From Just One Night, coming this summer
“All right single ladies! It’s that time! Get out on the dance floor for the throwing of the bouquet!”
Denise rolled her eyes and took a sip of her wine. She found the whole bouquet tossing routine insane. Women nearly tackling each other. Over some flowers?
The ceremony itself had been wonderful. And the reception, up until this point, had been great. There weren’t many children in attendance, but the ones who were there had been sent off with nannies upstairs in the hotel rooms. The adults figured they’d had a long enough day as it was, and they deserved their own little fun time.
So now the adults were letting their hair down so to speak.
Denise knew with this bouquet toss, things were about to get really crazy.
“Aren’t you a single lady?”
Anthony’s voice slid across her skin like a sweet caress. She grinned and looked up over her shoulders into his eyes.
Good Lord Anthony McAllister was an absolutely gorgeous man. He looked amazing in his tuxedo.
Mahogany skin, chocolate brown eyes. And muscles. How did a doctor find time for the upkeep of a body like his?
It was no wonder he was considered one of the city’s most eligible bachelors.
Women nearly fell over themselves just to get a glance of him.
The man actually stopped traffic every time he walked into her shop.
Which brought her thoughts to his hair.
The majority of the McAllister men wore their hair in an easy low cut style. But Anthony’s hair was long. Right now, he had his gorgeous dreadlocks bound at the nape of his neck, but Denise loved seeing it down.
It was the highlight of her day sometimes to run her hand through that man’s hair when he came to her shop for his appointments.
She’d been harboring somewhat of a crush on him for years now, but she’d been able to keep her feelings for him at bay with only seeing him once or twice a week. Even less lately since he hadn’t been coming in as much.
But having to be around him so much now was wreaking havoc on her senses.
She realized she must have been ogling the man somewhat and took a sip of her wine.
“Yes,” she finally said, “I am a single lady. You know that Tony.”
“So why aren’t you out there?”
“I’d rather not get trampled by a bunch of matrimony hungry ladies.”
He laughed. “Come on Dee! It’s all in good fun!”
“I’m sure I won’t see you rushing out during the garter toss. Unless you’re eager to be the next McAllister married.”
At those words she smiled when he cringed.
“I suppose I see your point.”
“I find this whole part of the ceremony-”
Before she could get out the rest of her rant, Connie was calling her name. She turned back around and looked at her.
“Get out here girl!”
Denise shook her head at Connie and held up her hand to wave her off.
“If you don’t get out here, I will come over there and drag you onto the dance floor,” Connie shouted.
“Looks like Connie is calling you out,” Anthony said with a chuckle.
“Looks that way,” Denise said, laughing as well. She gulped down the rest of her wine. “Well, duty calls.”
“Good luck!” he shouted.
“Same to you!” she shouted back.
Anthony watched her slowly walk out to the dance floor then chuckled as she slid to the back of the very large crowd of women. The shoving had already begun. He shook his head. Denise was right, these women had a hunger in their eyes. He couldn’t believe women lost their minds over a crazy superstition over some flowers.
Connie turned her back to the women.
“Are you all ready?” she called out.
There were shouts of anticipation from the women.
She began to swing the flowers over her head. “One…two…three…”
Her hands went over her head, but the bouquet was still in her hands.
The women had already began to go wild.
Connie grinned. “Just kidding!” she teased, “Here…we…go!”
Then she tossed the bouquet and turned to watch it sail through the air.
And land right into Denise’s folded arms.
The women turned and looked like they were going run Denise over for the flowers, but then seemed to settle down with the applause.
Denise’s eyes grew wide for a moment then relief flooded her as the crowd calmed down. She took it all in stride and waved the flowers over her head then curtsied.
She made her way back over to him.
“Not. A. Word.”
He let out a loud laugh.
“Fellas, it’s your turn!”
Now it was Denise’s turn to laugh.
The men reluctantly made their way to the dance floor. Like Denise, Anthony was the last to make his way out there. He took a glass of wine and stood with the rest of the men.
He took a sip of wine and the DJ did a countdown for Drew to toss the garter.
As the garter flew through the air, everyone laughed as all of the bachelors took a step back to try and avoid the lacy garment.
And the laughs grew louder when the garter landed around Anthony’s wine glass.
Anthony looked at the garter then shrugged and slid it up his arm. Like he’d told Denise, it was just good fun.
He headed back to the wedding party table and winked at Denise who was still laughing. She nodded and held up the flowers again.
“Congrats to both winners!” the DJ said. “Will the lovely lady who won the bouquet please return to the dance floor?”
Denise, who seemed to have loosened up, after another glass of wine, stood and headed to the dance floor.
A chair was set out and she was led to sit down in the chair.
“Now it’s time for the catcher of the garter to put the garter on the catcher of bouquet!”
The whistles and catcalls started at that announcement.
The first chords of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On started, and Denise let a laugh that lit up the room. It was so infectious that Anthony couldn’t help but smile.
Then he made his way over to Denise and she felt her pulse quicken at the look in his eyes. He sauntered over slowly. When he was finally standing in front of her she was snapped out of the trance Anthony’s gaze had held her in by the sound of the DJ.
“Here’s the deal you guys. For every inch above the knee you put the garter, that is five years of happiness for the bride and groom.”
Denise and Anthony both looked over to Connie and Drew who were smiling at them.
Anthony looked back at Denise and grinned.
“Well, we certainly can’t let them down now can we?”
Denise couldn’t stop the giggle that rose up. “I suppose we can’t.”
Finally, he knelt down and took her foot in his hand.
“Miss Monroe, I must say you have a lovely set of legs.”
He stretched the garter around her foot and slid it, slowly, up her leg.
Denise was thankful that the dress was long, because she could have sworn the way Anthony’s fingers lingered on her thigh a little longer than necessary after he got the garter up as high as it would go. She attempted to keep the lighthearted look on her face but she felt her body heating up quickly. The heated look in his eyes didn’t help matters.
“Uh-oh Anthony. I’ve got bad news.”
They turned and looked at the DJ.
“You did a great job getting the garter on. Unfortunately, you put it on the wrong leg. You’re going to have to take it off and do it all over again.”
Anthony clutched his chest as if his task was a great pain. He looked at Denise with a wolfish grin.
“We have to follow the rules Dee. Their marriage is at stake.”
Denise sighed dramatically and lifted her leg. “If we must, we must!”
Prince’s Kiss began to play and Anthony knelt down again to retrieve the garter. “It must be my lucky night,” he said pulling the garter down off of her leg.
“Is that right?” Denise said with a smile on her face.
“Getting to see these gorgeous legs twice in one night? Definitely, my lucky night.” He slid the garter up Denise’s other leg and this time she felt his fingers graze her thigh.
“Mr. McAllister, I hope you’re not getting too fresh.”
“You make it incredibly hard not to.”
Denise looked away and blushed.
“So, just how long are Connie and Drew going to have a happy marriage?”
Anthony looked at Denise and that sexy grin spread across his face again. “I’d say a very long time.”