Showdown at Bo and Summer’s Wedding
Things get heated between Wyatt and Avery at the wedding.
Avery sat with the brood she still occasionally babysat and helped them eat their wedding cake. She’d hoped Teri-Lyn would forget about making the special announcement but she knew her surrogate grandmother never forgot a thing. She thought she had a reprieve when she saw her talking to Bo and Summer about their honeymoon plans. But after chatting with the newly married couple for a half hour, she was headed her way with a look of determination on her face.
She wasn’t afraid of public speaking, but she didn’t want to disrupt the festivities just share her little bit of news. She’d wanted to tell Wyatt first but he’d been giving her the slip all day. When he wasn’t talking to one of the guys he was dancing with every woman in the place. He’d literally had contact with everyone at the reception except her.
Teri-Lyn approached the table. “Hey sweetie, it’s time for your big announcement.”
“The kids aren’t finished with their cake. Maybe we can do it later.”
“Any later, everyone will be too drunk to understand what you’re saying.”
“That’s fine.” Avery shrugged. “I can send a group text tomorrow.”
“You will do no such thing.” Teri-Lyn picked up Mackenzie from Avery’s lap and gently handed her grand-daughter to Parker. “It’s family tradition to announce good news at parties. And you have very good news to share.”
“Go ahead and get up there. This is your moment.” Parker added.
“OK.” She dabbed the corners of her mouth with her napkin.
Avery felt like she had a thousand butterflies in her stomach as she ascended the steps of the stage with Teri-Lyn. She’d already told her mom and dad about her plans but this was different. She was about to tell the world what she intended to do after she graduated college. Once the words left her mouth, there would be no turning back.
Teri-Lyn motioned for the band to stop playing and took the microphone off the stand. “Can I have everyone’s attention? We never let a celebration go by without the announcement of something new and wonderful happening in the family. Today is no exception. My sweet, intelligent, beautiful, kind–”
Teri-Lyn got the hint and laughed. “I could go on all day about this wonderful young lady. I just love her to pieces. Avery has something she’d like to share.”
Avery kissed Teri-Lyn on the cheek and took the microphone. The guests quieted, waiting for Avery to deliver her news. She knew most of the people in the sea of faces staring at her, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal to make her announcement. Still, she felt like she was in the hot seat and her mouth was getting dry. Then she saw Wyatt making his way through the crowd and was now front and center. He gave her a reassuring smile and she relaxed. He always made her feel better, even if she were mad at him.
Avery cleared her throat. “Hello everyone.”
The crowd applauded and she hadn’t even said much yet. No pressure there.
“As many of you know, I’ve had a pretty aggressive course load since I started college. After a lot of careful consideration, I’ve decided on a career path that I believe will help me make a good contribution to the world.” Avery smiled and looked at her Aunt Morgan. “That’s why I’ve decided to become a doctor.”
The crowd applauded again but she held up her hands to get them to quiet down again.
“I’m sure med school will be challenging but I look forward to one day becoming the kind of doctor that will make this family proud. Thank you.” She took a short bow, got off the stage and walked into the crowd of happy family members.
“Avery! I’m so happy for you!” Morgan hugged her. “I can’t believe you kept that a secret from me.”
“It was hard. But I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t chicken out.”
“Your mom and dad must be going crazy.” Isabelle chimed in.
“They were both very happy. Dad did that little dance he does when he wins a bowling trophy for a half hour in our kitchen.”
“I am so proud of you, Dr. Reed.” Seth came over and gave her a good squeeze. “We have to do something to celebrate. How about a new car?”
“I like my current car just fine.” She laughed.
“There’s got to be something you want?” John Jacob added.
“Right now I’d settle for another piece of wedding cake.”
The rest of the family came over with hugs and well wishes. She thought Wyatt had disappeared again but he’d just been pushed to the back of the crowd by the older folks. When they locked eyes, everyone else just seemed to fade away.
“Congratulations, Princess.” He smiled and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
“Thanks.” She rolled her eyes. He knew that ridiculous nick name made her furious but he’d refused to call her anything else.
