Smiling, I patted her hand. “No worries, Mom, the guys will take care of it.”

  And I knew they would, in more ways than one. They didn’t do anything halfway. If Jaymeson decided he should seduce anyone, bridesmaids included, Demetri and Alec would probably tie him up in his own room.

  “So…” Mom squinted when something clanged from inside the house. “What was that?”

  “Uh, probably Alyssa. I should probably go in and see if she needs help, you’re welcome to stay if you want.” Please don’t stay, please don’t stay!

  “That’s sweet of you.” Mom rose from her seat. “But I have a lot on my plate today. I’ll just go out through the back gate.”


  “Love you, baby.”

  “Love you too!” I said a little too excitedly as I rushed her toward the back gate, hoping to God that the caterers decided to park on the other side of the house.

  Mom waved again from her car and then sped off toward downtown Seaside.

  I walked around the front of the house. The catering truck wasn’t in front of our house so I looked further down the street. Awesome, it was parked in front of an abandoned beach house. Right, because that didn’t look suspicious.

  Alyssa came running out of the house. “Hurry! We have to get everything set up before the rehearsal dinner.”

  “Coming!” I laughed and waved over the catering truck. “Why do we need catered food?”

  Alyssa smirked. “Because although I’m a brilliant maid of honor, my Betty Crocker skills are sorely lacking, and the last time I tried to make food for seduction, Demetri thought I was playing a joke on him — oh, and he also got violently ill.”

  “Right.” I whistled at the truck, trying to gain their attention since clearly they were ignoring my wave. Finally it started toward us.

  “They’ll like this, right?” I bit down on my lip.

  “They better,” Alyssa grumbled. “Or I’ll murder them.”

  Chapter Three


  “Not funny.” Jaymeson folded his arms across his chest. “You guys are joking, right? Like it’s a practical joke and we aren’t really doing this as part of your bachelor party?”

  “Not joking.” I slapped him on the back. “Come on, where’s your sense of adventure?”

  “Do you even know your history?” Jaymeson argued. “England equals civilized sorts, America equals savages. Seriously, had I lived in the eighteen hundreds I would have been the guy betting on rain drops, not the one exploring the wilderness.”

  “Such a brave, brave soul,” Demetri commented. “Now shut up and grab a stick.”

  “Why?” Jaymeson kicked the dirt.

  “To scare off the bears.”

  “You’re shitting me.” Jaymeson swore then picked up a stick. “What the hell am I supposed to do with it?”

  I was amazed that Demetri could keep a straight face, he showed Jaymeson in a few movements the way to thrust a stick into the air to ward off bears. Right.

  Jaymeson followed his movements. “You’re sure this works?”

  “Course.” Demetri snorted. “I medaled in bear strategies in Boy Scouts.”

  Wasn’t in Boy Scouts and bear strategies wasn’t anything a person could medal in, nor did that category exist, but I was having too much fun to say anything.

  Since we couldn’t technically camp overnight, we had decided to go hiking. Pretty sure Jaymeson was about five minutes away from stomping back to the car and going on strike.

  It had been Demetri’s idea to bring Jaymeson along, considering we’d put the poor guy through hell this past summer, what with him not only finding out that his mother was a money-hungry whore, but also Demetri’s real mom.

  Seriously, we needed our own reality show.

  Except we already did that.

  And failed.

  I sighed and followed Jaymeson’s crazy stick movements closer to the trailhead.

  The first thing I thought when we got to the Saddle Mountain Trail was that it looked a lot easier on the Internet.

  “This is…” Demetri nodded. “Totally doable.”

  As if God was punishing us or quite possibly laughing in our faces, it began to rain.

  “Aw, crap.” Jaymeson threw the stick down. “Well, looks like we have to cancel the hike. Never fear, I’ll just search up a nice little bar we can go to.”

  “Put your phone away,” Demetri snapped.


  “Now!” He threw his own stick to the ground and stomped on it. “We’re men, damn it! Are we going to let a little rain send us running back to the women?”

  “No sir.” I smirked.

