Double Seduction Series, Book 4
In the fourth installment of the Double Seduction Series, Megan Shore marries her two men, Trey and Garret McGatlin. The secluded, romantic ceremony binds them together, but an unexpected and unwanted visitor brings with him ammunition to destroy their future together. When yet another shock threatens to change their world at the very same time, is their love strong enough to hold the three of them together forever and let them secure their destinies as a family? Or will it all fall apart for Megan, Garret, and Trey?
Megan Shore stepped in front of the three-sided mirror. “Is that really me?” Her green eyes, enhanced by a professional cosmetologist, shone bright and clear. The beautician who’d curled her black hair into long spirals had somehow imparted a mega shine to it. The floor-length, white lace gown her movie star, Garret McGatlin, had commissioned from the most exclusive wedding shop in Los Angeles, clung to her curves like a soft second skin.
“It’s you, but I’ve never seen you look happier.” Megan’s soon-to-be mother-in-law, Patty McGatlin, stood with one hand on her stomach, the other clutching the handkerchief she’d been using to wipe her eyes. Even though Megan would soon be marrying both her sons, Trey and Garret, Patty treated this day as if a three-way wedding was completely normal. Patty had trimmed down her luscious plumpness for the wedding but still looked curvy and gorgeous in her peach suit. The makeup artist had highlighted her dark blue eyes, and her short blonde hair framed her unwrinkled face.
Megan stepped onto the foot-high platform the gown maker had insisted on shipping with the dress and mirror. She turned a slow circle, looking at herself from every direction. The spare bedroom in the ranch house had been converted two weeks ago into The Bride’s Room, and her men, Trey and Garret, had been summarily banned from it. She ran her fingertips over the soft lace covering her flat stomach. Someday, but not for a long, long time, this dress would be worn by her daughter. Or maybe her daughter-in-law?
Patty held up a crown of Texas Bluebells, a length of lace flowing from the back of it.
Megan stepped from the platform, smiling at Patty. “Would you? Please?”
The woman sniffed a couple of times and gave Megan a wobbly smile. “I’d love to.” She stepped onto the platform and settled the wreath on Megan’s head. “Just beautiful. I wish I could be there….” She shook her head.
Megan turned and took her hand. “I know you do, but it’s how your boys want it. And I agree with them.” The sunset wedding ceremony would be held outdoors somewhere on the ranch. The guys wouldn’t tell Megan any of the details, the jerks. She smiled. “I’ll tell you all about it at the party.”
The barn that Megan’s stalker had set afire as a distraction while he kidnapped Megan had been rebuilt and now stood empty of horse stalls. This afternoon, crews had filled the building with tables and chairs, frilly decorations, a dance floor, a band set-up, and a caterer who’d been cooking a whole steer for over a day. The entire county was invited to the “barn-raising party,” but those closest to Trey, Garret, and Megan knew it was a wedding reception in disguise.
A knock sounded at the door. “Miss Megan?” Inez, the family’s long-time cook and housekeeper, spoke in a shaky voice, as if she was teary, too. “Jeff is here to take you to the ceremony.”
A jitter of nerves raced through Megan. “Come in, Inez.”
The older woman peeked in the door, her graying hair in its customary bun at the back of her head. An apron covered her fancy floral dress, even though she had the day off. “Oh. You look lovely, Miss Megan.”
Megan caught the woman’s gaze in the mirror. “Thank you, Inez. I’ve never been this excited in my life.”
Behind her, Patty spread the veil attached to the back of the floral halo, covering Megan’s shoulders. “Let’s get you all married up and turned into a McGatlin.”
Megan smiled and helped Patty from the platform. “Walk me out?” She looked at both women. “I’m too jumpy to go alone.”
“Of course.” Patty opened the cover of the box containing Megan’s bouquet. She plucked the spray of bluebells and peach wildflowers from the box and handed it to her almost daughter-in-law. “So pretty.” She winked. “You have good taste, dear.”
