Hustled To The Altar

By: Dani Collins

“I didn’t see the man. I can’t help you.” Jacob bent to press his thumb against one of the tires.

“I mean about our going on ahead.” Con made a face at her behind Jacob’s back and tapped his temple.

“Stop it,” she mouthed.

“I don’t mind either way.” Jacob frowned at the tires. “I can’t understand how all of them . . . .”

“Honestly, Jacob, can’t you see that Con let the air out of your tires so I would have to go with him? You’ll notice his car is a two-seater, so you’ll be left behind.” She waved from Jacob’s flat tires to Con’s Spitfire.

“Renatta Jane O’Laughlin! What are you suggesting? Just because we would be arrested for what we’ve done in that car doesn’t mean I plan to do it again. Unless you want to, of course. You were pretty enthusiastic the first time.”

Renny closed her eyes in a wince. When she opened them, Con had moved to his own car and opened the door. Grinning, he invited her into it with a wave.

Jacob lifted his brows indignantly.

“Ignore him,” Renny urged. “Everything is a game to Con. He doesn’t want me. He wants to win.”

“If there’s still something between you—”

“There’s not.”

“We might be rushing things.”

“I want to marry you, Jacob.” She curled her fists around the lapels of his jacket and kissed his lips.

He didn’t usually care for public displays of affection—was kind of reserved in private, for that matter—but he was a good kisser. He had warm lips, not too wet. Maybe he didn’t haul her into his arms the way Con would have, but having her butt grabbed during a quick embrace was not the respectable image she sought to attain. She liked that Jacob’s conservative personality curbed her impulsive nature.

“Do you suppose there’s a superstition about sending your bride off with her ex-boyfriend the day before the wedding?” Jacob asked.

“I’m waiting for you, so it doesn’t matter.”

“These tires will take time to fix. You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

“You can’t let him get away with this nonsense.”

“Renny, the quickest way to stop this nonsense is for you to prove you’re not affected. You’re the most reliable woman I know. I trust you completely.”

Reliable? That had to be the dreariest adjective ever applied to her. It shouldn’t bother her when she had struggled so hard to become an upstanding citizen, but she liked to think she still had a splash of color. On the other hand, she wanted to avoid the opposite extreme that Con brought out in her. Maybe Jacob was right. This was the ultimate test. Besides, she was curious to know what Con was trying to accomplish by separating her from Jacob. She and Con could clear the air while she cleared her conscience, all before lunch.

“I won’t disappoint you,” she promised.

“I know you won’t. Where should we meet?”

“Same place we stayed with Gran. I’ll leave a message with the bell desk.”

“All right.” He walked her to the Spitfire.

“So glad you decided to join me,” Con said.

“Don’t get smug or I’ll insist on driving.” She slid into the topless roadster and he slammed the door, rounded the car and climbed over the driver’s door to drop behind the wheel. Gunning the engine, he pulled away.

After waving at Jacob, she straightened in her seat. Con picked up speed and the wind gathered around her feet, billowing her skirt. She pushed it down her thighs.

“Why did you ditch Jacob?” she asked.

“Huh?” He looked from the road to her legs, to the road, back to her legs and, finally, to her face. “Oh. It’s an intervention. He’s not right for you, cookie. When you said ‘average,’ I didn’t realize you meant dull, complacent and a fathead.”

“He is not!”

“What’s he like in the sack?”

“I wouldn’t know,” she said, realizing as she spoke that it was absolutely the wrong thing to say.

Gravel sprayed as Con pulled over and jammed on the brakes. He stared at her.

“We want to wait until we’re married.”

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