Hooking Up Page 2

I try to hide my surprise. He’s Armstrong Moorehead, son of the CEO of the company. “Oh, yes. It’s wonderful. I’ve met quite a few new people.”

“Yes, I’m sure you have, although not all of them good.” He gives me a conspiratorial wink. “Would you like to dance with me?” Without waiting for a response, he plucks the empty glass from my hand and sets it on a passing waiter’s tray. Pulling me close, but leaving a respectable distance between us, he settles a palm low on my back and leads me around the dance floor. He’s an excellent dancer, refined, poised. Even less my usual type than his cousin.

“You’re new to the company, aren’t you?” he asks.

“Relatively. I’ve been working for Moorehead for two months now.”

“I thought so. In the magazine branch, correct? I’ll have to make a point of stopping by to see how you’re settling in.”

“That’s not necessary. I’m sure you’re far too busy for that.”

“Not at all. I’d love to take you out for lunch, or maybe dinner would be better. It would alleviate any potential time constraints.”

“To discuss the marketing campaigns I’m working on?” Oh my God. Meeting with the son of the CEO seems incredibly daunting. Especially when our introduction entailed him warning me off his cousin.

He laughs and smiles warmly. “I don’t want to discuss marketing with you, Amalie, I want to take you out.”

“Out?” I can’t believe this is happening. While it isn’t unheard of for me to get hit on occasionally, twice in a span of minutes by two hot men is ridiculous. At least this one seems less likely to add to the unending list of bad-boy mistakes. The first one was too smooth to be real.

“On a date. Surely someone as beautiful as you has been asked on a date before.”

“Wouldn’t that be considered a conflict of interest since I work for Moorehead?” I have no interest in creating more problems for myself.

“I have no direct dealings with the magazine branch of the company. I assure you, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to go out with me. Unless you’re already seeing someone.”

He seems so sweet, and definitely someone who wouldn’t disappoint my family or cause any more scandal. “I’m not seeing anyone.”

His smile grows wider. “That’s wonderful news. Are you busy tomorrow night?”

“I don’t think so?” Ruby and I might have movie plans, but I’m sure she’ll be fine with me canceling on account of having a date with someone like Armstrong.

“Excellent. It’s a date then.” He glances around the ballroom, his smile growing wider as his gaze lands somewhere over my shoulder. When his attention returns to me he winks. “I’m so very glad I could save you from the wolf tonight, Amalie.”

One: Wedding Unbliss


Ten months later

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult, and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the DJ, or whoever is behind the mic, that he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

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