Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Kelly Rae is mom to an amazing young man. Everything else is just a way to keep busy between laughs with her son, or a way to pay for his sports equipment and growing feet. When she was twelve years old, she hit the big leagues by winning a Young Authors Award (okay, okay, it was only within her school district. Shh.) Although she has been unable to duplicate this success in her adult writing, she is giving it her best shot. Kelly, her son, and their chocolate lab, live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy the sun when it shines and the snow when it falls. When they aren’t dancing in the rain or singing at the top of their lungs in the car, they are planning their dream vacations…which they might even get to take some day.
What inspired you to write your book?
Also, my writers group wanted to do a wedding boxed set and I don’t believe in marriage, so to keep up the theme I went with the guests so I didn’t have to fake my way through a happy ending for a married couple. LOL LOL LOL
Here is a short sample from the book:
♥ Wedding One ♥
Cassie walked around the wedding reception, her third turn as a bridesmaid in eighteen months. She hadn’t felt bad about it—until now. Every other time, she just reminded herself they were all of the age where weddings started happening. High school and college friends all started to settle down and move into grown-up life. It didn’t make things any better that she came stag—again. There could only be one thing worse: being at a wedding with a bad date.
She did that once, a year ago, and vowed never to do it again. She preferred not to be the story everyone talked about at or after the wedding. Like what happened with Ted—let-me-take-you-to-bed Ted. Yes, he really did say that at one point, and yes, Cassie had been very desperate for a date at the time. He had been found in the coat closet with the mother of the groom. Somehow, it had become a story Cassie couldn’t live down, even though she had been an innocent party to the whole escapade.
Thank goodness for the different crowd at this function. Normally, she brought her friend Thad with her, but he had a thing of his own today. Luckily, at the wedding of two of her best friends from high school, Shelley and Todd, she could manage on her own.
They had all been a part of a group, sometimes affectionately, and sometimes not, referred to as the 90210 set. You have to love syndication and its endless reminder of time gone by. She had cringed when the newer version of the teen drama came out a couple years back and refused to watch. The epithet had been given for two reasons: they had a core group of “the pretty and popular”, and they had all dated each other and swapped more than Cassie would have liked to admit a decade later. She had, in fact, dated Todd in high school—twice.
On a positive note, she had never dated Shelley; a small redeeming quality existed in knowing she had not dated every person in the group. She could not say that for at least one other bridesmaid. The things kids did in high school and college would shock their parents.
Earlier, she had danced with her ex-boyfriend from high school, Craig. He had always been her favorite boyfriend from that period of time, probably because they had been friends more than anything else. Craig, now married with a baby on the way, attended stag as well, due to his wife’s swollen feet and “grumpasaurus” attitude, as he so lovingly described it.
While dancing, they spotted another classmate from high school, one Cassie didn’t recognize at first.
“Craig, do you know them?” Cassie asked as she nodded her head in the general direction of the hot guy and his date. “The man looks familiar, but I can’t place him.”
“You mean Dan?”
“The man in the pinstripe suit about three clicks to the right?”
“Three clicks.” He looked at Cassie with an amused grin. “What? Are we in the army or something? I don’t know what that means.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, the man with brown hair in a pinstriped suit dancing with a busty blonde to the right.”
“Oh, that three clicks.” He received a deserved smack to the arm. “Ow, yes that’s Dan from high school, don’t you remember him from our class? He used to hang out at the diner with us after football games.”
“That’s Dan Simmons? No way!” Cassie gasped, her jaw falling open for just a second before she caught it and put it back in place.
Dan Simmons. He had been a completely forgettable sort in high school—skinny and average in just about every way possible. Cassie could not believe his transformation. When she mentioned it to Craig, he just said no one looked the same as they used to and sighed.
From average, Dan had grown to be a rather tall man with broad shoulders. He in no way resembled the unremarkable twig of his youth. Now, under his pale blue dress shirt, you could tell he had muscles. Cassie wondered how many muscles he had hidden from view. Not all men were created with equal measure and she had a feeling he had gotten lucky in that department. Rather curious, she dragged poor Craig around to mingle, code for ‘get close to Dan and find out if he and his date were serious or not’.
Universe, please don’t let him be married to that tart in sequins. Hmm, the universe might not appreciate caddy behavior. Delete that. Universe, please don’t let Dan Simmons be in a serious relationship, and may my dress va-va-voom the way Shelley promised it would at the dress fitting. Thank you.
Once the toasts had been given and dancing commenced, Cassie headed over to table twelve to see if Craig wanted to dance again. She figured him for a safe and easy yes.
“Hi, Craig, wanna dance with me?” Cassie asked, no small talk required for Craig.
“Um…sure, I guess.”
