ButterfaceBy: Avery Flynn
(A Hot Romantic Comedy) (The Hartigans)
Gina Luca knew one thing right down to the very marrow of her wedding-planner bones: brides were the devil. And a bridezilla on her fourth round of tequila shots during the reception? A highly flammable devil capable of anything, including hijacking the videographer and projecting an impromptu Kiss Cam on the movie theater–sized screen behind the bridal party dais.
The screen was supposed to be showing guests in real time celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials. Instead, it was showing one of the bridesmaids going octopus on a startled guy in a brown suit holding a shrimp cocktail in one hand.
She stood on the outer edge of the crowd, watching the beautiful wedding she’d planned get turned into an episode of trash reality TV. “There is no way this is going to end well,” she muttered to herself.
“With as many of my co-workers as are here tonight?” a man next to her said. “It’s an HR nightmare.”
Startled, she turned and took in the man who spoke. Tall. Dark hair. Green eyes. The scruff of a trim beard. The tie on his tux was undone and hanging loose around his neck. She recognized him immediately.
The name fit. He was a cop. He was built tough—muscular, without looking like he couldn’t actually put his arms down. He looked hot, solid, and totally out of her league—not a shocker. Her league was microscopic, which she’d accepted and moved past because she had other things that were amazing in her life that had nothing to do with the size of her dating pool. She owned her own business and had great friends. The moral of the story? She wasn’t the kind to ever turn a hot guy’s head, but who the hell cared? Not her.
At least that took the pressure off trying to sound cool, which she most definitely was not.
“Aren’t you just a total romantic.” She softened the snark with a smile.
“With a Kiss Cam? At a wedding reception with an open bar? With about fifty-three percent of the Waterbury Police Department in attendance?” He snorted and somehow managed to make the rude noise sound sexy, because that’s the magic good-looking people had. “Romantic isn’t the word I’d use for it.”
She crossed her arms and stared up at him with amusement. The glittering lights in the ballroom must have flickered at that moment, because she could have sworn his gaze dropped down to her mouth, then to her breasts—totally covered in her high-neck green dress—before snapping back up to her face. And what she saw in his eyes then? It wasn’t the casual dismissal she was used to.
Obviously, something wonky was happening with the lights. She’d have to follow up with the hotel staff about it.
“How would you describe the situation?” she asked.
His intense focus turned back to the wedding guests hooting and hollering as the Kiss Cam zoomed in on a new couple. “Inadvisable.”
“Agreed.” She turned and stared at the couple on the screen. They’d been bumping and grinding on the dance floor an hour ago, the woman having matched the bride shot for shot earlier. “But at least we’re not them.”
The couple leaned into each other, mouths agape. Sloppy didn’t even begin to describe the resulting kiss.
“Oh man,” Ford groaned. “You can see their tongues. I should never have to see Partridge’s tongue. That’s gotta be a violation of something.”
Gina smiled up at him, calling his bluff. “You don’t use your tongue when you kiss?”
“On a Kiss Cam?” His eyes went wide but couldn’t seem to stop watching the horror unfold on the big screen. “Hell no.”
She laughed, she couldn’t help it. Something about his hot and uptight vibe got to her. “Have you been on many Kiss Cams?”
His jaw tightened. “Just this one.”
Her gut dropped to the center of the earth, and she looked away from him and back at the screen. The sloppy kissers were gone from the screen. Instead, it showed Gina and Ford.
While they stood there as if turned to stone, the crowd began to chant, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, she got to watch in live high-def as embarrassment turned her entire face a blotchy red and her already-large eyes did the whole bugging-out thing that made them protrude even more than they normally did. Great. Add that to the big nose and the stress zit on her chin from organizing this wedding from hell—all shown in great detail on the huge screen—and she was so not the kind of woman a guy like Ford would kiss. Even in the dark. Even after eight tequila shots.