Paige and Logan’s Wedding
This was the second scene in the Las Vegas flashback chapter. It was fun to write, but when it came time to try to make this looooong book a bit shorter, it was logical (if painful) to get rid of it.
We’re all alone in here, waiting for our appointment with the officiant, which is in about—I check the time on my phone—fifteen minutes now. Which means that I’m officially antsy for our witness to arrive.
As far as I know, Zach Fischer is the only one from the legal team on the Bilder case still in town, apparently because his girlfriend lives here, since she’s got a job as a card dealer at the Venetian, a career there’s not a big market for in San Diego.
I was prepared to bribe him with performing doc review for him for doing us this favor, but he agreed almost before I was done asking. He’s a great guy. Reminds me a bit of my little brother, except, unlike Cameron, I don’t ever fantasize about strangling Zach.
Tension coils within me as my thoughts stray to my family, and I exhale loudly, my cheeks puffing up.
“What’s wrong?” Logan says in a loud whisper, ducking his head toward me.
“Just contemplating telling my parents that I’m knocked up and got married in Vegas,” I answer glumly, my mouth twisting. Because it’s like the worst cliche, and yes, it’s embarrassing. My parents don’t even know Logan exists. My sister does, but all I’ve told her is that I’ve been seeing a colleague, and I intentionally let her believe it’s just a casual thing.
“You can still change your mind,” says my boyfriend—no, my fiancé—no, actually, very-soon-to-be husband.
Holy crap. This is kind of nuts.
He almost sounds like he’s trying to convince me to do just that. Eyeing him sideways, I can’t decide if it’s because of my apprehensions—or his own.
I respond only with a swift shake of my head, frowning when he turns his attention back to thumb-typing on his smartphone.
“What are you writing?”
“My vows,” he replies without looking up.
My head snaps like I just got zapped with static electricity. “What? We’re not doing that!”
He throws me a side glance, brows arched. “Why not?”
“Come on!” I huff out an exasperated breath. “You know I’d need months of writing, editing, and rewriting before I could do something like that.”
“I’ve got such a great start, though.” He starts reading from the phone screen, “I promise to love you and cherish you and take care of you forever, even when you’re old and incontinent and need help changing your diapers.”
I scowl at him, my jaw set and my nostrils flaring. That part is obviously made up, and I hate that I’m not sure if he’s trying to bullshit me entirely.
“It’s romance for the post-Hallmark generation.” His eyes gleam and the corners of his mouth twitch. “No good?”
I just give him a narrow stare. Now I’m about ninety percent sure he’s lying about the whole thing, but if I ask him to confirm that, he wins.
Finally his face splits in a grin, and he shows me the phone screen. “I’m actually drafting a brief.”
“Uh. You’re doing that now?”
“Well, it needs to get done this weekend, so…” His shoulders heaving, he slouches back in his chair, crossing his ankle over his knee.
As he focuses on the screen again, I continue gauging him through squinting eyes. His leg is bouncing, his fingers tapping on his thigh.
Oh, that’s cute.
I tilt my head back and gaze up at the ceiling. There’s an AC vent right above us. I wish it was blowing air right now, because it’s getting seriously stuffy in here.
“What are you doing?” Logan asks.
“You’re actually nervous,” I answer, craning my neck as I pretend to search the ceiling all through the room. “I’m looking for the flying pigs.”
My Golden Boy, who is rarely silent, says nothing. Turning to him with a smirk, I find his eyes fixed on me, flashing dangerously.
You sure you want to start that game? his expression says, and in response, I just widen my eyes at him. Daring him.
“Hey,” he says abruptly, almost aggressively, leaning in close and slinging his arm up to rest on the seat back behind me, “you think we can convince the officiant to put the word ‘obey’ into your vows?”
Ha. Good one. “No,” I whisper back, “but I bet I can get them to add ‘shut the fuck up when my wife tells me to’ into yours.”
With a lopsided smile and a hot, heavy-lidded look, he inches close to my ear and quietly growls, “Keep saying those dirty words, baby, and I’ll play the escort. And I’ll do whatever you want me to.”
My breath rushes out, leaving my lungs empty and burning. His fingertips caress the back of my neck, sending a shock of pleasure down my spine, and I clench my thighs as a sweet throbbing starts between them.
And this is why I’m knocked up and getting married in Vegas.
The front doors open with a whoosh, and to the sound of traffic behind them, a wiry guy in shorts and a T-shirt and a slender woman in a summer dress hurry inside.
“We’re here!” Zach announces, raising his arms in victory. “We made it!”
Flipping her gorgeous, straight tresses, the woman giggles while Logan and I get to our feet, extending our hands in turn as Zach introduces her as “my girlfriend, Alison.”
“Thank you so much for doing this,” I tell them, and Logan claps Zach on the shoulder and says, “Appreciate it, man.”
Our co-worker chuckles. “You’re kidding, right? I’m gonna be like a celebrity at work when this gets out. People’ll be buying me lunches and drinks and stuff, just to get me to share all the deets. I’m milking that shit.” At my low groan, he schools his exuberance, offering, “Sorry, Paige. I’m kidding.”
As he pretends to zip his lips, I raise a skeptical eyebrow. Because yeah, I know there’ll be gossip after this. A lot of gossip.
