Authors: Melissa Johns
She frowned. “Just nervous, I don’t know them. I’m not really an outgoing person.”
“They will love you. If you need a break, just call me. I will run and kidnap you.”
She laughed. “Thank you, I may take you up on that offer.”
He pushed off the wall and leaned in to kiss her cheek. Her heart raced as she smelled his cologne. She closed her eyes as he lingered for a moment. She smiled as she opened her apartment and closed the door. She leaned back against it. She hadn’t thought of Hunter the entire evening. She wasn’t sure what to make of that.
Madison was in the midst of the bridesmaid luncheon with Alicia and her friends. They chatted about college and how everyone was staying busy with their families. They tried to include her in most of the conversation but she still felt out of place.
Alicia’s friend, Beverly stood up and grabbed her glass of wine. “I just want to say how happy I am for Alicia. I knew the moment she started talking about Carter, her life would be forever changed. They were the perfect couple and now will have the perfect baby. Thank you for including me.”
Alicia jumped up and hugged her. Madison dug into her purse and handed her a tissue. “Thank you, Maddy.”
Madison stood up and looked down at Alicia. “I know most of you won’t understand this but I didn’t have a great childhood. Growing up with a superstar brother, I was always left in the shadows. If it wasn’t for Alicia, I wouldn’t be standing here. I wouldn’t have my brother back in my life. She gave me a family that I always wanted.”
Alicia stood up and wrapped her arms around her. “I love you, Maddy.”
“I love you too.”
All the girls got up and wrapped their arms around her. “We are your family now too, Madison.”
She smiled as she wiped her tears. “Thank you ladies. Now back to the celebration.”
They finished lunch and talked over their drinks. One of Alicia’s friends, Christina looked towards the door as it opened. “Holy crap, there is a slice that I would like to try.”
Everyone’s eyes went towards the door as Madison spotted Mike. He had a tight blue t-shirt on with his work jeans. He carried his toolbox with him as the hostess went into the backroom. Alicia waved at him. “Hey sexy!”
Christina whispered, “You know him?”
“It’s Madison’s next door neighbor.”
Everyone looked at Maddy as she blushed. Mike approached the table as he ran his hand through his hair. His eyes met hers. “Hey ladies, how’s lunch?”
Beverly spoke up first. “It’s much better now. You are just gorgeous.”
Madison enjoyed seeing the red blush rush over his cheeks. “Well, thank you.”
Christina took the next round of questions. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
His eyes locked with Maddy’s again. “No, I don’t but I always have the hope.”
Everyone turned to face Madison as she grabbed her glass of wine and finished it. “Well ladies, it’s time to go. We are meeting Alicia’s mom at her house for gifts.”
They stood up and started towards the door. Mike reached for her arm and stopped her. “How’s it going?”
She smiled. “It was fun. You were right. I was just myself and everyone accepted me.”
“I told you that they would. I also wanted you to know that I needed to go away tonight. So, if you were looking for me, just call me.”
“Everything ok?” she asked as she placed her hand on his arm.
“It will be. I just need to speak with my father.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
He shrugged. “Sometimes you just need the bigger guns.”
“Just stay out of trouble, ok?”
He smirked. “I promise. I will talk to you tomorrow, ok?”
She nodded and started to walk away.
“Oh, Maddy?” he questioned. She stopped and looked back at him. “It’s true you know.”
“What’s true?” she asked.
“I always have the hope.”
She didn’t know how to respond as she walked out of the restaurant. Alicia was waiting for her at the car. “Everyone headed over to Mom’s. You ok?”
She got into her car and started driving. “Can I ask you something?”
Alicia nodded. “Always.”
“What do you think of Mike?”
“I think he’s gorgeous, sweet, a great friend and a class act. Why? Do you like him?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know what to think. I’m still dealing with the Hunter situation but I can’t help but feel that Mike wants to ask me out.”
“Well duh! Of course he does, he pretty much just came out and told everyone at lunch.”
“We had a moment last night.”
“A moment, what moment?” Alicia pleaded.
“We went to the boardwalk last night to celebrate my first week of school and he leaned in to kiss me. The moment was there and I panicked. I pulled away and changed the subject. What’s wrong with me?”
“You are still hung up on Hunter. It may take awhile unless you want to go back to him.”
“I don’t know. Last night was the first night I didn’t think about him and that scared me.”
Alicia sighed as they pulled into her parent’s driveway. “It shouldn’t. Listen, I shouldn’t tell you this because part of me is rooting for Mike.”
Madison turned off the car and sat there. “What’s going on?”
“Carter thinks that the team is going to extend Hunter’s contract. They want another title run and the owner thinks Hunter is a big part of that. They have been in talks all week long.”
She groaned and hit the steering wheel. “So our entire drama, our whole situation may have happened over nothing!”
Alicia nodded and grabbed her hand. “Hunter hasn’t been himself this week. He wants to sign that contract because it will keep him here with you but he knows if he does, he may have lost you forever.”
She opened the car door and slammed it. Alicia followed her and grabbed her. “Madison, tell me why you are so upset.”
“Because he ruined us over nothing, it’s the same thing that I have been fixated on for a month.”
“Deep breath. You will be ok. Whatever happens, happens. You know that I’m on your side, I don’t agree with how Hunter handled the situation and believe me, he knows that. I think it’s time you take a break from all of it and just test the waters with someone else.”
