Chain reaction, p.5
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       Chain Reaction, p.5

         Part #3 of Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles
Page 5


  Not Mexican, my ass. I was right. This angel has more than a little red, white, and green blood running through her veins. Dr. Cruz was the one who took the bullet out of Alex’s shoulder at the hospital when he got shot years ago. The doctor has been in contact with Alex ever since, keeping tabs on him.

  Mamá nods, then scans Nikki Cruz—the surgeon’s daughter—from head to toe. “The wedding is about to start. Ándale, Luis. ”

  Before I turn around and walk out of the room, I give Nikki a completely arrogant and secret wink/nod that’s sure to once again bring out that Latina attitude in full force.

  She flips me off. She doesn’t do it to amuse me, but it does.

  I can’t wait for the reception. Like my two older brothers, I don’t ever back down from a challenge, and Nikki Cruz is definitely not one that will surrender easily. By the end of the night I bet I could convince her to be my next girlfriend—well, at least until my flight back home to Colorado.



  I watch as Luis follows his mom out of the room with his arrogant head held high. I was about to hang up with Kendall when he popped into the room and I froze. For a brief second I thought he was Marco. They’re both about the same height, age, and physique.

  When Luis smiled at me and I felt a flicker of attraction, panic swelled inside me. I can’t let my guard down, and a guy like Luis is as dangerous as Marco. I can tell by that smile. He looks innocent enough, but I know better. He might be able to fool other girls, but not me.

  It’s been two weeks since Marco and I broke up, and the pain is still as raw as it was when he left me on the beach. I never want to feel as desperate and devastated as I did that night. If hatred and bitchiness will protect me, I’ll use it.

  I hold my head high as I walk back to the ceremony. The music starts, and I quickly grab the empty seat between my mom and my younger brother, Ben. Ben is slouched down in his chair, annoyed that Mom and Dad didn’t let him play his handheld video game player. He has to sit here like all the other bored twelve-year-old boys at this wedding.

  My parents and Ben have no clue Marco and I broke up. I didn’t want to talk about it. I also didn’t want my parents to gloat and say We told you so. Ben wouldn’t care since he hardly said two words to Marco the entire time we were dating.

  If my parents had it their way they’d probably want to set up an arranged marriage for me, because they want me with a nice boy who comes from a “good background. ” The last thing I want is my parents picking out my boyfriends or, heaven forbid, my future husband.

  Ben hasn’t had a girlfriend yet. He’s been spared any parental input on his love life, because his love life is nonexistent—unless you count Princess Amotoka from the online game he plays. Needless to say, she’s not real.

  My eyes wander to the front, where Luis is standing next to the rest of the groomsmen. When our eyes meet for a split second, he winks while flashing me a killer smile. I look down, pretending to suddenly be very interested in a stray thread on the bottom of my dress. I feel nauseous.

  Right behind me I hear a girl whisper loudly, “Omigod! Do you see that hottie with the spiked hair? Omigod, who is he?”

  If she says Omigod again, I’m turning around and slapping her.

  “It’s Alex’s brother Luis,” someone explains to the Omigod girl.

  “I think he just winked at me,” I hear her squeal.

  I don’t mention that I have a good idea that his wink was meant for me. I force myself to ignore him and focus on the bride and groom. I just wish I wouldn’t find it so hard not to stare at Luis, for the sole reason that I’m doing my best not to stare at him. I hate that.

  The ceremony is just like every other beach wedding ceremony at twilight while the sun is going down. Okay, I admit the whole setting is super cool, but the beach has a negative vibe to me right now. I thought it was my special place with Marco, but it’s not. Being here, staring at Lake Michigan in the background, only reminds me of our breakup.

  The bride, Brittany, is about to walk down the aisle, but she hesitates and glances anxiously at the entrance before taking the arm of an older man about to escort her.

  “Poor girl. Her parents didn’t show,” my mom whispers to me.

  “Why not?” I ask.

  Mom shrugs. “I’m not sure. I just overheard some of her bridesmaids talking about it before the ceremony started. ”

  Brittany walks down the aisle and looks like she came right out of the pages of a designer bride magazine. The groom, Alex, can’t take his eyes off her.

  As soon as the priest opens his prayer book to start the ceremony, I can’t help but glance at Luis. He’s listening intently to the priest and suddenly has a serious, worried look on his face. I wonder why, until …

  “You can’t get married,” Luis chimes in loudly.

  More than a few gasps come from the crowd. Every guest is in shock.

  This is getting good.

  Alex slaps his hand over his eyes. “You didn’t,” he says to Luis.

  Luis steps forward. “I just … Alex, tell her. You can’t start your marriage on a lie. ”

  Brittany, whose mouth has been wide open ever since Luis spoke up, lifts her veil and furrows her perfectly plucked eyebrows.

  “Tell me what?” She’s turning whiter than her wedding dress, if that’s even possible. I hope the priest or maid of honor, who looks like she wants to murder Alex, is ready to catch her if she passes out.

