The Reckless Secret

By: Alexa Wilder



“I didn’t end up with him. Jesus Christ.” They found their seats—third row back, her view obstructed by the largest hat in the universe. “We had one dinner and one almost-dinner. I haven’t seen him since.”

“I didn’t even know you were into him.”

“I’m not.”

“You must’ve been, at some point.”

“Clearly I’d taken temporary leave of my senses.”

“Clearly. The wedding’s that way, by the way,” he said, and she blushed all the way down to her chest as she realized she’d been staring across at Declan.

In her defense, it wasn’t as if Declan didn’t keep glancing in her direction, too.

The situation seemed to amuse Grant, judging by the twitching at the corners of his mouth.

“Oh, shut up,” she muttered, sinking low in her seat. Grant snorted.

From across the room, Declan looked over his shoulder again and caught her eye.





3





Maggie





The wedding went off without a hitch, naturally. No event this expensive would ever suffer from lax service, not if the staff ever wanted to hear the end of it from Connie’s acid tongue.

Jenna made a beautiful bride, and she looked genuinely happy as she exchanged vows with her husband-to-be, a stock broker she’d met only eight months previous.

Maggie couldn’t help but give a watery smile as the newly married couple kissed for the first time.

Over at the reception now, with the party in full swing, Maggie was taking advantage of the free wine and canapes and enjoying the relatively isolated corner she and Grant had found themselves.

But the lull in action gave Maggie time to think again, and what she was thinking about now was the state of Grant’s pallid face.

“But have you been to a doctor?” she yelled over the band, watching white light pass over his sharp cheekbone.

“Yes, Maggie,” he said, visibly sighing.

“And? What did he say?”

“It’s the flu.”

“Did he give you anything?”

“I—no.” He shifted his weight, shoulders hunching forward as he leaned back against the wall. “Told me to sleep it off.”

“Sleep it off? Which doctor was this? Not Dr. O’Malley.”

“Uh, no. A new one. Closer to my condo.”

“You shouldn’t change doctors unless you really have to, you know. Dr. O’Malley knows your whole history—”

“Declan!” Grant said suddenly, his face lighting up as he lurched forward and grabbed hold of a passing Declan Archibald. “Buddy. Just the man. Maggie here was just saying how much she wanted to dance.”

Oh my God. “What—Grant.”

Declan raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?”

“Nope,” Maggie said, shaking her head and stepping back, as if she could disappear into the wall and make this go away. “Not me.”

Declan observed her for a long moment, his eyes glittering. Then he held out his hand. “May I?”

Maggie’s stomach swooped. “I should just—” she said, staring at his proffered hand, panic welling up in her chest. Panic, and a hint of excitement. “The bride—” And she tried to leave, but her feet were quite clearly nailed to the floor.

“The bride is busy getting changed right now,” Declan informed her, his voice maddeningly calm, his eyes dancing with amusement. “Are you gonna leave me hanging?”

Grant huffed out his exasperation. “Just dance with the man, will you?” he snapped, yanking Maggie’s wine glass from her hand and shoving her forward, directly into Declan’s space.

It happened too quickly. One moment she was muttering vague protestations, caught up in the whirlwind of it all; the next moment she was dancing, her hand softly held in his, the warmth of his other hand settled low on her back.

She caught her breath, and just for a moment, for one heart-stopping moment, she allowed herself to feel the heat and pleasure of his broad, strong, muscular body against her own—allowed herself to imagine, briefly but with startling clarity, how it would feel minus the clothes between them.

Then she shut down those thoughts and cleared her throat.

“So we’re clear, this is just a dance.”

“Of course, it is,” he said immediately, his voice rumbling through his chest and into hers. This close, she could smell the richness of his cologne. Feel the sweetness of his breath on her face. She daren’t look up at him.

“I mean it.”

“I know.” He was leading, of course—gliding them across the dance floor to a slow, sultry tune that had all the couples up and embracing. The confidence in his steps tripped her heart. “You look lovely, by the way.”

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