You grow up. You get married. You have a family. At least, that’s what Malea Winters believes she’s supposed to do. So why is it that every time she comes close to finding that happily ever after, she runs?
When she meets Garrett Taylor, she warns him that she’s not the marrying type because history has shown that long-term relationships are not her forte. She has a tendency to leave when things get too serious; the direct result of being raised by an emotionally detached mother and a stepdad with philandering ways. So she swore off men and surrounded herself with her best friends; three quirky, funny women who are facing challenges of their own.
But Garrett is everything she’s ever looked for; charming, successful, fun, and sexy. Despite her better judgment, his persistence pays off and she finds herself falling for him.
Learning how to love and be loved will be the hardest lesson she’s ever faced. The question is, will her relationships survive that lesson?
As I walk down the aisle, avoiding eye contact with my husband-to-be, I remember the dream and feel the need to run.
I clutch the bountiful bouquet of flowers, red and white for our Christmastime wedding, and feel the sweat on my palms collect in the center. I want to rub them down the front of my dress.
But that would be unacceptable. My grandma has lovingly sewn every stitch, carefully placed every pearly bead, and worked every delicate piece of lace. It’s a work of labor and love.
Today, I am supposed to be a princess.
But as I look around at familiar faces, friends and family, watching me take this enormous step into life as a wife, as a life partner, I feel anything but princess-like.
I feel the lie. I feel the relentless pursuit of truth. Both follow me down the aisle, tapping on my shoulder and reminding me that I have no ability to live up to this responsibility.
I am quaking in my white heels. My knees are shaking. But still I march forward on the arm of the only male in my life I’ve ever thought of as a father. He isn’t really, but he’s the only man my mom brought home over the years to whom I formed any real emotional attachment before they’d split ways. Due to his philandering ways, he was out of our life more than he was in it. But when he was around, something inside of me recognized something inside of him, and I cared for him.
I swallow down my fear. It’s only nerves. It’s normal. This is the natural order of things: you grow up, you get married, you have a family. That’s how it’s done.
I finally make eye contact with Garrett and search for…safety? Love? Answers?
Only my own fear reflects back. He can see the hesitation, the anxiety, the angst. He smiles cautiously. He’ll never admit what we both know.
Just before we reach the altar, I take one last look around. The gathering within the small church is there for only one purpose: to watch us get hitched.
I could run right now. This is my last chance. I could just turn around and make a run for it.
About the Author
Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four children and boyfriend, Seth. She loves coffee and has an addiction to chapstick.
She works at a surgery center as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. She writes in the genres of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won four literary awards to include making finalist in the New Age category in the USA Book Awards for her latest release, The Fire Inside. Her latest release is the contemporary romance, Restless.