  “Are we going to be pansy asses and run back to our car with our tails between our legs because the trail looks hard?”

  “No sir!” This time I yelled.

  Jaymeson’s eyes narrowed into slits.

  “What say you, Brit?”

  “Bloody hell.” Jaymeson grumbled. “That’s what I say.” And then he stomped up the trail.

  “I wish I could say that without sounding like an ass.” Demetri sighed. “They have all the cool swear words.”

  “True.” I felt my eyebrows knit with concern when Jaymeson’s foot slipped and he crashed to his knees.

  “Ouch!” Demetri called after him. “You okay?”

  Jaymeson’s answer was more cursing.

  “He’ll be fine.” I shook my head. “He’s just not used to nature.”

  “You can take the actor out of Hollywood—”

  “—But you just can’t take the Hollywood out of the actor.” I sighed. “Alright, let’s conquer this beast.”

  When it rained in Seaside, it didn’t just sprinkle or mist. No, it was like a monsoon hit us. Cold water blurred my vision as we stomped through the muddy trail, slipping every few feet because what was once an easy trail with happy signs had suddenly turned into a death walk.

  Demetri swore in front of me as he slipped and almost smacked his face onto the ground. I laughed and got the bird, while Jaymeson continued to yell behind us to slow down.

  The rain let up once we neared the top of the trail. Mist surrounded us on all sides and then, like magic, it disappeared, revealing the ocean to the west.

  “Whoa.” Demetri huffed next to me. “That’s freaking intense!”

  “I almost died,” Jaymeson called behind us. “Not that either one of you care. By the way, I called for you, both of you. I told you I was slipping. Nothing. Not one bloody word.”

  “Wow, totally worth it for the view, right?” I nudged Demetri.


  “Hello!” Jaymeson stumbled behind us. “Did you hear nothing I just said? I almost slipped off a freaking cliff! And—” He paused. “Damn. That’s a sick view.”

  “Right?” I said putting my arms around both guys. “Thanks… you know, for everything this last summer. For putting up with my shit and—”

  “Hell,” Jaymeson muttered. “He’s going to make us cry.”

  “No.” I laughed. “I just appreciate you guys. I wouldn’t be here without you.”

  “Cheers.” Jaymeson laughed. “And I wouldn’t be in Hell without you guys, so I guess we’re all even now, yeah?”

  “Sure.” Demetri chuckled. “You know it’s going to be a crazy year… we’ve got our tour, you’re getting married, having a kid… Jaymeson’s finally going to fall for a chick—”

  “When pigs fly.” Jaymeson snorted.

  “Look!” Demetri pointed at the sky. “A cloud shaped like a pig. And I rest my case.”

  “That’s a cow.” Jaymeson pointed. “It has spots.”

  “Pig,” Demetri said.



  “Guys!” I released them both from my hold and laughed. “Let’s tweet some pics and get back down the mountain. We have a rehearsal dinner to get ready for.”

  “At my place, right?” Jaymeson yawned and then scratched his head and looked down at his

  “Right.” My eyes narrowed. “We’ll get ready at your beach rental while the girls do their thing at my house—”

  Jaymeson started whistling.

  “What’s going on?”

  “What?” Jaymeson sputtered. “Nothing, not one bloody, bloody…” He gulped. “Thing.”

  “Lies.” Demetri called him out. “Why are you so pale?”

  “I’m English, we see the sun like twice a year.”

  “Lame.” Demetri’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve lived in LA for the past ten years. You have a beach house in Malibu. Try again.”

  “Dehydration.” Jaymeson coughed. “And uh, I think I swallowed a few bugs when I was falling down the cliff.”

  The rain started up again. “Fine. Let’s get back — and Jaymeson, walk in the middle so you don’t fall to your death.”

  “Oh, so now you’re concerned.”

  Demetri ran down the trail in front of us, then stopped and hunched over huffing and puffing. “It looks easier on TV.”

  “What does?” I asked.


  “One of these days you’re going to have to work at your body.” Jaymeson nudged Demetri. “No way is that six-pack going to last with the couch permanently attached to your ass.”

