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That Kind of Guy: Chapter 24

Avery

THE DOOR OPENED and what felt like six thousand people turned to stare at me. My stomach dropped through the floor. My heart began to race in my chest, so hard people could probably see it pounding against my neckline.

My mom took a step forward. I tried to move, but I was frozen in place.

My brain was frozen. Blood rocketed through my veins, but I couldn’t think or move. Was the dress always this tight? I could breathe fine during my fittings but right now, I couldn’t seem to suck enough air into my lungs.

The music was still playing but every person in the room held their breath in anticipation.

“Honey?” my mom asked out of the corner of her mouth.

I blinked. What was I doing? Why did I say yes to this? This was terrifying. There were so many people, I didn’t even know half of them. Emmett’s brother Finn had flown back into town just for this. This wasn’t fake to them. It was real, and it was a big fucking deal. My eyes darted around like I was a cow en route to the slaughterhouse.

This all hinged on me.

I couldn’t do this. I had to leave.

My gaze rose to Emmett, standing at the front of the courthouse, fifty feet away.

He smiled at me.

It wasn’t his shiny politician’s smile with a hundred teeth. It was the lopsided, amused, affectionate smile he gave me when I said something silly.

Right. Emmett.

My stomach unclenched.

I took a step forward, and my mom stepped with me, letting out a breath of relief. My mouth curved up, and I smiled back at Emmett.

Right. My pulse slowed even more and the banging feeling of my heart in my chest went away. I could do this. I could breathe. I began to walk slowly up the aisle as the music played.

As we approached him, with Wyatt standing behind him, everyone on either side of the aisle disappeared from my vision. I could barely even hear the music. I just watched Emmett, kept my gaze trained on his handsome face, thought about how wonderful he smelled and how nice it was to sit on the beach with him the other night. Maybe we could go back another time just to sit there and watch the waves on the shore and listen to the birds chirp in the trees. This was going to be okay, I just knew it.

When we got to the front, my mom gave me a kiss on the cheek and took a seat, and Emmett held his hand out to me, watching me steadily. His gaze was like a life raft, keeping me afloat, buoyant, and pulling me up to the surface. I took his hand.

This was happening.

Wyatt cleared his throat. His normally shaggy blond hair was tied into a messy bun. A strange giggle bubbled out of my throat, and Emmett gave me a funny look.

“Man bun,” I mouthed, and he grinned wider.

Wyatt started speaking. What was he saying? Couldn’t tell you. I wasn’t even listening. Emmett smiled down at me, running a thumb across the back of my left hand and distracting me.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered while Wyatt gave his speech.

My heart flip-flopped in my chest. The way he was looking at me, I felt beautiful. I felt like, to him, I was the only person on the planet right now.

He winked at me and squeezed my hand, and I couldn’t help but smile wider.

“Emmett, would you like to say your vows?” Wyatt asked and we snapped to attention.

“Right.” Emmett reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a piece of paper. “Avery.” He paused, looked up at me, and back at his paper. Mischief flashed in his eyes, and I narrowed my eyes.

“According to our records, your copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love is six years overdue.”

The guests broke out in laughter. A grin pulled at his features.

“Whoops.” He shuffled his papers and mock-winced at the guests. “Wrong paper.”

I burst out laughing, and he grinned at me while the laughter died down. He took a breath, and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he glanced at his papers. A flicker of nerves flashed across his face before he covered it back up with his usual smug confidence.

“Avery, I knew I liked you the second I saw you.” His voice rang out clear and loud in the room. “You were brand new in town and serving at The Arbutus, and I saw a beautiful girl and wanted to sit in her section, but there were no available tables.” He glanced up at me, and I tilted my head, curious. He had never told me this. “So I went back, but again, there were no available tables. I went back again. That time, I was finally in your section, but you were about to go on break.” A few laughs among the guests. “Seven times, I ate at that restaurant in a week until I finally got to talk to you.” His mouth hitched with the memory. “And you wouldn’t give me the time of day.”

