Holiday Games


Page 13





Author: Jaci Burton






Great. Just great. It was probably the flu or something. Talk about bad luck.


But she focused on Jenna coming down the aisle with Gavin's father, and how beautiful she looked.


She'd get through this. And she was going to be fine.


Nothing was going to ruin Jenna and Ty's wedding day.


***


Gavin couldn't believe that was his little sister coming down the aisle looking so beautiful, so grown up. His throat swelled with emotion as he watched their dad turning her over to Tyler, listened to the two of them making vows to watch over each other, to care for each other in hard times and in good times, and promise to love each other forever.


He wasn't an emotional sort, wasn't the kind to get choked up over things, but this was his sister, the one he'd teased mercilessly when they were kids. He'd pulled her hair and laughed when she ran to Mom about it. But he'd also picked her up and carried her into the house when she'd fallen off the swing and broke her arm.


She might have been his to tease, but she'd also been his responsibility to look after.


Now she wasn't his responsibility anymore. She was Tyler's. She was an adult and she was getting married. He'd had to pass the torch on to another man who'd take care of her when she was hurt, who'd calm her fears and tease her and laugh with her.


He realized he had tears in his eyes. He quickly swiped them away, then looked over at Mick, whose eyes were also filled with tears. Mick crooked a smile and nodded at him, and he knew Mick felt the same things he did.


And okay, maybe Jenna was getting married today, and he knew Ty was a great guy and would always take care of her, but he and Mick would always be there for her, no matter what.


Because they were Rileys. And nothing would ever tear them apart.


"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."


As Jenna and Ty kissed, the church exploded in applause, music pealed, and the wedding party began to descend from the altar.


Gavin met up with Liz, who looked a little pale, but smiled as she slipped her arm in his. They did their part for the photographer, but when they reached the back of the church, he turned to her.


"Are you all right?"


She tipped her head to the side. "I'm fine. Why?"


"You look pale."


"Huh. Maybe I need more blush. And here I spent all that time getting my makeup done. I should ask for a refund."


He laughed. "Seriously, are you okay?"


"My dress is a little tight and I think they had the heat up a little high in the church. Wasn't it warm in there?"


"Not that I noticed. Why? Were you having hot flashes?"


"Kind of."


"Hard to believe considering how little you're wearing."


She tapped his arm. "I'm wearing plenty."


They were pulled apart then to greet guests on the way out. Then they had photos in the church. Gavin kept his eye on Liz, though, who smiled and seemed okay, but still looked pale. There was a winter flu going around, and the last thing she needed right now was to get sick. They had to host the holidays with the family next week, and he knew she was stressed about that, plus the whole trying-to get-pregnant thing. She'd had a lot on her mind lately, and he hadn't been helping in trying to relax her.


He'd have to work on that.


After photos, they headed downtown to the Hyatt for the reception. Since they'd checked in to the hotel earlier in the afternoon, their car was parked there and they all got to take the limo to the hotel. Ty and Jenna still had photos with all the parents, then they'd come over in their limo. In the meantime, the bridal party was finished, so they were headed over to the reception.


"Glad to be done with all those photos. It was like being at a game. Only with fewer interviews." Cole cracked open a bottle of champagne.


"It wasn't that bad," Savannah said.


"That's because you're beautiful and you should have your photo taken every day." Cole kissed her cheek and handed her a glass.


He started pouring champagne into glasses and handing them around the limo. Mick handed Liz a glass, but she passed it on to Gavin.


"Not drinking?" he asked.


"I'm pacing myself. It's going to be a long night."


"And she doesn't want to end up naked table-dancing too early," Gavin said.


Mick laughed. "I'll keep my camera phone ready for that."


Tara nudged him. "You will not. And no one will be naked table-dancing."


"Are you sure about that?" Savannah asked. "You can't vet everyone on the guest list."


Tara sighed. "So true. Let's hope no one dances on the tables tonight."


"You're no fun," Mick said.


"My date is stripper," Ty's friend Victor said. "She could dance naked on tables."


Everyone looked at him. Victor laughed. "Just joking. She is kindergarten teacher."


"I'm telling Felicia you called her a stripper," Eddie said.


"You do that and I'll shove hockey stick up your ass. Also, will tell your date that you're seeing another waitress."


Victor and Eddie glared at each other.


Gavin snorted. "I really like these guys."


It was going to be an interesting night.


The Hyatt was decorated beautifully. The lighting had been set perfectly, the tables were elegant, and the views of the St. Louis Arch were stunning.


"Jenna's going to love this," Liz said to Tara. "You did such a wonderful job arranging everything."


Tara smiled. "Thank you. I hope she's happy with it."


They found their places at the head table and took their seats. Liz was happy to sit down. She blew out a breath and tried to quell the queasiness that hadn't quite gone away yet .


"Would you like something to drink?" Gavin asked.


