Until December (Until Her/Him #8)

Until December (Until Her/Him #8)

Aurora Rose Reynolds



Prologue


I SIP FROM my fourth—or maybe it’s my fifth—glass of wine, not caring one little bit that I’m officially past tipsy or that April and I are both going to have to find rides home tonight. Not that it will take us very long to find people willing to cart us home with our family and friends all here. Most of them are currently out on the dance floor, letting loose to the loud music the DJ is playing. I should be out there with them, but instead, I’m sitting in a dark corner of the room drinking alone.

Okay, I’m actually hiding.

I fan my hand in front of my warm face, unsure if it’s hot in here or if the wine is making me feel overheated. I need air, water… and air. I stand, swaying slightly, and catch April looking at me. She’s currently pressed tightly to the side of a large man who seems to be enjoying her company, judging by the hand he’s had on her bottom for the last twenty minutes. I read her look, the question in her eyes asking if I’m okay, if I need her.

“She really is a good sister, even if she did claim Gareth first,” I mutter drunkenly to myself before I give her a dorky thumbs-up and point toward the exit door. She nods one time before focusing once more on the guy she’s clinging to. I set down my empty wine glass and pick up an untouched glass of water off one of the tables. I gulp it down before I move toward the bright sign in the back of the room.

When I step outside, I silently congratulate myself for making it without falling on my face in these shoes. The black, clingy dress I have on couldn’t be worn with my usual flats, so I’m wearing sandals, high ones, with pointy toes and a slim heel. They look sexy but are sucking the life out of my feet. I lift one foot from the ground to rid myself of the torture devices then giggle as I stumble sideways.

“I got you.” Strong arms wrap around me, keeping me from tumbling to the ground, and I shiver from the embrace despite the fact that I feel so overheated.

I glance up and my cheeks grow even hotter than they already are as I look into Gareth’s eyes. “Seriously? My luck sucks.”

“What?” he asks as he chuckles, the warm sound vibrating against my back and through me.

“Nothing.” I turn around to face him, taking a step back. He doesn’t let me go completely. His heavy palm is still wrapped around my hip like he doesn’t believe I’ll be able to hold myself up. “Please ignore anything I say or do from this point on.”

His gaze bores into mine before he asks, “So you want me to ignore you like you’ve been ignoring me all night?”

I have been ignoring him. After April joined us at the bar and told him that I’m always a good girl, I made my escape and have avoided him since then.

I close my eyes and what happened earlier this evening plays through my mind like a movie.



I watch the happy couple enter the ballroom, along with everyone else, and smile when my cousin lifts his new wife’s hand in the air, grinning hugely before he spins her around to face him. When he has her where he wants her, he dips her back over his arm and kisses her. Everyone applauds and laughs, including me. I’m happy for him, but happier for Hadley. Over the last few months, we’ve gotten really close, and I know from her past that she deserves her happily ever after more than most people do.

“I wonder who’s next,” my sister April says, and I look over at her, feeling myself frown.

“What?”

“I wonder who’s next. You know—the next person who’s going to fall in love. It seems to be happening at an alarming rate.” She takes a drink from her beer and glances around. “I’m saying not it. I have no desire to be shot at or kidnapped just to find love.”

“You’re so dramatic.” I shake my head at her.

“Am I?”

Okay, she’s not. There seems to be a theme when it comes to anyone with the Mayson last name falling in love. But still.

“Are you going to drink?” she asks, changing the subject and studying the glass of water in my hand.

“Probably not.” I move to one of the tables set up around the dance floor and take a seat, smiling at a few people I know who are already sitting down.

“Good, you get to be my DD for the night,” she says, sitting in the seat next to mine.

“Great,” I sigh, not really looking forward to babysitting her all night to make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid. I love my sister, but she tends to push the boundaries of stupidity.

“Who’s that?”

I look in the direction her eyes are pointed, and the world around me seems to come to a standstill. Across the room, talking to my cousin Sage and Brie’s husband Kenyon, is a guy. Not just a guy, but the most gorgeous guy I have ever seen in my life. He’s tall, taller than Sage, and almost as tall as Kenyon, who’s practically a giant compared to everyone. His dark brown hair is longer on top and clipped short on the sides. He’s in profile, so I can’t see all of his face, but his jaw, covered in a rough-looking beard, is all sharp edges and straight lines. He has tattoos peeking out from above the edge of his collared shirt, and more on his thick forearms that I can see where his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows. His arms are so huge I doubt I could wrap both my hands around one of his biceps.

When he turns his body in my direction and smiles at something Sage says, my breath catches. I thought he was handsome in profile, but I was wrong. Straight on, his look is captivating and mysterious, with thick brows over his piercing blue eyes and full lips surrounded by his beard.

“Whoever he is, I’m taking him home tonight,” my sister says, and my stomach plummets. “God, he’s hot. I can’t wait.”

I swallow the sudden unexpected jealousy I’m feeling and really wish I hadn’t agreed to be her DD, because I don’t just need a drink, I need a whole bottle of tequila right now.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” I hiss, cutting her off and catching her gaze.

“Getting laid is not stupid. You’d know that if you ever tried it once in a while.”

I bite my tongue to keep myself from saying something mean then look around the room for a place to escape. The sign for the restroom is like a neon flashing light catching my attention. I stand up. “I’ll be back,” I mumble, before I scurry away with my head down and my heart lodged in my throat.

Since growing up, my sisters and I have had a rule. If one of us likes a guy, he’s completely off limits, even if he’s not interested in whoever has a crush on him. That rule has saved us on more than one occasion, but now I wish the stupid rule didn’t exist. When I get to the restroom, I walk to one of the stalls and stand there trying to get myself under control.

I know April, know she’s probably already made a move to talk to whoever he is, and know without a doubt that he will be interested, because I have never met a guy who isn’t interested in her. She’s beautiful, funny, and outgoing—three things I am not. I’m cute enough, can be funny when I’m with my friends or family, but it takes time for me to warm up to people I don’t know. I’m also the opposite of outgoing. I prefer books and laziness to getting out and having adventures. I have always been the same way.

After I know I’m not going to do something crazy, like punch my sister in the face, I leave the bathroom and start to head toward the bar, figuring one glass of wine won’t hurt. I place my order with the bartender then lean into the wood bar top with my forearms.

“You’re Sage’s cousin, right?” a deep voice asks, and my hair stands on end while butterflies take flight in my stomach.

I don’t have to look to know it’s him speaking. Still, I tip my head way back to catch his gaze. Lord, save me. He’s tall and so beautiful. I thought I got that from across the room, but seeing him up close is something else.

“I think he told me you were.” His brows draw together over his blue eyes surrounded by thick lashes as I stare at him.

I mentally slap myself and force my mouth to start working. “Yes, I’m December.”

His brow relaxes and he leans into the bar next to me with his hip, crossing his arms over his chest. “Another month.” His eyes twinkle with humor.

“Pardon?”

“Met a July, June, May, and April. Now, December.”

At the mention of April, my stomach twists. “Our parents were keeping with a theme.” I pick up my wine and take a very unladylike gulp. Why didn’t I see him first?

“Gareth.” His hand comes my way. I don’t want to take it, really don’t want to, but my manners force me to place my hand in his. When his rough, warm strength envelops my hand, my breath sticks in my lungs. “It’s nice to meet you.”

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