CH. 10 – Jace

After half an eternity, the patio door slides open and all eyes turn in that direction. Sera and Rocky stand in the doorway.

Her hair’s a mess and the smudged makeup around her eyes isn’t some new fashion trend. She’s been crying. 

Violent feelings surge beneath my ribcage. My eyes land on the smug bastard beside her and that’s when I know I’m going to end this night with blood under my fingernails. Because if he hurt her, there’s no telling what I’ll do.

She puts her hand in his and together, they take a few steps across the patio.

“The past few weeks have been crazy overwhelming, trying to plan a wedding before the start of the football season,” Rocky begins.

Sera steps forward and nods. “It’s really important to us that Rocky can commit his undivided focus to football when the season starts.” 

“That’s non-negotiable,” Rocky says.

Sera’s head bobs mechanically. “His career is our number one focus.”

I feel my fingers tightening around my bottle as she speaks, her carefully chosen words sounding robotic to my ears. I just want to storm over there and pull her into my fucking arms. Because she deserves to have the wedding of her dreams—the life of her dreams—and if it takes her half a decade to plan the wedding, then fine. I don’t get why the hell Rocky is rushing her and putting her through this turmoil.

Rocky smiles ruefully. He takes her wrist and plants a kiss on her knuckles.

My chest is so tight, I don’t even bother trying to breathe. I can hardly keep from yelling at them to just spit it out. The wedding is off. Everybody around the table knows that’s what Sera and Rocky are trying to say in the most roundabout way ever.

Do I want my best friend out of this situation that obviously has her unhappy? Yes, resoundingly yes. But if that asshole broke her heart…I swear to god, if he breaks her heart…

Sera speaks again. “We don’t want to disappoint anyone and I know that you were all looking forward to a big wedding with all the bells and whistles,” she pushes out a big breath. “but I’m sorry. We just can’t pull it off.” 

A tear swells in her eye before streaking down her reddened cheek. Her expression is a mix of exhaustion, disappointment and humiliation.

She pins me in particular with a look. “And before anybody goes getting angry with Rocky, just know that this was as much my idea as it was his, okay?”

Rocky jams a thumb in Sera’s direction and mouths, It was all her idea. Anxious laughter rises up around the table at his awkward joke.

Fucking comedian. He won’t be laughing when I shove a fist through his windpipe.

“I’m sorry, you guys. The wedding is off.” Sera buries her face in her hands and I imagine that the tears are coming down for real now. I can’t control myself anymore.

Before I even realize what I’m doing, I feel my chair bumping along the uneven surface of the lawn beneath me as I push to my feet. “Good.” I blurt the word out without considering the consequences.

All heads snap in my direction. Rocky’s nostrils flare. Sera’s red-rimmed eyes narrow on my face.

“What the fuck did you say, man?” Rocky takes a step forward.

Fuck it. So do I.

“I said, ‘good’,” I repeat unrepentantly.

Sera drops a hand on Rocky’s wrist as if to restrain him. She addresses her words to me. “Jace…please…” Her tone is warning.

“I’m glad, Sera.” I’m walking across the lawn now, heading toward my woman. “I’m glad Rocky is too much of an idiot to treat you the way you deserve. I’m glad he’s stupid enough to let you go. I’m glad this wedding isn’t happening.”

I hear gasps, murmuring rising through the crowd. I don’t care. I’m tired of lying to myself–and to everybody else–about my feelings for this woman.

I elbow my way past a rage-vibrating Rocky to get to Sera. “I’m glad you’re not marrying Rocky…Because I want you for myself, dammit.”

Her eyes bug out of her head as I grab her hands but she makes no move to stop me. “Jason Bellino…” she scolds in a low, breathy voice that does nothing to hide her shock.

I shake my head, warding away all logic. Because logic tells me that claiming this woman at a time like this is a dick move. But she’s always been mine. And there’s no time like the present to make it official.

“I love you, Sera. I always have. And I always will. It just took me a while to grow the balls to own up to it.”

Sera pauses. She swallows heavily. Then, a hint of a smile slowly comes to her mouth. “Twenty-five freaking years, Bozo…”

I laugh. She laughs. The rest of the crowd holds their breath.

“Tell me you love me, too,” I demand softly. “Tell me you always have.”

I hear Rocky’s disbelieving grumble coming from somewhere over my shoulder. “I can’t even believe this shit.”

“Shut it, Pfeiffer.” I don’t even bother spare him a look.

“I’m not staying here to watch this.” I hear him stomp off like an unruly child who just got put in time-out.

Sera doesn’t even seem to register him. She grins and it lights up the fucking cosmos. “I always have…”

My heart balloons in my chest. I don’t wait a second longer. I kiss her. I wrap my arms around her waist and I kiss her like she’s mine. She finally is.

Her fingers tangle in the hair at my nape and her tongue rolls with mine and I hear voices around, some cheering, some angry. I don’t give a damn.

Because Sera is finally mine…


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