He glanced up at me and back down at his paper, and I watched with awe. I had to give it to him, that sounded so genuine.

“But after a couple years, I wore you down.” He swallowed and blinked at his paper. “Avery Adams, you are the most hard-working, funny, intelligent, independent, determined person I know. You’re fiercely protective of everyone in your life. You take care of your people, your staff, your friends, and of me.” When he met my gaze, his was full of sincerity and vulnerability. “I wasn’t ready for that, and I wasn’t ready for how hard I’d fall for you.”

My stomach did a delicious roll forward. I gave him a small smile and reached out for the hand not holding the paper. He squeezed my fingers.

“I never expected to find someone I trust and respect so much, someone I want to talk to and see every day.” He glanced up at me again, and my heart expanded at the vulnerable, open expression on his face. “Someone I want to wake up with every day. You are what my life was missing, and I didn’t even realize it until I found you, but I have no plans to let you go. I love you, Avery Adams. I love you, and I’m never letting you go. That’s the deal.”

He leaned down and placed a soft kiss on my cheek. My heart beat in my ears. That sounded so real, and I wanted it to be, more than anything. His hands brushed mine, and my head swirled with feelings, both light, happy, delirious feelings and uncertain, surprised, confused feelings.

Wyatt looked at me and nodded. “Go for it.”

I turned to Hannah, who stood and passed me my vows. I unfolded them, aware that everyone was waiting. My pulse raced.

Emmett smiled down at me softly, and when I smiled back, the tension within me immediately eased. Right. This was going to be fine. I reached out and slipped my hand into his. His warm fingers brushed against the back of my hand, and I took a steadying breath.

“I didn’t like you when I first met you.”

Emmett let out a bark of laughter. Some chuckles rose up from the guests as well.

I shook my head at him, grinning. “I really didn’t like you. I thought you were the schmooziest, fakest, most insincere person I’d ever met. How could someone be friends with everyone?”

He gave me an amused, lopsided smile. I cleared my throat. “Then, I got to know you, and everything changed.”

The paper shook in front of me. I sucked in a deep breath and closed my eyes for a brief moment while Emmett’s warm hand squeezed mine. It was hard to say these things, even if this whole thing wasn’t real.

I was just going to tell the truth.

“The Emmett I now know is the most selfless person.” I glanced up into his grey eyes, so full of affection and warmth. Okay, this wasn’t so bad. “You’d do anything for a friend, and you’re friends with everyone.”

Emmett laughed, and my heart burst with pride. I loved it when he did that.

I scanned the front row of guests and locked eyes with Elizabeth. We smiled at each other. “That’s you, Emmett. I like spending time with you more than anyone. I used to like being alone. I valued my solitude, but I like being around you more. I love how warm and caring you are, how you take care of me, how you make me laugh, and how impulsive you are.” I met his gaze, and he was looking at me like I was the woman he was about to marry for real. My chest panged. “It wasn’t easy for me to trust you, but I took a leap and I’m so happy I did.” I swallowed thickly, hesitating.

I promised myself to tell the truth.

“I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to take as good care of you as you do of everyone else. I love you.”

Emmett’s hand came to my chin, and he covered my mouth with his. The soft brush of his lips over mine was such a relief I sighed against his mouth. I inhaled him, his intoxicating, masculine scent. His arm came around my waist to pull me closer to him and I didn’t even care that he was nearly crushing me against him, I was kissing him back hard and my head swirled. My heart raced, not with nerves this time, but with exhilaration. I told the truth, and I said I loved Emmett.

I was deliriously happy.

He pulled my hair lightly, tilting my head back to deepen the kiss and his tongue swiped mine. A soft moan escaped my throat. This was incredible, this kiss. My head spun. I could have done this forever. This wedding thing wasn’t so scary after all. It was actually incredible.

We were two people in a crowd of over a hundred, but it felt like we had the room to ourselves.

“Kiss the bride,” Wyatt said in a dry tone beside us.

The guests laughed and we broke apart. Right, the rest of the wedding.

