Natalie—my little sister. And this vest is far more comfortable than my Kevlar, so I suppose it’s worth it. Not to mention, Tatum, my adorable as fuck almost four-year-old niece, begged us to wear them. And if there’s one thing on this earth I can’t resist, it’s her pouty lip. Kid’s got power.
Alden doesn’t even hesitate. “Yeah, man. I’m ready. More than ready.”
I run a hand through my hair and drop down into the chair next to him. Some days it weirds me out that he’s not only marrying my little sister but is also my niece’s father, a fact only brought to light within these last few months. But as I sit here with him, all relaxed and calm, it strikes me just how much he means it. He’s completely ready to spend the rest of his life with Natalie.
Then again, it doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve known Alden most of my life, and the dude’s always put one hundred percent into everything he’s passionate about, and my little sister is definitely at the top of that list. Even if it is a bit weird for me, I’m thrilled for them.
Love like that doesn’t exist for everyone, that’s for damn sure. And truthfully, I couldn’t think of two more deserving people. They fought hard for their happy ending—they put in the work and fucking earned it.
Once upon a time, I figured I’d find me a nice girl and settle down—you know, way on down the line. Then she happened. Or, hell, maybe I happened. Either way, I saw the light. Moral of the story, I’m not long-term material. So, nah, there’s no wedded bliss in my future. Only lots of great sex—the no-strings kind—and that’s just fine by me. I still get the intimacy that all humans crave without all the cards and flowers and oh my God, you missed our two-week anniversary bullshit.
It’s a total win…at least, that’s what I tell myself.
I’m sure I sound a bit jaded, and hell, maybe I am, but it’s with good reason and fully in the better interest of the other party. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them—truly. You’d be hard pressed to find a couple more perfect than those two. They’re that couple; moonbeams and rainbows and little cartoon hearts shoot out of their eyes every time they look at each other. If I was anyone else, it’d probably make me sick.
Another bonus of the day is seeing Jenny, Natalie’s fine-as-fuck friend, all gussied up. Actually, scratch that. I hope that Nat picked a burlap sack for her to wear, because being close to her while she’s dressed to kill all night might actually kill me.
Jenny’s loud, opinionated, and brash—a total spitfire. Until I come around, that is. In my presence, she gets all clammed up and nervous. It’s cute, really. Fuck. Did I just call the girl cute? What am I, twelve?
Alden and I are both seemingly lost to our own thoughts, and a comfortable silence stretches out, blanketing the room. Then Carlos—Alden’s second in command at the café he and Natalie run together—pops into the room. “It’s almost time. You ready?”
Alden smirks. “That seems to be a pretty popular question today. But, yeah, I’m ready. More than. It honestly feels like I’ve been waiting an eternity.”
Carlos claps him on the back. “Glad to hear it. Mrs. Reynolds said five minutes till it’s time. Which means we need a celebratory shot.” He crosses the room to where the bar cart is stashed in the corner and pours us each a shot of spiced rum. Alden and I stand and join him. He passes us each a small glass before raising his own in the air. We follow, lifting ours as well. “To finding the person who shows you how to be happy, and being smart enough to keep them.”
We clink glasses and down the shots, the warmth of the rum leaves a trail, settling in my gut, almost like a premonition. But before I can overthink it, Alden bursts out laughing. “Dude. Did you just make a fucking Trolls reference?”
“Maybe.” Carlos shrugs. “It seemed appropriate.”
“Tatum would approve for sure,” Alden replies, a wide grin splitting his cheeks. “Now, c’mon, it’s time to go claim my wife.”
I sling an arm around his neck and pull him close. “Chill out, caveman.”
He laughs and shoves away from me. “Just wait, tough guy. One day, some girl is gonna lay you out flat on your ass.” I waggle my brows and Alden shakes his head. “Not like that. I mean, the way Natalie did me.”