Waiting for You
Annapolis Harbor Series, Book 6
How can Ava resist her best friend’s brother when she's crushed on him since childhood?
I didn’t think Alex could get any hotter, but his time at med school was good to him.
Dirty blond hair. A bit of scruff across his chiseled jawline. And a body beneath those scrubs that makes me think all sorts of naughty things.
But his appeal doesn’t end there. He plays the cello for his patients and donates the proceeds he earns from playing his music back to the hospital. Alex seems to be utter perfection… and he barely notices I exist.
Or so I thought. Lately, everywhere I look he’s there. Renting a room in my bed and breakfast. Devouring my pastries. Wanting to talk every morning over coffee. Is it possible my lifelong crush finally sees me as more than his little sister’s best friend?
A long-time crush ignites in passion in this small town romance by Lea Coll!
+ Excerpt +
Laila and Charlie led the way down the flower-lined aisle, dropping red rose petals to the lilting notes of “Pachelbel Canon”. Nolan stood, his back to the water, in a charcoal suit and a purple tie to match the ribbon in the girls’ hair.
I followed at a sedate pace, enjoying the way the music drifted over the water, the twinkling lights that hung in long strands from the trees, and the affection shining in his eyes for Juliana’s girls.
Charlie had just reached the last aisle when she dropped her basket and ran the last few feet toward Nolan, her curls flying behind her. She wrapped her arms around Nolan’s leg, squeezing him tight.
“You’re not supposed to run,” Laila admonished as she finished carefully placing her petals on the ground.
The guests around us chuckled softly.
Nolan touched Charlie’s head, running his fingers over her hair before dropping down to her level. He whispered something to her that I couldn’t hear. Then he lifted her in his arms, holding her on one hip.
Laila picked up Charlie’s basket, then took Nolan’s outstretched hand to stand next to them.
“I’m so proud of you.” Nolan squeezed Laila’s hand, then kissed Charlie’s cheek.
This time, he spoke loudly enough for everyone to hear.
I sighed. Tears making my throat tight.
I hadn’t thought love like Nolan and Juliana’s was possible, but they proved me wrong each day, when their love only seemed to deepen.
Nolan nodded slightly at me before his gaze drifted over my head. The music picked up. The guests stood. Juliana must be standing at the end of the aisle. It was my cue to take my place across from Nolan and the girls.
My gaze snagged on the musician. Sitting a few feet away from Nolan and the girls, his head bowed over a wooden cello. His eyes closed, his head and shoulders moved in time with his bow, reminding me so much of Alex, my best friend Savannah’s brother. He’d played the cello in high school. But I hadn’t seen him in years, and he was supposed to be in med school in New York.
I ignored the pang of disappointment as I focused on Juliana.
Juliana smiled, one hand in the crook of Dad’s elbow and a bouquet of red roses in the other as she slowly walked down the aisle, never taking her gaze off of Nolan.
Juliana wore a romantic, off-the-shoulder, lace corset ball gown with floral lace embroidery that cascaded from the bodice down her box-pleated full skirt with multi-layers of silk and sparkle tulle. Her hair had been styled to lie in waves around her shoulders. The look was simple and elegant. She was beautiful. Her happiness radiated from her.
I looked at Nolan to see his reaction to his fiancée at the same time he mouthed, “I love you.”
I blinked back tears. Juliana and the girls deserved every bit of happiness, and it was all due to Nolan. He’d come into their lives, easily falling for them. I dabbed at the tear that broke free, not wanting to smear my makeup.
Taking a few deep breaths to clear the urge to cry, I looked up. My gaze caught on the cellist. It was him. Alex St. James. Savannah’s older brother.
Suddenly, my dress felt too tight. The air was still. I struggled to draw in a deep breath.
His face and body had filled out since high school. He was more polished. The lines of his body spoke of the confidence he’d gained in college and med school.
Handsome in a gray suit, black tie, and crisp white button-down, his fingers moved over the strings with ease, his head moving slightly with the bow. His gaze, along with the music, sent tingles through my whole body, bringing me back to those moments when I’d sit on the steps in his house after everyone else had gone to bed, listening to him play.
My heart rate picked up, galloping in my chest.
He caught me examining him. He raised a single brow. Blond hair slicked back, his one curl fell over his forehead. Blue eyes seeing me—heating me from the inside out. He was sexy.
And he’d never looked at me like this. His gaze was knowing, like he knew exactly what I was working through in my mind.
His eyes closed for a minute as the notes drifted softly off. I never wanted him to stop playing.
Ripping my gaze from Alex, I focused on Nolan, who had set Charlie on her feet at some point and was now facing Juliana, the girls standing next to them.
Had Alex known I’d be here? Being the bride’s sister, I’m sure he guessed. What had he been expecting? The same girl who teased him mercilessly about girls he talked to because I desperately wanted his attention?
I’d been so preoccupied with the opening of the B & B I wasn’t involved with the wedding planning. All I knew was that Juliana booked a musician.
I knew Nolan had something planned before the official ceremony with the girls, but I wasn’t sure what.
Nolan held his hand out to Charlie, taking a large, white velvet box from his hand. He crouched to their level, opening the box. Two heart necklaces rested against the felt, single diamonds on each reflecting the sun.
“Laila.” Nolan looked at her, then at her sister. “Charlie, thank you for letting me into your lives. I love both of you”—he stopped to clear his throat—“so much. I love your mother. I want us to be a family. Laila, will you be mine?”
“Yes, yes, yes.” She practically bounced on her toes in excitement as Nolan clasped the necklace on her.
“Charlie, will you be mine?” Nolan asked, his voice thick with emotion.
He kissed her cheek before sliding her necklace around her neck. His voice softened, “I love you.”
“We love you, too,” Laila said.
I saw a few in the front row dab their eyes with tissues. Tears easily slid down my cheeks. Would I ever find this kind of love with anyone? It seemed so out of reach. So impossible. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
My gaze rested on Alex. His attention was on Nolan and the girls, his cello resting on his shoulder between his widespread legs.
Nolan took both girls’ hands, kissing each one on the cheek before standing to kiss Juliana’s. I didn’t need to see her face to know she was crying.
Nolan and Juliana stood side by side, the girls each holding one of their hands as the preacher went through the traditional wedding vows. It was short and sweet yet so achingly beautiful with the water lapping the shore behind us and the happiness on Nolan, Juliana, Laila, and Charlie’s faces. It was perfect.
My heart twinged when I looked at the happy family, then did a flip when I looked at Alex.
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