We’re continuing the RaeLynn Blue theme with an excerpt from her novel, Cherishing Mikki!
Cherishing Mikki: A Neal Family Story
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
©2011 RaeLynn Blue
Excerpt from Cherishing Mikki: A Neal Family Story
Twice divorced Mikki McCollum dislikes weddings–for obvious reasons. But when one of her favorite cousins gets married, well, she wouldn’t miss it for the world. Mikki has to admit, the actual wedding was beautiful. However, the reception leaves a lot to be desired. The only bright spot in an event she’d rather forget was the handsome Korean man whom couldn’t seem to take his eyes off her. She knew he couldn’t because she kept watching him. At least she hoped…
Aaron Yang has settled into his perpetual role as best man. Not that he minded it, nor would he willing admit out loud he had begun to wonder when it would be his turn. When he spies beautiful Mikki, he wants his own taste of happily ever after more than ever.
When a dangerous threat from Mikki’s past threatens the very thing Aaron wants most, he’ll risk everything to protect her and to let Mikki know he means to cherish her for always.
Mikki’s facial muscles flexed as the smile formed on her face. They pulled tight because her mind, her body, hell, her freaking heart didn’t feel like smiling. The sole reason she did so now came from her mama’s insistence she use good manners, not because she felt like it. By all accounts, this event should make anyone smile—even the most sullen. A wedding. She knew all about those, having married twice and divorced the same amount of times. The wedding brought back memories of her two, but she hoped Charlotte’s marriage bliss lasted forever—or at least a helluva lot longer than her own.
Ahead, dressed in off-white gowns trimmed in lush lilac down to their matching pumps, the bridesmaids, all gussy up in beautiful makeup and flawless beauty, shuffled in anxiousness as they moved around the reception. Already into an hour of reception partying, the bridesmaids still sported full blossoming orchids that decorated inky black braids, gorgeous ringlets and arrow-straight relaxed hair.
Mikki watched the party wind down from beautiful to desperate on the part of the guests. Having spilled outside to the lush verdant yard amongst the flutter of bees, gasps, and boisterous guffaws, the reception spiraled onward amongst a mixture of early 90s R&B and instrumental Japanese pop intermixed in dizzying fashion. The cute flower girl, Kanon, Char’s step-daughter, bounced around with her flower basket filled with fresh Japanese cherry blossoms and giggles.
“Mikki, I’m so glad you made it!” Her cousin, Trina gushed. “…and sitting here all by yourself. Get up and shake your tail feather with the rest of us.”
The youngest of Mikki’s four first cousins, and Charlotte’s baby sister, stood beside her with laughter shining from her round face. She wore her hair loose and the short bobbed cut had highlights of honey and blonde intermixed among the brown. It complemented her caramel skin.
“Trina,” Mikki heard the streak of annoyance, sighed and tried again. “Aren’t you supposed to be taking the family photos with Char?”
“We’re done. It’s his family’s turn,” she replied and plopped down beside her. “You look great. Where you been at?”
Mikki couldn’t help but grin.
“Your family now,” Mikki said after a quick sip of champagne.
Trina nodded, still smiling. “He just don’t know what he’s married into.”
Mikki laughed. “Two troublemakers if ever there were two. I’m still scarred from the time you two dumped mud into my hair on Easter.”
Trina burst out laughing. “Hell, Mikki you were what, ten?”
“Yeah and you were three.”
“Innocent. You can’t hold me accountable for the stuff I did at that age,” Trina said forcing a straight face.
“Oh, and it was Charlotte’s idea.”
“It so was.”
“Right,” Mikki said, shaking her head. “Trina and Charlotte Neal…”
Trina’s grin faltered. “Not Neal. She’s married now. Isamu. Charlotte Isamu.”
Damn, it didn’t sound right.
“Speak of the princess.” Trina pointed at the bride. She’d always called her older sister, princess. The term still made Mikki’s lips curve into a smile.
Charlotte’s floral decorated up-do kept catching the April sunlight as she fluttered over to their table. The diamonds in the combs sparkled. An ebony princess so gorgeous and glowing in her ivory gown, Charlotte dipped down like a dove. Joy shimmered across her being and Mikki fought the urge to grimace at the overall sickening happiness of it all. She put more effort into her grin.
“You look great!” Charlotte said and released her stepdaughter’s hand. “Daddy’s over there at the punch bowl. See him, Kanon?”
Mikki’s 100 watt smile faltered a bit as the little girl bounced off toward her father.
“Thanks,” Mikki managed between her pursed lips. She stiffened as Charlotte yanked her into a quick hug.
“Now, have a good time, fusspot,” she said, squeezing shoulders. “Please, cuz, it’s my wedding day. Trina, make sure she at least gets drunk.”
Trina giggled and nodded purposefully at Charlotte. “Will do, Sis.”
Mikki nodded, not trusting herself to speak. Yeah, she and Charlotte had grown up together, but as college, distance, and life became more frantic, so did their relationship.
“Shut the hell up!” The shout came from Bunny Benton as she peaked over Charlotte’s shoulder. “You might be queen for today, Char, but boss ain’t never been you.”
Bunny’s long hair swept over her scooped-neck bridesmaid’s gown. Her heart-shape face and deep chocolate skin seemed to shimmer in the bright day. She planted a perfect burgundy-lipstick kiss on Charlotte’s cheek.
