The Accidental Bride: A Tale of Unplanned Romance and Surprise

“You’re home!” My friend, Abby, throws her arms around her brother, Knight, who’s prowled into the room.  His hair is overgrown, and his beard is threaded with a few gray hairs.

Huh? Knight definitely didn’t have gray hair the last time I saw him. But then again, he hadn’t been captured by the enemy and held for six months as a captive, either. Not that he looks any less desirable. He’s lost weight, but that only adds to his appeal. There are hollows under his cheekbones, and a bandage over his left cheek that only adds to that dark and dangerous look he always carries around with him like a coat of armor.

He’s tall enough to tower over me. At six-feet five-inches, and with shoulders that block out the room behind him, Knight looks mean and lethal. He looks like the soldier—or maybe secret agent—he’s supposed to be.

Abby told me he works for the British government. A real-life James Bond meets Jack Reacher with thick, dark hair, brawny biceps which stretch the white button-down he’s wearing, tailored slacks and formal shoes. The last and only time I saw him was when he was about to ship out on his mission.

He was dressed in army fatigues, and he kissed Abby on both cheeks and hugged her tightly, his affection for his sister apparent. He promised to be safe and held her tenderly as she held back her tears. His tenderness seemed so much at odds with his thick muscles and larger-than-life persona that I melted. I haven’t been able to get his piercing green eyes out of my mind.

Or the strength in his shoulders, the sculpted planes of his chest, barely contained by his shirt, or the way his pants molded to his thighs, not hiding the bulge at his crotch.

No, I wasn’t looking at my best friend’s brother’s crotch. Maybe I was. But it was a fleeting glance. I only peeked, promise. But—oh my—the size of that impressive package between those tree-trunk like legs sent a pulse of heat straight to my core. I swear, I drenched my panties, then pretended it didn’t happen. Not that he noticed any of it.

He consoled Abby, then left. Within weeks, I heard of his being captured on his mission and held behind enemy lines for six months, before being freed. Now, Abby buries her face in his chest and weeps, but Knight doesn’t make any moves to console her. He stands there with no change of expression on his face. Cade gives a subtle shake of his head, then approaches the brother and sister. “Shh, babe, your brother needs time to acclimatiz”.

“He places his hands on Abby’s shoulders and coaxes her back“ “I’m sorry I broke down like that—” She wipes her face. “I’m happy to see you, big brother.” Knight’s expression softens. He clears his throat. “It’s good to see you, too, Abby.” Abby makes a choked sound. “I was so worried about you. I thought I’d lost you, I—” She begins to weep again, and her husband Cade pulls her around and into his arms. 

She wraps her arms about his waist and begins to sob. Cade pats her hair. He glances up at Knight, who’s watching the proceedings with a slightly confused look on his face. Finally, Knight shakes his head, then reaches over and pats Abby’s shoulder. “Cade is right. I need a little time to adjust back to civilian life.

He winces, then adds in a hard voice, “Permanently.” “Permanently?” I cry out. Then flush as every single person in the room turns to look at me. We’re at our mutual friend Solene’s engagement party, so I know many of the people in the room. Not that it stops me from wanting to slap my hands over my face and pretend I didn’t say that.

Instead, I draw in a breath and flash a bright smile at my audience, because, uh, that’s basically what they are, and that’s basically what I do when things aren’t going my way. I curve my lips and draw on every last sliver of positivity inside me because when you think positively, positive things happen. Right? “I mean, uh…

Of course you want to leave the force after what happened. I mean, it’s not easy being a prisoner of war.” I cringe. “Did I say prisoner of war? That is the official term for what you were, eh? Oh gawd, now I’m putting my foot in my mouth. I mean, I have verbal diarrhea. Ugh, those two scenarios don’t go that well together.”

I shake my head, then square my shoulders. “Let me try again. What I was trying to say was, you must have loved the military, surely, and thought of it as your calling to join it, so to leave it? That must be agonizing, no matter the circumstances.” Silence follows my outburst. Everyone stares at me with varying degrees of shock… Horror… Pity? My cheeks feel like they’re on fire.

