Before I leave you with Matt & Aaron, just a quick reminder… there’s just 9 days now until Leaning Into the Look is here!! Woohoo! There is a teaser on my FB group, Lane’s Lovers today. Check it out.
Happy Reading! Lane xoBetter Than Wedding– Part 3
Aaron was a serious control freak. When he initially suggested hiring someone to help keep us organized and on track, I was a little skeptical. It seemed odd that he’d want anyone else’s opinion or input about our big day. I figured he’d run the show and give me updates and budget breakdowns when I asked. He had an eye for color and proportion and a great sense of style. It seemed like asking for an outsider’s opinion would just confuse things. I didn’t get it.
“Matty, there’s nothing to get. This is Vic’s job. He cuts hours of tedious research out of the equation so I can keep up with my actual job and ideally stay under my boss’s radar. Marsha would flip if she saw my browser history lately. I’m not sure how I’d explain ‘resorts in Puerto Rico’, ‘cutting edge table décor’ and ‘how to tell to your mother that her priest won’t be officiating the ceremony’. I’m up to my eyebrows in too many details as it is,” he sighed dramatically.
I reached for his left hand when I stopped at the red light and laced my fingers with his. “What did the internet have to say about dealing with parents?”
He shifted in his seat and kissed our joined hands then gave me a lopsided smile. “The gist was…be honest and handle unrealistic expectations in a forthright manner.”
“Sure. But she’s not going to like it,” he grumbled. He slipped his hand from mine and pointed at the green light. “Turn left at the next light.”
“I don’t see the problem. We’re getting married in DC, not Maryland. It’s a no-brainer. A Catholic priest isn’t going to officiate the wedding either way. We’ve been through this and—”
“Their deacon will.”
“The creepy guy with a black wig who never smiles?”
“You don’t like that guy,” I reminded him.
“I know but my parents do. Maybe they think he has Catholic street cred or something,” he huffed.
“I don’t care what he has. He’s not marrying us.”
“I know. I just have to break the news to my folks.”
“Your parents loves me. I’ll tell them,” I said, turning on to a tree-lined street with beautiful brick homes set far from the street.
“Remember, we pass two stops signs and it’s on the right. And no… I don’t want you to get in the middle of Mendez family drama. You may be tempted to call the wedding off and I love you too much, Matty. I’m not letting you go,” he said theatrically. “Oh! This is it. Turn right.”
I snickered at his dramatic tone as I pulled into the gated drive. “I’m not going anywhere. And we aren’t changing our minds to make our parents happy. We chose the minister a long time ago. We like her. End of discussion.”
Aaron leaned across the console and purred in my ear. “I love it when you take charge and get all alpha with me. It’s so hot.”
I barked a quick laugh as I veered the BMW into a parking spot in the mostly empty lot. Then I turned off the engine and faced him. “Alpha, eh?”
“Yeah, I’m a little dizzy right now.” He fluttered his eyelashes then cupped the back of my neck and pulled me close, resting his forehead against mine.
I ran my fingers through his hair then kissed his nose before sitting back and adjusting my cock in my khakis. “Something must be wrong with me. I can’t believe I can get hard when you’re talking about priests and parents.”
“Ew. I was trying to help us both forget about that part.” Aaron inclined his head toward the stately manor. “Okay, let’s do this.”
I grabbed his elbow before he opened the passenger side door. “Wait up. What are we doing exactly and how long will this take?”
“Matty, you agreed—”
“Hey, I’m here and I’m willing to listen but I’m kind of hoping not to spend our entire Saturday with Vic.”
“I thought you liked him.”
“He’s fine. Actually, he’s cool. But he’s so…”
“Extra?” Aaron supplied with a laugh.
“Yeah. He wears me out,” I griped.
“A lot of people say I’m ‘extra’ too, you know. Do I wear you out?”
I chuckled. “Yes, you definitely do.”
“Hey yourself. Just do me a favor and stick to the plan. What is the plan again?”
“To check out the venue on an actual wedding day to get ideas for flowers and the overall feel of the place. Vic is working this one so I don’t think we’ll spend more than an hour with him. But we can go straight to the photographer’s studio afterward.”
I made sure he saw my glazed expression before I exhaled. “If possible, let’s keep it short and sweet.”
“Yes, sir.” Aaron shot a sassy smile at me then picked up his manbag and opened the car door.
We walked hand in hand along the hedge-lined pathway leading to the mansion’s grand entrance. The historic landmark dated to the turn of the last century. Aaron loved the climbing ivy on the brick façade and the enormous fountain in the middle of the circular drive. His awed expression cracked me up. We’d visited the Claridge Estate a few times since we’d gotten engaged a few months ago and each time he seemed more enthralled with our choice of venue. I couldn’t blame him. The house and grounds were stunning.
Aaron paused at the bottom of the steps leading to the main door and let go of my hand. He pulled out his cell and snapped a dozen photos. I didn’t bother reminding him he’d already taken these pictures. He loved photography and studying nuances in light and color was his favorite pastime. Since he was only armed with an iPhone, I figured I was getting off easy today.
