The Wrong Sister

By: Kris Pearson

“Don’t, darling,” she said, flinching and unable to escape from the surprisingly firm grasp.

“I’ll fix it,” Christian said, moving his arm up over her shoulders and sliding his fingers along her neck to her jawbone. “Let go, Nicky—you’re hurting Auntie Fee.”

Nicky gave a naughty giggle.

He tipped his head back to focus on Fiona’s face. His dark eyes held hers for too long. Unable to bear such close scrutiny, she squeezed hers shut.

No, this can’t be happening again.

Waves of wanting swept over her, followed swiftly by a great wash of guilt. He was beautiful, dangerous, and she had to remember he was totally out of bounds.

Finally his hand moved in her hair...tangling with Nicola’s tiny fingers and loosening her playful grip. Fiona felt both relief and regret flood through her as they pulled apart and he walked back into the kitchen with his daughter.

This was wrong. Terribly wrong. She shouldn’t find her dead sister’s husband so desirable.

Okay, she’d always thought him a handsome man. But he and Jan were the perfect couple. He was her sister’s, pure and simple, and that’s how it had to stay.

She’d not met him before their wedding day. Had barely arrived in time because of a sudden airline strike. Her first real view of him had been standing at the altar in his wedding finery.

She’d known he was tall from Jan’s emails, and he stood to his full height—no slouching while he waited for his bride. His hair was dark, crisp, newly cut...the line at his neck precise where it met his skin. Olive skin. It was mid-winter, so wouldn’t be a local suntan. She’d willed him to turn around so she could really see his face.

His shoulders were broad, although he didn’t appear chunkily built. From the back of the shadowy, darkly timbered church it was difficult to see more—the fancy hats of the wedding guests cut across his body, obscuring him.

Sweetly scented festoons of carnations and ivy garlanded each pew-end, spicy as Christmas pudding; their perfume still floated through her memory.

She’d stood just inside the church doors for a minute or so with her cousin, Louise, the other bridesmaid; the magnificent vintage car with Jan and her Dad had stopped for traffic lights and fallen a little behind.

“Can you see them yet?” she’d asked.

Louise had peered out for a couple of seconds and then shaken her head. “They won’t be long. Let’s hope this wind doesn’t yank her veil off!”

The day was clear but bitingly cold. Wellington’s famed southerly wind swirled and tugged and whistled, and Fiona’s rustling shot-taffeta dress afforded her no warmth at all.

She and Louise had gone out to greet Jan and her Dad when the big car arrived, and hung onto the pesky veil until the bride was safely in the church.

And as their little procession started up the aisle, Christian had finally swung around to watch his wife-to-be walking toward him.

Fiona’s breath had caught in her throat. Lucky Jan!

Christian’s dark eyes fastened avidly on his bride. His smile of welcome lit up half the church. It was a love-match for sure, and he was as gorgeous in the flesh as he’d appeared in the emailed photos.

Her beautiful sister deserved a hunky husband. Fiona thought they looked perfect together as they strolled back down the aisle after the service. She’d found it hard not to feel just a little jealous of Jan’s good fortune. Christian was more than handsome, more than attentive, and already much more than a millionaire. The other men simply weren’t noticeable beside him.

“Smile!” the photographer had called as they reached the church steps. The winter sun poured down its blessing and they’d all laughed and played to the camera. The later shots made much of the fantastic old cars—Jan’s foot coquettishly posed on a running board as she displayed the lacy garter on her thigh...Fiona and Louise leaning out through the windows, showing far too much cleavage...Christian and his groomsmen ‘driving’ with the top down as Jan and Fiona and Louise pretended to hitch a ride, skirts fluttering in the wind.

All the while, Christian had been perfectly polite, and just a little distant. Understandable, Fiona supposed. She’d never set eyes on him before that day, and he was being careful not to put a foot wrong with his new sister-in-law. He had eyes only for Jan, and that was what mattered, after all.

They’d had their one obligatory groom-and-bridesmaid dance at the reception and Fiona had walked into his arms relaxed with champagne and happiness. He was a dream to dance with. They moved together so fluidly she felt she’d known him for years. Her hand on his shoulder easily established there was a big strong man under the fabric of his jacket and not merely shoulder-pads. Her other hand, gripped warmly in his, tingled as he rubbed his thumb up and down hers in time to the music. She remembered watching that thumb and enjoying the tiny unexpected caress.

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