  “Hey!” Demetri said in a hoarse voice. “At least I don’t name the objects in my life after women.”

  “He has you there.” I chuckled.

  “Nothing wrong with a man loving his car.”

  “What was the name of the last girl you were with?” Demetri asked.

  Jaymeson seemed to think about it, then said, “Sara-bel-la?”

  “Are you asking or telling?” Demetri said.

  “Telling. It was definitely Sarabella.”

  “Cool. Did she live on the prairie and cook you biscuits?” He grinned. “And nice try, but that was the name of your character’s love interest in the last movie you did.”

  “Damn,” Jaymeson swore.

  The rain pounded harder, making me push the guys toward the covering of the trees. “Come on, we’re going to be late!”

  “Believe me,” Demetri called in front of me. “Nat’s not going anywhere.”

  Chapter Four


  “They’re going to either love it or hate it.” I sighed, dipping a chocolate-coated strawberry into the whipped cream.

  “Miss?” One of the caterers was carrying a sheet cake. “Where you want the cake?”

  “Over there’s fine.” I pointed to an empty space on the counter while Alyssa signed for the food and handed over her credit card.

  “Just curious.” I nibbled on the chocolate and grinned while Alyssa took the receipt and looked back at me. “That your credit card or Demetri’s?”

  “He won’t even notice.” She shrugged innocently. “Besides, he told me to use it at my leisure.”

  “Pretty sure he didn’t mean this.” I waved around the room and giggled. “Ooh, let’s see the cake!”

  I jumped off the chair and tore into the box.

  “Holy shit.” Alyssa clasped her hand over her mouth then grabbed the receipt to look at the description. “Shit!”

  “What? What?” I tore the receipt from her hands and burst out laughing. “Sex cake? Really? That’s what they call these?”

  “I asked for a sexy cake,” Alyssa said helplessly. “Not uh…”

  “Boy and girl parts cake?” I answered.

  Alyssa groaned into her hands. “What do we do?”

  “Eat it.” I laughed. “Show it to the boys, and if all else fails, maybe Jaymeson can give everyone a human anatomy lesson. Couldn’t hurt.”

  Alyssa shrugged. “My money’s on them loving it. Then again, they’ve been hiking most the day. So if they hate it, they’ll lack the energy to say anything, especially Demetri.”

  “Right.” I nodded. “Alright, well, let’s go get ready… it’s going to be a long night.”

  “Cheers.” Alyssa clinked her water bottle against mine as we made our way up the stairs.

  We’d both decided to wear tight, white, slinky dresses. Mine plunged in the back and hers plunged in the front. I honestly couldn’t wait to have her as a sister. She and Demetri would be tying the knot soon after us. He just seemed to be dragging his feet, but I wasn’t sure why. I mean, they were inseparable and it wasn’t like he had to wait until he had enough money or was stable in his career. The man was a multi-millionaire at nineteen. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.

  I knew it bothered her a bit to see Alec and me get married — only because she was ready for it. She’d suffered a lot these past few years. That being said, I knew Demetri was waiting for the right time.

  He’d said as much this morning.

  I just wish he would do it soon so Alyssa would stop moping around, and so her parents would let her tour with us. At this point they were pulling the whole old-fashioned, she needs a ring on her finger before she can travel with the band routine.

  To be honest, my parents probably would have called for the same thing.

  “How do I look?” Alyssa stepped out of the bathroom; her hair was in loose ringlets around her shoulders. Her tan set off the white dress, making her look amazing.

  “Awesome. Demetri’s going to swallow his tongue.”

  “Ooh.” Alyssa twirled in place and jutted out her hip. “Even better. Now strip. We gotta get your dress on you.”

  I saluted her and ran into the bathroom. My dress was hanging on the door. I pulled it on and zipped up the side. The back really did dip low. Hopefully Alec wouldn’t freak. The dress appeared tight but it really wasn’t too bad. The poor guy had been so paranoid about my pregnancy that I actually asked my doctor to drug him. He said no.

