You're the One


Logan Blaise pulled Breanna Collins—no, make that the new Mrs. Storm Decker—into a tight turn and twirled her around the dance floor. As he drew her closer, her floor-length white wedding gown swirled against his legs.

Bree’s hand relaxed on his shoulder. “Are you and Payton planning to have your wedding reception here too?”

The thought of Payton and her family at his family’s restaurant in Brooklyn, the Crow’s Nest, was enough to make his ass twitch. Her idea of slumming it was staying at the Plaza without an en suite butler. “The Crow’s Nest is a nice place by Red Hook standards, but by Payton’s standards—not so much.”

“I thought California girls were laid-back. How’d you two hook up anyway?”

A question he’d been asking himself for some time. He and Payton were one hell of an unlikely pair, the princess and the pauper. He wasn’t a pauper now, but he had been when they got together—not that he publicized the fact. He did his best to never talk about his life before college. He said he was from New York, and if they thought it was Park Avenue instead of Red Hook—all the better. Most people at Stanford didn’t know Red Hook, Brooklyn, even existed. “We’ve been together since college. After graduation, I did an internship at her family’s vineyard and I’ve been working for her dad ever since. You know how it goes on the relationship train. I was just riding along and one day I realized we’d gone from dating to living together. It was comfortable and it worked. Marriage just seems like the next stop on the line.”

Bree raised one of her very expressive eyebrows at that. “Wow, that sounds so romantic—not.”

“Bree, Payton’s a nice woman. I like being with her. She’s beautiful, classy, we work well together, and we get along well. Her dad is great and he’s grooming me to take over the vineyard. Since Payton never had much interest in the business, it all makes a weird kind of sense.”

“Love isn’t supposed to make sense, Logan. Love just is. But then you know that already—after all, you and Payton have been together a lot longer than Storm and me. You must be doing something right.”

He’d never really thought about it. “It’s . . . comfortable.” And there was nothing wrong with comfort, was there?

“So what’s with the dark broody look?”

Shit, he must have been frowning again. He pasted on a smile. Pop had always teased him about his dour expression whenever he studied or contemplated some new idea. The gears were always turning, only his gears revolved around compounds, elements, and chemistry. Normally the chemistry was blowing something up or perfecting the bouquet of a fine wine. This was the first time it had to do with the L word. “I’m happy for you, Bree. Really, I am. You’re my favorite sister-in-law.”

“I’m your only sister-in-law.”

“I just don’t understand why you had to get married now. How can you in good conscience leave me with a convalescing crotchety old fart like Pop?”

“Pete’s not old and he’s getting stronger every day. He’s been out of the hospital for weeks. He’s not going to die on you.”

Logan looked over—Pop was holding up the bar, surrounded by his cronies—the guys from when they’d all been cops in the neighborhood. Pop wasn’t supposed to be drinking yet. He sipped something that did not look like soda. “No, he’ll sneak stogies, and beer. Shit, he’s probably already hidden a bottle of scotch under his pillow.”

For the special occasion, Pop had slicked back what was left of his white hair. He still wore his jacket, but his tie was history. No surprise there. “He needs a babysitter more than Nicki, and she’s only ten.”

“Exaggerate much? Pete’s well enough to work a few hours a day. Just don’t let him overdo it.”

“Right. But you don’t get it. No matter how old I am, I’m still his son—he tells me what to do. He’ll never take orders from me.”

Pop slapped one of his friends on the back and let out a shotgun laugh. “Look at him, Bree.” He turned her toward Pop.

“Don’t worry, nothing keeps Pete Calahan down. Not a bullet, not a major heart attack, not a quad bypass.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. I’ve already threatened him, but unlike you, I’m not scary.”

Bree’s hold on his shoulder tightened midspin. “If I had known that hitting Storm over the head with a cast-iron frying pan would make every man afraid of me, I would have done it years ago. Just a clue, Logan, I’m not the only one who can wield a mean skillet.”

