Feel My Love
Ever After Series, Book 1
As a wedding photographer, I get to witness the magic, the romance, and the fairy tale without getting close enough for it to ever sting me again.
I broke my number one rule and slept with the best man. How could I resist his sexy good looks and the seductive offer of one night with no strings attached?
Except he broke the rules by asking me to stay. So, I left without leaving a note or my number, sure I'd never see him again.
Until he moves to the same town to take care of his nephew, after his dead-beat dad goes to jail. Suddenly he’s everywhere: the town’s harvest festival, playing arcade games at the pizzeria, and coaching my son’s baseball team
The worst part? I can't get him off my mind. But I won’t allow myself to fall in love again. Instead, I make a new offer: friends-with-benefits. It's the perfect solution. Until I realize he wants more.
+ Excerpt +
I moved quietly around the room, snapping pictures, adjusting settings, and observing the bridal party getting ready for Savannah and Ethan’s wedding. My goal was to blend into the background, and I lived to capture candid moments. This time, the only difference was a groomsman tracking my movements.
I felt the heat of his gaze on the side of my face, my skin tingling with awareness. I refused to look at him, but an awareness prickled my skin. He was taller than the rest of the party, with broad shoulders and a booming voice that rumbled through my body whenever he spoke.
When another groomsman drew him into conversation, his gaze lifted, and I finally drew in a deep breath. Inwardly, I chided myself. I was here to document Savannah and Ethan’s wedding, not flirt with a groomsman.
Ethan was speaking to Sophie, who’d baked the cake and was my partner in Gia’s wedding planning business. I focused on what he was saying. He had a gift for Savannah and wanted to see her with her son, Miles, before the ceremony.
I’d worked quite a few weddings, and it wasn’t out of the ordinary for a groom to change course and want to see his bride before the wedding, but I wasn’t sure how Savannah would feel. Some brides got upset, claiming it would doom their wedding; others rolled with the change.
Not only was this the first wedding we’d done in partnership with Gia’s Happily Ever Afters wedding planning services, but Savannah and Ethan were our friends.
Sophie promised she’d talk to Savannah when they went to the bridal suite to deliver the bouquets. I needed to be present to document the florist, Lily, and her assistant, handing out the flowers.
The hair on the back of my neck tingled. He was looking at me again. I needed to escape.
I wasn’t sure if he was a friend or if he was related to Savannah or Ethan. I didn’t know if he lived close by or if he’d traveled here just for the wedding. And it shouldn’t matter.
I mindlessly scrolled through the images on my camera to avoid meeting his gaze as I followed Sophie and Lily out of the room. At the very last second, I lifted my gaze to meet the weight of his stare. Blue eyes, sandy brown hair, larger-than-life presence. He winked, and my heart stuttered to a stop before picking up speed.
I ducked my head as I stepped out of the room and away from the interest I’d seen in his eyes.
My words to my sister, Brooke, a few months ago danced in my head. I’d told her the truth—I was ready for something new. I was open to dating again, or maybe even a one-night stand. That was all I was willing to indulge in as the single mother of an eight-year-old boy.
Even though I’d carefully planned the pregnancy with my ex-husband, even undergoing fertility treatment, Bryson left shortly after I brought our son, Hunter, home from the hospital. Bryson said he wasn’t ready to be a father and wasn’t sure he ever would be. I was aware of his complicated relationship with his father, but I hadn’t realized it would affect ours so profoundly.
Being a single mother was hard, and I’d probably always bear scars from my ex leaving me, but I was antsy for something different. I was finally ready to take care of my needs. I’d probably never want to get into a serious relationship again, but what harm was there in a little fun?
I had no idea if this groomsman was up for that, but his perusal suggested he was. Entering the bridal suite, I vowed to flirt with him at some point tonight, to let whatever would happen—happen.
I deserved one night where I could let go, and Hunter was conveniently spending the night with my parents. Was I going to let this opportunity pass by, or would I grab on to it with both hands?
My hands shook a little as I steadied the camera on the flowers. I refocused on my job, snapping pictures of the bridal party, Savannah’s mother, and finally, the meeting between Ethan, Savannah, and her son, Miles.
Sophie and Lily ushered everyone out of the room before Ethan and Miles entered. With Savannah’s permission, I stayed, being quiet and as unobtrusive as possible.