He made for a reluctant partner, but decent enough a man that he did not turn down a desperate lady. On their way to the dance floor, Cassie spotted Dan dancing with the same scantily clad woman—well, scantily in terms of wedding appropriate. Cassie tried very hard not to pass judgment on the woman as part of her New Year’s resolution to be nicer. Her best gal pal, Tulia, called it being fake, but less judgmental sounded better.
“I still cannot believe that is Dan Simmons. He doesn’t look remotely the same!”
“Do any of us?” Craig sighed, his shoulders slumped and sounding much older than late twenties should.
“Yes. I mean, we at least look like ourselves. I would recognize you on the street, ya know? But Dan looks totally different. I don’t recall him being cute. Certainly not hot.”
“That’s because you’ve only ever had eyes for me,” Craig said with a wink.
“Oh, yes. Yes, that’s it. Seeing as you used to dump me every time Suzie and Jeff broke up, just in case you could snag her. That made me real devoted, indeed.”
“I didn’t do that, did I?” His face scrunched up as he looked at her for confirmation.
“You did, but I forgive you. Or, at least, I will forgive you, if you move me over to the dance floor. I need to get a better look at Dan. I don’t see a ring on his date’s finger, that’s a plus.” Cassie pulled on Craig to get them moving in the right direction.
“All right, all right.” Craig took the not so gentle hint and led them over to where Dan danced with his friend. “Maybe I broke up with you all the time because you were bossy.”
“That could be true,” Cassie laughed, nodding in agreement.
When they got a little closer, she could see Dan’s whole face. Egad, the man radiated hotness. He sure didn’t look like the scrawny kid who hung out on the outskirts of their group in high school. She realized she had been staring, and rather conspicuously so.
“Craig, talk. We need to look more natural,” Cassie demanded.
“What do you want me to talk about?” he inquired in a rather harsh tone.
“I don’t know…your wife, your baby to be? It seems like you should have a lot to say these days, right?”
“How about we talk about what a pain in the ass you are?” He gave her an over-the-top smile and they both laughed. “The wife is amazing…” He went on to tell her about the pregnancy and how excited he was about the baby.
All the while, Cassie kept busy, staring and trying to decide whether Dan really looked into Blondie or not. You could tell a lot about the way a man danced with a woman, in terms of how much he cared for her—at least, Cassie thought she could tell. In her humble opinion, Dan seemed so-so about his date, but his date obviously adored him. She had that glazed-over look in her eyes only women in love get when they are close to the desire of their affections.
The song ended and Cassie didn’t even notice. That is, until Craig started to pull her off the dance floor. Just as her arm jerked from his efforts, Dan’s eyes finally caught hers. She had been hoping he would look in her direction. She wanted to see if there was a spark. She needed to feel that initial zing; it had become important to how she rated a man’s dating potential.
Oh boy, spark is an understatement. I think my thighs just caught fire!
His eyes were plain old brown. But after a moment of recognition, a quick flash flew and they lit up. Suddenly, plain old brown was seductive and warming. Cassie’s body temperature must have jumped ten degrees. Then, he smiled.
Craig continued to pull her in the direction of table twelve as she attempted to resist his tug as best she could. Dan raised his right hand in what Cassie assumed represented a greeting of sorts. She did the same, just before Craig hauled her fully around so she no longer faced Dan.
After twenty minutes of keeping her eye on Dan and mingling, she decided the only sane thing to do would be to approach Dan and say hello. She and Craig had been to see just about everyone else they knew, so why not Dan?
“Why not,” she uttered, clenching her hand.
“Ouch. Do you have to be this rough?” Craig asked Cassie, slightly raising the pitch of his voice.
Apparently, while in deep conversation with herself, she had squeezed Craig’s arm to the point of earning the current cringe on his face.
“Sorry,” Cassie replied. “I’m just anxious to see everyone.”
“And by everyone, you mean Dan. I know what this little mission is all about. Just don’t start giving me military directions like you did on the dance floor. Coordinates aren’t going to help. I don’t know how many clicks or yards make up a ballroom area, deal?”
This is why he had always been her favorite. He stood in for the real life brother she had never wanted.
“Deal. Now, get me closer.”
“I could have just stayed home if I wanted to be pulled around and told what to do all night,” he murmured as he reached for his champagne glass and took what could only be called a swig—not a term generally used with champagne, but fitting, nonetheless.
“Cry me a river, Craig. You have a wife and family. I’m still single. Now, let’s go mingle.”
Cassie pulled on his arms to get them headed in the right direction. As much as he feigned resistance, she barely had to pull to get him moving.
When they were just one table away from Dan, a drunk man who swore Craig looked like someone he knew, waylaid them. Cassie stood patiently for much longer than she wished. Finally reaching the end of her tolerance, she knew she had to break up the party if they were going to make it to Dan before the wedding was over.
“Hey, Mr. Craig here,” she said, pointing at her dance partner, “is not the guy from that one movie. He has never been in a movie. Maybe you should sit for a bit and stop embarrassing your lovely date.”