“Bunny…” Charlotte whined and chuckled. “Now Ichigo’s going to be all upset.”
“You know, it has been a whole ten minutes since you’ve been apart from him.” Trina teased.
“You three are too much,” Charlotte said, hands on her hips. “I mean it, Mikki. Have a good time and try to enjoy yourself.”
Mikki merely nodded and raised her glass toward Charlotte’s retreating figure. She watched her opulently-clad cousin flutter around the garden’s reception area, a fairy princess hopping from flower to flower, dropping off comments and good cheer. And the guests blossomed in Charlotte’s attentive care.
“Look at her, eating up the spotlight,” Bunny said, pursing her lips. She curled her acrylic tipped fingers around a champagne flute.
Trina shrugged. “It’s her day. She should shine.”
“That girl ain’t shining, she’s fucking glowing,” Bunny retorted.
“At least she didn’t give you a horrible bridesmaid’s gown,” Trina said and sipped from her own flute. “She did keep you stylish.”
“True dat,” Bunny agreed. “I look good, girl.”
Mikki had to laugh at that, and even though she didn’t want to, she relaxed. Seated with Trina and Bunny at the small bistro table, she sipped her third glass of champagne and smirked. To be fair, Mikki loved Charlotte and liked how she’d fallen in love with the scrumptious Ichigo. Not that Mikki had ever considered Asian men attractive, but then Ichigo wasn’t just any man—in any ethnicity. He made Charlotte very happy and well…that’s all that mattered.
Mikki frowned at the glass. Must be the champagne that had her thinking rosy crap like that. Or it could’ve been the sappy music and the gushing bride or the dizzy bridesmaids or, or, she lifted the glass and thought, or it could be the champagne.
“Fantastic wedding,” Mikki muttered.
“Yeah, beautiful,” Trina piped in.
They all fell silent watching the procession of people come out of the chapel. The groomsmen wore ivory tuxedos with lilac cummerbunds. Fresh and handsome, all the men in Ichigo’s party had been of Asian descent except for one. Mikki hadn’t ever seen that many fine men in one place. Ichigo didn’t have a brother, but he did have four fabulous friends who had to beat women off with a stick.
“Wow,” Trina sputtered and sat up straight in her chair.
“Yummy,” Bunny nodded, twisting in her seat to get a better view.
Mikki took in the four men striding through, and immediately dispersing, the crowd. One made a beeline for them, but stopped near their table. Bunny gave him the once over and leaned back.
“You with the bride’s or groom’s family?” asked the tuxedo-clad man. His presence blocked the sun from falling on Mikki.
Mikki grinned. A real one this time.
“Bride’s side, genius,” she said.
“Good,” the man said with a small smile of his own. He undid the lilac bowtie. “May I sit?”
Trina cleared her throat. “Hello, we’re here too.”
Bunny gave an “Uh huh.”
“Hello ladies,” he said, and nodded to each of them before giving his full attention back to Mikki.
Mikki gave the tall handsome man a once over, and said, “Sure.”
Jet black hair had been cut stylishly. Almond-shaped eyes met hers and their deep brown seemed to go on forever. He strolled toward her. The inkiness brought out the silky shine of his hair and the warm tint to his skin. He belonged with Isamu’s side of the family, but whether he was related or not, she wasn’t sure.
“Aren’t you the best man?” she asked to fill the silence, if nothing else.
“Yes, but I already know Ichigo’s friends and family,” he said with a smirk. “and Kanon’s my god daughter, so I’m good there.”
Ah, so he wasn’t Ichigo’s family, a cousin or something.
“So, you’re looking into the bride’s people because…” Bunny asked, crossing her legs seductively.
His dark, thin eyebrows rose. “I’m mingling.”“I may be seeing them at family functions, so, I want to get to know them.”
“I’m Bunny,” Bunny said light and airy as if she wasn’t offended he wasn’t all into her. “This is Trina.”
Trina waved and forked a piece of cake into her mouth.
“We met at the rehearsal dinner,” the best man said, and it became painfully clear he wasn’t there for her cousins.
No, Mr. Handsome wanted to talk to her.
“What’s your name?” he asked Mikki. “You weren’t in the wedding party.”
“Mikki. Mikki McCollum.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” he said, flashing a toothy smirk that made her already damp panties more wet. Her desire inched up a bit more. He smelled wonderful, something like spice and woods.
“That’s a unique name,” he said, grinning again.
Mikki rolled her eyes. Whatever.
Trina giggled, and Bunny coughed.
“I got something in my throat.”
“Vapors,” Trina said under her breath.
Mikki thought the same.
Mr. Best Man had caught the vapors. His bff had been locked down by an African American woman and Mr. Best Man wanted to taste too. He’d inhaled the love vapors wafting off Ichigo.
“Aaron, I’m not looking for a reception hook up. Yeah, I stood in the group of chicks trying to catch that stupid ass bouquet, but I’m not looking. You got me?”
“Yes, I, I get you,” he said, but his gaze stayed trained on her as she grabbed her matching canary yellow clutch and stood up. She turned away and headed for the restroom, the last place of retreat for women at events like this.
Mikki held her head high and her attitude even higher. Once she reached the pavement, she hazarded a look back—albeit a quick one—at the temptation wrapped in onyx.
No doubt about it, Aaron had a super bad case of the vapors.
Well, she didn’t.