Lady and Xavier

Laidey Bartholomew entered the Mixed Grill feeling relaxed and at ease after playing for a good forty minutes on the grand piano in the country club’s ballroom. One look at Xavier’s face changed all that.

“You want our wedding to take place in Dallas?” he bellowed from halfway across the room. Harry actually had him by one arm, gripping him from across the top of the bar.

Laidey wasn’t exactly sure what was happening. “I’m sorry?” she asked as she came up to the two of them and noticed every head was turned in their direction. Not invisible. And it seemed now that she was engaged to the overbearing bundle of red-faced rage in front of her, her cloak of invisibility was in shreds.

Gratefully Xavier lowered his voice after a quick glance at her face and then the crowd around them. “I thought we were going to be married here. In Henderson.”

“My family’s church is in Dallas.”

“Right. But your new church—my family’s church for the last four generations—is here. Right down the street.”

Laidey blinked. Then she turned her head to Harry. “Can you get Annabelle Devine on the phone for me?”

Harry pointed his finger at her and said, “Brilliant.” But before he released Xavier’s arm so he could call Annabelle, he asked Xavier, “You Zen?”

“No, I’m not Zen,” Xavier grimaced. “I’m the furthest thing from fucking Zen. But I’m not gonna hurt the woman I love just because she wants to ruin my momma’s dreams for my wedding day, so you can unhand me and—oh yeah—might not ever want to grab me like that again.”

“Done.” Harry pulled his phone out of his pocket and walked away, presumably dialing Annabelle.

“Tweets, the Keeper of the Debutantes is not going to be on your side in this. She’s from Henderson after all.”

“I have every faith that she’ll be able to explain wedding protocol to you, and your momma if need be. Traditionally the bride’s family pays for the wedding, and in most instances, the wedding is held in the bride’s hometown.”

“Well this isn’t most instances. I’ve got a sick momma.”

“Who is on the mend. Don’t play that card with me, Xavier Wright. You know perfectly well she’s able to travel.”

“I don’t want her traveling to cause a setback.”

“Neither do I.”

“Then we’ll tie the knot in Henderson.”

Laidey blew out a breath. “I love you, you big bully, but you are not getting your way on this. We are going to live in Henderson. We are going to work in Henderson. We’ll even raise our kids here. But we are being married in my hometown of Dallas.”

“Since when did you get so feisty?”

“Since I’m marrying a bully.”

Xavier bit his lip.

“Don’t laugh at me,” she scolded. “Yeah, I’m figuring out I’m made of sterner stuff now that I am dealing with the likes of you.”

“The likes of me?” Xavier feigned insult as he tugged her into his embrace. He leaned against the barstool so he could spread out his legs and get closer to her level. “I thought my bluster turned you on.”

“Bluster away,” she told him. “We are getting married in Dallas.”

“You sure?” He nuzzled her neck.


“Nothin’ I can do to change your mind?” he whispered, skimming her sides with his electrically charged fingers.

“Mmm—no,” she cooed. “But you can talk me out of having dinner and into heading up that ladder to your room if you’d like.”

Xavier’s head popped up. “Damn.”


“You just out-maneuvered me. Come on.” He grabbed her by the hand and tugged her behind him as he headed for the door.

“Cancel that call, Harry,” Laidey called over her shoulder. “I think we’re good.”

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