Dirty Sexy Games

By: Laurelin Paige


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“You’re married!” exclaimed my grandmother—Nana—embracing me, as I walked into the hotel foyer. She was happy and joyful, as was her daughter Becky, who was waiting behind her to hug me.

I was blinking rapidly, trying to stop the frustrated tears from rolling down my cheeks. I could probably pass off a few as sentimental, but the wave threatening was bigger than that. My family would certainly recognize it as more if it broke.

I had to swallow it back, had to rein it in somehow.

I focused on the sound of Nana’s voice and the smell of her, warm and comforting and familiar, and tried to forget about the confusion and the war between me and my new husband.

It wasn’t so easy when it was my mother in front of me. She could see right through the mask.

“What’s wrong?” she whispered in my ear as she gave me the required mother/bride embrace.

I was saved from answering by LeeAnn Gregori, our wedding planner.

“Elizabeth!” she called, summoning me towards her. “We’re waiting!”

I glanced over my mother’s shoulder toward the we that LeeAnn referred to—the wedding photographer and my groom, Weston King. They were only thirty feet away from me, but it felt like a continent.

The ceremony that had concluded less than half an hour before made Weston and me closer than we ever had been, in theory. And yet, after the words he’d just said to me—I can’t go with you—he might as well already be an ocean away.

I wiped at the stray tear and squeezed my mother. “Everything’s fine,” I lied. I should’ve been good at this by now, after five months of pretending, but right now it felt harder than ever. Perhaps because I didn’t know anymore which parts I was faking and which I wasn’t. The wedding was real. The feelings were real. For both of us, I’d learned.

The relationship, though?

Apparently that was still up for debate.

But if I wanted to convince my cousin this was all legitimate so he didn’t challenge my claim to my inheritance, I had to pretend the relationship was solid as well.

I crossed the room with my head held high, a smile on my lips, making damn sure no one besides my mother could see the struggle inside.

“One in front of the Christmas tree would be absolutely spectacular,” LeeAnn suggested, and the photographer agreed, posing Weston and me there. We did several variations of holding hands and embracing. I couldn’t look directly into his eyes, had to force myself to look at his nose instead, or his eyebrows, knowing I’d be unable to handle what I would find if I looked at him for real.

He seemed to feel the same. Just as awkward around me.

“They’re sort of stiff, aren’t they?” I heard the photographer whisper to LeeAnn.

“They’re very formal,” LeeAnn said, making up an excuse for us on the spot. The poor lady probably didn’t know what to think of us with all the bickering we’d done in her presence over the last few months.

Maybe Weston had heard him too, because all of a sudden he did loosen up, and in the next picture he pulled me to him and improvised a kiss. I wanted to push him away, because I was frustrated and angry at him for keeping me in the dark and confusing me and yanking me up and down like a yo-yo.

But even if it wasn’t for the show we were putting on, I couldn’t resist him. I’d never been able to resist him. I threw my arms around his neck and let him kiss away my worry. He’ll explain later, I told myself while his lips were bruising mine. He wants to be with me, just like I want to be with him. We’ll make it work. Somehow.

He pulled away and I searched for that same reassurance in his face that I’d felt in his kiss, but his eyes seemed to be trying to tell me something different than what I was asking.

“Weston? We can still figure—”

He shook his head. “Not now,” he whispered harshly.

“Where do you want us?” a familiar voice came from behind the photographer.

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