“Oh, my gawd, somebody kill me.” This time, it’s Knight who winces. Ugh, nice one. I slap my forehead. “Oh, shoot, what am I thinking about, prattling on about killing and dying and—“ I wave my hand in the air. “Forget I said that. You probably have PTSD from hearing me blathering on like this, huh?”

His features darken. “Oh, no, no, no. Did I say the P-word? I’m not supposed to say the P-word.” I shuffle my feet. “No, no. Forget I said it.” Knight glares at me. If I thought he couldn’t appear more pissed off, I was wrong. His shoulders swell, the veins on his neck pop, his hair seems to thicken and stand on edge. Waves of rage vibrate off of him. Cold rage.

The kind that, surely, heralds the coming of a storm or a nuclear explosion. The air between us thickens. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. An arrow of heat zips straight to my core. Huh. Do I find his anger hot? Why do I find his show of rage hot? And sexy. And erotic. Surely, it’s because I’m tired and on edge, since I barely slept most of last night.

Knowing your short-lived career as a junior chef is over and wondering how you’re going to pay your bills can do that to a girl. Then, because I never did know when to shut up, I prattle on, “What are you doing here anyway?

Shouldn’t you be in a debriefing or whatever it is you have to do once you’re rescued?” His features grow hard, then he seems to force himself to relax. “I debriefed with my superiors before I flew in.” “O-k-a-y…” I swallow. “And therapy? Shouldn’t you have gone straight into therapy?” His eyes narrow. “What did you say?” he growls.

His hard voice lights up my nerve endings. Every pulse point in my body seems to drum in tandem. I shift my weight from foot to foot, then tilt up my chin. “It’s just… I wondered if you shouldn’t acclimatize to people in phases and—” my voice peters off. Utter silence descends upon the room. I hunch my shoulders, try to imitate a turtle tucking its neck back into its shell.

Although, by the way his gaze is locked on me, I know I’m very much visible. I turn up the wattage of my smile. “Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry for being so indiscreet. I don’t normally have such a non-filter.

I mean, no, I normally don’t have much of a filter, but I’m being especially filterless today. It’s all your fault.” Knight blinks. I stab a finger at him. “Yes, sireee, it’s your fault. You make me nervous. Am I the only one who’s nervous?”

I glance around, taking in the various expressions of surprise and amusement that the rest of them wear. “But seriously,”—I turn on him—“isn’t therapy the best way to give yourself a chance to adjust back to civilian life?”

“Are you saying you’d rather I had not come to meet you and”—he jerks his chin in the general direction of the room—“our friends?” “No, no, I was only concerned that it might be too much for you to have descended here in the middle of a group of people, when you’ve spent the last six months being tortured and—” I squeeze my eyes shut and flatten my lips, then count from five-four-three-two-one.

When I open my eyes, everyone’s gaze is on me. “Oh, my gawd! That’s it. I have officially reached the end of my tether. Can’t take me out anywhere, eh?” I laugh weakly. Someone in the room begins to chuckle—it’s Cade, Abby’s husband. I scowl at him, and he turns it into a cough. Another man guffaws loudly.

When I look at him, he shoots me a thumbs up sign. Huh? He’s older than the rest of us and a friend of Cade’s. Guess he must see something I don’t? The man standing next to him, also tall and broad, with intense looks—Abby mentioned he’s the co-owner of the leading financial services company in the country—looks between me and Knight, then smirks.

That seems to annoy Knight further. His gaze intensifies, and his jaw tightens further. Jesus, he might crack a molar, or ten, at this rate. He folds his arms across his chest, and those massive biceps of his stretch the sleeves of his shirt. And this is when he’s leaner. He was an absolute beast when I first saw him.

The kind who’d gift Beauty a library because she likes to read. I’ve set my standards high for what I want in a man, but lord above, this man tempts me. He does look like a beast, though. A very mad, very grumpy, very sexy beast. I widen my smile—mainly to hide the fluttering of my heart and my pussy, which seems to have developed a sudden plumbing problem, what with all the moisture sliding through my slit. Ignore it. Ignore the little fires that have popped up under my skin.

Ignore the bead of sweat that runs down my spine. I tip up my chin and glance around at my friends. “Right, then.

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