Life Plus One is a second chance Navy SEAL romance and it releases TOMORROW, Friday, August 18th. Check back here for buy links soon! In the meantime, I’m offering the prologue, free, RIGHT HERE! So, if you want to wait until it releases, stop now. If you can’t wait another second, read on:
©Rachel Robinson, All Rights Reserved. Life Plus One
She floats down the aisle. It would be a cruel stereotype if I said she looked like an angel, but she does. In every sense of the word. The ivory empire waist gown hugs every curve just so. Her smile is all white teeth and exhilarating excitement. Mostly, above everything else, you can see happiness and love washing every tiny molecule that forms her as a human being. She is radiant. It’s her wedding day, so the breathtaking glow makes every bit of sense even if I don’t like it.
It takes a full five seconds for me to swallow the lump down my throat before I let my gaze find what it so desperately seeks. I’m convinced that best friends have another sense. A weird electric connection that brings you to each other regardless of the gravitational pull. I meet his eyes, and he senses my small movement from the other side of the aisle—the pastor stands in between us. He’s the groom, and while I would have had no qualms about standing on that side, next to him, when she asked me to be her maid of honor, I had to say yes.
So, here I stand, wearing a rose-colored midi length dress that’s actually cute, carrying a swath of flowers, watching Ben, my best friend since age three, marry her. He smiles at me and I see everything behind it. I know him like the back of my hand, like a conjoined twin, like the only man I’ve ever loved. I force a small smile, a show of confidence, and thank God she arrives at the altar to block his view because it’s in that second my eyes glass over. Ben’s smile wasn’t the same as hers. No, it conveyed an entirely different story. One that only I’ll be able to tell. I fix the train on her dress and she turns her mega-watt happiness on me in a bubbly, “Thank you, Harper.”
I nod and smile and embrace the razor blade pain slicing through my chest as I accept her bouquet.
I take my place behind the bride and inhale a deep breath. I can live with the agony. Him baring witness to it is a complication neither of us needs. Tilting my head down, I pretend to be grossly interested in the florist’s work as the pastor begins the ceremony. It’s small and intimate, which I’m thankful for. I don’t dare look at my parents, or his, for fear of losing my mind completely. The spiral on this particular blush rose is perfect. I trace it with my eyes to distract myself from the ugly truth.
I should be in that dress, oozing love and affection, attached to Ben forever. Our timing has always been off and our near hits equal our near misses. The score was tied, ready to be broken. It needed to be settled. Then she got pregnant. I chance a glance up and find Ben gazing at her stomach. She was able to hide it easily as she’s tall and glamourous and no one is looking at her stomach when her face looks like that, anyways. She worried about it for no good reason, now that I think about it.
I can’t even be upset with her. She’s that nice, and as much as I hate to admit it, they’re good together. The night before she broke the baby news, Ben and myself were at a bowling alley, drinking cheap beer and throwing gutter balls during Glo-Light hour. He told me he loved me.
We’ve told each other those three little words a million times over. Maybe even a billion. That’s what happens when you have a person in your life for so long. But that cheap bowling alley I love you was different. It was the first forever one. The kind you say when you know you want to take someone and keep a piece of them forever.
Ben looks away from his bride and meets my eyes. It’s a brief, time-freezing movement, I’m sure no one else noticed, but in that still frame, I saw and understood all he meant to convey.
The pastor pronounces them husband and wife and I let my eyes flutter closed as Ben leans over to seal their marriage with a kiss. In that look, Ben told me he’s sorry, that he wished it were me, that everything will be okay, and that he loves me—the forever kind. My stomach knots as a sheen of sweat breaks out across my forehead.
That’s the thing with love. Life doesn’t care what you love. It takes it away anyway.
A tear slips down my cheek and lands right on that perfect rose. I see a flash of a past that held promise of a future. Bubble gum. A cloud. A promise. A kiss. A pact.
I’ll forever hold my peace, but that doesn’t mean my heart didn’t ice over when he said I do.
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