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Best I've Ever Had

Abbi Glines

  Best I’ve Ever Had

  Published by Abbi Glines

  Copyright © 2019 by Abbi Glines

  [email protected]


  My Brother’s Editor

  Interior Design & Formatting by:

  Christine Borgford

  All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Abbi Glines. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.




  Best Friend’s Wedding Day

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  About the Author

  Books by Abbi Glines


  Second chances aren’t just found in the pages of a book but if you’re lucky you’ll get one in the real world too.

  Thank you, Britt, for not letting me walk away, for fighting for me, and most of all for loving me enough.

  Summer had returned. The nightlife lit up the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama with scantily clad sun-kissed bodies, live music, the smell of fresh cooked seafood.

  Taking it all in, he wondered if coming back had been the best thing. He wasn’t the same man who had driven out of town a year ago on the motorcycle he’d bought after his best friend’s wedding. From the messy blonde curls he’d let grow out, to the tattoos now covering his arms, part of his chest and even the side of his neck, it all represented a part of his journey.

  Eli Hardy was back, but he didn’t plan on staying for long.

  THE WATCH ON my wrist said it was 2:15PM.

  The flask tucked in my pocket wasn’t half empty because I was broken-hearted about my best friend getting married. I’d come to terms with Bliss marrying Nate Finlay. Hell, I’d fallen in love or I had thought I had with someone else. I still couldn’t be sure on that one. It had ended before it even started. The months had gone by and I was over losing her too.

  I had decided I was the perpetual good guy. The guy girls know as steady, dependable, forgiving, blah motherfuckingblah. I took another swig from my flask at that thought. The rim was cool on my lips surprising me. It wasn’t summer yet, but in South Alabama, it might as well be. If they’d chosen to have this thing on the beach, we’d at least have had a good breeze.

  Since we were kids, Bliss always said she’d get married here, on her parents’ farm just like they had years ago. She thought it was romantic and shit. I thought it was too damn hot and out of the way but I was also drinking and a bit callous on love, at the moment.

  “You want to share that?” I recognized that sultry female voice. Once you heard Ophelia Finlay speak, you never forgot how she sounded. The first time I’d met her she’d been the new roommate of the girl I was almost but not quite dating, Lila Carter. Sure, Lila had been the instrument that got me over loving my best friend. But she’d moved right on over me in a blink to a Rosemary Beach rich ass bad boy too.

  I handed the flask to Ophelia. I had noticed her earlier, but everyone noticed her. She was hard to miss. Pale blonde hair, blue eyes that I swear looked like they had silver in them, and exceptionally nice tits. I was a drunk man and in that strapless dress, it was hard to ignore. I doubted many females could hold a dress up with their rack the way Ophelia was doing. Ophelia and I didn’t really know each other well but she would be my best friend’s sister-in-law before the sun set.

  I handed her the flask.

  “It’s whiskey,” I told her as she took the flask from me.

  I let myself appreciate the view up close. And damn what a view it was.

  She cut her eyes at me sharply and underneath her heavy lashes, I saw the gleam of amusement there. “I can handle it.”

  I’d heard a few stories about her from Bliss. She wasn’t the wildest of Nate Finlay’s two younger sisters. That title went to Phoenix Finlay. Her red hair was the only warning one got that she was trouble. She looked like an angel. The first time I met her I wondered if they’d made up the stories about her. Then at a birthday party for Bliss that Nate had held at his house, Phoenix had stripped off her clothing all except for a pair of tiny panties and jumped into the pool. Nate had cursed a fucking blue streak while the rest of the males in attendance watched.

  “Single malt, mmmm. Thanks, I needed that,” Ophelia’s voice was so damn warm and raspy. I’d forgotten how much I liked hearing her talk.

  “Wedding joy stressing you out?” I asked, taking one more drink before closing it back up and tucking it into my suit coat jacket.

  She shrugged then sighed a bit. “Bliss is sweet. If I didn’t know she had my brother so wrapped around her finger, I’d worry about her. The women in our family aren’t sweet. If this was Phoenix’s wedding, I’d need a whole bottle of whiskey. But Bliss isn’t Bridezilla. Which is a relief. I just don’t like getting all dressed up and taking pictures, and having to let my mom fuss over my hair, and wearing all this makeup.”

  Maybe it was the whiskey, but I smirked at her rambling explanation. “You look hot as fuck. So there’s that.”

  I don’t think I’d ever told a female they looked hot as fuck. It was definitely the whiskey talking.

  She broke into a grin then she laughed. It was a soft, surprised laugh and it was as intoxicating as her voice. “Eli Hardy, I do believe you’re drunk.”

  I was pretty damn sure she was right, but she didn’t know me well enough to make that assumption. “How so?” I asked with my own amused grin. She turned her body slightly toward me. The bench I’d taken as my own was under a large live oak tree and it was placed here for the wedding seeing as I’d never seen this bench at Bliss’s parents before. It was just big enough for two people and when Ophelia turned to me, her shoulder brushed mine before her thigh made brief contact. Her scent wafted toward me with the breeze as if she’d coordinated with the weather. It wasn’t the familiar floral scent most perfumes had, but it reminded me of coconut and sunshine. The best smells of summer radiating from her skin.

