Authors: Ann Clay
“What makes you think I can’t take care of myself? Let me go
,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Okay.” Travis instantly regretted his actions. He could have waited. He knew
it was too soon to go this far with Autumn. He’d already been warned that she wasn’t the kind of woman who let her guard down easily. He didn’t think before he acted. Right then, she was upset with him. Two days from his brother’s wedding—it was just too close to have a rift between them at that point. “I’m sorry.” He tried to console her.
“Let—me—go, Travis.” He released her
and the moment he did, Autumn stormed away and headed straight for the door, with him on her tail.
“Autumn. Autumn, please listen to me.”
Autumn moved as swiftly as her legs would carry her straight to her car. With all the force she had, she yanked open the door, and tried to close it, but Travis was already there. She wasn’t angry with Travis. She was mad as hell at herself. She refused to look at him or answer him when he spoke to her. “Please let me go,” she finally said.
“Can we just talk for a minute?”
“There’s nothing to talk about. Let me go.” A stubborn line set in her expression. She heard nothing he said, which meant there would be no compromising that night.
“Please call me when you get to the house
, so I’ll know that you made it there safely.” He touched the side of her face. She pulled away.
Autumn stared straight ahead.
She fumed inwardly as she moved farther away from his grasp. She refused to turn to regard or dismiss him.
Travis moved and closed her door. He watched her speed off. “Damn!” He shoved his hands into his pockets
and stood on the porch a few minutes before walking back into the house. He worked quickly to pick up in the kitchen before he got into his own car. When Autumn didn’t call him, he drove past Reggie’s house to make sure her car was parked in one the three parking spots.
Autumn’s car was park
ed next to Mona’s. He reached for his phone and dialed her number. It rang three times before her voice mail picked up. “Autumn, please call me. I don’t care what time, just call, please.” He hit the ‘end’ button. Once again, he remembered why he steered away from commitments. As it stood, all they had to do was get along until after the ceremony. They didn’t even need to be cordial during the reception. They could sit on opposite sides of the wedding party table, and no one would question it. He wanted so badly to dismiss his curiosity for her, but he just couldn’t let her go.
* * * *
Autumn could fool the other ladies, but she had a hard time getting anything past Reggie. “Okay, talk to me, Maid-of-honor. Something happened between you and Travis, and you’re going to tell me what.”
The two huddled at the end of the bed. All four friends had climbed
onto Reggie’s bed, two at the head, and other two at the foot of the king size mattress. Erica and Mona were fast asleep. The entire family all planned to meet for breakfast at a nearby restaurant in a few hours. After talking half the night, Autumn and Reggie were still up.
“I don’t think it’s going to work between us.”
“So talk. Tell me what happened last night. Up until now, you two reminded me of Trae and me when we first started.”
“Did Trae seduce you only to turn you away after he’d gotten started?”
Reggie’s smile widened. “As a matter of fact, he did. I ran my little fast tail over to his dorm room one late night, ’cause I was burning between the legs. He’d set me on fire, girl, and I was determined to get my thirst quenched.”
“This isn’t one of those kiss
-and-tell stories, is it?”
“No. But I’ll tell you this
: I started feeling stupid for having dashed to his dorm in the middle of the night. Trae had something else in store for me, and it was really worth waiting for. Besides, you vowed to wait until you were married. What are you mad for anyway?”
“I don’t know.”
“You mean to tell me you would have given up the goods tonight if Travis would have taken it there?”
“I ’m not sure. I don’t know if Travis feels anything but a physical attraction to me.”
“Well, how are you ever going to find out? Tear down the wall, Autumn. You’re going to have to talk to him in order to know if it will work or not.”
“Go to bed, Pic. You have a long day tomorrow
, and the next day.”
“So do you.”
* * * *
The silence between Autumn and Travis became dicey at breakfast. He tried to move to a seat near her, but she moved. When he finally caved, Autumn found a seat next to Reggie’s brother
, sweet thing.”
“It’s been a very long time.” She grinned from ear to ear, and Lance met her grin with one of his own.
Travis didn’t like what he saw. He glared down at her. The muscle in his jaw bunched and his lips thinned into a single line. He didn’t like that Autumn ignored him.
Autumn was very in tune to
Travis’s every move. She could almost hear the steady thump of his heartbeat. She kept her gaze low for fear that someone would figure her out.
He walked behind her and stooped to her eye
level. “Can we talk? Now?”
She turned toward him. Her heart raced. “We don’t have to talk, Travis. It’s all good.” It was a lie. She resisted the urge to touch him, to trace the lines of his full lips.
Travis stood behind her. “Everyone, the maid of honor and I are going to step out to conspire for a minute or two. And then, we’ll come back with a breakfast toast for the two love birds at the end of the table.” He smiled down into Autumn’s angry face. He considered pulling her chair back, but instead stood close by staring down at her. He sighed a breath of relief when she relented. She pushed her chair back and nearly took a plug out of his leg with the chair. The curse at the tip of his tongue nearly slipped but he held it and his groan. He waited until she got up before he took her hand, and led her away from the group.
Autumn pulled her hand, but Travis tightened his hold. She could have
made a big scene or put him on blast but decided that the day before the wedding wasn’t a good time to show division. “This is not cool, Travis.” She reluctantly followed him.
