I believe Demetri’s words were, ’We still shit.’

  Which was really all kinds of helpful, and totally Demetri, so I couldn’t blame him for his crass attitude. It was just—

  “Good morning!” Alyssa burst into the room. “It’s time!” She jumped onto my bed and gave me a hug. I didn’t know what I would do without Alyssa. She was seriously my best friend, next to Alec.

  “Morning.” I smiled back.

  Her grin seemed forced. She released me and looked down at her hands. Confused, I watched her smile fade and then tears begin to well in her eyes.

  “Hey.” I nudged her. “Aren’t I supposed to be the emotional one?”

  She gave a sad smile. “Yeah, sorry. I’m just being dramatic, overthinking things.”

  “Overthinking what exactly?” I tucked my knees under my chin and waited.

  “We sort of got in a fight.”

  “We, being you and Demetri?”

  Alyssa nodded. “Last night, after the hot tub, you were tired so Alec put you to bed and Demetri and I stayed up late to… talk.”

  “And when you say talk what you really mean is—”

  “Make out in the hot tub.” Alyssa laughed. “Anyways, we really did get to talking and he said he wasn’t sure he wanted to get married yet.”

  I tensed. “What do you mean?”

  “I don’t know!” Alyssa threw up her hands. “He’s so hot and cold lately! The other day he’s all bragging about popping some huge question and then he says he isn’t ready and gets mad at me for bringing it up!”

  “Hmm.” I licked my lips. “You know Demetri, Lyss. He may have really come a long way since the whole running his car into a building and getting high every night, but he’s still immature, maybe he’s just afraid he’s going to fail you in some way.”

  Alyssa was silent for a while then whispered, “Impossible. That man is… well, he’s incredible.” She looked up at me through glossy, tear-stained eyes. “He’s my hero. I can’t imagine my life without him, I can’t imagine breathing without having him next to me. Sure, he’s not perfect. I mean, he’s ridiculous most the time, but he’s caring and wonderful and loving, I just…” She sighed. “I just want him to be so in love with me, so infatuated that he has no reservations whatsoever, you know?”

  I laughed.

  Alyssa glared.

  “Sorry.” I kept laughing. “It’s just… we don’t live in a perfect world, Lyss, alright? The guy’s gonna freak out. I don’t care how much money he has, or how famous he is, he’s still going to worry about providing for you, and where you’re going to live, and kids, and everything else that goes with adulthood. He’s still going to panic. Trust me, money doesn’t equal security, just like fame doesn’t equal happiness.”

  “You’re right.” She exhaled. “I think all those chick flicks ruined me. I want that big gesture.”

  “Ah, you’ve clearly been spoiled, haven’t you?”

  “Nat.” Alyssa rolled her eyes. “Alec threw you a freaking concert and then walked you through your school and proposed in front of the entire town… Pretty sure my expectations are high.”

  I didn’t know what Demetri had planned but I did know he was competitive — no way was he going to let Alec outdo him on the proposal front. But maybe insecurity on Alyssa’s part was good — it made the end so much sweeter. “Just trust him, Lyss. Can you do that?”

  “I have no choice.” She shrugged. “He literally holds my heart in the palm of his hand.”

  “As it should be,” I whispered.

  “Love sucks.”

  “But it’s worth it.” I grabbed her hand. “So worth it.”

  She released my hand and stood. “Okay, I’m done ruining your special day. Let’s get you beautiful.”

  “You mean I’m not beautiful now?” I asked in a mocking voice as I straightened my AD2 t-shirt.

  “Uh, no. And P.S. I may have packed you a Justin Bieber night gown in order to piss Alec off on your wedding night.”

  “Poor man won’t sleep with the Biebs in the same room, you know that.” I laughed.

  “Jaymeson’s idea, blame him.”

  “Those British.”

  “Just that one.” Alyssa laughed. “Just that one.”

  Chapter Fourteen


  “I screwed up.” Demetri paced the room in front of me. “Holy hell, I think I’ve lost her. I couldn’t think! She was guessing too damn much and I just lost it!”

  “Wait, back up.” I straightened my bowtie in the mirror. “What exactly happened?”

