Chapter 1

Rhapsody

I looked at the card in my hand.  Table 13.  It was positioned furthest from the bride and groom’s table but it was closest to the kitchen and the exit.  I wove through the people mingling and reminiscing.  As I approached the table, I noticed only two seats remaining.  A very stern looking woman with a severe bun sat ramrod straight holding onto her purse with a white knuckled grip as if she’d get mugged at a wedding.  On the other side of the open pair of seats was a man with a plaid suit.  His hair was slicked back and shiny.  The collar of his shirt was opened showing a thick gold chain nestled in a nest of dark chest hair.  If I had to guess he was definitely a used car salesman.  He spied her approaching and jumped from his seat.

“Welcome to the table of misfit guests.”  He smiled showing a pair of gold front teeth.

I smiled and circled the table away from him.  Passing the other guests at the table they all seemed miserable.  This was definitely a punishment.  I don’t know what I did to my best friend to deserve this but he was going to get payback after his honeymoon.

Sitting down next to the librarian I grabbed for the champagne.  The used car salesman moved seats sliding the chair close enough for me to smell the Greek food he’d had earlier in the day which he tried to cover with a heavy layer of cologne.  A migraine began to pound behind my left eye.

“You are so sexy.”  Captain skeevy hissed.

I imagine the smile I tried to paste on my face came across as a grimace when he blanched.  Recovering quickly he smiled and ran his tongue across his teeth.  It highlighted the gold teeth he had.  My inner bitch shrieked “Run! Run! Run!”  She needed to shut up!  I was here for my best friend and if I had to suffer through an uncomfortable evening fighting off a weirdo then I would do that.  He would pay in the future but there would be time for that.

“Hey, baby.”  A deep voice caught my attention then the feel of warm soft lips on my cheek had me paralyzed.  “I believe you are sitting in my seat.”  His large hand landed on Captain skeevy’s shoulder.

“Oh.  I thought you were available.”  Skeevy stared at me.

“You thought wrong but thanks for keeping my girl company.”  His warm hand slid on to my exposed shoulder.  Tingles caused my toes to curl inside my uncomfortable pumps.

“Sorry.”  Skeevy mumbled and moved over toward the seat he’d vacated earlier.

My brain finally kicked into gear as he sat in the seat.  I took in the beautiful sight in front of me.  His light brown hair was short but long enough to style.  The dark blue suit he wore was tailored to fit his muscular body.  He clearly worked out and the way he wore the suit would make panties melt.  Navy eyes glittered as they met mine.  Kissable lips lifted to one side showing a dimple in his cheek.

Mr. Perfect leaned toward me.  “I’m sorry if I was too forward but it looked like you needed saving.”

“You aren’t wearing armor.”  I said.

A confused look had him furrowing his brow.  “Armor?”

“Yeah.  If you are going to be a knight in shining armor you need the whole get up.  Plus, how did you know I needed rescuing?  I am perfectly capable of saving myself.”

“I can tell you are a very capable woman.  However, I am a very insecure man that needs to rescue a woman once in awhile.  Would you let me finish rescuing you from the dragon?”  He motioned toward the weirdo who was now preying on another woman who clearly wanted nothing to do with him.

“Hmmm…I suppose so.”  I gave him a smirk.

He grasped his hands over his heart and bent forward in a small bow.  “Thank you, m’lady.  I will forever be in debt to a beauty such as you allowing this poor knight to save face.”

A giggle escaped my lips.  Warmth filled my veins.  It was either the champagne that I downed or the sex symbol come to life sitting next to me.  I hid my smile behind the quickly emptying champagne flute.

Sticking one hand out to me he said, “Chord Reedy.”

“I know.”

“What?”

I pointed toward the card he’d placed on the table when he sat down.  “Your name card.”

“Oh.  Well, I’m Chord Reedy.  I am good friends with the bride.”

I stared at him.  His lips mesmerized me.

He cleared his throat.  “And you are?”

My face flamed.  I was such a spazz.  I’d been paying such attention to his lips that I wasn’t paying attention to the words escaping those lips.  Inner bitch was banging her head on the table.  “Answer him!  Don’t be an idiot.”

“Oh…uh…sorry.  I’m Rhapsody Bell.  My best friend is the groom.”   I took his hand like a normal person and shook it.  I didn’t expect him to cover our linked hands with his other one.

“Are you here alone tonight?”

“Yes.”  Ugh!  Was that my voice?  I sounded like a phone sex operator.

“Not anymore.”

“Ok.”  I squeaked

“Tell me about yourself.”

Before I could say a word, the DJ called everyone to attention.  It was time for the speeches.  The maid of honor made a very sweet speech featuring the bride and her times in her sorority.  The guests did the appropriate ooo’s and ahhh’s.

Sexy leaned over and said, “Jane hated that girl and being in a sorority.  The only reason she did it was because her mother had been in the same one.  It was expected.  For them to say it was the best time in her life is bullshit.”

