Kat struts into the bar wearing heels that would make my ankles snap. She’s showing off her best assets in skinny jeans and a nearly-sheer top. Her blonde hair flows in sultry, carefree waves.
“Hey,” she says, before sitting down next to me, “what’s up?”
“Nothing much. I just wanted to check in before the wedding to see how you are doing.”
She gives me a sharp look. “Really, Piper? You want a pre-wedding update?” While I am the lucky recipient of Kat’s sass, she orders a vodka on the rocks from the hottie bartender with a seductive voice intended to pop the guy’s tent. If you think about it, a little harmless flirtation is the only way to get the perfect drink.
This chick has some serious skill. From his bright smile and warm response, she’s done her work.
He turns away to pour her drink and she’s on me. “When is he going to stop texting me?”
“Who?” I know the answer, but it’s fun to rile her up.
She narrows her eyes. “I hate when you get smug, you know that? Blake, that’s who.”
I laugh, which only irritates her more. “What’s the issue, Kat?”
“What’s the issue? Really!” She digs out her phone. “Look what he sent me today.” Kat shows me an adorable meme of a baby fox with a cutesy pick-up line. When I giggle, she flips through multiple similar messages from Blake.
“Aww,” I gush, “that’s so cute. Show me the one with goat again. I love goats!”
“You are not helping!” she yells. “I have to spend an entire day with him very soon and he won’t back off.”
“Maybe you should – ”
Mid-drink Kat waves her hand, flagging down my obviously insane plan.
“No,” she says, “do not go there.” She straightens herself. “Look, I’m not doing that again.”
“What? You aren’t going to let Blake rock your world in a janitor’s closet again?” I shrug. “Suit yourself, but I think you had a good time.”
“You know I had a good time, thank you very much, but that crap needs to be over. Reagan is getting married and I have decided to straighten out my act. No more one-night stands. No more bad boys.”
“And how’s that working out for you?”
“Well,” she takes a generous swig of her drink, “it’s been interesting. My mom introduced me to her co-worker’s son. We’ve gone out on a few dates.”
“Your mom? The woman you avoid at all costs. She set you up?”
“Look, it’s not the best choice, but it’s something other than what I’ve been doing.”
“And what it that? Trying to skirt the inevitable?”
“Piper,” she grumbles my name, grinding it out in two long syllables. “I don’t know what to do. My best friend is getting married and I feel like I’ve been screwing my whole life up with random guys.”
“Don’t you think Blake deserves better than to be filed in the Random Dude bin? C’mon, Kat. Are you really this stubborn?”
“He helps Caleb manage Reign. Blake is totally immersed in the BDSM lifestyle. I can’t…” she shakes her head, “I can’t wrap my brain around it.”
“Reagan did,” I offer.
“And Reagan is a unicorn, Pip. She’s perfect. Nice try, but there is no way I can live up to the Langley legacy.”
“I think you’re a unicorn, Kat. Blake could be your mate. You could make foul-mouthed baby unicorns.
Kat glares at me with a look that speaks of imminent death. “Not going to happen. Ever.” Her words are low, intended to intimidate.
“Hmm,” I muse, knowing that she has been too crazy with RSVP’s and helping Caleb with dance lessons to actually follow through on her plan, “so, is this guy meeting you at the church?”
Her expression blanks. “Shit!” Kat grabs her phone and taps out a quick message. “Okay, I just sent him a text.” She sags a little. “You know, I can’t remember the last time I talked to him. I asked him to escort me a couple of months ago. The wedding planning is nuts. How do people do this for a living?”
“I think it’s the prospect of free cake, but I could be wrong. So, how are you going to manage seeing Blake with a date at the wedding?”
“It doesn’t matter,” she says, her voice distant. “I’ll be busy with Reagan.”
Kat’s phone buzzes with a text. “Ah, good,” she says, slightly satisfied. “He’ll meet me at the church.”
“Are you sure you want to do this, Kat?”
“What bring Dane as my plus one? Sure! He’s a great guy.”
“No, I mean avoid Blake.”
“Seriously, it’s done. We had a one-afternoon stand. An hour of warm feelings below the belt means nothing. It happens all the time.”
“So, Blake and your time together means nothing? The days you spent with him were disposable?”
“I’m not saying that…” she trails off. From the distant look in her eye, she’s reliving the moments she’s trying very hard to forget. “I think about him all the time,” she admits quietly.
“Then pick up the phone when he calls, Kat.”
“How about you pick up the bar tab and leave me to figure out how to manage Blake.”
Knowing Blake – and his wild determination – makes her decree laughable. “Okay, Kat. My hands are off the wheel. Please do your best to keep Blake at a safe and respectable distance.”
She looks triumphant, happy to have me hand her the controls to this rollercoaster. “Good. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I need to find something sexy to wear under my bridesmaid’s dress.”
“That sounds like fun. Red is Blake’s favorite color,” I offer before finishing my wine.
Her eyes narrow. “That’s useless information, you know. It doesn’t matter.”
“Everything matters, Kat. You just have to know how all the pieces fit together.”
“What the heck does that mean? Are you freelancing for the fortune cookie company now?” she snaps before taking another sip. “Look, this is not that complicated. I’m attending a formal event. I’d like to rock some naughty undies my bridesmaid dress. There is nothing wrong with that.”
“You’re right. But denying your feelings for another person is its own special brand of personal torture. So, please, go buy some cute panties. Don’t you dare think about how Blake would react of he saw them. You prance into that lingerie store and purchase a sexy little number you’ll wear for no one because that sounds like a heap of fun.”
“I hate you,” she mumbles.
“That’s okay, you can. You know I’ll always love you.”
She finishes her drink and grabs her purse. “I need to go. I have to meet Caleb for his last dance lesson. Will I see you soon?”
“Sooner than you think, Kat. Tell Caleb I said hello.”
She hugs me, gives the bartender a little wink and heads for the door. As soon as she’s out of sight, I make the call.
“Piper.” Blake Roman’s voice is like the beach, warm and inviting.
“I just saw her. You’re getting to her with the text messages.”
“Good,” he replies. “She rarely responds. Sometimes I see the bubbles pop up like she’s typing, but they always disappear.”
“She’s brining a plus one, you know.” I think it’s only fair to warn him.
“Caleb filled me in last week.” He sounds like he’s stretching, warming up for the battle. “I feel bad for the dude. He going to leave there alone.”
“You seems pretty confident, Blake.”
“There’s no other choice. I know we’re good together. Kat just needs a little encouragement.”
He’s right. Kat would gain so much if she just let down her walls. “Get your girl, Blake.”
“I’m on it, Pip.”
He signs off and I’m left to muse about Blake, Kat, their hours in Walter Reed, and the wedding reception that is bound to spark a wild new beginning.