Travis didn’t say anything
about her trying to take him out with her chair or look back until he pulled her into one of the other empty party rooms. “Autumn, I’m going to be real straight with you, okay? First of all, I’m never going to lie to you. I’m not that kind of man. If I’m going to do something, I tell you exactly what that is. Understand me. If I say something, you best believe it’s exactly what I mean.” He got close to her face. She could feel his breath on her face. “And secondly, I’m not going to string you along for any reason at all. I don’t have that kind of patience. Whatever I do, I’m going to do from here.” He pounded his chest. “I care about you, and if I thought for a minute I was wasting my time, wasting your time, I wouldn’t be standing in here with you right now. So tell me, do we try this or do we walk away?”
Autumn looked away briefly. Her heart said to take the leap, but a little voice in her head said run like hell. Running was something she was really good at
, but at this point very tired of it. She looked at him closely, her bottom lip trembled when she saw the plea in his eyes. Following her heart, she reached up and touched the taut lines of his face, which was immediately covered by his; their gazes never wavered. “Okay, Travis.” She said just above a whisper.
Travis heard her, but it took a moment to register her response. Realizing she’d decided to take a chance with him, h
e came dangerously close to kissing her the way a man drank from a well when he’d not had water for days. One kiss would not be enough, and at that point he was very short on control. So he took her hand and placed a kiss in the center of it. “Listen, baby, I want to bring this down a notch. I want you to trust me. Trust that I would never do anything deliberately to hurt you. I want this to work.” He still held her hand. “We can do this. You tell me if you want the same thing.”
“No but. We should talk about it later. We’ll have time to do that, okay?”
She inched closer to him. Travis held his breath. Whatever she planned to do
, he needed to brace for it. She stood on her toes and pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth. He turned and lightly met her kiss before pulling away. The only thing touching after that was their gaze.
He inhaled the heady fragrance of her
feminine scent, that seemed to suddenly come from nowhere. The man in him struggled to keep his virile instincts in check. Their situation at that juncture was too volatile to chance with physical need. So, he reined in senses wanting to answer the mating call. She had to believe and trust that he wanted more than what made his blood boil. They stood close to one another for a moment longer. Neither said anything.
“We still have to go back in there and pretend we’ve come up with a ruse to toast our bride and groom.” Travis broke the silence first. His voice, thick and
low, dropped an octave lower than usual. He managed to shield desire he still couldn’t completely rein in.
Autumn continued to watch him. She’d not moved an inch. “I trust you
, Travis. It’s me I’m worried about,” she confessed honestly.
“To trust me means you trust yourself. I have no intentions to hurt you. You have my word.”
“I know.” She touched his face again.
, it was Travis who looked away. “You have to know that physically this is hard for me, but I’m in. Every time you touch me, it drives me crazy.” Autumn sighed, bringing his focus back to her face. “So this is funny to you. I guess now you’re going to torture me.”
There. The mood lifted. She smiled up at his handsome face. “Yes. It will serve you right.”
“You’re going to be the end of me, woman.”
, now that we have that understanding, what about the bride and groom?”
“Something tells me you don’t need any prompting. I think you hold your own pretty well
, and by the time we make it back inside, you would’ve come up with something to say.”
“You know, I think you may be right.”
“I bet I am.”
“You can always reward me with a kiss.”
“I think you’ve had enough kissing for the day.”
The moment they walked back into the room, all eyes turned to them. Autumn walked pas
t her chair and stood behind Reggie. Her kiss-swollen lips betrayed her. Erica gave her a knowing glance.
Travis went in the opposite direction
and didn’t stopped until he was right behind Trish’s chair. She smiled up at him. He knew he would always have one person in his corner, no matter what.
Rehearsal was a little over the top for both Travis and Autumn. The ceremony and the way Reggie and Trae looked into each other’s eyes when they walked through the
formalities, tugged at everyone’s heart. Travis watched Autumn. She dabbed at tears before they trickled down her face. All of her friends did the group hug which won groans from the fellows.
At rehearsal dinner
, Reggie and Autumn noticed how chummy Rykard and Erica had become. During breakfast, no one said anything, however, since the two were paired up for the ceremony, it was obvious a connection formed even before the two were put together. The two friends shared a knowing look. It looked like Reggie and Trae’s nuptials paired two couples.
Autumn passed Erica’s chair and whispered in her ear. “He’s yummy!”
“Yes, and mind your own business.” She looked up before turning her attention back to Rykard.
At this meal
, Autumn set next to Travis. Following the rehearsal dinner, the bridal party went out for drinks, since the bachelor party and bridal shower had already happened. It gave them all a chance to fellowship before the wedding day celebration.
* * * *
The next morning, Autumn woke up first. She sat straight up in her bed before pushing back the covers. She padded down stairs and began breakfast. The bridesmaids agreed to serve Reggie breakfast in bed before Jena and her salon staff got to the house to do their hair and makeup. She hummed as she worked around the kitchen, just before she took a few minutes to call Travis. He answered on the first ring. “Good morning.”
, baby. Did you rest well?”
“I did okay. How about you?”
“I didn’t sleep worth a damn. I’ve been thinking about you all night.”