His footsteps were heavy on the steps to Wolf’s front porch. As he stopped, his fist raised to knock, voices inside met his ears.
“…would just listen to me for a minute, I know what I’m talking about.”
“Come on, Ace. You don’t know anything more about this crap than any of us do.”
“No, no, that’s where you’re wrong. I’ve been watching a documentary series about weddings, and now I know how brides think.”
A snort came from someone, probably Wolf. “And what series is that?”
A chorus of groans and curses followed, with some yelps that indicated Ace’s smart-ass ways were earning him a few punches to the arm.
Trey rested his fist against the door, head hanging down.
Every time. Every goddamn time. Whenever he was ready to give up on everything for the good of the group, they’d rush right underneath him and hold him up.
Wolf had opened the door, causing Trey’s hand to fall. Trey just looked at him for a long, hard moment.
“Wolf,” Trey said, his voice even rougher than usual. “Step outside.”
Wolf glanced over his shoulder, then let the front door close behind him. They were alone on Wolf’s front porch, the painted white railings and dusky-gray boards surrounding them.
“I’m thinking about…” Trey coughed. “Sorry. I’m going to call off the wedding project.”
Wolf’s nostrils flared, the only indication of his surprise. “Why, Boss?”
Trey looked past Wolf, down toward the gravel path that led the way off their property, toward the highway. The road he’d take to her—Bethany.
God, he was going to miss her.
“Because I’ve put too much on you guys. Last night wouldn’t have gone down the way it had if Jameson hadn’t been on edge from the wedding.”
Wolf shook his head, crossing his big arms over his chest.
“No way. You wouldn’t have been able to stop him from snapping when Vinnie said that. You know he’s sensitive about kids.”
Trey looked down at his second. “Whether or not I could have, my decision is made. I wanted you to know first.”
The corners of Wolf’s mouth turned down, difficult as they were to see with his majestic beard. “Of course it’s your call, Boss. But they’ve really been enjoying all this.”
Trey scoffed, but Wolf continued. “Really. It’s given them something new to do. A challenge. Hell, I’ve enjoyed it myself. And honestly”— the volume of Wolf’s voice lowered as he stepped closer—“I think it’s been good for you too.”
Trey bared his teeth. “Don’t play armchair psychologist with me.”
“As long as I’ve known you, you’ve never smiled the way you have the last few weeks. I’ve noticed it. We’ve all noticed it. And that’s why we’ve thrown ourselves into this wedding crap. We care about you, Boss. And if this makes you happy, then that’s what we want to do.”
Trey shook his head. The burden of this… It was too much. Feeling was too much. He wished he could go back to before that investigator waltzed in and capsized his life.
But he couldn’t wind back the clock, and he couldn’t undo the damage. Especially those little dents in his heart that had been given by a certain girl with blond hair, blue eyes, and the sweetest smile he’d ever seen.
“My mind’s made up. The wedding planning is over.”
“Aw, come on, Boss! I was just getting good at it! Come on, I brought a freaking vision board!”
Trey started, then whirled on his heel. Ace was standing there in the open front door, an intense frown on his normally jovial face.
“What the hell is a vision board?”
Ace grinned, then ducked into the house. Trey followed, Wolf at his heels.
“Look. See, fabric swatches, patterns… Look, I even did a mock-up of the cake.”
“I told him that design wouldn’t work,” Doc interjected. “Look at the way those tiers are stacked. It’ll never hold up under all that fondant.”
“If you used some supports of some kind under that edge,” Wolf pointed, “then it would probably have more structural integrity. Can’t you have each layer stacked on cardboard?”
Doc scoffed as Ace nodded. Dean shook his head. “I don’t like the colors.”
Ace rounded on him. “What do you mean? It’s white and pink! Chicks love pink!”
“Yeah, when they’re seven. Grow the hell up, man. Grown women don’t like pink.”
A full-scale argument erupted, and all Trey could do was watch as eleven grown-ass, tatted-up biker dudes had a yelling match, complete with a few fists flying, over wedding colors.
“See?” Wolf crossed his arms, his grin flashing white through his beard. “They’re having fun.”
Trey just shook his head as the argument escalated, with Ace finally crying uncle.
“Let’s put it to a vote,” Dean yelled over the melee. “All those in favor of pink and white, say aye.”
“Aye!” Ace’s yell was hard to hear, since Rocco’s boot was on his face.
The nays were so loud that Trey would have worried about the structural integrity of the room if anyone but Wolf had built it.
Trey smiled. Those roughneck assholes cared. And he wasn’t going to take that from them at this point.
It was just another month or two. As long as he could balance things, it would be okay. He had to believe that.
Besides, he wasn’t sure how long he could have kept away from Bethany. The need to see her again was almost a pain inside his belly.
“All right, boys.”
The scuffle stopped at the sound of Trey’s voice. He stepped in the middle of the group, settling himself on the couch. “Let’s see the rest of your board so we can fix your fool ideas.”
Ace grinned, Dean snorted, and the rest of the bikers settled themselves around the room, ready to give opinions whenever asked—and more often, whenever they weren’t.
Trey couldn’t have been more grateful for them. They’d kept him sane more often than not, and here they were, doing it again.
He was a lucky bastard; that was for sure.