Here is another sneak peek of No Games Allowed which is coming this summer. These words are unedited and subject to change. Enjoy!
I climbed out of the car, sliding my phone into the back pocket of my jeans and made my way across the parking lot and into the church. Inside the foyer, straight ahead were a set of double glass doors that opened into the sanctuary where I could see almost everyone was gathered. Instead of joining them I hooked a left down a hallway which led to the administrative offices. I stopped in front of the second door on the left and banged on the door with the side of my fist. The door was yanked open and Francesca stood there with her face scrunched up.
I smiled at her and reached out to rub her belly where a small bump had recently become visible. “Hey.”
“Why are you banging on the door like you’re the police coming with a warrant? It wasn’t even locked.”
I shrugged. “Your text was pretty dramatic. Locking the door would have been right up your alley.”
Francesca rolled her eyes and knocked my hand from her belly as she pushed past me, mumbling under her breath. I thought I heard “bitch” and “buggin’” but I just shook my head and followed her down the hall and into the sanctuary. Her mother was standing in the middle of the center aisle with one hand on her hip and the other directing Thomas and Derrell who were standing near the back of the room near the pulpit where a gorgeous ten-foot floral arch stood.
It was the night before Frannie and Thomas’ wedding and we were rehearsing at aunt Alicia and uncle Cedric’s church where the wedding was to be held. There was only one attendant for each of them, with me standing as maid of honor for Frannie and Derrell standing with Thomas as his best man. If I had any kind of sense I would keep my head down and get through this rehearsal without saying anything outside of a “hi” and “bye” to Derrell. I still had not had the opportunity to have a moment alone with him to do as Shaunda and I discussed to get the closure I needed and give the explanation he deserved. Unfortunately it was well established a while back that my mouth did whateverthefuck it wanted to do regardless of my mental coaching.
Aunt Alicia finished fussing about whatever and finally allowed everyone to do a full run through of the ceremony. The entire wedding party filed into the foyer and stood around as we were arranged in order. Thomas’ 3 year-old niece Jada was the flower girl and she would be walking down the aisle with Francesca’s nephew and adopted son Nixon who was the ring-bearer. They would be followed by myself and Derrell. Naturally we had to walk in together. That was expected. What wasn’t expected was being instructed to hold his hand down the aisle.
“Um, excuse me Auntie. Do what now?”
My aunt raised an eyebrow at me but her smile thinned a bit. This wasn’t her wedding but she had definitely turned into a bridezilla.
“What part was confusing, sweetie?” Her tone was cool but I tried not to let it affect me.
“The holding hands part. I thought we were just supposed to link arms.”
“Well Amelia, if you had been here for the beginning of the rehearsal instead of God knows where then you would have heard the explanation of how we are doing things a little different to reinforce the love that Frannie and Thomas have for one another.”
Everyone was silent and my eyes went wide. I knew she was pissed because she never called me by my full name.
“Oop, well let me shut my ass up then.” She gasped and I wanted to roll my eyes but with how on edge she was I didn’t put it past her to smack me. I quickly spoke again to soothe the sting of my cussing in church. “You’re doing a wonderful job, Auntie. Just ignore me.” She squinted as if trying to figure me out before shaking her head and continuing with her instructions.
We ran it through twice before my aunt was satisfied and my uncle convinced her to dismiss us to go to the dinner. Everyone started filing out of the church to head to the Capital Grille where the rehearsal dinner was being held. The family and friends who weren’t apart of the wedding party were already at the restaurant waiting on the rest of us. Thomas and Francesca pulled out of the parking lot and I was almost to my car when a thought occurred to me and I did an about face and walked up to Derrell who was just opening the door of his F-250 truck.
“Hey, Derrell!” I spoke loudly to catch his attention before he climbed up into his truck. I know he heard me because he froze with one leg in the cab. His head swung in my direction and I saw the split second of hesitation on his face where I’m sure he debated between ignoring me and acknowledging me. Lucky for me he wasn’t an asshole. He stepped completely out of the cab and turned to face me, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans. As usual he looked good as hell in his fitted gray slacks and black button down shirt. I had to make myself not rake my gaze up and down his body.
I licked my lips. “I just wanted to take a moment to… talk… about what happened back then. I—“
“Wait, what? You want to talk?”
“Well yea, I owe you an apology and—“
“Oh. Nah, you don’t owe me anything Ma. We good.”
“I appreciate you saying that but—“
He ran his hand over his face. “Milly.” He dropped the pleasant veneer and his tone was firm. I blinked. What was wrong with me that his sudden gruffness had my panties damp?
“Your cousin and my home boy are on their way to their rehearsal dinner right at this very moment and they are expecting us to arrive shortly after them. Now is not the time for you to try to have this discussion. We have somewhere to be and this” he gestured between us airily with his hand “this can wait.”
I nodded. There was nothing else for me to say because he was absolutely right. My timing was shit.
“Go get in the car.”
I glanced behind me at my car which sat about 10 yards away from where we stood. Aside from Derrell’s truck it was the sole car in the parking lot. Everyone else was gone. I looked back at Derrell and his eyes were sweeping the lot behind me. He looked so focused I was reminded that he was an officer and that safety and security were his job.
“Okay, I’ll be right behind you.”
His eyes locked on to me and he frowned. “No, you’re going to go get in your car and drive off, right now. I’m not pulling out of this lot and leaving you here by yourself.”
“It’s a church, Derrell. What do you think is going to happen in the two minutes it might take me to get in my car and drive off?”
He sighed loudly and ran a hand down his face again. “You’re right. Let me leave you alone.” Immediately he turned around and climbed into his truck, pulling the door closed forcefully. Not even five seconds later the engine revved loudly causing me to jump. I power walked to my car and got inside. I drove across the lot and pulled out onto the street. A glance in my rear view mirror confirmed that Derrell was indeed behind me in his big ass truck. I couldn’t help the smile that came across my face.