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Lie to Me

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“YOU LOOK FINE,” Bianca says as I fuss with the front of my dress. I smooth my hands over my dress one last time and bring them to my cheeks.

“I’m so nervous,” I say, shaking my head and looking at my sister. She smiles at me and opens her arms up to hug me.

“You’re going to be fine. You look beautiful.”

“I don’t even know why I’m nervous! I already live with him,” I laugh.

“Everyone is nervous on their wedding day. You look perfect, stop messing with your dress. You’ll wrinkle it.”

The door opens behind me and my mother slips through the opening. I turn to look at her and she brings her hands up to her mouth, shaking her head from side to side.

“My beautiful daughter. Your father would be so proud.”

My eyes start to water, and I dab my finger underneath them. “Stop, mom, I’ll mess up my makeup.”

“I wasn’t sure about all this when you moved here, but I’m so proud of you.”

I wipe at my eyes and try to smile at my mother. I don’t remember the last time she said something like that to me. Bianca puts her arm around my shoulder and squeezes.

“Plus, now we have an excuse to come to the mountains more often,” she says with a smile.

“Here,” my mom says, pulling something out of her pocket. “Something blue. And it counts as something old, I guess.”

My eyes widen again as she wraps the sapphire bracelet around my wrist. “Dad gave this to you when you got married,” I breathe.

Mom smiles. “It’s yours now. Take good care of it.” She wraps her arms around me before pulling away and shaking her head. “I need to get out of here. I’m going to start crying now and we’ll have to fix my makeup. too. See you two down there.”

She slips out the door again and I stare at the bracelet on my wrist. Bianca and I exchange a look.

“She’s always loved that bracelet,” my sister says.

“I know. I never thought she’d give it to me. I thought you’d get it for sure.”

Bianca laughs. “You were always the favorite. I’m not surprised.” She winks at me as I shake my head.

“What! I am not. You’ve done everything they ever wanted. You married the right guy and have a kid on the way. All I’ve done is disagree with them and run off to the mountains to run a small shop. I’m definitely not the favorite.”

“Maybe that’s why they liked you. You’ve always had a mind of your own.” She turns towards her purse and pulls out a hair pin with a simple pearl on the end. “Something borrowed,” she says with a smile. “I’m not ready to give this away yet.”

“Grandma’s pin,” I breathe. “By the end of the day I’ll be covered in jewelry!” I laugh. Bianca slides the pin into my hair and smiles.

“You’re ready now.”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

The two of us walk out the bedroom door and down the stairs. Aiden and I decided to get married in our backyard, with the mountains all around us and the smell of the forest in the air. We’ve set up chairs and a gazebo in the front yard, and the whole place is covered in flowers and ribbons. I glance out the front window and look at Bianca, eyes wide.

“Everyone’s here. I think the whole town came!”

She laughs. “Yep!”

The wedding planner pops her head in the door and smiles. “You look beautiful,” she says with a smile. “Ready?”

“Everyone keeps asking me that and I never know what to answer. Not really,” I say with a laugh. “But I’ll do it.”

She smiles and nods before closing the door again. I hear some music starting and I take a deep breath. “Here goes nothing,” I say with a nervous laugh.

Bianca smiles and opens the door. I watch her lead the procession down the aisle until finally it’s my turn. Since my father isn’t here to give me away, I’ve decided to walk down the aisle on my own. I take a deep breath and turn toward the door.

The instant I step outside, I look toward Aiden. He’s standing at the other end of the aisle with his eyes locked on me. A thunderbolt passes through my heart and all I can see is him. All I want to do is run down the aisle and jump into his arms, but I force my body to slow down. It becomes the longest walk of my life, step by step bringing me closer to the man I love.

With every step, my heart jumps in my chest and my eyes prickle a little bit more. With every step, it feels like my body is lighter and lighter until I’m floating down the aisle toward him. I don’t look at anyone but him, because no one else exists.

By the time I’m standing next to him, my whole body feels like it’s tingling. He slips his hand into mine and the comforting warmth flows through my arm. I smile as a tear falls down my cheek. Aiden reaches his finger over and brushes it away.

“You’re gorgeous,” he whispers.

My throat is so tight that I can’t answer. The rest of the ceremony is a blur. From the time Aiden slipped his hand into mine until I hear “You may kiss the bride,” it feels like I’m just trying my best to hold myself together. When Aiden dips me backwards and crushes his lips against mine, my heart soars into the mountains. We stand up and my cheeks already hurt from smiling so much. We turn toward the people in our front yard, lifting our arms up and laughing as the whole town of Lang Creek, and all my family and friends cheer in celebration. I glance over at Bianca and see her clapping so hard it’s making her whole body shake.

Aiden squeezes my hand and walks me back down the aisle. This time I’m not alone, he walks by my side and I know that I’ll never be alone again. A soft breeze passes through the trees and sends a shiver down my spine. It feels like my father and Aiden’s are looking down on us, smiling with us as we celebrate our marriage.

The day turns to evening. There’s food and drink and dancing and the constant feeling of my chest exploding with happiness.

Dominic appears beside us as the sun is falling in the sky. He extends his hand and Aiden shakes it. They look at each other for a long while, and I feel like another wordless conversation is happening. I elbow Aiden.

“Aren’t you guys going to tell me what all these looks are about?” I ask.

Dominic laughs. “I think Aiden was just telling me to be careful.”

“Dominic, if you ruin my wedding, so help me God, I’ll –”

“Maddy, Maddy, Maddy,” Dominic says, wrapping his arms around me in a big bear hug. “No one is ruining your wedding. You know I have unfinished business in town.”

“With the McCoys.”

“Yes,” he says. “But none of that is happening tonight. Tonight is just about you and my brother and your wedding. Nothing else.”

“It better not be,” I say, lifting a finger up towards Dominic. He laughs again and plants a kiss on my cheek.

“It’s not. I’m happy for you. For you both.”

“Come on, Dominic,” Aiden says. “You want a drink?”

Dominic grunts in response and the two of them slide towards the bar. Ethan appears by my side and puts his arm around me. I jump at the touch.

“You Clarke brothers are everywhere,” I laugh.

“Always beside you now,” Ethan says with a smile. “You’re stuck with us.”

“There are worse people to be stuck with.”

Ethan smiles as Aiden and Dominic reappear by our side. I look around at the three huge men that I can now call family, and my heart feels like it’s about to burst. They’ve welcomed me as one of their own and brought me into this town like I’ve lived here my whole life. Aiden looks at me and winks, with just the hint of a smile playing on his lips. I look at my husband, at my brothers-in-law, at my sister and mother across the yard and I smile.

I’ve never been this happy. Aiden slides his arm around my back. When I look up at him, he places a gentle kiss on my lips.

“I love you, Madeline Croft,” he growls.

“Madeline Clarke,” I correct.

Aiden’s face breaks into a smile and he nods. “Madeline Clarke. It’s got a nice ring to it.”

“It sounds perfect,” I say. “I love you too, Aiden.”

He dips his chin down and kisses me once more, wrapping his arms around me and surrounding me in his love. I melt into him and I know in my heart that I’m the luckiest woman in the world.

Dominic is big, burly, and hiding a very bad secret...

Get Book Two: SWEAR TO ME!

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