  “Nothin’,” Alex says. “We’ll talk later, chica. It’s not a big deal. ”

  “Don’t chica me, Alex,” his bride snaps.

  “I think she’s gonna deck him,” Ben murmurs, amused.

  The bride isn’t buying it. Maybe they’re about to come to the realization that happily-ever-after doesn’t exist. “It’s a big-enough deal for your brother to stop our wedding,” Brittany argues.

  “This is ridiculous,” Alex growls. He mumbles something to the best man, who seems more amused than shocked.

  I feel a sisterhood bond with Brittany, even if she’s not aware of it.

  Alex’s mom, sitting in the front row, has her head bent as if she’s watching an ant on the ground and it’s the most interesting thing she’s ever seen. I think I just saw her crossing herself. When she looks up again, she’s got daggers in her eyes as she glares at Alex and Luis.

  With nowhere to run except through the crowd or escape into the Lake Michigan water, Alex says, “We’re movin’ back here. ”

  Brittany blinks a few times. She cocks her head to the side as if she didn’t hear him right. “Here? As in Chicago?”

  All I can think is, Oh, Alex, you’re clueless. Looking around at the other guests watching this drama unfold, I notice a couple of girls two rows in front of me not too upset by the chain of events unfolding before our eyes. I think they’ve got the hots for Alex, and won’t be disappointed if he’s suddenly single. I’m sure the Omigod girl is available behind me, although Alex is probably too old for her.

  Brittany backs away from Alex. “And you didn’t tell me because …”

  “Because you were busy plannin’ this weddin’, and studyin’ for finals, and, to be honest, I didn’t want you to start freakin’ out. ”

  “So my opinion doesn’t matter? What about my sister?” Brittany points to the girl in the wheelchair next to the maid of honor. “I’m not leaving her in Colorado. ”

  “Would you two like to take a break and discuss this privately?” the befuddled priest asks.

  “No,” Brittany snaps. “I don’t want to go anywhere with him. ”

  “It’s your wedding,” the priest reminds her. “Umm …” He looks at his Bible, as if that has the answers to help the couple mend their problems.

  “Let’s just get married and discuss this later,” Alex tells her. “You’ll agree once you hear me out. ”

  “We’re supposed to be a team and make decisions together, Alex.
Lying is a deal-breaker. ”

  Yes! She’s finally getting it. He lied. Boys always lie. I want to scream Break it off with him while you have the chance! but I restrain myself.

  “I didn’t lie, chica. I just delayed mentionin’ it for a little while. This is not a deal-breaker. ”

  She crosses her arms on her chest. “Maybe it is for me. ”

  “Marry me, Brittany, ’cause you know it’s gonna happen anyway. Shelley will be with us, I promise. This is all about keepin’ us together. ”

  He closes the distance between them. Without another word, he pulls her to him and kisses her with lips, a peek of tongue, and … I think I hear some breathless sighs coming from the guests. Nobody can take their eyes off that sensual kiss full of passion.

  Don’t fall for it! I want to scream, but I can tell it’s no use. Her bridal bouquet falls to the ground as she wraps her arms around his neck.

  I glance at the girl behind me. The Omigod girl is all dreamy-eyed as she watches the make-out session. All the girls are looking like that. I can just imagine their minds racing, wondering if they’ll have as much chemistry with their boyfriends/husbands one day. With that thought, I glance at Luis again.

  He’s looking right at me, and a shock wave runs through me. So what if we have chemistry. Chemistry doesn’t miraculously turn bad boys into good ones.

  “I’m mad at you for keeping something important from me,” Brittany says to Alex, although her conviction has definitely been compromised after that kiss.

  “I know,” Alex says. “I promise I have no other secrets. ”

  “But I do,” she says. “As long as we’re spilling secrets I might as well tell you mine. ” She looks down at her stomach and places her hand over her midsection. When she looks back up at him, her eyes are glassy. “Alex, I’m pregnant. ”

  My stomach clenches in response.



  When I objected to the wedding, I didn’t know it would turn into the Fuentes Family Circus. I just wanted Alex to come clean to Brittany.

  That’s it.

  I had no clue my soon-to-be sister-in-law is pregnant. Oh man, seeing our ma’s face when Brittany announced the news was classic—her face turned bright red.

  I’m glad it’s over, though. Brittany said “I do” and my brother said “I do” and she didn’t toss the arras back at him, and Brittany Ellis is now Brittany Fuentes.

  My brother is going to be a father … man, I can’t believe it. Neither can he. After the initial shock, he hasn’t stopped smiling, and at one point he even knelt down and kissed Brittany’s stomach over her wedding dress.

  I look across the room at everyone dancing on the moonlit dance floor having fun.

  Miamá comes up to me. She’s still flushed, but I can’t be sure if it’s from the shocking news she’s going to be a grandmother, the fact that I saw my cousin Jorge make her do shots of tequila, or if the realization hit that she just married off one of her three kids.

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