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Something Like Love
Author: Claudia Y. Burgoa

 


Prologue

 

 

Burke


Don’t you hate when everyone is quiet and you’re the one who breaks the silence.

It’s the middle of the ceremony when my phone buzzes. Every person in the area glares at me. I give them an apologetic smile. I check who texted and surprise, surprise, it’s my brothers.

Fletch: You skipped the game to buy another vineyard?

Myles: Brother of the year.

Burke: It was a golf tournament. I’m sure no one missed me.

Fletch: In case you’re wondering, we won.

Myles: No thanks to you. Dad is pretty disappointed.

I roll my eyes. Dad is always disappointed by something we do or don’t do. When I check the header, I see it’s a group chat. Several texts follow from my other brothers and my sister.

Kingston: You could’ve at least come for a couple of hours.

Teddy: You left me with the jocks, thank you, bro.

Zach: Seriously, Burke, you skipped a charity? Plus, you missed watching Matilda’s first game.

I smile as I read the last text. Zach adores his stepdaughter as if she was his. Actually, we all love her and her mom.

Burke: I’m sure everyone has footage of Matilda.

Teddy: We do. Just a reminder, you’re not a winemaker.

Fletch: We’ll be at King and Myles’s place celebrating.

I knew my siblings would give me shit about skipping the charity tournament, but it’s not like they needed me to be there. I paid the fees, my company sponsored the golf carts, and I donated too. What else do they need from me?

This is my only chance to visit Silverthorne Bay Vineyard. It’s important to the owner, Mark Griffin, that I witness the events they host to understand the spirit of this place. It’s one of his requirements before he’ll consider selling me the place. It’s not about the money. Though I think the vineyard has potential, I might pass because there is nothing appealing about hosting weddings or other social events, for that matter.

My goal is to produce wine, not watch two people make the worst mistake of their lives.

Burke: It’s not like I’m enjoying myself.

Teddy: You’re fantasizing about how you’ll be dragging women to Silverthorne Bay with the excuse of checking on your grapes.

Fletch: His balls are as tiny as grapes.

Teddy: I love my brothers, but all five of you are disgusting.

Zach: Autumn would like to disagree. I’m a catch.

Autumn: I never said that, but he’s my catch. Burke, stop being a womanizer.

Burke: It’s not like that.

This is one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life.

I hate weddings.

I loathe them with a passion. There’s not one wedding I’ve attended that hasn’t ended in divorce, screwing up both parties. Well, no, I’m lying. Zach got married three years ago, and that marriage didn’t end up like the rest. His wife died six months after they said I do. It was a tragic accident. The relationship with that woman and her death broke him up so badly that he was still messed up for a while and not because he loved her, but because he carried some weird guilt with him.

Thankfully, he met Autumn and now…well, he’s going to marry her and be happy. That’s a marriage I believe in though. They’re part of the forty-nine percent that stays married. I’m not sure about the two who are about to profess their undying love to each other.

“Run before it’s too late,” I whisper.

I hear a burst of muffled laughter right behind me. When I turn, there’s a petite, curvy redhead watching me with playful eyes. She’s cute. Not just cute. She’s gorgeous.

“Let me guess, he’s your best friend, and you have the car ready to go in case he gets cold feet.”

I turn to look at the two naïve people standing under the wooden wedding arch adorned with garden roses and other greenery I don’t know. The woman officiating the wedding talks about the meaning of love. She mentions something about finding the right person. She babbles about blessings, destiny, and meeting the one when the time is right.

Would I stop the wedding? No.

“You’d be wrong. Why would I want to stop it?”

“Well, as I said before, you think he’s making a mistake. Or…”—she looks around and walks closer to me—“You’re standing close enough to yell something like, ‘Don’t get married. I still love you, Steve!’”

I laugh. “So, I’m here for the groom and not the bride, huh?”

“It makes it a little more dramatic and romantic, don’t you think? Jaded bride runs away after she learns the groom loved his best friend. She finds some hot man at a bar. Boom, love at first sight.”

“You could make that into a movie.” I almost clap but I don’t since it’d interrupt the ceremony, again.

“I’ll think about pitching it to Hollywood.”

“You might want to try a film producer. Hollywood is a city,” I say sarcastically.

She gives me a lopsided grin. “So, if it’s not to stop the wedding, why are you here then?”

Not that she needs to know, but I answer. “To observe the happy wedding of Steve and…what’s her name?”

Red shrugs. “I wouldn’t know. I just made up a name for the groom. He looks like a young Steve Buscemi.”

I can only see his back, so I can’t confirm or deny her assumption. He might not, but since she has a wild imagination, I’ll pretend she’s right.

“So, you like to make up stories?”

“Don’t you? It’s a fun thing to do while you’re waiting.” She points at the couple sitting in the last row. The woman has a toddler on her lap. A man sits next to her looking just as bored as I am.

I feel you, buddy.

“That’s Steve’s cousin, Melvin. He’s always had a crush on Tiffany, but since he knocked up Georgia, he just has to watch the love of his life get married today.”

“Who is Tiffany?”

“The bride.”

I glance at her. “Nice gossip. I’m impressed by your imagination. You go around town watching intimate moments so you can write about them at night?”

She smiles—her light brown eyes crinkle. “You’d be wrong. I write during the day, but it has nothing to do with scandalous family affairs. Though, making up stories on the go keeps me entertained while I wait. That’s how my mom kept her three children occupied most of the time.”

“What do you write?”

“I’m a journalist, of sorts,” she answers vaguely.

I glance again at Steve and Tiffany, or, well, the bride and groom. They’re probably Bob and Rita. Why is Red covering their wedding? I don’t recognize them, but maybe they’re socialites or somehow important enough to print an article about this crucial moment.

“Are you here to cover the wedding?”

She shows me a silver tray tucked under her arm. “No. I’m also a cooking consultant.”

“Nice joke.” I’m waiting for her to smirk or something. She’s deadpan serious about this weird title. “Is that a real thing?”

“No, but it could be since it says so on my business cards.” She pulls out her card and reads it out loud. “Chloe Lafferty, Cooking Consultant.” Then, she hands it to me. “It’s pretty official, don’t you think.”

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