Her savior. "How about a club soda?"


He frowned. "Still not feeling good?"


"There's a flu that's been going around. I'm hoping like hell I haven't caught it. This couldn't be a worst time."


He rubbed her back. "I'll go get that club soda for you."


She would not ruin Jenna's wedding day by being ill. Fortunately, her part was mostly done, photo-wise, but she didn't want to miss Jenna and Ty's special day.


Gavin brought her club soda and she took a sip. "Thanks. This will help."


"If you don't feel good I can take you up to the room."


She laid her hand over his. "I think I'll make it, but thank you. I'm sure the excitement of the night will overcome my stomachache. Besides, you have to dance with me."


"I can handle that."


The crowds were filling in, and the photographers had arrived. That meant Ty and Jenna weren't too far behind them. When she saw their parents arrive and take their seats, she stood, grasping Gavin's hand.


Soon the deejay announced the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Tyler Anderson. A lump formed in Liz's throat at the thought of the two of them being married, and she blinked back tears as they entered the ballroom to loud applause from the guests.


They made such a beautiful couple. Liz couldn't be happier for her friend.


And as Jenna and Ty took the floor for their first dance, Gavin wrapped his arm around her waist while they watched Jenna and Ty sway to a beautiful love song. Just watching them look at each other, it was obvious they were so much in love.


Liz tilted her head back and smiled at Gavin. "I love you."


"I love you, too."


Her heart swelled and she felt like the luckiest woman in the world tonight. Even though it wasn't her wedding day, she felt reaffirmed in her love for Gavin.


Gavin grasped her hand when they asked the wedding party to take the floor for the next song. Now she was surrounded by family and friends, and she didn't even notice the photographer hovering close, because she only had eyes for her husband.


His fingers traveled down her back. "You look beautiful tonight."


"So do you. I have a weakness for a man in a tux."


"Just any man?"


"Oh, sure. Any random man in a tux that catches my eye will do. You know how easy I am."


He tugged her close and whispered in her ear. "I should spank you for that."


She laughed. "Promises, promises."


After the dance, everyone sat and had dinner, which gave Liz pause, but since her dizziness and nausea seemed to have disappeared, she decided to go ahead and eat.


Gavin looked over at her plate, then back at her. "You sure you're up for that?"


"Definitely. I really do think it was hot in the church, plus this dress is skintight. Add those two together, plus all the stress with the wedding and Christmas next week, and that's what got to me. I'm feeling a lot better now."


He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Good. I hated the thought of you getting sick."


She was happy about that, too. She began to eat her meal, taking each bite slowly, gauging her body's reaction.


"You're certainly savoring each bite," Tara noticed after Gavin left to go get a beer.


Liz smiled. "It's fantastic food."


"I think so, too."


"Okay, so what do you think so far?" Jenna pulled up one of the empty chairs.


Liz squeezed her hand. "First you made me cry during your ceremony today, you bitch. Second, you made a gorgeous bride. And third, this food is to die for."


"Everything Liz just said," Tara added with a nod.


Jenna grinned. "Thank you. Did you see my lip trembling when I was saying my vows to Ty? Oh, my God, I thought I was going to totally lose it and end up sobbing."


"I might have noticed that," Tara said.


"Why do you think I ended up crying? I don't think I teared up as much during my own wedding."


"Aww, Liz, you're becoming so sappy and sentimental," Jenna teased.


"Screw you. I am not. I'm a coldhearted bitch."


Tara patted her back. "Sure you are."


She glared at them. "I hate you both right now."


"It's no sin to be a marshmallow, you know. Especially around people you love."


Liz shot a look at Tara. "Fine. But in my professional life, I'll continue to be cold, calculating, and cutthroat."


"Of course you will," Jenna said with a firm nod. "We'd expect nothing less from you."


"Now that the wedding is over, I know you and Ty are looking forward to the honeymoon. Too bad it has to wait until after hockey season is over," Tara said.


Jenna shrugged. "We knew when we set the date that hockey season would be in full swing. We're fine with waiting. And this way we can enjoy two weeks in Tahiti after the Ice season is over."


"You're going to love it there," Liz said. "And it's a honeymoon worth waiting for."


Jenna smiled. "I think so."


Tara grasped Liz's arm. "Just look at that."


Liz followed Tara's gaze to the dance floor, where Nathan and Sonja were dancing. They looked gorgeous together, with Nathan looking much too grown-up in his suit and Sonja absolutely beautiful in a smoking-hot copper-colored cocktail dress.


And they only had eyes for each other.


"Awww, young love. It's so adorable," Jenna said.


Tara shot her a look. "Do you think they're in love?"


"I think they're hot for each other. One look at them and you can see that."


Tara worried her bottom lip. "On the one hand, I'm happy for him. I like Sonja. She's smart and levelheaded and I think she'll keep him on his toes."






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