“No, but you’re the only one who can get away with it. Face it, I’m screwed here. Even you—Wonder Woman with the frying pan of truth—have a hard time controlling Pop.”

“I’m not worried. You’ll manage.”

“What about Nicki? What do I know about taking care of a ten-year-old girl? Women—no problem. Preteen girls—shit—I didn’t even know anything about them when I was that age.”

“It’s common sense, Logan. Just don’t ever let her forget that you’re the adult.”

“Bree, it’s like Nicki’s just getting settled into the canoe. You and Storm leaving is rockin’ it. Leaving me in charge is enough to make it flip. We hardly know each other.”

“Don’t you think it’s about time you changed that?” Bree’s green eyes reminded him of an experiment with potassium nitrate gone awry. She had a short fuse and a big bang.

“Hey, it’s not as if I don’t want to know Nicki.” He leaned in closer. “I want to know her, but I just met her. We’re practically strangers.”

“As hard as it seems, it’s good you’ll have one-on-one time to bond with Nicki.”

“Bree, I had a dozen foster fathers in nine years and they could be standing next to me and I wouldn’t recognize them. Bonding is not my strong suit. I didn’t get a real dad until Pop took me in when I was twelve.”

“Pete’s the best dad I’ve ever known. You, Storm, and Slater turned out great. You’re a warm, loving, giving, successful man.”

Someone cleared his throat right behind him. Logan turned to find Storm, his foster brother, wearing a glare that would make a lesser man want to sleep with one eye open. “I’m just borrowing her, bro. I’ll give her back real soon—if you’re lucky and the lady’s accommodating.”

Storm was just shy of Logan’s six foot three with the same dark hair, but that’s where the resemblance ended. Logan had a darker complexion, where Storm had the light skin and eyes of the Black Irish.

“Breezy, we’ve been married less than four hours and you’re already flirting with my brother?”

Logan stepped away. He wasn’t about to push his luck. It hadn’t ever been that good.

“I’m surprised you even noticed. You were too busy dancing with Patrice.” Bree feigned jealousy, but she would never make it onstage. Not even off-off-Broadway.

Storm rolled his eyes and pulled her into his arms. They came together as if they’d rehearsed it a million times.

Compared to Storm and Bree, Logan and Payton’s relationship looked about as genuine as a ring at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. He shook his head. First Pop’s heart attack, then Nicki’s appearance in his life, now the whirlwind marriage of his brother to a girl they had known practically forever. No wonder Logan couldn’t get his balance—his world had been thrown on a psychedelic Tilt-A-Whirl. It was a wonder he was still sane.

Storm and Bree’s connection was palpable. It was something that he’d never had with Payton. It was something he’d never had with anyone, really. It was something, until now, he never knew existed.

Logan fought the urge to back away into obscurity and reinserted himself. He kissed Bree on the cheek—“Be happy, Bree”—and tugged Storm into a guy hug—smacking his back harder than necessary. “Take good care of her. You’re one lucky son of a bitch.”

“Don’t I know it?” Storm pulled away but held on to Logan’s shoulders—too close to his neck for his piece of mind. “Take care of everything here and if you run into problems, don’t call us. Just work it out. We’re outta here, big brother.”

Nicki ran toward them in a cloud of teal taffeta.

“Incoming.” Logan motioned toward the running Crayola. “Word on the street is that you had to bribe Nicki to wear a dress and play bridesmaid.”

Nicki’s dark hair, the same color as his, was falling out of the once-artful pile on her head, and her long spindly legs ate up the distance. “Wait!”

Logan caught her before she could take out the bride. “Slow down, Nicki. You need to adjust your stopping distance. Those dress shoes aren’t like your trusty Vans.”

Nicki ignored him. “Bree, Storm, you can’t leave until you throw the bouquet and garter.”

Logan figured that if anything good came out of marriage, it would be that he’d never have to stand like an ass with all the other single dudes dodging the garter. It was a dumb tradition—almost as dumb as the bride tossing the bouquet to all the desperate single females. Marriage was nothing more than a sensible decision—well, except for people like Storm and Bree. For them, it was something he would never have believed existed if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes—it was a love match.

