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Surviving Broken

By´╝ÜBeverly Preston


JC Mathews categorized the men she found attractive similar to the way she categorized the sizes of her ice cream scoops: like him, love him, or gotta have him. This guy was definitely in the gotta have him category.

Unfortunately, her first glimpse of him involved smacking her forehead right into his gorgeous face.

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” she groaned apologetically. Her fingers flew to her eyebrow. “Oh my God, my sister is going to kill me if I walk down the aisle bleeding!” Panic rose in her voice.

“No blood,” he assured in a thick Italian accent, inspecting her face.

His long tapered fingers coasted from her elbows to her wrist as he took a step back to look her over. “JC?”

She stood eye-to-eye with the striking man she’d nearly pummeled in her haste.

“Do I know you?” she questioned with uncertainty, gazing into dark eyes stained the color of her morning espresso. I’d definitely remember meeting a man this gorgeous.

His seductive stare burned over her bare shoulder, caressing her skin. A rogue smile tipped the corner of his full lips. “I’m Luca. Luca Santini. Vincent’s best man.”

Tall, dark and handsome, all wrapped up in a black Armani tux, complete with an Italian accent. Damn, I love weddings.

He released her wrist and delicately lifted her chin, examining it for damage. “No harm done. You still look like the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”

She rolled her eyes, laughing at his cheesy compliment. “Hopefully we walk down the aisle better than the hallway. I’m trying to find the Bride’s Room.”

Luca’s accent rolled over her as he draped her arm in his. “Allow me the pleasure.” He led her down the corridor of the old Greek church, stopping in front of the Bride’s Room. Cupping her hand in his, he bent his head and raised the back of her hand to his lips. “I’m sure we’ll be better on the dance floor this evening. It’s nice to finally meet you, JC. I’m going to check on Vincent. I’ll be back in five minutes to escort you.”

Containing her flirting for later, she only smiled. “Thanks. I’d hate to get lost again.”

He released her hand and swaggered down the hall.

Pausing at the open door, JC turned to check out Luca’s rear view. Unfortunately the jacket of his tux concealed his finest assets, but his broad shoulders and tapered waist gave her a perfect indication of what lay beneath the fine layers of clothing.

She overheard her sister, Tracy, talking to their stepdad, Tom, through the thin door of the bridal room.

“I hope you know that I think more of you like a dad. Other than my father, there’s no one else I would’ve wanted to walk me down the aisle,” she choked.

JC burst into the room. “I don’t know if I’d agree with that! Have you seen the smoking hot best man I get to walk down the aisle with? Tall, dark, handsome and that accent...” Laughter and anticipation simmered in her chest. “No offense, Tom, but damn, I might be getting the better end of the deal!”

“I was going to ask where you’ve been, but that answers that question.” Tracy scoffed, dabbing beneath her eyes for smudges.

“Sorry, I’m just kidding. Well, actually, I’m not kidding. Holy shit, have you seen him? Of course you have. He’s Vincent’s best man.”

Her older sister interrupted her ongoing ramble. “Can you give us a minute, JC?”

“Can I come in? I want in on the pow-wow.” JC quick-stepped toward them and rested her palms on both their shoulders, huddling her head between theirs. “What are we getting all mushy about?”

Tom stood, wiping the wetness from his cheek. He tugged on Tracy’s hand, pulling her to her feet and wrapped his arms around both girls. “I know I can never replace your father, but I think of all of you as my kids. The day I married your mom I became part of a family. You’re my girls! I love you and I’m so proud of both of you.”

JC smooched Tom’s cheek and rubbed the lip-gloss off with her thumb. “Oh, come on, you know we think of you as our dad, but, can we finish bearing our souls after the ceremony? Mom’s gonna get mad if we take any longer.”

Tom nodded in agreement. His typically tan face flushed with sentiment.

Right on cue, Canon in D Major rang through the hallway.

JC delicately embraced her sister, whispering in her ear, “Helios is smiling down on you. It’s a perfect sunny day. You look absolutely breathtaking.” She straightened, smoothing out the front of her gorgeous black dress, adjusting the raspberry sash.

Luca appeared in the doorway. “It’s time. They’re ready, Tracy.”