Wyatt beamed at us. “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Everyone cheered, and Emmett dropped another kiss onto my lips. I smiled into his mouth. My pulse still raced but I couldn’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt, I grinned so big.

Wyatt directed us over to a table on the side of the room where the marriage certificate sat. He told me where to sign and I did without even reading the thing. Emmett’s hand rested on my lower back the whole time, sending shivers up and down my spine. I handed the pen to him and he signed his name quickly before taking my hand.

Hannah signed as our witness and then Wyatt.

Wyatt gestured at the marriage certificate. “I’ll file this.”

Emmett shook his head. “Just leave it in my car. I’ll do it tomorrow.” He glanced at me, the special we’ve got a secret look, before he pulled my hand and lead me down the aisle past our applauding friends and family. When we passed through the doors, he tilted his head down the hall.

“Come on.” His eyes gleamed. He pulled me and we started jogging through city hall.

“Where are we going?” I asked, laughing and trying to keep up with him.

He didn’t answer, just led us past the receptionist who was still on FaceTime, and through the front doors. He stopped and scooped me up, and I let out a surprised squeal.

“What are you doing?” My face hurt from smiling. He threw me over his shoulder, and I gasped. “Emmett, you’re going to rip my dress!”

“Good.” His voice was gravelly. “Then we can go home and be alone.”

He carried us around the side of city hall and through the gardens before setting me down, right side up. We were in the rose garden beside city hall, surrounded by hundreds of varieties of roses in full summer bloom, and best of all, we were all alone.

He stepped into my personal space and looked down at me. “I want you to myself for a few moments before the reception.” His hand came to my hair. “No one will bother us here.”

I felt breathless at his proximity. “That was very thoughtful of you.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “And you had no ulterior motives?”

The corners of his mouth lifted. “Sure, I did. I wanted to do more of this.” His lips dropped to mine and I sighed again.

I don’t know how long we stood there, making out in the rose garden. Time seemed to stand still and I wasn’t worried about anything else. Emmett’s fingers brushed the back of my neck and my hand snaked around his waist inside his suit jacket. His kiss oscillated between soft and sweet, and demanding and bossy. Every slip of his tongue against mine sent a zing of electricity through my limbs and made me shiver against him. He nipped my lip with his teeth and a little gasp escaped my throat.

He pulled away from my mouth, leaning his forehead against mine. We were both breathing hard.

He blew a frustrated breath out. “I am so fucking hard right now.”

I laughed a little. “Maybe they won’t miss us.”

“There you two are,” Div called at the entrance of the garden.

A groan of frustration came out of Emmett’s chest, and I sighed.

“We’ll be there in a second.” Emmett ran his hands up my shoulders and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “What’s the grossest thing you can think of?”

I laughed in surprise. “What?”

“I need to get rid of this hard-on. Quick. Tell me about your grandmother or something.”

I laughed again. “Think about Elizabeth.”

His expression turned to revolt. “My mother?”

I laughed harder. “The turtle you almost made out with.”

He gagged and I wheezed with laughter. “Oh god.” He shuddered. “Yeah, that worked.” He held a hand out. “Let’s go.”

Emmett and I met Div and the photographer he had hired at the edge of the garden, where we let her take a few pictures of us before she led us down to the beach. We kicked our shoes off where the sand started.

“You guys go ahead,” she told us. “I’ll hang back.”

Emmett took my hand and led me along the trees at the edge of the sand. I inhaled the cool breeze coming in off the ocean and let the sun warm my skin. The late-Spring temperature was just a little bit too cold, but I didn’t mind since Emmett was happy to tuck me into his side to stay warm. Birds floated in the water, bobbing as the waves rolled in.

I gave him a sidelong look. “I thought this would be a lot harder.”

“Getting married?”

I nodded.

“Me too.” He squeezed my hand and my heart flipped in my chest.

We wandered down the beach for a bit before turning around and heading back towards where we started. I could hear the clicking of the photographer’s camera but paid no attention to it.

“Get any good shots?” I asked her when we were ready to head to the restaurant.

She glanced up from her camera with a wistful smile. “One or two.”


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