My Last:Riley & Chelle

By: Melanie Shawn

He had always maintained that David was a douchebag – damn it all to hell, why hadn’t she listened to him?

She knew that if Eddie caught wind of David’s transgressions, the resultant scene would not be pretty. Eddie, God love him, had a tendency to punch first and ask questions later…and as satisfying as it might feel to see David take one in the face right about now, she did not want him to make a scene at Katie’s wedding reception!

Eddie was fairly notorious around Harper’s Crossing because had gotten into his fair share of brawls in high school, and had even had several run-ins with the law during his teen years. He and Riley both were known for their quick tempers and wild ways. They were labeled the “bad boys” of Harper’s Crossing.

Eddie had straightened up after he turned eighteen and realized that if he didn’t grow up, and fast, he would be throwing the rest of his life away on stupid adolescent antics. Riley, apparently having a similar epiphany, had joined the Marines around the same time. He had left for basic training right after their senior year, and - other than a couple of short weekend trips home to visit his family – he hadn’t been back to Harper’s Crossing since.

But Riley and Eddie had kept in touch over the years. In fact, Eddie had stepped in for Riley as a groomsman the month before, at Bobby and Sophie’s wedding, when Riley had found out at the last minute that his deployment was being extended.

“What’s going on with you two?” Eddie asked now, staring at Alex.

Alex put his hands up in mock surrender, “Nothing man, we’re just in the wedding party together.”

She knew Alex wasn’t really scared of her brother, he was just trying to diffuse the tension. Alex was an ex-Navy Seal, and - although her brother stood at an impressive six-two - Alex was only a hair shorter than him, at six one. Both men were extremely fit and could definitely hold their own.

Chelle suddenly felt little arms wrap around her legs and she looked down to see her beautiful six-year-old niece Emily hugging her tightly.

She bent down and wrapped her arms around her, “Hello, my pretty princess. Are you having fun?”

Emily looked up adoringly and smiled a toothless grin. She had lost her two front teeth the month earlier, “Yes, I told Daddy that I want a wedding just like this when I grow up.”

Eddie groaned as he scooped his daughter up into his arms, “And I told her she has a lot of time to plan it since she’s not even allowed to date until she’s thirty.”

Chelle smiled. Her brother was such an amazing Dad. His ex-wife, Lacey, had decided when Emily was about three months old that she wasn’t cut out to be a wife or a Mom, leaving him divorced and a single Dad.

He never complained, never acted like it was any kind of a burden, but Chelle knew it must be hard on him.

Emily giggled as she turned and hugged Eddie’s neck, exclaiming happily, “Dance with me, Daddy!”

Eddie’s eyes softened for a moment before turning to Alex and hardening again. “I’m watching you,” he said in his most protective, don’t-mess-with-my-baby-sister tone.

Chelle knew that Alex had a reputation as a ladies’ man. That reputation was probably why her brother looked concerned. But Alex had been a perfect gentleman, and had been her saving grace today, and she wasn’t about to let her brother make it into something it wasn’t.

“Eddie, Alex has been great today. I needed a friend and he was there for me. That’s all. Don’t act like he did something wrong.” Slipping her arm in Alex’s she started towards the cake table, “We need to go, they’re cutting the cake.”

She heard her brother’s voice behind her, “Friend, huh? Yeah, right.”

Whatever, she thought, exasperated. Think what you want, I‘ll deal with it later. Eddie had no idea that Alex was definitely not the Sloan brother he would need to worry about, if he were going to start worrying about any of them. Oh, sure, she had always liked Alex well enough…had thought he was attractive, funny and easy to get along with. But he wasn’t Riley! She sighed inwardly. Oh LORD, she had always had it bad for Riley Sloan.

Of course, most of the time they were growing up, Riley had ignored her or treated her like an annoying little sister. BUT…there were a few nights…a few amazing nights…that he had stayed up late and talked to her, when her parents had been out and Eddie was passed out drunk or busy ‘entertaining’ the flavor of the week. Those nights had probably been the best of her entire life.

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