It is what it is.
The door to the next room opens, and a woman in a plain skirt and blouse appears, telling us to come on in. As the four of us file in, she introduces herself, saying she’s the Deputy Commissioner.
“Oh, my God. This is so romantic,” I hear Zach’s girlfriend gush behind us.
I swallow hard against a sudden knot in my throat. Which part is she talking about? The tiny, nondescript office room? The rows of plastic folding chairs in front of the white arch draped in fake flowers? Or my plain pink summer dress with spaghetti straps—the only dress I brought on the trip, having no idea it would become my wedding dress—or the fact that I’m barely keeping in check my panic at the thought that I’m pregnant?
Not that she knows that last part, but still.
Holy crap. What am I doing?
The Deputy Commissioner begins her spiel, and I hear her as if from a distance. I’m getting married. Getting married. It’s a legally binding contract, not something you dive into like a wasted frat boy at a party with a swimming pool.
Before I know it, it’s time. My heart hammers hard and fast and painfully in my chest as the officiant addresses Logan first, asking if he’ll take me as his wife.
“I do,” he says, his deep baritone steady and self-assured.
“Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her?” the middle-aged woman reads from her script, and Logan repeats his agreement.
Turning to me, she continues, “Paige, do you take Logan to be your husband?”
“I do,” I say immediately, refusing to show hesitation even as, in every corner of my body, the words echo hollowly, ominously: What am I doing? What am I doing? Oh, my God, what am I doing?
Over and over they repeat in my mind, while out loud I make my promises—love, honor, cherish, protect, forsake.
Before I know it, we’ve turned to face each other, and Logan is holding the wedding band we bought at the nearest jewelry store we could find this morning after we’d gotten our marriage license from the Marriage License Bureau.
And then he takes my hand. The feel of his skin against mine, so warm and familiar, jolts me back into myself. As he starts repeating the Deputy Commissioner’s words—to have and to hold—I stare into the cool blue eyes that have greeted me in the morning more often than not for the past half year.
While he promises to love me, I’m conscious of his hands holding mine, hands that always find a way and a reason to touch me, whether in public or private, openly or surreptitiously. And his voice, his magical voice that can twist me inside out, turn me upside down, and unravel me, and do so effortlessly.
My heartbeat slows, and everything blurs and fades until I can see only him. The frantic chant in my head is silenced by that word: him.
This is what I’m doing. This is what Zach’s girlfriend finds romantic. The rush, the commitment, the impulsive decision. It’s purely emotional. We’re not doing this because it’s logical or practical or smart.
We’re doing it because we’re in love.
He slips the white gold ring onto my finger, his soul laid bare in his eyes, and the last thread of my misgivings unravels.
Zach gives me Logan’s ring.
“‘I, Paige Lily Waters,’” says the officiant.
“Actually,” I interrupt with a glance at her, “can I say my own vows?”
“Of course.” Slapping her leather folder closed, she lowers it and regards me with a benevolent smile.
Meeting Logan’s puzzled gaze, I draw a deep breath. This won’t be poetic, but it’ll be the truth. And if you can’t have both then you should rather have the latter…right?
“Logan,” I say, “the reason you weren’t part of my plan is because I could never have anticipated someone like you. I didn’t want to fall in love with you. But I did. And every day for the past eight months, I’ve told myself that we—us—this thing we have—was temporary, that something was going to happen, and one of us would walk away.”
I pause when I see his eyes shifting with uncertainty. But I can’t even enjoy that little victory. I’m too focused on wringing myself inside out.
“So,” I go on, slightly breathless, “I’ve been holding back. I’ve been guarding myself. But every day, you’ve been”—I wrack my brain for the right word—”assaulting that barrier. You’ve been assaulting it with your intelligence and your sense of humor and your passion for everything you do. You’ve torn my defenses down with your patience, your decency, and your empathy.”
His expression softens, his eyes glittering with emotion.
My voice feels wobbly as I finish with, “My life plan says this is all wrong. But my heart says that nothing has ever been more right. I’m going to love and honor and cherish and protect you, and only you. It’s not going to be me alone against the world anymore. It’s going to be us.”
I push the ring onto his finger, vaguely aware of the Deputy Commissioner pronouncing us husband and wife. Logan doesn’t wait for permission before grabbing my head with both hands, pulling me into his chest, and pressing his lips against mine.
It’s a demanding kiss, insistent and possessive without bruising, and I return it eagerly, my heart soaring.
Then we sign what we need to sign, thank Zach and his girl again, and walk out into the scorching and glaring desert sun.
“Now, what?” I ask, linking my arm with his as we stroll toward the parking garage and our rental car.
“Whatever you wanna do.” Clicking the unlock button on his key fob, Logan throws me a smirk as he says, “Wife.”
My heart jumps and squeezes, my lips curving and returning his smile. My God. This is really happening, isn’t it? I just married Logan McKinley.
Once we get to our car, we stop beside it, and I step up to him, running my hand from his stomach, up his chest to his neck. “Room service. Movie. Then we should go to bed early, right? Since we’re going on a balloon ride at dawn tomorrow?”
Answering with a dimpling mouth and a gleaming eye, he opens the car door for me.
And I happily let him.