  Whatever it was, I had the urge to bury my head in her neck and inhale deeply. But I wasn’t that drunk.

  “We’ve been in the same place a few times. I’ve watched you. I like to observe people,” she explained with a small lift of her bare perfectly tanned left shoulder. “You’re the good guy. The one everyone knows will do and say the right thing.”

  That snapped me out of whatever drunken attraction I’d been feeling toward her. I’d just thought the same damn thing, but I didn’t need a female coming and rubbing it in my face. Why was I the good guy? Why did I do everything so damn straight and narrow? A memory of the last time I’d gotten drunk and done something stupid came to me.

  “I had a one-night stand, drunk and didn’t remember it,” I told h
er as if this was enough to make me a badass. It made me a dick. But what the hell ever.

  She did that sexy laugh again and as much as I didn’t want to soak in the sound of it and admire the sheer beauty of her face . . . that’s what I did. Her lips were so damn full, could they even be real?

  “I don’t think the sexcapade you and Lila Kate had her first night in Sea Breeze makes you bad. We all know Lila Kate is the closest thing to a perfect angel there is and she wasn’t drunk, just tipsy from the Jell-O shot you gave her.” She sounded amused as she mentioned the shots I’d honestly forgotten about.

  I paused a moment. “She told you about that?” I asked a little shocked.

  “We are roommates. Although she’s rarely home, but I have known her my entire life. Our mothers are best friends.” She sighed. “Her wedding is the next one I’ll have to be a part of,” she said that a bit sourly.

  “I heard she got engaged,” I replied. It hadn’t affected me. I’d been happy for her and kind of assumed that was a given from the start.

  Ophelia nodded. “Yeah, I knew it was happening. They just made it official. I’ll have that big flat all to myself since Cruz bought them a house on the country club land. But another event where I have to get all dressed up and do this.” She waved her hand in front of her as if this was the worst thing in the world she could be forced to endure.

  “It could be worse. You could be the Bride’s Best Man,” I said jokingly. Because my role in this wedding was anything but traditional.

  Ophelia laughed again and I liked how it felt to make her laugh. Those eyes of hers sure were something. “The fact you and Dad are the only two in the wedding party is the best thing about this. I don’t have to stand up there while everyone stares at me. I’m not so lucky in Lila Kate’s wedding.” She rolled her eyes. “Maid of Honor in that one.”

  The fact Ophelia didn’t want to be stared at intrigued me. She got stared at daily. She would get stared at in sweats and her hair in a ponytail. She was that kind of good looking.

  “You should be used to getting stared at,” I told her.

  She frowned, her nose slightly scrunched and damn if it didn’t make this sultry beauty look adorable. “Why?”

  The sincerity in that question wasn’t lost on me. Even slightly intoxicated I saw in her expressive eyes she was serious. There was no way in hell this woman didn’t know she was gorgeous. Women who looked like this knew. She wasn’t simply beautiful like Lila. Ophelia’s physical appearance was on another realm of stunning. Lila was as beautiful inside as she was outside and that had made her so damn appealing.

  Ophelia was the kind men got one look at and fantasized about over and over again. She didn’t even have to speak. Just one look and you were memorizing that image for later.

  “Because it’s impossible for anyone to not want to look at you once they get a glimpse,” I replied then took another drink although it was probably a bad idea to drink more.

  “You might want to slow down there,” Ophelia said and took the flask from my hand. “You’ve got to stand by the bride soon and not fall over. Bliss is sweet, but she may not forgive you passing out drunk at her wedding ceremony easily.”

  I let Ophelia take my flask without argument. She had a point. Plus that would give me a reason to talk to her later. I’d need to retrieve my flask. Maybe I could follow that up with asking her to dance. Just as my imagination started to take that thought and run, we were interrupted.

  “How long has he been drunk?” Cruz Kerrington asked. Even in my intoxicated state, I could hear the amusement in his voice. Damn fucking Kerrington

  “Not sure. He was already into the flask when I joined him,” Ophelia replied. I squinted against the sun behind Kerrington’s head. He was smirking.

  I saw him shake his head once and then he laughed. “Damn if this shit ain’t funny,” he replied. Then he held out his hand to me and for a moment I thought he wanted to shake mine. I stared at it like he was the one who was drunk. Why the fuck would I want to shake his hand? I didn’t like the bastard. Couldn’t remember why but I didn’t. That much I did know.

  “The wedding is in an hour. You need some food in your stomach and a cold ass shower,” Cruz said more firmly. When I still didn’t move, he sighed. “Do you want Bliss to hate you? Because she’s going to be furious and Nate will beat the hell out of you if you ruin this for her.”

  I started to argue that Nate Finlay wasn’t man enough to beat the hell out of me but stopped. Because I wasn’t so sure that was the point right now. Cruz was a bastard, but he was right about Bliss hating me if I ruined this day for her. I didn’t take Cruz’s extended hand, but I did stand up. Staggered a little to the left before Cruz caught me from falling on my face.

