The Devil She KnewBy: Talia Hunter
The deal done, Nate knew he should go and congratulate Laura and Luke, the happy couple. Instead, he stood on the edge of the crowd of guests, searching for the one woman he didn’t want to see.
He almost hadn’t come to the wedding at all. But so far there’d been no sign of Suzie’s short brown hair.
Maybe Suzie and Laura had fallen out, so she hadn’t come? Or maybe Suzie hadn’t been able to take time away from work? Nate did one more scan of the crowd, then let his shoulders relax. Many of the wedding guests had already found their seats at the dining tables on the sand, but Suzie wasn’t among them. Strange for the bride’s sister not to be here, but her absence would make his short stay on the island easier.
Nate headed towards the blackboard where the seating plan was displayed. If Suzie were here somewhere, he’d be able to find her name on the plan.
As he neared the board on its easel, he saw a woman also walking towards it. She wore a gold dress and had bangles up each arm that jangled with every step. She was a little in front of him, so he couldn’t see her face, but her long, curly hair tumbled almost to her waist. It was obviously dyed, because a red that bright could only have come out of a bottle. She hadn’t bothered with shoes and was barefoot on the sand, her painted toenails even brighter than her hair. A hippy-dippy type, obviously. Nobody he’d be interested in.
But when she turned her head to the side, his heart somersaulted. She had luminous skin that glowed in the sunset and there was something about the shape of her eyes that made it seem like they had a smile behind them, even when she reached the board and frowned as she studied it.
Her hair was completely different, but one thing hadn’t changed: she was still more beautiful than she deserved to be. And her figure had become even more curvaceous and desirable, if that were possible.
Nate swore under his breath. He’d been dreading seeing her, but had convinced himself if he did, he’d feel nothing but disdain. This time she wouldn’t make his heart speed up or his palms perspire. This time, the only thing she’d be able to make him feel would be righteous annoyance.
He wiped his palms on his pants, then took a breath, trying to slow the beating in his chest.
After all these years, he’d counted on finally being free from the curse of his attraction to her. How could she still have this effect on him? He knew she was bad news, but somehow the message hadn’t gotten through to every part of him. She was his own personal Kyrptonite, and the last thing he needed was to have her embedded in his mind for another ten years, permeating his thoughts and dreams.
He clenched his jaw. Over his dead body. However she’d managed to sink her claws into him, it was going to end tonight. All he had to do was talk to her, and the memories of how much he’d hated her would come flooding back. And this time he’d make sure every cell in his body was paying attention.
Suzie should have known her sister’s wedding guests would be a bunch of hopeless nerds. Many were Laura’s ex-colleagues from the university’s math department.
She tried to resist glaring at her sister, who’d just finished up with her wedding photos and was gazing adoringly into her new husband’s eyes. Luke was definitely the hunkiest man here, and not only was he hot, but he had a generous helping of bad-boy charm. Suzie loved her sister, and was happy for her, but couldn’t she also be a teeny bit jealous?
Some of Luke’s friends were cute, but they were here with their wives or girlfriends. Where were all Luke’s single buddies?
Sighing, she scanned the crowd, barely looking at the board where the seating plan was pinned up. She’d been on this absurdly romantic Fijian island for five days and as much as she’d enjoyed lazing around the white sand beach and snorkeling the crystal water, it would have been nice to indulge in a little holiday romance. But not when the only choices were geeks who knew more about calculating the radius of a curve than running their hands over one.
Well, too late now. She had to leave tomorrow to cater her first wedding on her own. At least this break had been an opportunity to give herself a pep talk and convince herself she wasn’t going to mess it up.