I snorted and the people at our table looked at us.  Pretending to be enthralled by the airhead’s speech, a warm hand landed on my hand.  My mouth was very dry all of a sudden.   Just in time the speech ended and we raised our glasses to toast the happy couple.

When the best man grabbed the microphone, I knew it was going to be a train wreck.   The best man was also the younger brother of the groom.  He had no filter and even less ability to hold his alcohol if that was even possible.  He tapped the mic then blew into it causing serious feedback.

“This should be good.”  Sexy said with a smile.

“I doubt it.”  I mumbled.

“Welcome, family, friends, co-workers of Rufus and Jane, not so close family and friends and all the freaks out at table 13.  I see you back there, Rhapsy.  Looks like Mother had her way and separated Rufus from his true love.”  The groom’s brother walked toward their table.

My eyes bugged out of my head.  “Dear God!  This isn’t happening.”

“Yeah it’s happening and will be one hell of a story.”

“You know, mother never liked you.  She hated how close the two of you were.  So much so that she convinced his now wife to put you in wedding guest purgatory.”  He paused and looked at the bride. “Hi, Jane.”  He waved with his microphone hand.

Would it be obvious if I sprinted out the closest exit?  That was a no-go in these heels.  Maybe if I focused really hard I could become invisible or teleport out of the reception.  At a time when I needed my inner bitch she was passed out from too much champagne.  Damn lush.

“I’ve always loved you, Rhapsy.  This should be our wedding.  It should be our forever.  Why can’t you love me like I love you?”  He was crying while sitting in the middle of the dance floor.

The father of the groom stormed up to his inebriated son and snatched the mic out of his hand.  The best man curled into a fetal position and continued to cry.  I glanced over to my best friend who had his head in his hands while his new bride rubbed his back.

“Let’s toast to Jane and Rufus.”  Guests lifted their champagne and quietly toasted to them.

“I love her!”  The best man wailed as the other groomsmen dragged him out of the reception.

“That was the best speech ever.”  Mr. Sexy said squeezing my hand.

“Are you serious?”

“Oh definitely.  It had action, adventure, romance and even a little suspense.  10 out of 10.” He looked at me and must have gotten concerned.  “Let me get you a drink.  I will be right back.”

I watched as he stood and removed his jacket placing it on the back of his chair.  He definitely worked out.  As he walked through other guests, women were pulled from their conversations just to watch him walk by.

“How dare you?”  The shrill voice felt like ice water over her skin.

“Hello, Mrs. Brown.”  The groom’s mother looked like a thunderstorm aimed directly at her.

“Why are you here, Rhapsody?  To ruin my Rufus’ day?  What did you do to Toby?  You always were a spiteful girl who needed attention all of the time.”

“Rufus invited me.  I am here to celebrate Jane and Rufus’ marriage.”  My inner bitch picked up her head and scowled at my best friend’s mother then said, “Shank the bitch.”

“Marianne what are you doing?”  Rufus’ father joined them.

“Robert she showed up.  I told Rufus not to invite her.”  She stomped her foot like a child not getting a piece of candy.

“Hello, sweetheart.  How is my love?”  Robert pulled me into a bear hug.

“Hello, papa Rob.  I am doing well.  It has been a beautiful wedding. “

Marianne huffed and stormed off.

I grimaced.  “You may be in trouble.”

“Don’t worry about me, Rhapsody.  It’s not the first time I’ve been in trouble nor will it be my last.”  His face grew serious.  “I’m sorry about Toby.   I don’t know what has gotten into that boy.”

“Probably a few long island ice teas if I had to guess.”

His deep laugh felt like a warm blanket.  Rufus’ father was a constant during my tumultuous childhood.  He was as close to a real dad as I’d ever had.

“Well, sweetheart, I need to go mingle.  Enjoy your time and don’t be a stranger.  You got it?”  He pulled me into another hug.

“I will do my best.”  I smiled then sat back down waiting for my drink to arrive.

Watching Papa Rob walk away, I felt eyes on me.  The people at my table sat in silence glaring at me.  An overwhelming feeling to flee descended upon me.  Judgement and hate filled their gazes.  Even the skeezy car salesman seemed turned off.  Finally, a good thing had come out of the trainwreck of a reception.  Maybe it was time for me to go.

Inner bitch stood on wobbly legs.  “Fuck’em.  Don’t let these losers intimidate you.  Get a shot and dance on the table.”

“Shut up.”  I said under my breath.

“Talking to Queen B again?”  Rufus’ voice had her spinning around.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Please.  You don’t have to hide your crazy from me.  I already know you’re crazy.  I’ve met your mother.  Remember?”

“How could I forget?”  I pulled Rufus into a hug.  “Congratulations!  I’m so very happy for you.”

“Thank you, Rhapsody.  I can’t believe my mom conned Jane into putting you at this table.  It really pisses me off.”

“No, worries.  I am all good.  You need to focus on your new wife and the rest of your guests but mostly focus on your new wife and knocking her up.”

Throwing his head back he laughed loudly pulling the attention of those around us.

 

Chapter 2 –>

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