Abby Sixsmith watched her brother and couldn’t contain a surge of envy. He looked so happy!
It was so unfair. Greg, who since a teenager, had sworn he’d never marry, had just exchanged vows a few hours ago. Abby, who had been dreaming of her wedding for most of her life, sat at his reception single and dateless.
Can you say loser?
Of course, if she hadn’t given her heart to her brother’s best friend, who’d also sworn off matrimony as a teen, she might not be in this predicament. Opportunities for love long lasting had come and gone, due to her tunnel vision on the subject. At twelve years of age she’d decided that Nikolas Janiszewski was the one. And that childish certainly had rooted deep and flourished with time.
For the last few years she’d done her best to stay away from him. Being in his sphere filled her heart with an unbearable ache. Because she knew – she knew – her dreams were hopeless. As a single, successful, and let’s not forget good looking guy, he generally had some wannabe on his arm. Didn’t they know they were wasting their time? Didn’t they care? Didn’t they have any self respect?
Didn’t she? Maybe she wasn’t physically clinging to him, but from an emotional standpoint, she’d been hanging off him for years. Perhaps it was time to try to surgically remove him from her heart. Instead of sitting here with her back to the dance floor – the maid of honour had wrapped herself around him a while back and Abby couldn’t bear to watch – she should be out there having some fun. Fun that didn’t include him!
“Hey, Abby Normal. How come you’re not dancing?”
How wrong was that? She loved a guy who looked at her and thought of a character from Young Frankenstein. How much more proof did she need that it was time to move on and forget him? She’d never be anything more to him than his best friend’s kid sister.
Now or never. The time had come to exorcise him.
She slid around in her chair and looked at him. Arched a brow. “What? No cling on in tow?”
“Not K. C. Cling… on. The maid of honour has been your own personal barnacle since the dancing began.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Hey, what’s a guy to do? Besides, the best man has a duty to make the single ladies here happy, doesn’t he?”
Oh, great. He’d sought her out because of a sense of duty. “Thanks, but no thanks.”
A pained expression crossed his face. “No. I wasn’t including you in that. You could never be a duty. You’re… you’re…”
“I’m Abby Normal. Your best friend’s interfering kid sister. Yeah, I know. And you want to know something? I get that.” She ducked her head and continued under her breath. “Finally. Maybe.”
When she didn’t look back up, he squatted down in front of her. Poor guy wasn’t used to being ignored by anything female. Well, it was time she grew a backbone and started a new trend. Of course, she doubted it would ever become a popular trend, because chances were no one without a Y chromosome would jump on the let’s pretend Nik Janiszewski doesn’t exist train with her.
His hands took hers, and no matter how hard she tried to loose herself from his grip, he wasn’t letting go. “What’s with you? Let me go. I told you, you don’t need to waste your time keeping this “single lady” happy.”
With a sigh, he swung himself up onto the empty chair beside her, but kept control of the hand closest to it. “Abs, give it up. I wasn’t insulting you, okay? And why are you here alone, anyway? I haven’t seen you without someone in tow in ages. Not that I’ve seen you in ages.”
Yeah, because up until the time she’d decided she couldn’t deal with being in his presence, she’d tried to deal by making sure he thought she was seeing someone. Juvenile, but it had been effective for a time. She hadn’t felt like such a silly loser. Sometimes.
“My date couldn’t make it. His mom has been battling cancer and had a turn for the worse. He had to fly out so he could spend some time with her.”
Abby tried to pull her hand away again. She couldn’t stand it! Bad enough he was touching her like this in the first place – when she was trying to convince herself the time had come to forgot about childish dreams – but he’d started to stroke the back of her hand with his thumb. She doubted he was even aware of his actions. Lady’s man Nik likely knew all the right moves and carried them out unconsciously.
Meanwhile, Abby was very conscious and could barely draw a breath without gasping.
“So, is he the reason I never see you around anymore? Are you two… serious?”
Abby jumped up, effectively breaking his hold on her. Because despite all else, she knew he’d never cause her any physical harm. So it was either let her go or pull her arm out of its socket.
“Again, what’s with you today? What do you care? Or are you just fishing for information for my brother? Why can’t the two of you realize that I’m all grown up and don’t need you getting into my business?”
Suddenly he was looming over her. “This has nothing to do with Greg. Just answer the question. Are you two serious? Is that why you never return my calls?”
Planting her palms against his chest, Abby tried to push him out of her personal space, but couldn’t budge him an inch. So instead, she went on the defensive, stood up on her toes, and got right in his face. “I told you! I don’t need another big brother. So back off!”
Um. Oh-oh. Maybe going on the defensive had been the wrong tactic, because instead of backing off, he stepped in, grabbed her by the waist, and swung her around. And now he was all the way into her personal space with her. Her back against the wall – literally – and Nik using his body to press her into it. “I am not your brother! Now answer me! Are you serious about this guy?”
Abby blinked. Suddenly her place in the universe seemed to have slipped, because she felt like she was free falling. Holy cow! Was he jealous?
“Ah, why do you care? You’ve got some honey on your arm every time I see you. So is it really your business?”
Nik looked like he was loosing control of his battle for – control. Still pinning her to the wall with his body, he grabbed her hands and pinned them against the wall by her head. And while battling with him might have been reminiscent of childhood wrestling matches with him and Greg, this felt entirely different!
“Look who’s talking. Like I said before, I haven’t seen you on your own in ages. And I’m making it my business. Maybe if you’d ever return a phone call, or answer the door when I know you’re home, we wouldn’t be here at your brother’s wedding making a scene.”
He was jealous! Nik was not the type to make a scene. He had a powerful grip on his emotions at all times.
At least until now.
And she’d been the one to make him loose control. How cool was that?
“Just answer the question, Abby. How involved are you with this guy you’re seeing?”
Abby took a deep breath and let the tension flow out with it. “We’re involved as friends. Good friends, but still just friends. Now you need to tell me why the answer was so important that you had to use brute force to get it out of me.”
He sucked in a breath. “Brute force? I would never…” As a look of horror crossed his face, he quickly let go of her hands and started to step back, opening the cage he’d created around her. “Abby, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean… Did I hurt you?”
She grabbed him by the hips and pulled him back in. “Forget it, buddy. You’re not going anywhere. Now answer the question. Why was my answer so important to you?”
With a sigh, he settled back against her, but this time he used his hands to gently cup her head. “Because you are important, Abby. Only I didn’t realize how much until you were never around. By the time I figured out that you were supposed to be in my life, you’d turned dodging me into your life’s mission. But you couldn’t stay out of my way today, so you gave me no choice but to have this out here. At your brother’s wedding.”
Abby couldn’t believe it. All this time she’d been hiding from him and he’d been looking for a chance to tell her how he felt? Tears dripping from the corners of her eyes, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “Oh, Nik. You’re what’s important for me too. You always were. I can’t…” She hiccupped over a sob. “I can’t believe I’ve wasted all this time.”
Nik dropped a kiss on her forehead and pushed away. “Then let’s not waste anymore.” He put a hand out to her. “Abby Sixsmith, may I have this dance?”