Note to Readers: These scenes take place after the end of Her Secret Rival . If you haven’t read the book, they won’t make a lot of sense, and may detract from your enjoyment of the book later – please don’t read them now! You can find out more about the book and read an excerpt from the first chapter here.
Her Secret Rival – After the End
“With this ring, I thee wed,” the minister said.
Travis repeated, “With this ring, I thee wed…” His fingers tightened around Megan’s.
Crazy how that possessive grip thrilled her. She smiled up at her almost-husband as he continued, “With my body, I thee worship…” His eyes darkened with unmistakable intent, and her entire body tightened in response. Right here in church, with their families looking on! “With all my worldly goods I thee endow,” Travis concluded.
He slid the antique gold wedding band onto her finger, his eyes gleaming with love, tenderness…and possession. It hadn’t surprised Megan in the least that Travis wanted the traditional vows at their wedding. She didn’t care which words they used, so long as the two of them were unmistakably bound together for life.
He gave her hand a little shake, his face alight with amusement, and she realized the minister was addressing her. It was her turn.
She took the thicker gold band and repeated the same words, then carefully, with a concentration that she knew would have Travis smiling, slid the ring onto his finger.
There. He was hers. He had been from that moment he’d proposed last Christmas Eve, less than six months ago, but it felt wonderful to make it official. Real.
“In as much as Travis and Megan have consented together in marriage before this company of friends and family and have pledged their faith – and declared their unity by giving and receiving a ring,” the minister said, “they are now joined.”
Megan heard a sigh from behind her. No doubt that was Sabrina, whose newly-married status qualified her as matron of honor and relegated Cynthia to bridesmaid. Megan had noticed the best man, Travis’s brother Clay, eying Cynthia. Wouldn’t it be great if Cyn…
The minister’s hand closed over Megan’s and Travis’s. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. And so, by the power vested in me by the State of Georgia and Almighty God, I now pronounce you man and wife.” He beamed. “You may kiss the bride.”
Travis didn’t need telling twice. His mouth met Megan’s in a kiss that she knew he had to work hard to prevent becoming unseemly. She returned the promise, the love, with her lips, telling him without words she would be his forever, and she expected the same of him.
The reception was held at Megan’s father’s house, in a huge tent that covered the spacious lawn.
“Have I told you how stunning you look?” Travis murmured against Megan’s ear.
“Stop looking down my dress,” she scolded…then leaned closer to give him a better view. His sharp intake of breath said he appreciated it fully.
“When can we leave?” His hand had been resting on her thigh beneath the pale gray damask tablecloth. Now, his fingers walked purposefully higher.
Megan choked on her mouthful of beef fillet. “We need to cut the cake first. Then I have to throw my bouquet.” She told herself she needed to stop that hand of his…but instead a little sound of pleasure escaped her and she relaxed into her chair.
“You’re wanton,” Travis accused, delighted.
“I’m wantin’, all right,” she agreed. He responded instantly to the suggestion in her tone, and kissed her.
Maybe they could cut the cake some other time…
“Get a room,” a voice slurred next to Megan.
She broke away from Travis. “Cynthia, are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Cynthia pressed her fingers to her lips, as if suppressing a hiccup.
Was her sister drunk? Megan couldn’t imagine such a thing. And yet, there’d been a moment, at Sabrina’s wedding back in January, where she’d thought the same thing. She eyed Cynthia’s empty wineglass and tried to remember if she’d seen her sister drinking too fast.
Cynthia colored. She tugged the bodice of her pale blue bridesmaid dress. “It’s warm in here.”
“How’s the new job going?” Megan asked. Beside her, Travis gave a small sigh, then turned to his brother.
“Why?” Cynthia asked. “What have you heard?” A few weeks ago, she’d been appointed interim Georgia attorney-general. It was an incredible achievement for a thirty-two-year-old woman.
“Nothing.” Megan held up her hands. “But even for someone of your capabilities, it must be stressful.”
“I can handle the pressure,” Cynthia said. This time, a hiccup did escape.
Megan tactfully ignored it. “I think Travis’s brother likes you,” she said. “Clay. He has a very successful construction business.” It was time Cynthia learned to lighten up. Maybe she might find true love, the way Megan and Sabrina had.
Cynthia glanced over at Clay. “He’s all right, I suppose.”
Ouch! Still, when Megan thought about it, she pictured Cynthia with someone equally high-powered as herself. Clay was nice enough, when you got to know him, but maybe he wasn’t the right kind of guy for Cyn. Hmm, who else was there?
“You need someone more like Jake or Travis,” she mused.
For a second, a kind of longing flashed through Cynthia’s eyes. “Just because you and Sabrina are nauseatingly sappy, that doesn’t mean I want the same thing.”
“Of course not,” Megan soothed. And resolved to throw her bouquet to Cynthia.
“Did you see that?” Megan grumbled, as the limo pulled away from the crowd of well-wishers.
“See what?” Travis tugged down the privacy screen between them and the driver, and hauled Megan into his arms.
“Cynthia! She—umph.” Megan gave in, gave herself up to her husband’s kiss, and the expert caress of his hands. Mmmm….
“You were saying?” Travis prompted, some time later.
“Um…I don’t remember.” She wriggled against him, and he groaned. His hand, cupping her breast where he’d unbuttoned the silk blouse of her going-away outfit, tightened and his thumb caressed her. In a few minutes, they would reach the country house hotel where they would spend the first two nights of their honeymoon. Megan couldn’t wait to get to a bedroom.
“You were talking about your sister.” Travis nuzzled her neck.
Megan pulled away. “I threw my bouquet right at her, and she stepped aside,” she said indignantly.
“So that’s how my sister ended up catching it.” Travis chuckled. “My parents weren’t too thrilled.”
Megan sighed. “I just want Cynthia to have what we have.”
“Megs, darling—” Travis wrapped his strong arms about her “—your sister is more than capable of fixing up her own life.”
“I’m worried she doesn’t know it needs fixing,” Megan said.
“Really?” Megan looked up at him. Travis was very astute about people. “Do you think one of your brothers…?”
He laughed. “No way. Somewhere out there is a man for Cynthia. But you, my sweet Megs, can’t make it happen.”
“I can try,” she objected.
Travis kissed the tip of her nose. “I’m betting Cyn will surprise you one day. Maybe even surprise herself.”
“Hmm,” Megan said doubtfully. Her father and Cynthia had Cyn’s career pretty much mapped out. Only something momentous would make her deviate from that.
“But right now,” Travis said as the limo drove through the gates of the hotel’s landscaped grounds. “I plan to carry you upstairs and surprise you with just how good I can make you feel.”
“That won’t be a surprise,” she said confidently. “I have very high expectations.”
Travis laughed out loud, his supreme confidence undaunted. “That’s my Megs.”
Megan sighed with satisfaction. “All yours,” she agreed. “For always.”