It Had to Be You Chapter One – Ali Parker

It Had to Be You Chapter One

CHAPTER ONE

LOGAN

One of the things I had been looking forward to most about being Jude’s best man was the bridesmaids. Seriously, as happy as I was about him and McKinley finally sorting through all their bullshit and making it to their happily ever after, only one thing really mattered to me now that the formalities had been said and done.

The bridesmaids.

Despite Jude and Flynn’s belief in that stupid curse, I had no intention of marrying the woman I’d hook up with tonight. Both the groom and his brother, as well as two of their childhood friends, had succumbed to said ridiculous curse, and it was about time someone broke the cycle.

Me. I would be the one to break it.

Because I would be hooking up with someone tonight—and I would absolutely not be marrying her after. Not taking my chances because of their idiotic theory that the best man would marry the woman he slept with at their weddings would be, well, equally idiotic.

Frankly, it would be tantamount to doing a disservice to the suit I was wearing. It was an age-old tradition for the best man to put the moves on one of the bridesmaids and be welcomed with open legs, and while that hadn’t happened for me just yet, it would.

With the lingering taste of Irish cream and lime juice on my tongue, I marched up to the bar, desperate for something to wash away the curdled horror of a shot Jude and Tess had just fed me. Who gives someone Irish cream and fucking lime juice? Gross.

It’d curdled in my mouth shortly after passing my lips, and the result had been me blowing it with the wedding guest I’d had my eye on. And I had blown it—by spraying curled lime juice and Irish cream all over her when it’d left my mouth just as fast as it had gone in.

I sighed, brooding as I continued my quest toward the bar. On the one hand, I supposed I should thank the dynamic duo. They’d saved me from forgetting all about the bridesmaids and focusing on a guest instead.

On the other, they’d fed me curdled milk. Which was why Tess, even as the maid-of-honor, was not on my radar as a potential hookup tonight. We’d known each other much too long, saw each other far too often, and while a night with the mischievous prankster would’ve been fun, it would also have meant staring down the barrel of a lifetime of awkward birthday parties and social events.

So that’s a no from me. And I’m pretty sure it’s a hard no from her.

Tess was fun loving and great, but again, she knew me too well at this point to consider even a casual fling—and that particular door swung both ways.

Which brought me to bridesmaid number two, Ariane. Standing with Flynn and talking to Mickey, the radiant bride, she was gorgeous, but another non-option. Happily married to the groom’s brother, who also happened to be my friend, she was so far off the menu that she wasn’t even near the restaurant.

With those two out of the question, I zeroed in on bridesmaid number three, conveniently standing at the bar like she was waiting for me. This one, I didn’t know. For all the time I’d spent with Jude and Mickey, I’d never seen her before the ceremony.

As soon as she’d walked down that aisle though, I’d most definitely seen her. Seen her. Noticed her. Realized that if I played my cards right, she was the one I wanted to take home with me tonight.

A smile spread on my lips when it struck me that this was kismet. Tess and Jude might’ve done me a favor when they’d brought me the Cement Mixer shot after all. I’d momentarily forgotten about the tall, dark-haired beauty with the voluptuous curves and the wide hazel-green eyes.

In a figure-hugging, olive-hued bridesmaid dress that I was convinced had been chosen in that color to match her eyes, she looked incredible. Her ass was like a full, ripe peach and it swayed to the beat of the pop song currently blaring over the speakers.

She was alone, her elbow propped on the bar counter and her fingers on her lips as she surveyed what was on offer to drink. I slid in beside her, that smile on my face as I glanced at her, pretending I’d only noticed her now.

Her eyes darted to mine before they shot forward again, but then they were back, slowly looking me up and down like she was assessing me as a prospect. Aaaaand I’m in.

Up close like this, I noticed the honey-brown crystals in her green eyes that gave them their hazel appearance. What was even more interesting was the fact that they made it look like her eyes were twinkling at all times. I liked that. It was different.

“Nice night for a wedding, huh?” I said, smile still firmly in place.

She gave me a blank stare before slowly arching one of her eyebrows. “Wow. What a line. That was a good one, Casanova. It is a nice night for a wedding. Do enjoy it.”

With that, she started turning her head to look at the bottles stacked on the shelf behind the bar again and I frowned. “Have you ever heard of a Cement Mixer?”

“And now he’s talking about construction equipment,” she muttered under her breath before she glanced at me again and gave me a painfully forced smile. “I have, honey. Us girls may not operate them so often, but we know what they are.”

I stared right into those twinkling eyes. “I meant the shot, not the heavy machinery, but thanks.”

“There’s a shot called a Cement Mixer?” Her full lips parted as her head tilted slightly closer to her left shoulder. “I haven’t heard of it, but it sounds awful.”

“Exactly. It is awful, but I just had one, which is why I opened with that admittedly poor choice of line. If you knew what was in the damn thing, you’d understand.”