Madison groaned. “You are unreal. Can we focus on you for the next week, please?”
She laughed. “Fine but I’m not giving up on you yet.”
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Alicia’s family. Carter arrived after the tea was served. He kissed Alicia and greeted all the girls.
“Hey sis, how’s it going?” he asked.
“I’m good. How’s your side of the wedding functions going?”
He laughed. “Good. We are going out tonight. The limo bus should be arriving within the next couple of hours. Hunter planned the night, so Lord knows where we are going.”
“I asked Alicia if she wanted a crazy night and she said no. Her exact words were no respectable pregnant women would go out and party.”
He laughed. “That’s my girl.”
“Have fun tonight but not too much.” She hugged him as he went back to Alicia. She heard her phone beep as she reached into her purse. She noticed she missed a phone call from Hunter. She hit the play button.
Hey Maddy, I just wanted to see if we could get together tomorrow and talk. With the wedding next Saturday, I don’t want anything to be awkward between us. I know we both want what is best for Carter and Alicia. Call me, ok?
She put her phone back into her purse. She sat down and watched Alicia bask in all the attention. She smiled as Alicia made a toast to her parents and her future husband. Once all the activities were over, Madison drove Alicia back to her house.
They arrived just as the limo bus arrived at her house. Alicia laughed as she got out of the car. “Carter Sinclair! You better behave yourself tonight. You are going to be a father!”
He hugged and kissed her. “Yes dear.”
Madison noticed Hunter leaning against the bus as she walked over to him. “I got your voicemail.”
He nodded. “Can we get together tomorrow?”
She agreed. “Sure, why don’t you come over in the afternoon? I’m sure you will need your rest after tonight.”
He grinned. “Yeah, the guys are ready to party.”
“Just behave yourself and watch out for Carter.”
Carter overheard them as he hopped onto the bus. “People need to stop worrying about me, I will be just fine!” He waved as he walked towards the back of the bus.
Madison heard all the guys cheering for him as he took his seat. Hunter winked at Madison as he disappeared onto the bus. It pulled away from the house as Alicia hugged her. “Come on, let’s go inside.”
She followed inside and helped her clean the house. They finished folding the wedding programs and she finished boxing the favors.
Madison looked around the table and smiled. “We are done, Alicia. That’s it. We are ready for the wedding.”
She started to cry. “I’m so excited but I haven’t told many people that I’m pregnant yet. Are people going to notice?”
Madison reached for her hand. “God no, you are so thin. No one will know, Alicia. It’s still so early. Believe me you are so close to your wedding date, people will think you got knocked up on your wedding night.”
She laughed. “Alright, I trust you. Before I forget, your parents are coming into town on Wednesday.”
Madison groaned. She hadn’t said a word to them since the hockey season ended. “That’s ok. I will deal with them when they talk to me.”
“Hey, can you stay the night? Carter will be out late and I really don’t want to be alone.”
She nodded. “Of course, can I borrow some clothes to sleep in?”
“Go upstairs and raid my closet. Whatever works for you is fine with me. Should you call Mike?”
Madison turned back towards her. “Why would I do that?”
“Because he’s your neighbor and friend and may worry if you don’t come home.”
“Oh, no he’s not home tonight.”
Alicia chuckled. “Defensive! I want popcorn, go change and we will watch a movie.”
Madison changed into a pair of shorts and a pink tank top. She was happy to get out of her heels and dress. She took a quick shower and met Alicia in the large living room to watch a movie.
“So, are you going to try something with Mike?” She nonchalantly asked.
Madison groaned. “If you were me, what would you do?”
“Hmmm, good question. Let’s see. I know that I would be very upset with Hunter but I would realize that I only live once and seeing how I was still young, I should experience all the new things I could before tying down to one man.”
Madison laughed and threw a wad of popcorn at her. “You are so full of it.”
The rest of the evening was relaxing. Alicia finally disappeared upstairs to go to sleep and Madison continued watching television. Finally her eyes closed and she slept.
Around three in the morning, she was awoken up by the guys returning home. She sat up on the couch and looked out the front window. She could see Carter leaning against the railing of the front porch as Hunter paid the driver. A couple of women walked off the bus and couldn’t keep their hands off the guys.
She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. She watched as one of the women wrapped themselves around Hunter and he didn’t push her away. He laughed as another one of her friends kissed his cheek.
She could hear Carter faintly. “Hunter, you had too much drink. You are going to regret this and I swear to God, if you hurt her again, it’s over.”
“She doesn’t want anything to do with me, Carter. I messed it up for good. So why shouldn’t I have some fun?”
She started to cry as Carter walked over to him and put his hands on his shoulders. “Girls, go home. Hunter is going to sleep on my couch tonight and there is no way I’m letting you in that house.”
Madison panicked and ran into the den. She closed the door. She could hear the guys walk into the house and Hunter collapse on the couch.
“Sleep it off, man. I will see you in the morning.”
She could him Hunter quietly say, “Thank you, Carter.”
“For what?” he asked.
“Stopping me from ruining any chance I still have with her.”
“I always have your back, Hunter but I have hers first. Just remember that.”
After about fifteen minutes of quiet, Madison opened the door from the den. She glanced at Hunter sleeping on the couch. She tiptoed by him and started to climb the stairs.
She stopped and took a deep breath. “Yeah, I’m heading to bed.”
Hunter sat up. “Why are you here?”
“Alicia didn’t want to be alone.”