“Hot and Wild” by Jodi Lynn Copeland

Chapter One

“Sex doesn’t have to die after marriage.”

Staring through my open car window at the white-and-red heart-emblazoned sign of Vegas’s Little White Wedding Chapel, I faked a laugh. My friend Deitre’s speculation at what was on my mind couldn’t be farther off.

Brian and I had a sex life to put the Kama Sutra to shame. I had every faith we’d still be doing it with the frequency of bunnies after we said those two little words. We didn’t lack for love, either. Having spent four years apart while he chased his music career across the country, our first red-hot reunion kiss—which segued into our first redder, hotter reunion lovemaking—promised this time we were playing for keeps.

What bothered me was that no matter how much of myself I revealed and even how much of himself he shared, I felt he held something back. A secret that could rock the foundation of our marriage even before we took that fateful nuptial drive through the chapel’s Tunnel of Love. A secret that had me wondering if I shouldn’t be on the eve of saying “I don’t.”

I looked across the center console of my hatchback. The flashier lights of the strip were up the street a half mile. I didn’t need that glitz, or the luster of the full moon, to see Deitre’s questioning expression. Thousands of small white lights entwined with the tunnel’s blue cherub-and-starlight-bedecked canopy, lighting up the car’s interior like it was ten in the morning instead of ten at night.

“I was thinking maybe we should go for the old-fashioned approach,” I lied. “A drive-through ceremony might be a little too hokey for even me.”

From the passenger’s seat, Deitre shot my all-black ensemble of oversize dress shirt, leggings and combat boots a “get real” look. The getup was a stark contrast to my short, naturally white-blond hair, and in that way, deepened my hazel eyes. “You, Karen ‘far-out’ Sanders, do old-fashioned?” Her expression became sympathetic. “Besides, who would you invite to an old-fashioned ceremony?”

“Good point,” I returned solemnly.

My parents had been killed in a car accident when I was three. The grandparents who raised me in their stead had passed on a few years ago. I didn’t have siblings or other close relatives, and Brian was just as alone, since his parents kicked him out for not living up to their expectations. Between us, we’d invited a dozen friends to share our rented limo and witness our nuptials tomorrow. Most of that dozen were Brian’s friends. Most of those friends, with the exception of two of his bandmates, I had yet to meet.

The sobriety that came with Deitre’s observation vanished as my apprehension once again rose.

Why had Brian yet to introduce me to the guys he routinely spent four nights a month with, including tonight?

Or were they not guy friends? Was he having an affair?

“The Tunnel’s as good a place to do the deed as any.” Deitre said the word deed like marriage was a step away from incarceration.

I forced a smile while inside my belly lurched. But really, what was I worried about? It had to be guys he spent those four days a month with, or he never would have told me I’d meet them at our wedding. So there was no other woman. There probably wasn’t a secret, either. It was just my desperate want for a family at work, making me find fault and fear where there was only good.

My smile warmed with sincerity and a hint of teasing. “Someday your prince will come.”

Deitre rolled her eyes as expected. A relationship-lover she was not. Though, honestly, until Brian returned to my life, I wasn’t all that jazzed about them, either.

“Screw the prince,” Deitre returned. “It’s man candy and expensive booze time. Before you say something else that makes me want to lose my lunch.”

I did love me some man candy—now that I was engaged it was purely the kind you appreciated from afar, of course. Even so, I wasn’t raring to take in a bunch of strangers’ tight tushies. Drinking myself silly, or at least my…