One Night to Wedding Vows (Wedlocked!)(8)

By: Kim Lawrence


It hadn’t been easy and she had even started to wonder if he was gay, but then right out of the blue he had asked her: a weekend in Rome. She’d been waiting for the right man and the right time and it had finally arrived—or so she’d thought.

True love. It existed, she was sure of it. You could get sent home from school for wearing your skirt too short and still be a romantic. You could party and still want a family and a home.

She was prepared to wait for the right man, but she saw no reason why the wait had to be boring! Lara was gregarious and she had always enjoyed an active social life; men liked her and she enjoyed their company.

She was aware that her lifestyle made many assume that she enjoyed casual sex, but she never strung men along and if some chose to boast of a non-existent conquest she lost no sleep over it or over those who couldn’t handle the fact she wasn’t into one-night stands.

The only question had been whether to tell Mark or not. In the end she’d decided she would—no relationship should start with secrets. The perfect opportunity had arisen earlier that night when he’d been scrolling through his phone and discovered a recent interview with his uncle, the CEO of the firm where they both worked.

‘This is what I have to deal with, but no point offending the guy. Look, listen to this...no, this is the part where he rambles on about family values,’ he sneered. ‘And this is the bit when he says one-night stands are—’

‘Mark?’ He looked up, seeming to notice for the first time that she was standing there wearing the matching silk bra and pants she had spent so long choosing.

I’m competing with a smartphone.

‘Actually, Mark.’ Her self-esteem was pretty robust and the fact that he wasn’t jumping on her was what made Mark different, special, someone who liked her for more than her looks, she reminded herself as she resisted the urge to throw his phone out of the window. ‘I’m not really into one-night stands.’

‘Sweet, but I wouldn’t judge you, darling, and this isn’t one night—we’re here for the whole weekend.’

‘I mean I’ve never had a one-night stand.’

He put down his phone. ‘You’ve got a boyfriend?’

‘Would I be here with you if I had a boyfriend?’

He pushed his glasses back on his nose, a habit that she’d always found endearing but that left her cold at that moment. ‘I don’t know, you know, I don’t like the idea of stepping on some guy’s toes... What does he do?’

‘There is no guy. I don’t have a boyfriend. You’re my first.’

‘One weekend doesn’t mean we’re engaged, sweetheart.’

‘You’re my first lover!’

He laughed at the joke, then, when she didn’t join in, stopped. ‘Not seriously.’

‘Totally seriously.’

‘But you can’t be...you’re a...you’ve always been...’

‘Easy?’ She read the expression in his eyes before he looked away and the cold ache in her chest intensified.

At her sides her fingers flexed as she fought the urge to bring her arms up in a protective gesture across her chest. It was pride that kept her chin at a challenging angle while inside she had shrivelled up in shame and embarrassment.

‘No. It’s just, you have to admit, you came on to me like—and Ben in Marketing...he says...’

‘What does Ben in Marketing say?’

It finally dawned on him that she was serious and he looked sick. ‘Oh, God, Lara, I don’t do virgins, hell, no! It’s such a responsibility. This is just a bit of fun, and when Carol had to cancel I couldn’t get a refund.’

‘Carol?’

‘You wouldn’t know her. She doesn’t have to work, she’s my, my...well, we’re not actually engaged yet but—’

‘So when your fiancée couldn’t make it you looked around for someone who everyone knows is an easy lay...’

His sulky pout vanished as he cut across her. ‘Well, you weren’t supposed to be a bloody virgin!’

‘So sorry, my mistake, but that’s the problem with small print, isn’t it?’ she commiserated. ‘How about if I go away, get some scalps under my belt, and come back? Will that change things?’

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