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One & Only You
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I’m walking down the aisle and toward the man I’ve loved almost all of my life. He’s wearing a black tux and a sexy grin. His sable eyes devour me, making promises of a honeymoon I’ll never forget.
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“There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.”
― Josh Billings
“I, Wyatt Alexander James, take you, Allison Leigh Banks, to be my wedded wife …”
I was going to be sick. Either that or I was going to faint right there in front of Wyatt and the pastor. In front of everyone, nearly every person I had ever known in my entire life, assembled in St. Matthew’s Church in what was being called the wedding of the year.
Hundreds of people sat in the pews with their eyes locked on Wyatt and me in rapt fascination as we exchanged our vows. Everyone was engrossed in the wedding of Allison Banks and Wyatt James.
The problem was, I wasn’t Allison Banks.
I was the bride’s identical twin sister, Addison Banks, or Addy as my family liked to call me, and I was completely insane for going along with such a ridiculous scheme.
I wasn’t my brazen and ballsy sister, Allison. I was me, the shyest person in the free world, and I was seconds away from losing my breakfast. Right there at the altar of the statuesque, historic church, I was going to blow chunks in front of the world.
My mind shifted back to the moment I had agreed to the deception, and again, my stomach roiled with nausea.
“Switch places with me, Addy?”
“What? Are you crazy?”
“No. I’m being serious. I can’t marry Wyatt.”
“You’re just nervous, Allison. It’s normal to be nervous on your wedding day.”
She rolled her eyes. “When have you ever known me to be nervous about anything? I’m not doing it.”
“But you have to. What about Dad?”
She tossed her hands in the air, aggravation clear in her perfectly mascaraed eyes. “Why is it up to me to save him? Why can’t you do it?”
My mouth popped open, and my heart hurt for our father. “Maybe because Wyatt asked you to marry him?”
“I can’t do this, Addy,” she repeated. “I’m in love with someone else.”
I couldn’t believe she was saying these things to me now. At the church. On the day of her wedding.
“You’re not serious?”
She nodded. “I am. It’s not fair. I want to be with the man I love.”
“But, Allison, what about Dad’s care? We can’t afford it without Wyatt.”
She moved closer and grabbed my wrists. Her nails dug into my skin, and I hissed and tugged them away.
“Then you do it. Switch places with me and marry Wyatt.”
So there I was. Doing precisely what Allison wanted me to do.
I fixed my eyes on the peekaboo pearl-dotted heels Allison had chosen for her wedding. They were a bit big on my feet, and I could barely walk in them, considering I was more of a comfortable flats kind of girl.
Beyond the shoes I was wearing were the intricate swirls of the marble flooring beneath my feet. The swirls of blue and gray marble were blurry since I was going without my glasses. Allison had said it was okay for me to wear them with my bridesmaid dress, but I was no longer a bridesmaid, I was the bride. If people knew one thing about Allison, it was that she wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing glasses.
I blinked away the blur to keep myself from getting even dizzier. A few fluffs of dust swam in the candlelight and the afternoon light flowing through the stained-glass windows of the church in shades of blues and reds. And the overly sweet scents of the blood red rose bushes mixed with baby’s breath assaulted my senses, adding to my nausea.
I swallowed, my throat dry and scratchy. A dribble of nervous sweat slid between my shoulders, making me long to reach behind me and scratch my bare back.
I should have been a bridesmaid tucked away on the side, blending in with the other bridesmaids. Instead, I was standing here with Wyatt in front of a pre-lit arch wrapped in silvery deco mesh and even more roses.
I was lying in the house of the Lord. I could practically feel his disapproving glare upon me. Just thinking it sped up my heart rate, and I sucked in a loud gasp of air as panic shook me.
I needed to stay calm.
But how was that even possible when I was playing a part in the biggest deception ever?
Even then, after minutes in front of the crowd, I was still expecting someone to call bullshit on our façade, but no one said anything. It seemed things were going off without a problem. Just as Allison had predicted, the guests and our families were seeing exactly what they wanted to see, accepting me as Allison when I’d presented myself in my sister’s expensive wedding gown. No one questioned our identity, not even our mother.
Then again, who in their right mind would think twins would swap places and finagle someone into marrying the wrong person?