  Demetri made wild motions behind me. “She was all ’I really love you, Demetri ,and I think it’s time for us to get married. You think this summer we can pick a date or something?’”

  “Okay,” I interrupted him. “First things first. Drop the whole high, girl-voice thing. I get that you’re talking about Alyssa, but right now you sound like a pre-pubescent eleven-year-old with a fever.”

  “Fair.” Demetri swore. “I panicked, man. I totally panicked.”

  “Wouldn’t be the first time.” Jaymeson said from the corner as he examined his nails.

  “Do you mind?” Demetri snapped.

  “Not at all.” Jaymeson grinned. “Continue.”

  “I told her I wasn’t ready!” Demetri yelled.

  “You what?” Jaymeson and I said in unison. He sounded amused, while I was angry as hell.

  “Why would you do that? You ass!” I smacked Demetri on the back of the head. “Is your goal to never have sex for the rest of your life?”

  Jaymeson snickered.

  “No comments from the whore gallery, please.” I pointed in Jaymeson’s direction and was rewarded with the finger.

  “I know!” Demetri sat down and put his head in his hands. “The ring was literally five feet away from her in my damn pocket! And I just—”

  “You’re an idiot.” Jaymeson interjected. “Why didn’t you just pop the question?”

  “Because we were in a damn hot tub! Next to germs and God knows what else! I’m not going to ask her to marry me next to…”

  “Bubbles?” Jaymeson grinned. “Nature? Air? Oxygen? Seriously, grow a pair and pop the question, it’s not like she hasn’t already gone to…”

  Jaymeson’s voice died off. He stood abruptly. “Shit! A spider!” He jumped up and down and began stomping the ground.

  “Something’s not right with England.” I rubbed my chin. “What do you know, Bond?”

  Jaymeson stopped moving. “I, uh—”

  He looked from me to Demetri and then made a beeline for the door. I grabbed his jacket just as he reached the knob and jerked him back.

  “Talk.” Demetri glared. “Or I swear I’ll—”

  “—Sing My Country Tis of Thee!”

  “It’s not your song!” Jaymeson yelled.

  I rolled my eyes. “Guys, focus. Jaymeson, man up, what do you know about Alyssa?”

  “Tiffany’s.” Jaymeson swore. “I took her to Tiffany’s.”

  “Talk faster before I end your life, Jaymeson,” Demetri said in a cold voice.

  “Relax.” Jaymeson rolled his eyes. “When we were all in LA a few weeks ago, you guys were recording and I took the girls down Rodeo Drive. No big deal.”

  Side note, it was a very big deal, as in, big enough to cause me to choke once I got the bill from Visa. In Nat’s defense I had told her to buy whatever. I hadn’t counted on Jaymeson encouraging her purchases, the bastard.

  “Anyways—” He cleared his throat. “We walked by Tiffany’s, Alyssa saw a ring that sparkled or whatever the hell rings do to attract the female population like mating pigeons, and I took her into the store. The one she liked was… nice.”

  “How nice?” Demetri leaned in. “Nice, nice? Or just nice?”

  “Um, all three nices sound the same, I choose…” Jaymeson’s face contorted in confusion. “The third one?”

  “Damn.” Demetri crossed his arms.

  “Do you have it??
?? I asked my brother. “The ring?”

  Demetri reached into his pocket. “I don’t want to lose it, so I keep it on me at all times.” He opened the blue box. I almost went blind — the diamonds were sparkling all over the place.

  “No way!” Jaymeson snatched the box. “That’s—”

  “It’s time!” Priscilla’s voice sounded on the other side of the hotel door.

  “Quick!” I punched Jaymeson, who dropped the box onto the ground. The door opened just as Jaymeson bent down on one knee and held up the box in triumph.

  Unfortunately it looked exactly how it sounded. Like the guy was proposing to Demetri.

  “Uh…” Priscilla’s eyes widened for a second as her mouth opened and closed.

  “This isn’t what it looks like!” Demetri all but shouted as Jaymeson froze with the ring box still held up in the air.

