Back in her husband's bed(61)

By: Andrea Laurence



 St. Thomas

 Annie could feel the Caribbean sun’s rays sinking warmly into her bones. The combination of the heat and the rum was doing wonders for her state of mind. She needed this. After the shooting, she’d decided to take a break from the game. It seemed like a good idea to get away from the chaos and noise of the casino and the game that had ruled her life for so long.

 Once the scandal with Jerry broke and hit the news, it became abundantly clear she wasn’t going to get any peace in Las Vegas. On ESPN they were constantly showing pictures of her next to Tessa’s, Eddie’s and Jerry’s mug shots.

 Nate had decided they both needed to get away from the Sapphire and turned over the running of the hotel to his new casino manager. They’d spent some time at the house in Henderson, then visited his father in Texas. After that, Nate had suggested a few weeks on St. Thomas at the family beach house. They’d only been there a few days, but she had to say this whole vacation thing was pretty damn great. She’d have to make a point to schedule more of these in between tournaments and time in Vegas with Nate.

 Annie took a sip of her drink and closed her eyes. This was the way to live. She was feeling so good nothing could ruin her buzz.

 “I was thinking we should get remarried when Tessa gets out on parole.”

 Almost nothing. Annie rolled onto her side on the queen-size lounge chair. Nate was lying beside her, absentmindedly thumbing at the keypad of his smartphone. Getting him to take a vacation was a big step, although she was doing better at the actual vacationing part so far.

 “Remarried? Did I miss the part where we divorced?”

 “I mean like a vow renewal or something. Have a reception. Some cake. We could let our families and friends come this time.”

 Annie sighed and considered the idea of a real wedding. Their first had been such a blur. They’d rushed through it, so anxious to just be married that she hadn’t relished the details the way a woman normally wanted to. She hadn’t been raised dreaming about her wedding day like other little girls. And yet even there the tides had turned.

 When she’d called her mother to tell her about Tessa’s unfortunate incarceration, Magdala Baracas announced quite suddenly that she’d gotten married to her Portuguese businessman. The change of heart probably meant that not only would her mother and uh...stepfather...come to the wedding, they might even enjoy themselves. This was new territory for the Baracas women.

 “Would we have it at the hotel?” The Desert Sapphire had a very nice wedding chapel. They’d made quick use of it the first time.

 “No, I think we should do it here.”

 “St. Thomas?”

 “Yeah. We could get married on the beach at sunset. I’ll have some of the locals build us a gazebo. We could have a bonfire and eat seafood until we throw up.”

 “Sounds lovely,” Annie said, her tone flat with sarcasm.

 Nate put down his phone and rolled over to face her. “I’m being serious here. Barbara Ann Baracas Reed, would you do me the honor of marrying me again with our friends and family as witnesses?”

 Annie opened her mouth to answer when Nate pulled a small velvet box from his shorts. “What is that?”

 He frowned. “That is not the appropriate response.” When he flipped open the box, Annie was nearly blinded by the large, heart-shaped diamond ring inside.

 “You never got a diamond before. I thought you deserved one now.” Nate pulled the ring from the box and slipped it onto Annie’s finger next to her wedding band.

 Annie couldn’t tear her eyes from it. It was the most beautiful ring she’d ever seen. She didn’t know what to say.

 “Are you okay?”

 She looked up to see Nate’s dark eyes filled with concern. “I’m wonderful. Why?”

 “The last time I did this you passed out on me.”

 Annie had to laugh. Her world had turned on its end since that day. In a month’s time, things had changed so dramatically it surprised even her. As she looked down at her new ring, there were no nerves, no butterflies. No screams from generations past urging her to run away. Nate’s love had slain the dragons. Such an achievement should be celebrated. A wedding on the beach with too much seafood was a good place to start.

 “Yes, Nate.” She smiled, leaning in to place a kiss on his full, piña-colada-flavored lips. “I will marry you again. And again. And again.”

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