She was right, she was organized as hell. He stopped her on the page labeled: Cabo. There were three things listed:
“That’s my to do list for Cabo,” she said. “Beneath it’s my flight itinerary, which says nothing about being sidelined by the storm of the century.”
He met her gaze, which was dialed to stubborn and determined. And . . . hopeful. “Your to do list includes a surfer?” he asked.
She looked a little embarrassed but held his gaze. “I’ve discovered that I’ve got a little problem with relationships,” she said. “So I’m trying something new. I’m going for the opposite of a relationship. And nothing, not the storm, not my B&B responsibilities, not even you is going to stop me.”
“I can appreciate that,” he said. “But—”
“No buts, Sean. I don’t have time for buts. And here, let me make you another list, one of everything else I don’t have time for.” She grabbed a pen and hurriedly scribbled on a piece of paper, which she handed to him.
Things I don’t have time for:
Shit that has nothing to do with me
He laughed, thinking his younger self had been the biggest idiot on the planet that he’d let her get away. She was funny, sweet, amazing, and sexy as hell. “I get it,” he said. “But sometimes life doesn’t play along. We’re not getting out of here and neither are you.”
“Dammit,” she said.
“So . . . about having a wedding here . . .”
“Seriously, you’re nuts.”
Yeah. There was no doubt. And something else. He couldn’t stop looking at her. For him, she was everything he’d never deserved, especially all those years ago. He should’ve left things alone, left their attraction as a “what if.” But he’d never been good at leaving things alone. He hadn’t been able to resist taking a taste of her, even though he’d not been mature enough for her. He’d had issues over losing people, big issues.
So when she’d told him that she was moving, he’d simply walked away first. Yeah, he’d been a first-rate asshole, but the truth was he always walked first to protect himself.
Except now the joke was on him because even to this very day, she was still the one who’d gotten away. And as a result of what he’d done, Lotti now walked away from relationships, at least emotionally, because she was afraid of getting hurt and he hated that. “It’s not completely nuts,” he said. “I could get ordained online and—”
“Sean,” she said on a low laugh. “It won’t work. There’s not enough room, for one thing. And there’s no one to cater. No wedding decorations or cake or—”
“The big living room is perfect,” he said. “We all fit in it, no problems. And you won’t have to do a thing, I’ll handle it all.”
She just stared at him. “That doesn’t sound like you.”
He managed a small smile. “People change, Lotti. I’ve changed.”
“So you keep saying,” she said softly and paused. “Look, I think it’s incredibly sweet of you to want to do this for your brother. You’re trying to make up for your past.”
He held her gaze. “Yes. Apparently, I have a lot to make up for.”
She flushed a pretty pink and lifted a shoulder.
“Oh, don’t go shy on me now,” he said with a smile. “I still need to hear specifics on the ‘not that great’ thing.”
She covered her face.
He felt a ping in his heart. “I really was that bad, huh?” he said as lightly as he could.
“Well, it’s not like I’m keeping score or anything,” she murmured demurely.
“But . . .” he coaxed, giving her a “go on” gesture with his hand.
“Okay, okay, but remember you asked.” She hesitated. “Everything was actually great, but only one of us . . . finished.”
He winced at his own ineptitude back then but managed to catch her when she laughed and went to turn away. “If I could go back,” he said solemnly, “and do things differently, I would.”
This clearly surprised her. “You would?”
“One hundred percent.” He paused. “I’d like a chance to right my wrongs with you, Lotti. All of them.”
She stared up at him as if she wanted to believe that and he leaned in, letting their bodies touch, and when her breath caught, he felt a surge of relief.
He wasn’t in this alone. She still felt something for him, even if she didn’t know what exactly.
“I think you’ll be too busy to right that particular wrong,” she said a little breathlessly, not moving away, but instead making sure they stayed plastered up against each other.
He stared down at her mouth and wanted it on his. So badly that he lost track of what she was saying. “Too busy doing what?”
“Giving your brother a wedding.”
“Wait.” He stilled. “You’re in?”
“Well far be it for me to be the one who stands in the way of you doing something amazing for your brother,” she said. “Besides, what do you know about planning a wedding?”
“Uh . . .”
“Exactly,” she said. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you know nothing about it. Whereas I know more than you, at least. So . . .”
“So . . .” He took her hand in his. “We’re doing this.”
She inhaled a deep breath and let it out slowly as she squeezed his hand. “I guess I’m nuts too, but yeah, we’re doing this.”
Lotti was pretty good at picking herself back up after a fall, proverbial or otherwise. She’d had to be. By late afternoon, the storm had renewed itself and she’d resigned herself to that, and also to playing hostess for longer than she’d intended. And if she was being honest, it wasn’t exactly a hardship to get an extra day or two with Sean in the house.
Darkness came quick at this time of year. In one blink, the gray and stormy day turned to a pitch black stormy night. Electricity had come and gone several times.
They were all pretty much used to it by now.
Lotti had spent several hours with everyone, going over what they could do to make a wedding actually work. Lotti had been pleasantly surprised to find Pru a very calm, logical, easy to please bride-to-be. Sean’s brother, Finn, was pretty great too. He just wanted to make Pru happy.
The rest of the friends were . . . well, amazing. Flexible. Loving. Sarcastic. Lotti loved them all. They’d decided on the next day for the ceremony and were making lists for the plans.
“I’m so excited we’re going to do this here,” Pru’s friend Willa said. “It was going to be a ‘rustic Christmas’ wedding at the winery, but this here . . .” She gestured to the holiday-decoration-strewn place. “This is the real deal rustic. And also, you’re wonderful, Lotti. And you too, Pru. If the weather had messed up my wedding, I’d probably be acting like an angel who’d just had their wings broken.”
“We’re all angels,” Elle, another bridesmaid, said. “And when someone breaks our wings, we simply continue to fly . . . on a broomstick. We’re flexible like that.”