“I know I do, only because I’m marrying into the McGatlin family.” The women laughed. Megan took the bouquet and held it to her nose. The scents, both sweet and spicy, mingled as she inhaled.
Inez opened the door wide and stepped aside. “Here comes the bride!” Her smile sparkled in her brown eyes.
Metallic snapping sounded from the bottom of the steps. The photographer. She’d only be taking pictures before the wedding and here at the house right after the ceremony. Which was fine with Megan. Being alone, except for the minister, with her two men when they spoke their vows would be a moment she’d never forget.
After dozens of shots of her alone, a few with Patty, and some with Patty and Inez—sans apron—and on different levels of the stairway, Megan was ready to get the heck outside.
Jeff stood at the kitchen door in a white suit, holding his white cowboy hat in his hands. He’d been her security guard during the week her stalker had been a threat. “May I say, ma’am, that you are a vision?” His cheeks turned red.
“Thank you, Jeff. And thanks for driving me.” As he opened the door for her, a blast of hot, dry west Texas air hit her. “I suppose I can’t get you to tell me where you’re going to drive me?” She batted her lashes at him.
He laughed. “Under penalty of death, I’ve promised not to disclose the location.”
She pressed her lips tight. “Those men.” Picking up her skirts, she walked out onto the porch. A pristine white carpet runner stretched from the door, down the porch steps, and out to a gigantic white four-wheel-drive SUV limo.
“Oh wow. We’re goin’ off-roadin’?”
The photographer snapped photos, then Megan accepted Jeff’s arm to help her down the steps, and they walked across the carpet, pausing to let him open the limo’s door.
“There’ll be some off-road.” He grinned at her. “Might want to fasten your seatbelt, ma’am.”
“Ms. Shore? A couple of shots, please?” The photographer crouched on the porch.
Megan smiled at Jeff. “Okay if you’re in a couple?”
He nodded. “Whatever you’d like, ma’am.”
Such a nice guy. The photographer snapped a few shots. Megan asked Jeff to put on his hat for a couple photos, then he backed away, and Megan smiled for a dozen solo shots.
“Okay, thank you.” Megan didn’t want to waste another minute while her men waited for her. She slid onto the roomy, white leather backseat. The space held a few touches of their blue and peach wedding colors along with small nosegays of flowers tucked into corners. The scent of her wildflowers surrounded her. Another seat faced her, and fancy cabinetry along the sides held a bucket of champagne and a flute, already poured. “They thought of everything.”
Jeff started the engine, and Megan rolled down the side window to wave at Patty and Inez. They fluttered their handkerchiefs back at her.
As they pulled away from the house, she took a couple sips of ice-cold champagne, listening to music from her favorite country singer. The words to his most romantic song floated from the speakers. They took the road past Inez’s house and along the river, and when the road ended, they went four-wheeling alongside the horse path.
Megan had invited her parents to the reception, but they’d declined. They used the excuse that since they’d been in Texas protecting her from her stalker for a week, they couldn’t get away again so soon. But she understood why they couldn’t come. As missionaries, they weren’t comfortable with Megan’s relationship with two men: Trey, her cowboy, and Garret, her hotshot action movie hero.
Sadly, Megan had been relieved when her parents turned down her invitation. Today would be much easier without them on the Silver Spur Ranch. When they’d left three months ago, they’d begged her to go with them, but even then, she’d known her place was here. With her men.
“Rough here, Ma’am.” Jeff warned her they were on uneven ground.
She held her glass in her right hand, away from her dress, and braced her left hand on the door. Her engagement ring caught a ray of sunshine, reflecting a rainbow back at her. She smiled, her chest filling with emotion.
Two months ago, Trey and Garret had taken her for a horseback ride. Megan rode Sundial, a mare they’d purchased and trained especially for her. They’d had Megan instructed on riding as well, and ever since, she’d been crazy about being on Sundial’s back and exploring the ranch.
That day, they’d taken a path through the desert, then followed the river to the spot where it widened into a lake, surrounded by trees and scrub brush. The three of them had stripped down to their underthings and swam in the clear, cool water.
