Cursing, he filled his coffee mug and sat alone at the counter. The night kept resurfacing in flashes. The way she’d looked, abandoned to the moment and naked underneath him. The breathy whisper of his name as she begged. The way she touched him, setting fire to his skin and a need in his soul he hadn’t realized was there until he’d claimed her. This was no ordinary, casual fuck encounter.
This was so much more.
He groaned, burning his tongue on the hot brew and welcoming the pain. He had to stop thinking like this. He’d count himself lucky if they could put it on the shelf and laugh about it one day in the future, when thoughts of her in his bed, all sweetness and spice, finally wouldn’t matter.
He refused to ruin something sacred, even if last night had been the best sex of his life.
She’d gotten spooked and then had to run. He’d allow her the space to get her thoughts in order, then agree with however she wanted to handle it. As long as she didn’t keep avoiding him.
Yes, she was leaving in September, but their relationship was too special to fracture, not even with a few thousand miles between them.
And definitely not with one drunken night of sex.
He’d make sure of it.
Taylor regarded the two men who sat holding hands across from her at the conference-room table. When Jose had asked if they could meet today, she’d jumped at the opportunity. She hadn’t been able to focus on her art or do anything but replay images of last night. Plus, they were her favorite clients, and planning their wedding was more like an honor than work.
Jose Rodriguez and Marcus Murphy had met on a blind date, had hated each other, and then had spent the next few months trying to avoid each other at social functions. When they both attended a mutual friend’s wedding—the one who’d set them up—they ended up sitting at the same table and were forced to converse. Soon, they both realized that the other had been too quick to judge, and they spent the evening dancing and chatting. At the end of the night, they set up another date.
A year later, they were engaged.
Jose was the polar opposite of Marcus, even in looks. Jose was short, energetic, and ready to plunge headfirst into any idea that looked interesting. He loved loud colors, loud music, and loud laughter. Marcus was tall, reserved, and classically handsome. With ink-dark eyes, designer suits, and his sophisticated, seductive voice, he reminded her of Idris Elba. Planning their wedding had been a challenge, since they both loved different things, and she’d worked hard to combine their different visions into one complete experience that they both loved.
“What can I help with?” she asked, genuinely concerned. “You sounded upset on the phone.”
Jose glanced at Marcus, who nodded. “We’re having a bit of family drama. Originally, we planned for each of us to walk our mothers down the aisle. We wanted everything fair so no one would play the blame game. Lord knows, they’re all experts at that.”
Marcus sighed. “If only my family could play spades as well as they do the ‘who harmed who’ contest.”
Taylor smiled. “I know a few experts in that field.”
“I bet,” Jose said. “Unfortunately, it seems our mothers are battling over their dresses. There was an epic fight—each accused the other of stealing her original idea—and now they have almost identical outfits, and neither is backing down.”
“My mother says there’s no way she’s walking down the aisle on my arm when there’s a copycat wandering around free,” Marcus said with a shake of his head. “And since Dad died, there’s no one in the family who’s managed to calm her down.”
Jose let out a long litany of Spanish, and none of it sounded good. “Try talking my three sisters out of getting our mama all riled up. Taylor, I’m really worried. They don’t want to sit next to each other now, and Marcus’s family refuses to come to our eighties party.” He shook his head, his dark eyes filled with worry and pain.
Her heart ached, but before she could comfort him, Marcus had taken control. “We will not let them ruin our wedding,” he said calmly, squeezing his lover’s hands. “I promise you. And even if it’s us at that eighties party all alone, it will be the best one ever. I’m talking Samantha Fox, Cher, and Prince.”
Jose choked out a laugh. “Thanks, babe.” He gave Marcus a quick kiss, then seemed to calm down. “Anyway, I wanted to let you know what’s happening before it exploded even more, and I just couldn’t discuss it over the phone.”
“I understand,” Taylor said. “I just want you to know that family dramas are part of a wedding. If you had none, I’m sure a friend or colleague would step in to wreak havoc.” She coaxed two smiles from them as she mentally sorted through some ideas that had worked in the past. Dueling mothers was a classic problem, and one she actually didn’t mind solving. “I may be able to help. First up, if you had to pick one, who’s more flexible?”
They laughed, then discussed it briefly. “My mother,” Marcus said. “I still may be able to talk her down if I had more time, but the wedding is only a few weeks away.”
“Okay, do you have a picture of the dress that caused this epic fight?”
Jose whipped out his phone. “I do.” He slid the screen across to her.
Good, the silvery, flowing dress wasn’t even specially customized. She’d seen this one before in a few salons, even at David’s Bridal, so she knew she could get her hands on something similar. “Does your mom have any favorite color preferences? Did she specifically want a silver or sparkly dress, or did she just like the fit?”
Marcus frowned. “I don’t know.”
Jose shot him an amused look. “I do. She prefers more neutral colors, but I think she was attracted to this style. Said it was flattering, just like my mama did. They’re both busty, so this gives them decent coverage but is enough of a showstopper.”
Thank goodness for Jose’s fashion sense and tendency to listen to all chatter and gossip. He was a gold mine. “Perfect. Marcus, can you get your mother to meet me at Vera’s Bridal on Monday morning? I can show her some other dresses I think she’ll love. Then the bigger problem will be solved, and we’d at least have a chance at a truce.”
Marcus looked doubtful. “Is there even enough time? She’ll probably need it fitted and hemmed. I heard you need to get a dress for weddings months in advance.”