A poor woman, who looked like a normal person, had spent most of the interaction bright red and clearly embarrassed to be this buffoon’s companion for the evening. Making eye contact with Cassie for the first time, she finally spoke to them.
“I’m sorry, he gets a little carried away,” said the date with a huge sigh. Her breasts moved up and down with such great control—impressive control, indeed.
“I can see that,” she commented. “Now, Craig, our mission is not yet done. Keep going.”
“Sorry to disappoint ya, man,” Craig kindly stated before he followed Cassie’s lead and walked away from the table. They were five feet away from Dan and his finely chiseled jaw when his lady friend spotted Cassie, stood up, and pulled him onto the dance floor.
“Damn it. Did you see that?” Cassie asked Craig between clenched teeth.
“Dan’s girlfriend looked right at us headed their way, and bam! Off to the dance floor they went. How rude.”
“Ruder than trying to steal her date?” Craig retorted.
“I am not trying to steal anything. I am simply trying to get some information on the man.”
“Right, so you can find out if you can have him for yourself. That’s stealing.”
“You make a horrible girlfriend,” Cassie huffed, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Well…I can think of a few reasons why that might be.”
“If this is going to lead into a discussion about your balls, let’s drop it.” Cassie frowned while making her way to the dance floor, beckoning Craig to follow with a wave.
“Well, now you ruined the surprise,” Craig teased and did a little dance, meeting Cassie on the floor, where they both danced badly, except only she did so on purpose.
It took Cassie a little bit of time to sashay her heinie closer to Dan, but she managed. He looked unhappy, but she couldn’t tell whether dancing or his companion were the cause.
When he finally looked up, Cassie smiled, and he smiled right back. It did occur to her that dancing with the same skill a two-year-old would employ might not have been the best way to show off in front of a good looking man, but she couldn’t change where she stood in this situation. Maybe he liked free-style dancing? A girl could hope.
“Craig, say hi to him first,” she whispered, then noticed Craig seemed to be really into the song the DJ had blasting.
She chuckled and looked up to find Dan doing the same. His head bobbed an acknowledgment of their shared amusement over Craig’s antics.
Cassie ran out of patience, causing her to pinch Craig under the arm.
“Ow. What’s the matter with you?” he shouted as he pulled his arm away from Cassie, giving her the stink eye. Of course, the attention of half the dance floor was now on them, causing Cassie’s face to turn bright red.
“Sorry. I may have gotten carried away there,” she apologized.
“Ya think?” Craig replied while rubbing what seemed to be a sore and potentially bruised spot under his left arm. “What did you need from me? I’m in the groove, you know?”
“I saw that. I…um, I hoped you might be able to say hi to Dan for us. You know, man to man.”
“Oh, because your mouth isn’t working at present?” he asked redundantly.
Uh oh, he was pissed. Maybe I pinched a little too hard.
“I just thought it best, since his lady love has been sending daggers in my direction for the last ten minutes or so, that you start the conversation. It will look better.” Cassie let her lips fall down into a mock frown and batted her eyelashes just a touch while gazing at Craig.
“Yeah, well, guess who is considering joining her side?” Pain still evident on his face and a palm resting under his arm, he went over to Dan and did as she asked.
Yup, he is the best boyfriend ever! At least, until I get a new one, of course.
“Hey, Dan. How have you been, man?” Craig bellowed as he stretched his right hand out to Dan, who looked a little relieved that he had to stop dancing to talk to Craig.
“Hey, Craig. Long time no see. I hear you have a wife and a kid on the way.” Dan returned the outstretched hand and smiled.
Oh hell, that man’s voice could melt an igloo.
Cassie decided his jaw resembled something you would see on an Italian sculpture. She immediately knew she was in serious trouble.
“Yeah, yeah. Things are good, man. Happy wife means a happy life, it’s the real deal,” Craig answered with a shrug and an honest smile.
Craig and his wife were definitely the real deal. Cassie had seen them before she got pregnant and the man oozed joy when around his wife.
“How far along are you, about three or four months?” Blondie asked in a severe tone that just about got her a kick to the shins while looking directly at Cassie.
“Oh, no. I’m not…” she started to say, trying not to sound super offended that Blondie had implied Cassie looked to be in her first trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, hoping the look on her face did not express the curse words rolling around in her head.
“This isn’t his wife,” Dan spoke up. “This is Cassie Anderson, another old friend from high school. You look great, by the way. Better than most of us.” He gestured to Craig and himself.
He was only right about one of them.
Awesome, he remembered my name. I cannot believe I didn’t recognize him. It felt good that he knew me, though. Real good.
“My wife stayed home, not feeling too festive. You know, hormones and such,” Craig chimed.
