Hitched (Promise Harbor Wedding) - By Erin Nicholas Page 0,1

“I have some things I need to say before you say I do to another man, Al.”

Josh sighed, stepped closer and lowered his voice. “Don’t do this, Gavin. Haven’t you messed with her enough? Just let her be happy.”

“That’s exactly what I want to do,” Gavin insisted, not backing down an inch. “Is that what you want?”

“I’m standing next to her in a tux in front of a minister. What do you think?”

“I think that if you don’t let her talk to me, you know that she’ll always wonder. You don’t want that, do you? To have your wife wondering about another man?”

Josh blew out a long breath and shoved his hand through his hair. Then he half turned to his bride. “Allie?”

“What would I wonder?” Her voice was weak, and again Gavin wasn’t sure it was completely because of shock. She sounded and looked exhausted.

“You’d wonder what I had to say to you so badly that I would fly over four thousand miles so I could rush in here to stop your wedding.”

She just stared at him for a long moment. There wasn’t a sound in the church. Gavin couldn’t breathe. She looked at Josh. Then she looked into the pews. Gavin knew without following her gaze that she was looking at her father. Then her gaze settled on the groomsmen. Gavin glanced over to see her two brothers, Charlie and Danny, standing in tuxes at the end of the line of groomsmen. Finally she pressed her lips together and shook her head.

But he saw the glint of tears in her eyes.

She was worried about them. As always. Her family and Josh’s were close. Their mothers had been best friends. They wanted this. Gavin knew it. He knew in his gut that this was all more about everyone else in the church than it was about Allie. And maybe even Josh. Allie had never, ever, even once put herself first.

That wasn’t true, he thought a second later. She’d put what she wanted ahead of her family one Christmas. The Christmas she’d spent with him instead. The Christmas before her mom got sick.

“Allie,” he said, stepping forward.

“You’re too late,” she whispered. A tear slipped down her cheek.

“Bullshit,” he said. She hadn’t said I do yet.

He strode forward, bent and scooped her into his arms, then headed for the side door.

“Gavin!” She kicked and he tightened his hold.

“Just a damn minute—” Josh started.

Gavin turned. Several people were on their feet, including Allie’s dad. All of the groomsmen had stepped forward. He picked Hayley out, also on her feet, in one of the front pews on Josh’s side of the church. She looked concerned, but she didn’t move to stop him. No one came any closer. At the moment.

“Give me a chance,” Gavin said. “Let me talk to her. Let me tell her what I came here to say. Then if she wants to come back, I’ll walk her down the aisle myself.”

It was crazy to ask Josh to do that. But he didn’t wait to hear the other man’s response. He started toward the door again.

He knew it was over the top. He knew Promise Harbor was going to be talking about this for years. He knew that he was acting on pure emotion and adrenaline and might regret embarrassing Allie and Josh and their families like this. But dammit, he needed time. He couldn’t just let her walk down the aisle and give her life to another man without at least trying.

Gavin had no actual plan at this point. His strategy had been to get to the church in time. Period. But he had Allie back in his arms. He wasn’t going to stop now. “If you really love him, he has nothing to worry about,” Gavin said low for Allie’s ears only. “And if he loves you, he’ll wait.”

She looked up at him, then to Josh, then back to Gavin. “Am I dreaming?”

His mouth curled at one corner. “I’m real, darlin’. I’m here.”

She sighed and Gavin felt it tremble through her whole body. He became aware of how light she was, how slight she felt. A surge of protectiveness and anger went through him. What the hell? Didn’t they see that she wasn’t okay?

They weren’t taking care of her. He couldn’t ignore that either. Allie’s sense of responsibility and her need to take care of her family were deep and strong. Stronger than anything else. Even her feelings for him. So why he thought he could talk her out