  “Nice!” Alyssa howled and cat-called when I walked out of the bathroom. “Alec’s going to devour you in that thing.”

  “That’s the general idea.” I winked. “Now help me with my shoes, somehow my feet are already starting to swell.”

  Once I had my shoes on, I looked at my watch. “Alright, we have about five minutes to get to the restaurant. You drive and I’ll text the guys so they can let security know.”

  “Roger.” Alyssa grabbed our purses and helped me down the stairs as per Alec’s orders. Seriously, you’d think I was a two-year-old.

  The house phone rang and Alyssa dashed over to the table to grab the cordless and answered.

  “Yo,” Alyssa said out of breath. “Uh-huh, yup, alright, love you too, bye.”

  “Demetri?” I asked.

  “They’re running late, but they said security is expecting us, paparazzi are already lined up in front of the place.”

  “Of course,” I grumbled.

  “Hey.” Alyssa nudged me. “The life of a rock star is rough. Just remember at the end of the day, it’s you he’s coming home with, it’s you he’s marrying, you he’s choosing.”

  “Thanks.” I felt tears well in my eyes. “I think I needed to hear that.”

  “I’ll always try to be the voice of reason.” She gripped my hand in hers. “Now let’s go knock our men on their asses.”

  Chapter Five


  “How do you know when you’re ready?” Demetri asked as we drove to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.

  “It’s like this,” Jaymeson interjected. “When she goes, ’baby I love you, I want you so much, I need you’ — that’s when you seal the deal.” He gave a smug grin and nodded.

  “Yeah.” I licked my lips. “Pretty sure what Demetri was asking had nothing to do with one of your one-night stands.”

  Demetri was staring at Jaymeson like he was some sort of alien from Star Trek. “Seriously, how are we related?”

  Jaymeson shrugged. “Hey, I was only trying to help.”

  “You talking about marriage?” I asked as I took a side street to downtown Seaside.

  “No, I’m talking about puberty.” Demetri rolled his eyes as Jaymeson cackled behind us. ?
??Yes, I’m talking about marriage.” He shifted in his seat and started fiddling with his hands.

  “What did you do?” I asked. “You’re fidgety.”

  “He’s high.”

  “I’m not high!” Demetri yelled. “But I did do something on impulse—”

  Jaymeson waved him off. “Happens to everyone. No worries. One time I—”

  “—I bought a ring!” Demetri blurted.

  I slammed on the brakes, causing the front of Jaymeson’s head to smash into the back of Demetri. Both of them cursed blue streaks for a good ten seconds.

  “Sorry,” I mumbled. “You did what?”

  “Ring.” Demetri rubbed the back of his head. “Great, now I’m going to look like I have a giant cyst on the back of my head.” He pulled down the mirror and tried to look at the spot but kept flipping off the mirror because Jaymeson’s face was getting in the way.

  “Ring,” Jaymeson said slowly. “You mean like a wrestling ring? Or something you do when you’re phoning someone?”

  “Ring.” Demetri scowled. “As in, I went and dropped six figures on a five-carat piece of work from Tiffany’s.”

  I slammed on the brakes again. “Are you trying to outdo me? Tiffany’s? SIX figures?”

  “Tiffany’s has badass rings.” This from Jaymeson.

  The car fell silent. I finally spoke up. “And the slut in the backseat knows this how?”

  Jaymeson looked away and whistled.

  “Jaymeson?” Demetri urged.

  “Oh look! The restaurant!” Jaymeson pointed. “Pull over! I gotta piss.”

  “He knows things,” Demetri mumbled. “He only acts weird when he knows things…”

  “The girls?” I guessed.

  “They’ve been talking.” Demetri’s eyes narrowed as Jaymeson disappeared into the restaurant.

  “And he’s been listening.”

  “Loyalty.” Demetri nodded. “They have his loyalty.”


  Chapter Six


  I felt him before I actually saw him. It had always been like that with Alec; like his presence was something my body was constantly searching for. Within seconds I felt warm hands on my shoulders. Slowly, I turned and bit down on my lip, taking a step back so he could examine my dress.

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