Unfortunately, it did not deter Blondie from opening her mouth again and completely ignoring Craig’s last statement in the process.
With more attitude in her voice, she said, “Oh, how close were you? I’ve heard several stories about your little group at this wedding.”
“Craig and I dated a couple of times,” Cassie answered, knowing darn well she meant Dan and not Craig. Cassie had no intention of feeding into her plan.
A strange sound emitted from her throat and her shoulders moved up and down in an exaggerated shrug. This chick owned the term rude. Then again, if Cassie had been on a date with a man and another woman had so obviously checked him out the way she had been doing, she would be pretty upset herself. Not to mention, if Cassie had a date who looked at another woman the way Dan was looking at her right now, she would probably leave his butt all alone on the dance floor. However, as the woman on the receiving end of his admiration, she could not find much fault.
“Cassie, how are you these days?” Dan didn’t seem to notice how unhappy his date looked, or maybe he just wanted to downplay her reaction. Cassie decided to ignore her, too.
“I’m great. I am an artist—graphic design and some photography on the side. Business is good and my work is going to be in a show in a few weeks. I’m in a really good place right now.”
“Wow, a show of your own, you must be pretty proud. I’m truly happy for you. I remember you being the group photographer, so that makes sense.”
Wow, he remembered that?
“I guess I was. I never really thought of it that way. Hmm, that actually brings back memories.” Cassie found herself officially impressed. No one had ever put those two facts together before now. It also gave her the idea to check out those old pictures and refresh her memory on what Dan had looked like back in the day.
“Yeah, well, as long as you don’t bring back those photos the next time we are all together. I don’t need the wife comparing me to my seventeen-year-old self, thank you very much,” Craig interjected in his usual humorous way.
Craig always was the funny one. He went on about how the past decade had been unfair to him in various embarrassing ways. Well, embarrassing to most, but not to Craig. While he yip-yapped, Cassie kept her eye on Dan, and she caught him looking at her just as often. He smiled at her and her cheeks immediately warmed. She hoped enough of her makeup remained on to hide the majority of her reaction to him.
The DJ interrupted the dancing by asking everyone to join the happy couple for the cake cutting ceremony. Blondie quickly pulled Dan away before he could say much more to Cassie and Craig.
“It was nice seeing you guys. Maybe we’ll run into one another again at the next wedding,” Dan said with what could only be described as a weak smile as he was pulled over to the cake table.
Cassie wasn’t sure he heard her say goodbye, or that she, too, hoped they would see each other at the next wedding.
Realizing it wouldn’t do her any good to try to wiggle her way next to him at the cake table, she and Craig took a spot near the bride and groom. Which, in all honestly, seemed like the appropriate place to stand, seeing as they were in the wedding party. However, Cassie spent more time watching Dan and his date, in what seemed to be an argument, than paying attention to the ceremony.
“Craig, did you see that?” Cassie nudged him in the rib cage to direct his attention toward Dan.
“Did I see what? And how do you keep hitting me in the same spot every time? I am going to have some serious explaining to do when I get home. My wife is going to notice the bruising on my body.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I’ll send you home with a doctor’s note. Now, did you see Dan and his date fighting or not?”
“Cassie, I’m worried about cake here and you should be too. Leave the lovebirds alone.”
“Lovebirds? Do you really think he is in love with that woman? I mean, he didn’t even introduce us to her. I don’t know her name and he never laid claim to her,” Cassie pointed out with more glee than she probably should have. But, really, what kind of guy doesn’t introduce his date?
“Lay claim to her? What does that even mean? You women are seriously off your rockers.”
“Label her. You know, call her his woman, his girlfriend? Lay claim.” Cassie furrowed her brow at him. How could he not know what that meant? He had laid claim to a woman, after all.
“I don’t know, Cass. But, I do know he liked her enough to bring her here. I also know that she seems to have a real serious thing for the man. It may be best to let them be and check in with him another time.”
Cassie crossed her arms and took a wide stance, making sure he understood she meant serious business.
“Check in with him? I haven’t seen the man in a decade. How might I do that?”
He ignored her. Apparently, the business stance did not work.
By the time Craig had finished his cake, he no longer cared to discuss the matter with Cassie. She gave in and started to eat her own piece of cake, occasionally feeling the warmth of someone’s gaze upon her back. She hoped it was Dan. She also knew Craig was right. The man had a date and she needed to respect that. To that end, she did not go back over to him. She also did not turn around to return the gaze, nor did she make any effort to slip him her number—which is what she really wanted to do.
Instead, she enjoyed the rest the wedding and didn’t see Dan again until he walked out of the ballroom—well, was more dragged out of the ballroom. Either way, just before he moved out the door, she did see him turn around in what she wanted to think was an attempt to search for her. Cassie had the oddest feeling, an unexplainable sense that something resonated between them. She would just have to wait until the next wedding to confirm that she had been correct.