Logan knelt, the drumroll started. He slid the garter up Rocki O’Sullivans Rockette-worthy, drool-inducing, smoothly sinful long, long, long leg.

Rocki’s short, choppy platinum blond hair had a fluorescent pink streak bisecting the sideswept bangs obscuring one of her brilliant blue eyes. She shot him a sexy smirk and slid her pointed foot up the inside of his thigh. “You know, it’s a real shame you’re not single. I’d take you in a Brooklyn minute.”

He knew better than to ask, but he couldn’t help himself. “A Brooklyn minute?”

“Yeah, it’s a little longer than a New York minute.” She trailed her toe right up to his family jewels. “Let’s face it, there are just some things that shouldn’t be rushed.”

He grabbed her ankle and pushed it away from his crotch.

Patrice—amateur videographer, busybody, and the first girl Logan had ever pictured naked—drew nearer for a close-up.

Logan’s gaze darted over the crowd, looking for a lifeline, a friend, anyone who would help him out of this clusterfuck. Pop stood in his line of vision and seemed to be enjoying Logan’s situation.

Rocki ate it up and judging by the smile on her face, she was enjoying the hell out of making a spectacle of him. “Smile, Logan. You’re on Candid Camera.”

Great. He could see this going viral in less than ten minutes, knowing Patrice—the woman was better connected than John Gotti’s successor. Logan was so fucked, and Rocki knew there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. When he got the garter over her knee, he stilled.

Rocki grabbed his arm and played to the camera. “Oh, come on, big boy, give the crowd a show. Slide it all the way up.”

“Shit.” The drumroll picked up speed and the crowd egged him on. His hands disappeared beneath her emerald dress and slid the garter to the top of her thigh-high silk stockings and released it with a stinging snap. He took great pleasure in Rocki’s wince—served her right. He held her mile-high heel out to her, partially so she could slide her small foot into it, and partially to protect his manhood. When Cinderella donned her heels, he offered her a hand, and pulled her up.

The chair she’d sat on in the middle of the dance floor disappeared and the band struck the first chords of the song they were to dance to. Of course Rocki had chosen a song about sex. “Insatiable” was a great song if you were looking to get lucky—unfortunately Logan was feeling anything but. He tugged Rocki into his arms praying she wouldn’t make a scene.

“So, handsome, how come your fiancée isn’t here with you?”

“She’s home planning the wedding.”

“When’s the big day?”

“New Year’s Eve.”

“Going for the tax break, huh?”

“Excuse me?”

“If you marry before January first, you can file your taxes jointly. It’ll save you a chunk of change. Isn’t that why you’re doing it?”

“No, Payton thought it would be romantic, and it’s a good time for me to be away from the vineyard for the honeymoon.” He didn’t mention the fact that his future in-laws wanted to have the mother of all New Year’s Eve bashes to get plenty of free publicity. What started out as a small family wedding at the vineyard had quickly turned into something better held under a big top.

“Sounds about as romantic as getting hitched to save on your taxes.”

He didn’t say anything. It wasn’t very chivalrous to agree.

“Do you love her, Logan?”

He didn’t publicize his love life or lack thereof. Especially not to Rocki. The first thing she’d do would be to tell Patrice—fewer people would hear about it if he took out a full-page ad in the Post. The skin on the back of his neck felt as if it were being used as a pincushion.

“Hey.” Rocki pushed away from him. “I’m not coming on to you, but if you don’t know if you love your fiancée—the woman you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with—then, I’m sorry to say, the answer is no. So why, pray tell, are you marrying her?”

“Payton is nice, beautiful, she’s well connected, we get along well, and we’re good together. It’s a smart decision.”

“Sounds like a match made in hell. Sorry.” She patted his chest. “But without love, you got nothin’. Just ask Storm and Bree—they’ve got the real deal.”

He was used to nothin’. He was comfortable with nothin’. He’d never known anything but. “Love doesn’t happen to people like me.”