  “Do you think you can sober him up in time?” Ophelia asked from somewhere behind me. I wanted to turn around and look at her again, but all my focus needed to be on standing up straight.

  “I may fuck up a lot of shit but this I’m the master of,” Cruz said with pride in his voice. I rolled my eyes. What did Lila see in this arrogant dickhead? Oh wait . . . he was a bad boy. They all wanted a bad boy. Every damn one of them. If he didn’t do bad boy shit, then they weren’t interested. Give a girl a guy who makes all the wrong decisions and she’s sunk.

  “That I believe,” Ophelia replied to Cruz. This time I had my balance, so I turned to look at her one more time.

  “Next time I’ll buy you a whiskey,” I told her. Not sure if that was a good thing or not.

  She smiled and bit her lip although her eyes appeared to be laughing at me. “I’ll remember that,” she replied.

  “Fuck he needs food. Come on lover boy. You do not need to go flirting with a Finlay,” Cruz said and jerked my arm in the direction of the house.

  “Why?” I asked trying to free myself from his hold but only managing to stumble along beside him instead.

  “They’ll eat you up. You’re too damn soft.”

  I didn’t like being called soft. “I’m not fucking soft.” I jerked free this time as I said it and just managed to keep from falling back on my ass.

  Cruz groaned in frustration. “Fine, you’re a tough son of a bitch. Now come on. We are wasting time.”

  Before I could tell him I didn’t need his help, Bliss appeared on the front porch all dressed in white and looking like the angel I always knew she was. Pausing, I watched as she beamed at her mother who joined her. This was her big day. The one she’d once thought she may never see.

  “What if I don’t grow up . . . what if I don’t fall in love and get married?” Her voice was weak from the chemo treatments and her head now completely bald. Still, I’d never seen anyone as beautiful as Bliss.

  “You will. You’ll get your wedding. With the princess dress, the sunshine, your family and friends, and a guy who will love you forever.” I said the words fiercely because they had to be true. A life without Bliss in it wasn’t possible.

  Her smile was soft and her skin so pale it scared me. “Promise me, Eli?” she asked.

  “I swear it,” I replied.

  That memory sobered me better than anything Cruz Kerrington had in mind. I took in the scene and silently thanked a God I wasn’t sure existed. But I had pleaded with him so many times for years while Bliss battled leukemia that if He was there, then He needed to be thanked for listening.

  “I need coffee,” I finally said to Cruz.

  “Fuck yeah you do,” he replied.

  I fell into step beside him and we made our way to the side door of the house that led into the kitchen. There was a flurry going on with preparations for the reception. Cruz ignored the lady who told him to get out and took a couple small sandwiches off the tray she was preparing.

  “This is the bride’s best man. He needs food and coffee to soak up the damn whiskey,” Cruz said to the younger girl who looked to be swooning over him instead of scolding him.

  The girl got to work on my coffee and Cruz moved me toward the hallway.

  My sister Crimson stepped out of Bliss’s old bedroom about that time and her eyes locked on me. I saw the realization as she took in my appearance. If only she could have been my youngest sister Cleo. Why in fuck’s sake did I have to see Crimson right at this moment?

  “Jesus, Eli, seriously!” she hissed. “You look like shit. This is Bliss’s wedding day and you’re drunk in the middle of the afternoon. How could you? This isn’t like you? Is this about . . .” she paused and looked at Cruz who was standing silently beside me. Instead of handing me a sandwich he shoved one in my mouth.

  “He’s sobering up now. I got this. Go find someone else to bitch at,” Cruz said to Crimson. Her face turned bright red as she glared at him. I chewed quickly and swallowed. I had to handle this now before my sister said anything else. She was no match for Cruz and if he said anything mean to her, I’d have to kick his ass. In my current condition, I doubted I’d succeed.

  Before I could swallow the food, Crimson spun on her heel and stormed away. Without another word. I was pretty fucking positive that had never happened in my life.

  When the food was finally down, I asked, “How did you do that?”

  Cruz frowned. “What?”

  I pointed at my sister’s retreating form.

  He gave a dismissive shrug. “I just told her it was handled.”

  I shook my head. “No, that’s not what I mean. Crimson doesn’t listen like that. At least to me or about me.”

  “She’s younger than you, correct?” Cruz asked.

  I nodded. But she was still bossy as hell.

  Cruz ran a hand over his head and let out a sigh. “Damn. I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy as fucking nice as you are. Shake that shit off, dude. Get a backbone. Be firm. Make your own decisions. You need to go and live. A fucking lot. Enjoy being your own man. Doing whatever the hell you want to do. Stop being so damn nice.”

  The way he said it made me feel like a loser. As if I had been living in a bubble afraid to see the world. “Just because I’m not a bastard doesn’t mean I’m weak,” I argued. “What about Lila? She deserves more from you than all that shit. She needs a man who will be there for her, love her, support her. Not some man who wants to call the shots and live some wild life.” Yet she’d chosen this joker over me.