  “Okay.” Priscilla nodded. “But even if it was… totally cool, I mean, it’s good to commit once you’ve found that special someone.”

  Finally snapping out of his haze, Jaymeson thrust the box into Demetri’s hands and stood. “Sweetheart, if it was like that, you’d know it. Do I look like I bat for the other team?”

  Priscilla tilted her head to the side. “Let me think. Arrogant, well-dressed, well-spoken, and foreign. Do you really want me to answer that question, Hollywood?”

  Jaymeson swore. “I’ll prove it right now! I’ll have sex with women! Lots of women and—”

  As if realizing what he was saying, he snapped his mouth shut and swore again.

  “Whatever lets you sleep at night…” Priscilla held up her hands and slowly backed away from the door and walked down the hall.

  “Shitty proposal man.” I hit Jaymeson on the back. “You didn’t even bring Demetri flowers.”

  “How do these things keep happening to me?” Jaymeson was still staring at the empty doorway. “You think she was serious? I mean, I scream masculinity! I drive a Ducati for crap’s sake!”

  “Motorcycles equal testosterone?” Demetri asked lamely. “Funny, I thought it was having balls, yet clearly you lack those since she just cut ’em off for you. So hmm, I’m stumped.”

  “I know I keep saying this,” Jaymeson muttered. “But sometimes I hate you guys.”

  “We know.” I grinned. “Now, it’s time for me to get married.”

  “Right.” Jaymeson exhaled. “Let’s go trounce through that sand.”

  “Huzzah!” Demetri yelled thrusting his hand into the air.

  “Still doesn’t work. You aren’t British,” I said.

  “Damn it,” he whispered under his breath. “I’ll keep trying.”

  “I’d rather you didn’t,” Jaymeson called from in front of us.

  Chapter Fifteen


  “My tux is scratchy.” I pulled at the bowtie and swore.

  “Stop acting like a two-year-old.” Jaymeson slapped me on the back. We were on the beach waiting for the girls to pull up so we could get the wedding pictures taken care of.

  A car pulled up, and all three girls piled out. Alec had his back turned and was facing the ocean; I exhaled not really realizing how loud I was.

  “How does she look?” he asked, his voice hoarse.

  “Freaking gorgeous,” Jaymeson answered for me. “Lucky bastard, her dress is like…”

  “Perfect,” I mumbled. But I wasn’t staring at Nat; I was looking at Alyssa. Her dark hair was curled and hanging in heavy waves around her face. Her pale pink strapless dress brought out her olive skin that much more.

  “Hopeless.” Jaymeson shook his head. “Both of you.”

  “One day, Jaymeson—”

  “Don’t finish that sentence.” He held up his hand. “Every time you say I’m going to fall I get this weird sensation that the universe agrees with you, and I’m perfectly happy in my whorish state.”

  “Guys! Not romantic — wedding day!” Alec cleared his throat.

  The girls made their way toward us as the photographer snapped pictures of them smiling and laughing. I wanted this. I wanted what Alec and Nat had. I wanted to be the one with my back turned. I wanted to be the guy that whose woman was walking toward him with every expectation in the world. I needed to be that to her.

  Alyssa and Nat were still taking pictures a few feet away from us when Priscilla made her way over to my side and sighed.

  “They look beautiful.”

  “So do you,” Jaymeson said in what I could only imagine was his lady killer voice, though it sounded like he was choking on a walnut.

  “How original.” Priscilla turned toward him and smirked. “And easy.”

  “Pardon?” Jaymeson adjusted his bowtie and smirked.

  “Your lines. Tell me, how often do girls jump into your bed solely based on your good looks?”

  Jaymeson seemed to think about that for a minute before answering. “At least eight times out of ten.”

  “And when you tell them who you are?” Priscilla crossed her arms.

  Where the hell was she going with this?

  “Sweetheart, they already know who I am. Everyone does.”

  I groaned into my hands.

  “What?” Jaymeson threw his arms into the air. “It’s true! I’m not being cocky, just honest!”

  “At least you know how to be honest.” Priscilla rolled her eyes. “That’s a bonus, don’t you think?”

  “Big enough bonus for you and me to spend some time together later… alone?”