Rocki looked as if she was fighting tears.

“What did I say?”

She blinked her blue eyes and sniffed. “Just the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“It’s not sad—it’s just the way it is. Some people are not meant to love or be loved. I’m one of them.”

“Love happens to everyone if you let it. Pete loves you. Storm and Slater do too. And Bree, hell, Bree loves everyone. But the kind of love we’re talking about, the kind that grabs you by the balls and won’t let go, that doesn’t happen if you go around marrying people you don’t love because it’s a good business decision. I never thought I’d say this, but I feel sorry for you.”

Rocki dropped his hand, turned, and left him standing alone in the middle of the dance floor, staring after her.

“You made Rocki sad.”

He blinked and cursed his luck. “Nicki, I thought you’d gone to bed. Aren’t ten-year-olds supposed to be asleep by now?” He looked at his watch and wondered if Bree had recorded Nicki’s bedtime in the annals of her handwritten encyclopedia of child rearing. “What’s your bedtime?”

Nicki planted her hands on what would someday be her hips and dug her foot into the wood floor. “I don’t have one. I’m not a baby.”

That was a lie. “In Bree’s book, everyone has a bedtime.”

“Ten o’clock?”

“Is that a question or a statement?”

“Fine, it’s nine, but I don’t want to go to bed until after Storm and Bree leave. Please, Logan, let me stay up. I want to say good-bye. They’re going away for like forever.”

“Only if you don’t tell Bree I let you. If she finds out I’m screwing up already, she might never leave. On second thought, maybe she’ll rethink this whole honeymoon thing.”

“Yeah, nice try. Believe me, it’s not gonna work. I’ve done everything I can to make them want to stay. I even got into trouble at school.”

“You did?”

Nicki shrugged. “Bree didn’t fall for it. She saw right through me. She always does.”

“Is the thought of staying with me and Pop that much of a nightmare?” Damn, he’d done it again. Nicki had that same sad look on her face Rocki did moments before, and she blinked too frequently for it to be anything but something in her eye or the onset of tears. He patted her shoulder. “It’ll be okay.” He lied through his teeth. “I’m not so bad. You’ll see.” Logan scanned the restaurant searching for Bree’s telltale white dress. A little girl’s tears were enough to unman him. He didn’t know how to handle them. What the hell was Bree thinking leaving him in charge of Nicki and Pop?

Nicki rested her cheek against the back of his hand and slid her arm around his waist. “That’s what Bree said. That and she’ll only be gone a month. We even made a calendar to cross off the days. She said she’d send me postcards and everything.”

Something trickled against his hand. Damn, either Nicki was crying or she spit on him. He’d been hoping for the latter but no such luck—the angle was all wrong. What the hell was he supposed to do now?


“Yeah, kid?”

“Who’s gonna tuck me in after Storm and Bree leave?”

“I guess I will. But you’ll have to tell me what to do.”

“Do you give kisses too?”

“Is it part of the whole bedtime routine?”


“Then I guess I’d better start, huh?” He turned her to face him and crouched down low. She was definitely losing a battle with tears. He took out his handkerchief and wiped her face. “I don’t know a damn thing about kids, Nicki, but I’ll learn, I promise. Just don’t cry any more, okay?”

Nicki sniffed and a few more tears fell. “I’m not crying.”

“Glad to hear it. Now, come on, let’s go and say good-bye to Storm and Bree and you can tell me all about this bedtime thing.” He took her hand in his and was floored by how small the kid was. He couldn’t remember ever being that small. His neck felt like a pincushion again—but this time, the pins were on fire.

When he’d shown up a few weeks earlier to help take care of his dad and the bar, he’d not only met Nicki for the first time; he’d found out that there was a darn good chance that Nicki might be his daughter. It was a shock to say the least, and he hadn’t a clue what to do with her. All he knew was he’d give away everything he’d ever owned, even his ’56 Jag, never to see her cry again.




Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use Copyright 2008 by Robin Kaye