Home > The Wedding Crasher

The Wedding Crasher
Author: Mia Sosa


Chapter One



The Cartwright Hotel

Washington, DC




There’s only one rational explanation for what’s happening in this stairwell: I’m cursed.

Yes, I’m being dramatic. Yes, the drama’s guaranteed to escalate from here.

I’m in this predicament because my cousin Natalia, a cosmetologist by trade, called me at the last minute and begged for my help with, as she put it, “providing white-glove makeup services” for a wedding at the Cartwright. What even is that?

My other cousin Lina, the wedding coordinator for this swanky boutique hotel, has instructed me to keep a low profile. She would never admit this, but I’d bet money she’s worried that my alarmingly effective most-men-are-trash pheromones will change the outcome of this highly anticipated affair.

So fine. I’m happy to hand Natalia makeup brushes or wipes or whatever and keep out of sight. Except she assigned me an additional duty—asking for a broom and a dustpan—and I figured I could snag a few extra vials of courtesy moisturizer for my ashy hands if I just went down to housekeeping myself.

Damn my cheap ass to hell.

I should have purchased the lotion from the hotel spa and continued on my clueless way. Instead, I’m now rooted to the landing between the second and third floors, intruding on a private moment between the bride and a man who isn’t the groom.

“You don’t love him,” the man says, his blue eyes overly bright and his tie askew. Then he reaches up to caress her face.

The bride, a vision worthy of any wedding magazine layout, steps back, easily dodging his attempt to touch her. “I never said I did.”

Good Lord. She’s not even denying the accusation? If my mother were here, she’d gasp, place a hand across her forehead, and say, “Que escândalo!” She’d be right too. Because this? This is an epic scandal.

“Then don’t do it,” the man urges. “You’ll regret this for the rest of your life.”

“Give me another reason not to go through with it. One that counts.”

He gestures around them. “Where the hell is all of this coming from, Ella?”

She paces in the small space, twisting her perfectly manicured hands and mumbling incoherently, her face scrunched up in distress. Several beats later, she stills and takes a steadying breath. “I’m in love with you, Tyler. The question is, are you finally ready to admit your feelings for me?”

Holy shit. Is she serious?

Not-the-groom closes his eyes and says nothing, giving her the answer she wasn’t hoping for.

The nosy part of me wants to watch what happens next; the sensible part of me knows I can’t stand here forever. Think, Solange. Think. Okay, okay, I suppose I can pretend to be oblivious to what’s unfolding and slink past them. Since the bride’s makeup was already done when I arrived, Ella and I haven’t crossed paths, so I could make myself scarce in the dressing suite, and she would never know her secret’s been compromised. Or I could tiptoe back to the door on the third floor. Considering they’re totally engrossed in each other, I may be able to leave undetected.

I eye the stairs, then turn my head and stare at the door. Decisions, decisions. But hang on a minute. I didn’t do anything wrong. This is the bride’s mess, not mine. And I want that fucking lotion—it’s magical. Plus, I need time to plan my next move.

Because the apparently unlucky groom isn’t a stranger. Not exactly. Dean and I haven’t met yet, but he’s the best friend of Lina’s boyfriend, and loyalty to my cousin (along with basic decency) dictates that I consider whether to disclose what I’m witnessing.

A loud gasp signals that the choice of how to extricate myself from the situation is no longer mine, however, and when I glance back at the duo, two pairs of wary eyes are gazing at me.

Thankfully, I’m quick on my feet. “Sorry to interrupt, folks,” I say, giving them a jaunty salute. “I understand the need to sneak away just before you say ‘I do.’ My husband and I had sex literally ten minutes before we tied the knot.” I’m not married, but I can lie to someone’s face when the occasion calls for it.

To my relief, the tension in the bride’s body recedes, as if she’s determined I’m not a potentially hostile friend of the groom. Her unrequited crush, meanwhile, rubs the back of his head and barks out a laugh.

“It’s so hard to stay away from him, you know?” she says. “Just an hour more and we’ll be in each other’s arms for our first dance.” Playing the role of a bride flirting with her intended, she gives him a coy smile and tugs on the lapels of his suit jacket to draw him close. Is he a wedding guest, for heaven’s sake? Then she winks at him, the faint blush blooming across her dewy cheeks conveniently enhancing her performance.

Wow, she’s as talented an actor as I am.

I wave off her apology and graze the wall until I reach the first step that will lead me to freedom. “No worries. Enjoy and congratulations.” When I’m three steps down, I add, “I wish you all the best.” Why? Because it’s in neither my nor the groom’s interest to reveal what I really think about this situation. Not yet, that is. I’ll just grab that broom and dustpan—oh, and the free hand cream, of course—and find Lina. She’ll know how to handle this.

But when I return to the bridal suite (without the damn lotion because the hotel stocks it in a locked cabinet), Lina is nowhere to be found and isn’t answering my SOS text. Worse, the ceremony’s due to start in minutes.

“Where have you been?” Natalia asks as she dabs powder on a middle-aged woman’s chin and forehead. “I asked for the broom fifteen minutes ago.” She looks at my reflection in the mirror and raises an eyebrow.

I’m fidgeting. She notices.

Natalia twists her upper body—a significant feat given that she’s eight months pregnant—and leans in my direction so only I can hear what she says next. “Everything okay? You look like you’ve seen a naked ghost with a humongous schlong.”

I roll my eyes and puff out a short breath. Natalia frequently speaks in the tongue of her ancestral land: a frat house. “Uh, I’m not sure. It’s just that I saw the bride when I went downstairs and—”

The woman in the chair jumps up, dodging Natalia’s hands as my cousin tries to blot the woman’s face. “Ella’s downstairs? But why? She’s supposed to be here putting the final touches on her makeup.”

Actually, from what I could tell, Ella’s shooting her shot with another man. To Ella’s presumptive relative, I say, “I’m not sure, exactly. Maybe you should check on her?” I eye Natalia and mouth, I need to talk to you. Outside.

She nods, but then Ella sails into the suite and parks herself right between my cousin and me, several tendrils of her blond hair having escaped the intricate topknot she’s chosen as her wedding-day hairstyle. “I’ve got a bit of shine, but we don’t have a lot of time,” the bride says to Natalia. “Could you do a quick refresh?”

Natalia activates her professional mode. “Of course.”

Before Ella drops into the chair, she slides a troubled gaze in my direction. “And who do we have here?”

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