Gia was still at the reception hall, ensuring everything was ready to go there, but Sophie stood just outside the room, ready to step in if she was needed.
I held my hands steady, snapping Savannah’s tear-filled eyes and their family hug. Once I was satisfied I’d memorialized the moment, I slipped out.
The bride and groom said they wanted everything documented, but there were times when it was unnecessary. I used my judgment to slip in and out to give them privacy. Memories weren’t all wrapped up in photographs; sometimes they were wrapped up in a feeling or one of our senses.
I pushed out any thoughts of my wedding, how I’d hoped for a large family and a partner for life. It wasn’t in the cards for me, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement of the bride and groom.
I had responsibilities, my son, and my business. The only extracurriculars I’d be involved in were of the short, one-night stand variety. Remembering the man’s wink from earlier, my body heated with anticipation.
We had a few minutes until the bridal party needed to line up. I moved further down the empty hall to scroll through my images and see if I’d caught the moment when Ethan said he wanted to be Miles’s father.
Tears pricked my eyes at the love in Savannah’s eyes. Miles’s biological father died before he was born. Hunter’s dad was still in his life, but more on the periphery than anything else. I felt a pang that there wouldn’t be a man who could come in and be the father figure for Hunter and adopt him. Hunter had a father, just not the one he deserved.
I startled when the bathroom door across from me opened.
A man stepped out. My gaze traveled up slowly from his polished shoes to his nicely muscled thighs that were threatening to burst through his pants, then to his trim waist, broad shoulders, and familiar blue eyes. It was him. The guy who’d been watching me.
He glanced down the hall and then smiled at me. “You’re alone.”
My cheeks heated at his obvious pleasure. “Looks like it.”
He stepped closer, and I let the hand that held the camera fall to my side. “I’ve been waiting to get you alone all day.”
“You have?” My voice came out like a squeak.
This wasn’t the meeting I’d imagined while I mindlessly scrolled through my camera. I’d envisioned him kissing me passionately. There’d be no words, only the frantic ripping off of clothes.
His lips twitched. “I’ve been watching you.”
“I know.” If I were more practiced in flirting, I would have asked if he liked what he saw, but I wasn’t. I was rusty with the witty back and forth and the sexy innuendos. I was in over my head and questioning what I was doing in a hallway alone with a man this potent.
“You’re gorgeous.” His tone was filled with awe as his gaze slowly slid down my body, heating every inch of my skin at his perusal.
On Savannah’s wedding day, it was beyond satisfying to know that I’d attracted someone’s attention. I was dressed to blend in and not stand out, but he’d noticed, anyway.
I licked my suddenly dry lips. “Thank you.”
“Will I see you later?” His gaze returned to mine, the heat I’d seen banked there flaring to life, warming me from the inside out.
I shrugged, the casual motion belying my pounding heart. “I’m working.”
He tipped his head to the side, as if my reaction amused him. “Do you get some time off? Maybe at the reception?”
I nodded, unable to speak without my voice breaking. I usually took my break after the cake was cut. That was the unofficial time for everyone to let loose.
He touched his hand to my cheek, and all I could do was blink up at him when he said, “I’ll look for you.”
He winked again and walked away with a swagger I couldn’t tear my eyes from.
I should have said no. I should have told him I was a single mother, and he didn’t want to get involved with me. But I wasn’t looking for anything serious.
“Wait,” my voice was breathless. I rested a hand over my stomach to settle the butterflies.
He paused and arched a single brow over his shoulder.
“I don’t know your name.” Maybe it was better without one. It was easier to fuck a nameless guy and then never see him again. I’d pretend he was a fantasy.
Finally, he said, “Nick.”
He didn’t move, and I assumed he was waiting for me to reciprocate, so I said, “Abby.”
He smiled wide, seemingly satisfied at my reaction to him. “I’ll look for you later, Abby.”
This time when he walked away, I didn’t feel regret, only anticipation. And I loved the sound of my name on his lips. It was sinful, a promise of something delicious to come, and I was here for it.
He moved out of sight, and I sagged against the wall. When he focused on me, it was intense, like I was the only woman in the world. That feeling was addictive.
I’d indulge in Nick tonight, forget that I was a single mom with responsibilities, and enjoy an evening of freedom.