Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles

“I want one more dance with someone special,” she told him with a smile. “Then you can tell the DJ.”

He kissed her cheek, and she could tell he knew what she meant. “Okay. Make it a good one.”

She headed directly toward her grandpa. He was seated at a table on the edge of the makeshift dance floor with her parents. She’d asked him to dance earlier in the night, but he’d blustered something fierce about being too old, so she’d backed down. This time she wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Planting her hands on her hips, she stared him down. “You’re dancing with me. Grab your cane. Does Frank Sinatra work for you?”

He frowned, but he picked up his cane and stood, rubbing his hip. “I told you before. I’m too old to dance with you young people.”

“You danced with Joanie,” she said as she gave the DJ the signal they’d agreed on earlier.

“Fly Me To The Moon” began to play, and they walked to the center of the dance floor. Her parents followed them and started dancing cheek-to-cheek. She was happy to see Jill rest her head on Brian’s shoulder.

“Joanie is my date. Plus, she and I run at the same speed,” her grandpa said, still glowering. “I can’t shake and wiggle to all that junk you young people listen to.”

Since he was being his usual blustery self, she merely kissed his weathered jaw. “I don’t expect you to shake and wiggle to Sinatra.”

“Good,” he harrumphed. “It isn’t dignified.”

Even with his cane, he was a better lead than most men, having been raised in a generation where men knew how to dance with women. She made her muscles go soft as he led her through a basic waltz.

“Grandpa?” she asked. “What’s the secret to a happy marriage? Like you and Grandma Harriet had?”

His breath rushed out. “If your grandma were still here, she’d say the same thing I’m about to say to you. Love. I know that sounds way too simple, but it’s the God’s honest truth. So long as you cultivate that love, you’re good to go.”

She rested her head on his shoulder, making sure to match his slow but confident steps. “Any suggestions on how to cultivate it?”

“Marriage is like putting a newspaper together,” he told her, making her smile.

Leave it to Arthur Hale to use a journalism metaphor.

“You have to remain curious about your partner. You have to keep asking questions. And when something doesn’t add up, you have to dig deeper. Then it’s all a matter of choosing the right words, and when you use the wrong ones—either in an argument or because you’ve had a rough day—you have to print a retraction.”

“Any other sage advice?” she said with a grin.

“Trust your gut. Pay attention to the details. Search for the right words. And never, ever take him or what his story is for granted.” He kissed the top of her head. “And look through keyholes if you need to.”

She laughed. That was one of the journalistic rules he’d taught her growing up. Some of them he’d meant. Others had been for fun. Through it all, he’d opened up the world for her by feeding the passion they both shared.

“I love you, Grandpa,” she said, inhaling his familiar scent of Old Spice and red hots.

He stopped dancing, and they came to a halt.

“I love you too, Mermaid. Now go find your husband so you can dance the last dance together. If he feels anything like I did on my wedding day to your grandmother, he can’t wait to get the hell out of here.”

Even though she knew he’d bluster, she pinched his cheek. “You are the dearest man I know.”

He looked up, as if asking heaven for help. “Go on with you.”

With a little nudge, she set off to find Tanner, who was still talking to Asher.

“Are you finally ready for the last dance?” she asked with the slight tilt of her head, which she hoped looked seductive.

“You have to ask?” He was so eager to get onto the dance floor, she had to run to keep up.

The DJ cued up “It Had To Be You,” and Tanner pulled her close, so close she could feel his body heat pouring through his suit.

“You are anxious to leave.”

Top Books