Irreplaceable Chapter 26

Holding the invitation made it real. This time, Rafferty was invited to Natalie Beckett’s wedding, so he didn’t have to crash it like he had the year before. Not that he would’ve this time. Since Valentine’s Day, every Friday he dropped off a movie outside of her apartment door in the afternoon, and that night she would bring it to him and add one of her own. She would make them supper, and they would watch the movies.

In the morning, as with on Valentine’s Day, she would leave at five in the morning to get to work. She even tried not waking him when she left, but he would wake up anyway and walk her to the door, k!ssing her one last time. It was only on Fridays, and she didn’t tell anyone. He didn’t either. He was just happy she kept coming back, even for one day a week.

But in three weeks, she would not come since it would be the rehearsal dinner, and the girls would have a sleepover before the big day. They had a tradition now.

Rafferty knew the invitation was for the office since they handled her dad’s insurance, but it didn’t matter. Natalie’s last wedding had been one of the best days of his summer, even if Mia had gotten trashed. He had gotten to dance with the brunette, even if just a few times.

“What are you grinning about?” Anderson said from his office door.

Rafferty dropped the invitation at his boss’s voice. “Nothing really. Just wondering if Natalie will run again.”

At her last wedding, she had taken off before the ceremony could start. Now she was marrying a different guy nine months later. That seemed quick to Rafferty, but he had been trying to win his girl for so long, he couldn’t imagine how that would be.

“No, she’ll marry this one.” Anderson knew the couple, so he would know better than Rafferty.

“What can I do for you?” Rafferty asked. Anderson usually didn’t come to his office. It was usually the other way around.

“Just wanted to talk to you about Ruth.”

“Is there something wrong? Her pregnancy?” Rafferty asked in concern. She had to be around six months along. Maybe a little less.

“No, nothing like that. I just want to ask you a question.” Anderson sat in the chair across from him.

“I don’t know what kind of help I can give. You know her better than I do.” Rafferty wished he had a better relationship with his sister, but she didn’t want that. So they didn’t.

“As you know, tomorrow night is the Red River Flood auction. We’re going, but Ruth has told Mia she would work the tables at the auction to make sure everything is going well. But I don’t want her to be on her feet all night. And if I do it, she’ll just be there anyway. I was wondering if you could do it instead?” Anderson asked.

“Sure, just give me a time to be there,” Rafferty said. Of course, he knew the auction was tomorrow. It was one of Mia’s projects and she had been talking about it for a month. So far, she hadn’t asked him to be there and he hadn’t pushed to be there. But th is gave him an excuse.

“Thanks. Ruth doesn’t need to be on her feet all night long.” Anderson didn’t get up.

“How is pregnancy treating her?” Rafferty hadn’t seen her in a few months, even if she worked across the street and was dating/married to his boss. They didn’t run into each other all that often without one of them going out of their way. And lately Rafferty hadn’t went out of his way at all.

“It’s going okay. Her mom is on her about being a single mom, as if she didn’t raise Ruth alone,” Anderson said.

“That’s the dragon for you. Are you going to really marry her one day?” Rafferty asked.

“I don’t know. She never talks about it anymore. I think she kind of likes the town thinking she’s an independent woman who keeps me because she wants to, not because she has to.” Anderson leaned back in his chair and smiled.

“How do you feel about that?” Rafferty asked. Because all he wanted to do was take out an ad in the newspaper and announce that he and Mia had been married for months. But that was sure to get him murdered by his lovely bride, and he had learned months ago that antagonizing her just made her pull away even further.

“I’m okay with it. I know that I have her pinned down, even if nobody else does. I love having this little secret. And I know she does, too. Since word got out that she owns all these buildings and that she’s a writer, she hasn’t had the secrets she likes to have.” Anderson grinned at him. It was true—Ruth loved a good secret, so if people found out about the wedding, she would be almost completely out of secrets. Almost. But that one remaining wasn’t one she relished keeping.

Rafferty nodded. “She does like a good secret. So, you think you’ll just live like this?”

“Yes, I think we’ll just be secretly married and openly living in sin. Maybe things will change later, but for now, we are here.”

“Well, congratulations,” Rafferty said with a sinking heart.

Anderson left his office, and Rafferty wanted to yell at the man. If he and Ruth didn’t reveal that they were married in Las Vegas, he and Mia couldn’t reveal that they were also married in Las Vegas that weekend, leaving them in limbo forever.

At this rate, Mia would find a way to secretly divorce him before he was able to tell anyone about their marriage. He would lose her before he could even tell anyone she was his.

This one-day-a-week marriage wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted her every day and in every way. Be by her side for every event in their lives, big and small. He wanted her not to ask him to help her at the auction that night because she didn’t have to ask, not because she didn’t want him there. Did she even want him there?

Shaking off the thought of her getting angry at him being there, he vowed he would make her see that he wanted to be there and wanted to help. That by her side was where he wanted to be. Where he belonged.

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