Amusement danced around her mouth as she tried not to smile. “Okay, now I’m curious. What’s in a Cement Mixer that would mix up your brains so bad that you’d think that was a good line?”

“Irish cream and lime juice.”

“Wouldn’t that…” She trailed off, her lips forming a quiet “o”. “Why did you drink something like that?”

“I didn’t know what it was.” I inclined my chin at the empty glass she was absently spinning between two fingers on the counter. “Have you decided what you’re going to have next? I need something that will wash away the curdle and I’m taking recommendations. Whatever you’re having, it’s on me.”

She regarded me for another moment, those intriguing eyes sweeping across my face with a sharp intelligence behind them. “You’re Logan, right?”

“Since we’re both part of the wedding party, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised you know who I am. I must’ve missed your name, though.”

“Mira,” she said easily, suddenly seeming amused more than anything else. “It’s nice to officially meet you.”

“You too.” I held my hand out toward her and she eyed it with a healthy dose of apprehension before she finally took it, sliding her palm into mine and giving me a surprisingly fast, not at all lingering shake before promptly releasing me.

My eyebrows shot up as I playfully pretended to massage my fingers. “That’s quite a grip you’ve got there, Mira. I’m suddenly feeling like I’ve closed a business deal I didn’t know I was making.”

Another amused smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Trust me, Logan. If you’d closed a deal with me, any deal, you’d know it.”

As I stared back into those honey-green eyes, I realized they weren’t the only thing about this girl that intrigued me—not in an I’m going to marry her sense—but I felt a slightly stronger tug of curiosity about her than I usually had about women I only planned on sleeping with.

“How do you know the bride?”

“Mickey?” Her gaze flickered in the direction of her friend and a soft, genuine smile touched her lips—until she looked back at me, at which point, her expression turned blank once more. “Tess, Mickey, and I have known each other forever.”

“How come I haven’t seen you around until now?” I asked. “I was there for all the wedding planning stuff and I thought I’d met everybody.”

“Well, you didn’t,” she said curtly, a flicker of annoyance passing behind those eyes before she blinked it away. “I travel a lot for work, so I’m not in town often. Are you always so straightforward? That question might’ve been a little offensive to someone who’s not as thick-skinned as I am.”

“I don’t generally have time to beat around the bush. It’s an occupational hazard, but I don’t think it was offensive. It certainly wasn’t meant to be. It was just a question.”

“Sure, but it was one that implied I wasn’t part of the planning process. Or at least, not as much a part of it as you were.”

I looked at her for a long moment, wondering if she was serious before I chuckled. “Oh, I get it. You’re one of those.”

“One of what?”

“One of The Offendables.” I smirked, then turned to the bartender when he arrived and ordered a scotch.

When I glanced at Mira, she asked for a beer, which surprised me. The bartender nodded and took off to get our drinks, and I felt her gaze burning into the side of my head before I slowly turned it back to her.

“You think I’m easily offended,” she said, matter of fact but with amusement glittering in her eyes again. “That’s cute.”

“Aren’t you? You did take offense to a fairly simple question.”

She rolled her eyes. “If you think that was me taking offense, you clearly don’t know me very well. Which is fine. We just met. You can’t know me.”

“Well, I do know some things.” I leaned in just a little bit closer, seeing when her pupils dilated just a bit as she held my gaze.

Deliberately moving slowly, I lowered my eyes to her mouth, lingered there for a beat, and then dropped them further down to where her nipples were peaked against the silky fabric of her dress. When I looked into her eyes again, she cocked her head at me.

“What is it that you think you know?”

“You and I could have a good time together tonight.” I watched her carefully as I said it, but she didn’t react the way I thought she would.

Instead, amusement curved on her lips once more and she took a little step back, accepting her beer from the bartender just as he was reaching toward her. “Tess warned me that you were the one to watch out for. Thanks for the chat, Logan. And the beer. You’re right. I did have a good time. Briefly, but it’s over now. Have fun.”

With that, she took her drink and spun around, walking away and disappearing into the crowd on the dance floor. I stared after her with a mix of lust and disbelief swirling through me. Did Tess seriously thwart me like that?

That woman was beautiful, with curves to die for and the kind of presence that promised that she was more devilish than that silky bridesmaid dress would make her seem. She was exactly what I was looking for tonight, and it turned out that I hadn’t even stood a chance to begin with.

The clever girl had simply indulged me until she’d gotten a drink out of me, always planning on leaving me hanging—or semi stiff, as the case may be. Part of me wanted to admire her a little bit for that.

While I was sure she could buy her own drinks, they were always better when someone else paid for them, and it was clear she’d known where I was going with that all along, but she hadn’t hinted at it at all.

Another part of me, the larger part, wanted to throttle Tess for screwing it up for me before I’d even spoken to that woman. But I wasn’t in the business of giving up. In fact, a challenge would only make it so much more rewarding when I got what I wanted.

Mira had won the battle, but I fully intended on winning the war.

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