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“Listen—if you need me you call me. You don’t owe Scott anything and you certainly don’t owe Chris anything either. You’re going to be there for Darcy and Ed. But if you or the kids need an escape you call me.”

“I will.”

“I mean it.”

Victoria smiled. “I promise."

Sonia kissed Victoria on the cheek and headed out to the minivan in the driveway.

Victoria closed the door and rested her back against it. She looked at her home, now a mess with toys and mismatched clothing items. It would all keep until after the wedding. They were all going to need their beauty rest for tomorrow—and their strength.

Chapter Five

The hallway of the church was full of men and each of them were pacing in different directions. Ed, the one who should be pacing, stood in the center of the room like an anxious child waiting for a candy store to open.

Carlos, their father, had just helped his parents into the church. Darcy’s father wrung his hands together until Clara poked her head out of the room down the hall and signaled for him. Regan, Simone, and Arianna walked out of the room with wide grins on their faces. They each grabbed their husbands and found their seats.

Spencer and Tyler continued to seat late guests and then took their places by the door.

Madeline was the last to leave the room and she was already wiping tears from her eyes. “Give me just one more moment, okay?” she said patting Ed’s cheek and hurrying to the restroom.

Ed turned to Clara’s husband Warner. “You know you should have to deal with her when she’s like this. You took the chicken way out of it by eloping.”

“You’re right. But we did end up with a few silent dinners because of it.”

Ed grinned and turned to Chris, who continued to pace. “You look more nervous than I do.”

“You look nervous.”

“I do not.”

“Okay, you’re right. Why aren’t you nervous?”

Ed pushed back his shoulders. “I love her. I love her like I can’t imagine ever loving anyone else in my whole life.”

Chris swallowed hard. “I’m really happy for you.”

Just then, their mother walked out of the restroom. “This is as good as it’s going to get.”

“Mom, I think you look wonderful.”

The minster appeared from the chapel. “We are ready.”

The men followed him down the aisle and Ed escorted his mother to her seat. He kissed her on the cheek and then did the same to his father before joining Chris and Warner.

Warner’s guitar waited on a stand beside him. When he was given the signal by his wife, he picked up the guitar and began to play.

Chris watched the door at the back of the church, careful not to look around. He wasn’t ready to meet the eyes of anyone—specifically Tori’s date.

The guests turned in their seats and that was when Chris saw the flower girl and the ring bearer walk down the aisle with Avery’s gentle instructions being whispered to them.

Christian leaned toward Ed. “When did Ali and Sam become part of your wedding?” he asked quietly through gritted teeth.

“Last night,” Ed whispered. “Darcy wanted it.”

Chris fisted his hands to his side and finally looked around at the guests.

Seated on the bride’s side of the church was Tori. She was only three rows away from him, but he hadn’t seen her when he walked in.

Seeing her there, turned around, taking pictures of her niece and nephew, he felt like bursting into a fit of tears himself. They were beautiful and she was obviously so proud of them.

He appreciated her for a moment as she was turned from him. The beautiful dress the women had bought her exposed her sculpted shoulders and her long, soft neck. Small pearls dangled from her ears—pearls he’d given her.

Blonde curls cascaded over her shoulders and he thought of the many times he’d brushed those strands away so he could kiss every inch of her delicate skin.

His memories were quickly shattered when the man seated next to her grasped her hand in his and she turned to smile at him, still beaming as if those kids were theirs.

The realization of the moment hurt. Perhaps that’s what was going on. This man had been the man to step in and take on that heavy burden with her.

As Ali and Sam made it to the front of the sanctuary and Tori turned, his eyes locked with hers. A million painful emotions bounced between them as they kept each other’s gaze.

Would she ever know how sorry he was?

At that moment he certainly knew how sorry he was—and it was selfish.

As the guests stood when Darcy and her father entered the sanctuary, Christian’s eyes were diverted from Tori. Not by the amazing vision in white walking toward his brother who was grinning like a fool, but because the man with Tori had stood and wrapped his arm protectively around her waist.

There were a million videos that had gone viral on the internet where the best man had fallen over—Chris wondered how many of them started with a guilt ridden man wishing away all the hurtful words he’d said to a woman.

As Darcy passed by Tori’s pew, Christian was sure to turn away and look toward his brother.

Ed’s eyes were wide and the smile on his mouth had actually grown wider.

Christian looked at Darcy. She was absolutely breath taking. He swallowed hard. Not once had he considered that he might cry at this wedding. He wasn’t supposed to be sentimental about it. He’d cried when his parents remarried, but that made sense.

Quickly he batted away the first tear as the minister asked who gave the bride to the groom. When her father answered, he lifted Darcy’s veil and kissed her on the cheek before shaking Ed’s hand.

And with that, the ceremony began and soon his brother was married.

Christian looked at his sister, who sobbed like a child. A glance at Warner and he literally felt his knees wobble. There was a gaze going between them that said they were happy together and that they loved each other.

Watching his brother kiss his new bride, Chris felt the pang of regret and jealousy mix in his chest.

He so badly wanted to turn and look at Tori. He wanted to know if they still had that connection, but he was afraid to. What if he turned and she was looking at that man in the same way his brother and sister looked at their spouses?

Giving his knees a slight bend he stood there applauding until it was time to give his sister his arm and escort her back down the aisle following their brother.

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