Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles

Now Abbie started crying in earnest, and Rhett leaned across her to pull the boy down so all three of them could embrace.

“You’re the best son a man could ever have, Dustin,” he whispered through his own tears.

They took their moment, and Rhett heard soft music come on in the background as people resumed their conversations. When they finally broke apart, they simply looked at each other, love shining in their eyes.

“Okay,” Dustin said finally. “That was intense.”

“The intensest,” Abbie said, trying to make a joke.

It made them all laugh. “We’re the lucky ones, Dustin,” Rhett said.

His son nodded. “Aren’t you supposed to cut the cake or something?”

Yeah, they probably needed to do something constructive now, or they’d all be crying like babies in the corner for the rest of the night.

“How about it, Abbie?” Rhett asked her. “You ready for some cake?”

She rose from her chair. “Let me check my makeup.”

“You look beautiful,” he said, gazing at her loveliness.

“Thank you, but I don’t think you could possibly see a hair out of place right now.” She excused herself.

She was right. That’s why they call them rose-colored glasses, after all.

When she returned, they made the journey to the cake table. Abbie’s apricot-filled Lady Baltimore with buttercream frosting was exactly the color of her favorite rose. He didn’t like white cake with fruit in it, so he suffered through one bite to her two or three.

“Okay,” she said with a sigh. “We can go cut your cake now.”

Usually the bride and groom didn’t cut the groom’s cake, but he’d told her they would just have to start their own tradition. He was going to darn well make sure he had a piece of his own cake. Sometimes the groom never ended up getting a piece of cake in the melee of the reception, and the prospect horrified him. When he cut it, he knew he’d been right to insist. The chocolate was pure sin—just like he liked—and he grew light-headed after just two bites.

“This is delicious,” he told her. “I might die on the spot.”

She leaned in and pressed a frosting-coated finger to his lips. “Please don’t. I have plans for you on our honeymoon.”

He didn’t suck her finger into his mouth like he wanted to, but by the slumberous look in her eyes, he knew she was thinking about how much he was resisting the urge.

“Later,” he whispered. “Make sure the wedding planner packs us up a few pieces of cake to take to New Orleans.”

“I already told her to snag some,” she said with a wink.

“I like it when you’re all organized and detail oriented,” he whispered, pulling her flush against his body, not caring about the crowd.

The chiming of metal against glass rang out and gained in volume, signaling that the crowd wanted a kiss. He was more than happy to oblige.

“Perfect timing,” he said as he pressed her mouth to his.

She tasted of apricot and chocolate and was so intoxicating he nearly carried her off then and there. But his mama would slap the back of his head for his foolishness, and it would be embarrassing.

He finally was able to angle them over to Jane and Elizabeth. “Hey, girls,” he said, kissing their cheeks one at a time.

“Abbie, you are the most beautiful bride ever,” Elizabeth said. “Thank you again for letting us come today.”

“Rhett considers you sisters,” she replied. “You just had to come.”

“And we’re pretty normal looking, right?” Jane asked, gesturing to her outfit.

Rhett snorted. “I purposely didn’t tell Mama, Charleston, Rye, or the other guys about your new roles yet. I wanted to make sure no one would recognize you.” He would drop the bomb another time. Part of him was enjoying the secret, truth be told. And heaven knew his mama couldn’t keep a secret, a quality the mint juleps would only intensify.

“You look lovely,” Abbie said. “It’s…nice…seeing you look like everyone else.”

Rhett cleared his throat. “Ah, sugar. Isn’t it time for our first dance soon?”

Elizabeth and Jane both met his gaze, trying to hold back smiles. They both knew Abbie was still warming to them, but no one needed a reminder of the over-the-top outfits they used to wear as his poker babes.

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