Is that why I’m not more nervous about Calla, too? Why I’m almost entirely convinced, despite knowing her a mere twenty-four hours, she’s the one for me?
Suddenly, the music starts. The chapel doors at the back open. In walks a gorgeous blonde in a black dress with pale shoes and matching pearls—and familiar blue eyes.
She’s the maid of honor? Yeah. And that makes her the bride’s daughter.
I blink. This can’t be happening.
But it is. The woman I’m falling for is about to become my stepsister. What are the fucking odds of that? And what am I going to do?
One step after the other leads her up the aisle. I see the exact moment she stops sizing up my dad as a prospective husband for her mother and her stare lands on me. Her eyes go wide. Her step stutters. She blinks as she smothers a little gasp behind her hand.
My dad was right; Karma is a bitch. “Hi, Calla.”
My father frowns. “You two know each other?”
“Yeah, Dad. She’s the girl I was just telling you about.”
At that, my dad tosses his head back and belts out a laugh. I’m glad he sees the humor in this. Calla looks horrified, I don’t have any idea what to do, and there’s no time to sort things out because the music changes, and Calla’s mother starts walking up the aisle to make us officially family.
Is the world playing a cruel joke on me?
The question circles through my head while my mother and Curtis begin to speak the words that officially make my boyfriend—well, of sorts—my stepbrother, too.
This isn’t okay.
Two hours ago, my biggest worry was finding a comfortable position for my sore backside on the restaurant’s hard chairs and wondering when I’d get back to Quint. Now…I’m just stunned.
Somehow, I manage to smile and nod. Through the ceremony, I keep stealing glances at Quint. He’s trying to work this out mentally, too. Clearly, he’s no less shell-shocked than I am.
The next fifteen minutes feel like forever, but finally Curtis slips a ring on Mom’s finger, they kiss, and the officiant pronounces them man and wife. They beat a path down the aisle, hand in hand, leaving Quint and me at the altar to stare at each other.
Finally, he sidesteps toward me and holds out his elbow. “Come on, angel. We can’t figure anything out here.”
“You’re right.” I wrap my trembling fingers around his forearm.
Is it bad that, even though we’re related by marriage now, I can’t help but notice how devastatingly masculine he looks in a navy suit with a crisp white shirt and a tone-on-tone blue tie?
I can feel his distress and confusion. It’s a lot like mine. But he’s still solid beneath me, not looking at me any differently than he did before he realized our parents were about to marry each other.
We only make it halfway down the aisle when two women I don’t recognize assault me with hugs. “You’re Iris’s daughter?”
I nod. “Calla.”
“That makes us sisters now!” says the younger with a squee. “I’m Lacey. This is Ivy. Our brother, Jett, is in London.” She turns the phone around to show me an attractive man of about thirty in his hotel room. He looks a lot like Quint, but he’s holding a glass of wine and waving. Though he’s smiling, his eyes look both cynical and haunted.
“It’s nice to meet you.” What else can I say?
Lacey smiles. “And you haven’t really met my brother, Quint.”
“Actually, we met last night,” he corrects. “Why don’t you two let Jett go to bed since it’s ungodly late in the UK, then catch up with the parents. Calla and I need to talk.”
His sisters exchange a glance, like they finally grasp that something is up between us.
“Yeah. Sure. We’ll…um, meet you in the restaurant.”
They scurry out of the chapel. The door closes behind them with a soft swish.
Finally, we’re alone.
“Fancy seeing you here,” I try to joke.
Quint lets out a deep breath. “Obviously, neither of us expected this.”
“No.” But now that the shock is wearing off, I’m wondering what we should do. Technically, he’s my stepbrother now…but we’re not actually related. We don’t share any blood. “It’s shocking but—”
“I don’t care,” he insists. “I refuse to give two shits that my dad just married your mom. Why should that change anything between us?”
His thoughts are heading exactly where mine were. And he’s right. It’s unexpected. It’s odd. It might even seem weird to others but… “I was just beginning to think that maybe this ‘problem’ isn’t really a problem.”
“Exactly.” He grabs my shoulders and presses our foreheads together. “This weird twist of fate might be a practical joke from the universe…but it doesn’t change the way I feel about you.”
My heart catches in my throat. “It doesn’t change the way I feel about you, either. When I first realized what was happening, all I could think about was how I was going to live without you. And everything inside me rebelled.”