  There he went with that voice again. Seriously, did he lose all his game on the plane?

  “Uh, no.” Priscilla shook her head. “I mean, I’m flattered. I must be, what? The sixth girl you’ve propositioned in the past three hours?”

  Jaymeson licked his lips. “Third, maybe fourth.”

  Alec had his back still turned but I could see his shoulders shake with laughter.

  “Right.” Priscilla nodded. “Tell you what… I’ll spend time with you when I’m your first.” Which basically meant never in Jaymeson’s book.

  “Honey, don’t you mean, when I am your first? We all know you’re as pure as the driven snow.”

  “Dude, put the damn shovel down and start groveling!” Alec whispered under his breath.

  “Right.” Priscilla’s face tightened as color splashed across her cheeks. “So I guess that’s where this little affair ends. You’ll never give up your player lifestyle for more than five seconds.”

  Jaymeson seemed to think hard for a few minutes while his eyes examined Priscilla, then his face broke out into a grin. “Admit it. It’d be a really great five seconds.”

  “Oh look, Jaymeson just dug a tunnel to China!” Alec called out.

  “China?” Alyssa repeated as the girls joined us. “What’s going on?”

  “Nothing,” Priscilla said sweetly. “Just studying Jaymeson.”

  “Studying?” Jaymeson sputtered, clearly liking the idea, if the giant-ass smile on his face was any indicator.

  “Yeah,” Priscilla grinned. “Memorizing…”

  “Really?” His grin grew.

  “Of course.” She nodded innocently. “It’s important to be able to spot a whore in the wild. I imagine if I stare hard enough I’ll never fall for someone as idiotic as you.”

  Jaymeson swore.

  Alec stepped up beside him. “Sorry to break this up, but I’d really like to see my bride!”

  The photographer shooed us all away as he went to the side and clicked a few pictures. One was of Alec looking at the ocean while Nat leaned against his back, it must have been killing him not to see her, but he didn’t move. The expression on his face was so serene that I was instantly jealous.

  I glanced over at Alyssa as she wiped a tear from her eyes.

  I wanted this — with her.

  Chapter Sixteen


  My fingernails dug into my palms as I shifted from one foot to the other. The music started and I seriously thought I was going to lose it. My dad grabbed my arm an
d looped it with his. Okay, so now it felt like my heart was beating through my throat. Holy crap. I was officially getting married. But it was Alec, amazing rock god Alec, at the end of the aisle.

  I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths as the music crescendoed. And then I was walking, I wasn’t actually sure how I was walking, I just knew that I was — that if I didn’t put one foot in front of the other I was going to go crazy. I kept my head down — not trusting myself to look at the smiling faces around us.

  We’d chosen to get married near Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s bed and breakfast. After all, it was the place where we’d made so many wonderful memories, and we loved them like they were our own adopted grandparents.

  Lucky for us, there was a private beach next to their cottage that gave us enough room to have at least two hundred guests. It was nestled in a small cove that had several natural caves and ponds. It was like something out of Pride and Prejudice, with grassy knolls and bluffs overlooking the water. I’d loved it the instant I saw it, but now all I could think about was the wind as it stung my face, and my bare feet as they dug into the sand.

  “Smile,” my dad whispered in my ear.

  Had I been frowning? Panicked, I looked up and stopped walking. The music swirled around me but all I could focus on was his face, the same face I fell for over a year ago. The same hand that helped me off the school floor was again lifted in the air, an invitation. His eyes were glassy, his nostrils flared, and for a moment it was just him and me. Memories of all the things we’d been through — his drug addiction, my inability to choose between him and Demetri, and in the end, his loss of control over everything precious in his life — it had all brought us to this moment, to this final invitation.

  Confidence hammered through my body at alarming speeds, almost feeling like a sort of adrenaline rush as I gazed into his piercing blue eyes and smiled. His eyes were hooded as he examined my dress — his smile widening as he took everything in.

  Alec wasn’t just watching me, but memorizing me, loving me with his eyes, caressing me with every glance. I almost tripped, I started walking so fast, ready to make the exchange — to leave my dad’s arms and step directly into forever.

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