He moved closer to her. “I thought I was going to be the first person you told when you made your decision.”
“Are you serious?” She glared at him. “You’ve been a ghost for the past two months.”
“I’ve been busy.” He ran a hand through his hair.
“With what? Kelly, the girl who lives down the hall from you?”
“No. I’ve been doing serious things, like thinking about my future. Not everyone has it all mapped out like you.”
“Well excuse me for having a plan. You could have done that too if you weren’t so busy partying all the time and bartending at the Bright Star. Those things are just distractions. Which I think is what you wanted so you wouldn’t have to make any decisions.” She fired back.
“Working at the Bright Star puts money in my pocket. And partying all the time? I spend most of my free time helping you with your wacky projects. Let’s see, I’ve helped you with the doggie car wash to raise money for the animal shelter. The books on wheels you deliver to the seniors at that assisted living community. The field trips with the kids to the zoo and picking them up from soccer practice. You name it, I’ve done it for you. But I don’t get credit for those things, do I?”
“You get to feel like a decent human being who likes to help others.”
“I don’t do those things to be a better human being. I do them to help you.”
“Easy, you two.” Teri-Lyn approached and put her arms around the both of them. “This is a wedding, not a prize-fight.”
“He’s infuriating.” Avery folded her arms over her chest.
“Why? Because I won’t do everything you want me to do?”
“Well, yeah.” Avery looked around to see the half the reception guests staring at them. She touched her eyebrow with her finger and turned to Teri-Lyn. “I’m so sorry. We’ve made a scene.”
“No. Tyler challenging Jake to an eating contest was making a scene. This is more of a lively debate but I’d hate for the men in the family to think you two were really fighting. You know how interactive they like to get.”
“Can we talk? In private?” Wyatt said.
“I think that’s a good idea.” Teri-Lyn agreed.
“But I was going to fix Mackenzie’s bow on her dress and help Connor find his tie.”
“Last time I checked Mackenzie was dancing with her dad and we’ve given up on finding any of Connor’s clothes. It’s simpler to buy him a new outfit.”
“OK.” Avery barely blurted out when Wyatt took her hand and bobbed and weaved across the reception area until they got on a path leading away from the backyard. They walked a few feet away from the house before they stopped at a nice cottage. It was Bo and Summer’s guest house. He opened the door and turned on the light.
“This is nice.” She looked around.
“Yeah. I stay here sometimes so I don’t disturb mom and Bo Sr. if it’s late when I arrive at the ranch.”
She laughed. “Is that really the reason?”
“OK. Seeing their senior PDAs make me uncomfortable. They can’t eat popcorn without kissing each other. Corbett and Courtney are bunking here too for the wedding.” He shrugged off his suit jacket. “Want something to drink?”
“What do you have?”
“Non-alcoholic? Not much. But there are some sodas and sparkling water.”
“It’s just the two of us. No one would know you gave me something to drink.”
He shook his head vehemently. “No can do. I don’t want to die tonight. Besides, I’m pretty sure this house is under surveillance.”
“I would be the one drinking, not you.”
“But I would be the one who let you drink.”
“You’re not the boss of me.” She put her hands on her hips.
“But you are my responsibility.” He handed her a lemon lime soda. “Like it or not, it’s been that way since we started attending school together.”
“Is that why you’ve been avoiding me? I’ve become a burden to you? If I’m not around you can have a blast and party your ass off until you stumble on stage for your diploma?”
Wyatt raised an eyebrow.
“It’s a little unsettling. It’s like hearing one of the kids curse.”
“Now I’m relegated to being a little kid?” She slammed the soda down on the counter and headed for the door. “I’ve had it with you. Instead of apologizing for being an evasive jerk for months, you drag me all the way over here to further insult me. Adios.”
“Wait.” Wyatt flew across the room and blocked her path to the door. “This is not why I brought you here.”
“Forget it. I don’t want to hear–” Avery stopped when Wyatt took her into his arms and covered her mouth with his.
I hope you enjoyed the pre-edited excerpt! Release date July 23rd!
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Copyright © 2016 Rhonda Laurel. All Rights Reserved.