I shoved my hands in my pockets and strolled to the opposite end of the staircase. I spotted a delivery truck parked along the side of the building unloading floral arrangement and was just about to call Aaron over when a lilting voice singsonged his name from the landing.
Aaron glanced and smiled. “Hi Vic. How are you?”
“So much better now that the Mendez Sullivan party has arrived.”
Vic held his arms open like he was welcoming us to his home. He flew down the stairs and wrapped Aaron in a bear hug then spent the next five minutes complimenting his hair, his shirt, shoes and even his phone case. Okay, maybe it was two minutes. I didn’t mind. It gave me a chance to check out our flamboyant wedding planner from afar.
Vic Greene was a fireball. He had short platinum blond hair, bright blue eyes and a golden skin. He was a little taller than Aaron and had the same lean, tone physique and a penchant for highlighting his classically handsome features with rouge, lip gloss and eyeliner. I liked Vic but truthfully we didn’t interact much. Aaron was his main contact, which made it easier for everyone. They shared a passion for style and design and all things fabulous. And I was…boring in comparison.
Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was considered good-looking but I was seriously boring compared to Vic and Aaron. Today was a perfect example. We were all dressed similarly in khakis and short-sleeved button-down dress shirts in deference to the humid summer day. However, my shirt was plain blue while Aaron’s was white with some squiggly pattern on it and Vic’s was a pink floral number that somehow matched his two-toned shoes. As Aaron said, Vic was “extra”.
I braced myself for a whirlwind greeting when Vic finally turned to me. He widened his eyes and put his fingers on his pink glossed lips and shook his head over and over. I glanced at Aaron for help but he was busy taking more photos so I swallowed hard and held out my hand.
“How’s it going, Vic?”
He blinked manically then clasped my hand theatrically and grinned. “Very well indeed. Are you ready to be amazed?”
“Um… sure,” I said, pulling my fingers free. I hooked my arm over Aaron’s shoulders when he paused beside me to take another picture. “Aren’t we, babe?”
Aaron shot an amused glance at me then leaned into my side like a doting husband-to-be. “Yes! Amaze us. What do we get to see?”
“Well, we’ve started setting up for this afternoon’s wedding so everything is a bit topsy turvy but you’ll get a fair idea of what this grand ol’ place looks like all dolled up. The entry alone will make you cry,” he enthused.
“Who’s getting married?” Aaron asked.
“A senator’s daughter. She wanted a fairytale affair with crystal chandelier hanging from tree branches outside and orchids cascading from satin ribbons in the ballroom. There’s even a wall of white roses. I kid you not. It’s divine. Come see.” Vic clapped then turned on his heel and led the way up the steps.
When he darted ahead of us and disappeared inside, I pulled Aaron back by his belt loop before he could follow. Then I set my hand under his chin and gave him a stern look.
“I’m the wedding bouncer, aren’t I?” I scowled.
“Wedding bouncer?” Aaron’s full lips quirked in a lopsided smile that made me want to lick him.
I kissed him instead and wagged my finger at him. “Yeah. The guy who provides a sanity check so you don’t do anything impulsive. We’re just looking, Aar. I don’t care how divine the flowers are. We have a budget and we’re sticking to it.”
“Definitely Alpha. Wow, that turns me on. Note to self, don’t read shape-shifter sex scenes before a tame wedding planning session.”
He held his hand up to stop me then bit his bottom lip and continued in a husky voice, “Yes, you’re my sanity check. I need you to keep it real for me but… I also need you to be open to new ideas too. We’re just here to browse and take notes. I can already tell you our color palette and floral selection will not mesh based on the season alone.”
“I’ve been with you for long enough to know expensive flowers are available year round, babe.”
Aaron flung his arms over my shoulders and sighed. “That’s kind of romantic. But don’t worry. We aren’t shopping. Look at this like a scouting trip for a photo shoot. We do this sort of thing at the magazine all the time. It’ll be fun. You’ll see.”
I rolled my eyes but tucked my hand in Aaron’s and let him lead the way inside the grand foyer.
“Wow. It’s so beautiful,” he said, staring up at the enormous crystal chandelier in the domed ceiling.
I pointed at the ornate moldings and museum-quality landscapes hung high above the wainscoting and was about to comment on their pristine condition when Vic called Aaron’s name.
“Go on. I’ll be right there. I want to look at some of the art.” I gestured toward a huge painting of the Potomac near an arched doorway.
“Don’t get lost.” He winked before heading toward Vic.
I watched his ass in his perfectly fitted khakis for a moment then stepped around a deliveryman carrying a huge box of flowers. I waited for him to pass then moved forward and immediately ran into a pretty blonde. We paused and said a quick round of awkward apologies but instead of moving on, she grabbed my elbow and cocked her head.
“Wait. I know you. Matt Sullivan, right? I’m Steph. It’s been a long time. Maybe five years? I’m… I was Kristen’s roommate. Remember me?”
To be continued…