Trey’s short blond hair stood in wet spikes as he laid out a huge blanket, and Garret, his longer, blond hair curling wildly as it dried, produced a picnic basket filled with specialties made by Inez. When they were stuffed and lying like fallen timber, Trey and Garret jumped to their feet. Megan stood quickly, fearing a snake or a rogue cow—if there was such a thing.
Her men had both taken a knee in front of her. She’d pressed her palms to her stomach. “Megan.” Trey began, his deep blue eyes bright in the sunshine. “I don’t ever want to be without you. Will you marry me?” He took her left hand and waited. Garret held up a ring, a very large diamond solitaire with one dark green stone on each side of it.
“Emeralds to match your eyes.” Garret’s sky-blue gaze locked with hers. “Eyes I never want to stop looking into. Will you marry me, too?”
Fighting back the urge to weep with happiness, she sucked in a deep breath. “Nothing would make me happier.” She gazed at the faces she would be seeing for the rest of her life. “I would be honored to be a McGatlin.”
The rest of the afternoon had been spent in sensual ecstasy, and she hadn’t taken off the ring since.
“Ma’am?” Jeff’s voice drew her back to the present.
“Yes?” She glanced out the window as they covered terrain she’d begun to know well, from horseback, anyway.
Jeff reached back, holding a pristine white handkerchief for her. She didn’t realize she’d been crying. “Thank you.” She took the cloth and dabbed at her cheeks. Thank heavens she’d insisted on waterproof makeup. Laughing, she checked her face in the small fold-down mirror on the ceiling. “Just nerves. I’m not changing my mind.”
Her driver smiled and nodded once. “I understand.”
“How long until we arrive?” Would he be distracted enough to let more information slip?
“Not too long.” He met her gaze in the rearview mirror. “Do you need to stop? Take a minute, or….” He swallowed, looking worried.
“No. Thank you, though.” Sitting back, she took one more sip of champagne then set down her glass. Silently reciting her wedding vows, she stopped when she came to the word safe. Her thoughts flew to her stalker. Larry Hines had no place in her wedding day, but it would be a long while before the trauma of her most recent kidnapping wouldn’t intrude on her life.
Hines had been remanded to a psychiatric hospital after his attorney entered his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. From what her attorney and the sheriff indicated, the man could be there for life, given his violent tendencies. The relief of not having to endure another trial had lightened Megan’s soul and freed her to explore her options.
Jeff warned her of another rough patch as he slowed the truck. She glanced around, looking for the herd of wild horses. They always seemed to appear when she needed confirmation of her decisions. Not that she needed it today. There was no chance she’d back away from marrying her men.
How was this going to happen, though? They hadn’t told her which of the brothers would be her legal husband, nor who would be performing the ceremony today. She’d met the local pastor, but had they chosen someone from another location? Or possibly a justice of the peace? Since her men wanted it to be a surprise for her, they hadn’t applied for a marriage license yet. They’d do that tomorrow, then file the marriage certificate a few days later.
Then, their honeymoon would begin. Trey and Garret were keeping their destination a secret from her, too. She let out a heavy breath. She didn’t mind, though. With her recuperation from the kidnapping and visits to a psychologist three times a week, the last three months had kept her focus where it needed to be: on her full recovery. This wedding, and the party following, would serve as her graduation from the many hours spent with the capable doctor.
She’d also seen Doc Guthrie a few days ago for her follow-up exam. Since Hines had used chemicals to incapacitate her during the kidnap attempt, they needed to compare the blood work from then and now. But everything else looked good, and Megan felt emotionally and physically sound.
Jeff slowed the truck. “Are you ready, Miss Megan?”
Her heart thudded a few times. “I think so.” She checked her hair, her dress, her crown of flowers. “Yep, I reckon I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
With a laugh, Jeff turned the truck toward the river and slowed to a stop.
She looked out her window. Next to the Clear River, a big white gazebo stood shining in the sun. Inside the structure, in the shade of the roof, her men waited for her in black tuxedos and black cowboy hats.
June 19, 2014