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Betting on the Bride
Author: Alexa Riley

 


Betting on His Bride

 

 

by Alexa Riley

 

 

Mara’s family has encouraged her to wait and go to college before getting married. The only problem is the one person she can’t stop thinking about happens to be in the same building as her. Suddenly River is everywhere and she has no choice but to fall into his arms.

River has tried his best to stay away from Mara. She’s every temptation come to life and he’s no good for her. When his friends make a bet on who can nail her first, he tells them to count him in. It’s time for him to stake his claim, he just needs to make sure she never finds out about the bet. No problem, right?

Warning: Go all in with us as we follow these two into their happily ever after!

 

 

For summertime and lazy afternoons by the water…

 

* * *

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Mara

 

 

This whole life thing isn’t going the way I thought it would. As excited as I am for the next chapter of it, I’m honestly not sure how ready I am for it.

“Come on, don’t you want to see?” my older sister Amelia asks as we stand in front of the Rockford Building. She’s holding one of my boxes in her arms as I look up at my new home.

A doorman who looks like he could double for a security guard opens one of the glass doors for me. We already had to go through a security gate to get onto the premises, and I noticed that this building was the only one that had that. It sits on the edge of Royal Rose University campus, and I see why my parents picked this place for me. Not only because it’s safe but because of my own issues.

“I do,” I say, but my feet don’t move.

“Is there a problem?” Felipe, my sister's husband, joins us with boxes in his hands as well.

They were the ones to pick me up today and grab the last of my things. My mom had been gradually moving my stuff over for the past few days. She and Dad are already here, and I’m sure my mom is up there right now pacing back and forth and asking my dad why I’m not here yet. She’s been bursting at the seams to show me my new place. My mom doesn’t do anything small when she has her hands involved. Especially when it comes to her children.

“No problem. Mara is just taking it in,” Amelia responds for me, knowing how I can be.

I’ve never been great with change, and this is a big one. One I didn’t see coming. Typically, this isn’t how things work for us. I don’t understand why it’s so different for me, but I don’t say that. The last thing I want to do is make waves. So many other people would be grateful for this, and I don’t want to come off as a spoiled brat.

I also know a part of me is scared to hear the truth about why this is my path and I hadn’t followed in my mom or my sister's footsteps. I’ve so badly wanted that, but I suppose that maybe no one wanted me. That’s the thing I fear, so I didn’t ask why a husband hasn’t been selected for me.

“It’s pretty.” The restored stone building screams of history, just like all of Royal Rose University.

“I bet you Mom got you one of the units with the rose vines.” Amelia nods toward them.

“That’s not a bet I’d take because you’d be right.” Part of it has beautiful rose vines that go all the way up to the top of the five-story building.

I start walking before people begin to stare and wonder what’s wrong with me. “What floor am I on?” I ask when we enter the building and I spot an elevator straight ahead and the stairs to the left.

“Third. Let's take the stairs,” Amelia says, already heading for them.

“I’m not new around here,” Felipe says as he follows her, and Amelia shoots him a smile.

They’ve been married for over five years now, and it’s true. Felipe knows about a few of my quirks and that it’s easy for me to get freaked out. I’ve spent a few summers with them, and he can tell when my imagination gets the best of me. Normally I spend my summers with my older brother Cillian out at his home in the country, but since getting married, he travels with his wife Glenda, something he’d never done until he met his wife.

Cillian can be a recluse, which was something I was more than okay joining him in, though his reasons for being one were a bit different than mine. While our reasons may have stemmed from the same traumatic event that changed both our lives, it’s clearly been in different ways. He ended up with visible scars, while mine were hidden from the world.

“There are three units on each floor except the fifth. That one big unit,” Amelia tells me as we make our way up the stairs. Amelia shoots Felipe another look, but this one is filled with sadness.

“What?” I ask, wondering what’s going on.

“You remember Felipe’s younger brother River?”

Oh, I more than remember. Felipe’s brother River is a year older than me. Felipe’s sister Glenda married my brother Cillian. His parents weren’t too happy about that because in our culture, most marriages are arranged. With Felipe, his parents didn’t have control over him. He’d ventured out and built not only a name for himself but wealth too.

He still had them reach out to our parents for Amelia’s hand, and his father agreed. With Glenda and Cillian, it hadn’t been so easy. They’d fallen in love, and Cillian did his part in the arrangement with Glenda, but the Andoras told him no. Glenda pushed back and said she’d do it anyway, which ended up ripping the families apart.

They wanted Glenda to marry someone else because they thought Cillian wasn’t worthy. It was bullshit. Cillian comes from a strong family and could even offer more than the man they’d picked for Glenda. Still they’d refused and said it had something to do with their company. There were also a few comments made about Cillian regarding his looks.

The scars he wore across his face were my fault. I can’t help but think I had a hand in the rift between the families. They say time heals all wounds, but no matter how much time passes, it seems my mistake keeps haunting both me and my family. It’s still causing destruction all these years later.

“I remember him,” I finally say, and I hate how much I remember him.

The first time I met River was at Felipe and Amelia’s wedding. He was my first and only crush to this day. After the falling-out between our families I’ve only seen him once. It was about six months ago and was completely random. I was walking down to the small bakery not far from our home in the city. I used to go almost every day.

One morning, I ran right into him, and my body collided with his. His hands held my shoulders to keep me from falling, which I certainly would have done if he hadn’t. Running into him had been like running into a brick wall. Gone was the body of a boy, and in its place was one of a man. River had become even bigger than Felipe, which is saying a lot.

I still remember his whispered words. Fuck, you smell good. His hands had even tightened their hold on me like he didn’t want to let me go. Then I looked up at him, and we both saw who the other was.

He jumped back while releasing his hold on me at the same time. I’d lost my footing and ended up falling on my own ass anyway. He looked down at me like I was the devil and told me to stay away from him or he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions. His words still hurt. I never told a soul even when everyone kept asking why I didn’t go to my favorite bakery anymore.

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