Liam blocked her path with his six-foot-one of solid handsomeness. “You’ll help her more by handling the wedding. We both know this wedding needs to happen, or who knows how either of them will take the disappointment again. Andrew will be fine, and she’ll be with Mitchem. Pretty soon, it won’t be your job to take care of her anymore.”
Anna wanted to disagree. Cynthia was her best friend and she would always be there for her, but she knew he was right. Cynthia would have a family soon and wouldn’t need Anna anymore. It was time for her to return to her own life.
Cathy joined them at the bottom of the stairs. “Where’s Cynthia?”
“She had something to take care of with Mitchem,” Liam said.
Cathy nodded. “Can I make you two something to eat or drink?”
“No, I need to get going. Oh, shoot. I rode here with Cynthia.” Anna sighed. “Cathy, can you give me a ride back home?”
Cathy shook her head. “I’m afraid not, dear. My car’s in the shop and Devon is out at the Benjamin farm today helping with some work for the VA Center.”
“I’ll take you home,” Liam said, his voice returning to his normal playful tone. “You know, I always like to help a damsel in distress.”
Anna yanked her phone from her purse. “I’m not the damsel-in-distress type. I’ll just call a cab.”
“Oh, don’t I know it.”
Anna placed one hand on her hip. “What does that mean?”
He shrugged. “You remember the time when your water line burst in the middle of the night and you wouldn’t let me come fix it. Or maybe when you couldn’t find Cynthia and you needed someone to bring you medicine after you had your wisdom teeth pulled. Or maybe—”
“Okay, I get it. Fine, if you don’t mind giving me a ride, I’ll call the caterers on the way and see about rescheduling the tasting.”
Liam lifted his chin high then tucked his arm to his waist and did a slight bow. “Your BMW awaits, madame.”
“You two kids have fun and try not to kill each other on the way,” Cathy hollered, her southern drawl thickening the way it did when she meant more than she said. Not wanting to invite her opinion into the subject, Anna reached for the door, but Liam beat her to it.
“After you, my lady.”
“Seriously, you can save that crap for your harem. I’m not fooled by your smooth moves in the least.
Liam raised his eyebrows like a child hiding a treat behind his back. “I’m offended. Besides, you’ve already told me a thousand times that you’re too smart to fall for my charm.”
Anna stepped through the doorway and down the front path.
Liam jogged passed her and opened the passenger side door. “Of course, you’re too stubborn and snooty to realize when someone is sincere.” He slammed the door before she could respond.
Anna steadied her hands and refused to let him get to her. She was past letting him rule her emotions. Years past. Before he could reach the driver’s side, Anna dialed the caterer.
Liam glanced at her with a knowing smirk, but she refused to be baited into his theories of her behavior that he liked to spout about whenever he had the chance. She only had to make it through the car ride home and the day of the wedding then she was free of Liam Harrow for good.
The phone rang once then a woman picked up. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m calling for Cynthia Gold and Mitchem Taylor.”
The woman cleared her throat. “Yes, we have everything ready for their arrival.”
“That’s why I’m calling. I’m afraid they’ve had a family emergency. Can we reschedule for tomorrow?”
“No, I’m afraid not. This is the only time we have available before their wedding.”
Liam backed out of the driveway. “What’s the problem?”
She tipped the phone away from her mouth. “They can’t reschedule.”
Liam snagged the phone from her hand before she could stop him. “There’s no other time available?”
Anna threw her hands up. The man never believed anything she said.
“Okay, we’ll be there in forty-five minutes.” Liam handed the phone back to her.
“We’ll be what?” Anna screeched before she cleared her throat and gathered her composure.
“We’re going to be the bridal couple today.”
A jolt of energy zipped through her, making her heart go spastic. “Excuse me?”
“Relax, sunshine. It’s just pretend.”
“I don’t care if it’s a complete fantasy, I’m not going to—”
Liam turned down Main Street and headed out of Creekside toward Riverbend. “Listen, Cynthia is your best friend and Mitchem is mine. They’ve already had one wedding fall apart, I’m not letting it be two. We knew that we’d have to work together on their wedding despite our feelings for each other, whatever that may be.”
She didn’t like the way he said that, but again, she chose to keep her mouth shut, not willing to let him bait her.
Liam shook his head with that disapproving flick of his hair.
“I can’t believe you’re the same girl I once knew. The one who would do anything for a friend. Heck, even a stranger. You didn’t have a selfish bone in your body. Now, you’d rather let your best friend’s wedding fall apart than spend a few minutes alone with me.”
“I―you―Fine. I’ll do it. For Cynthia, but on one condition.”
“You remain professional and stop trying to play me like one of your university dolls.”
Liam quirked an eyebrow. “University dolls?”
“Yes, all those little…hussies you’re always spinning up, trying to get to fall all over you.”
“First, I don’t date anyone I work with. Second, I can’t help it if women throw themselves at me. Blame it on my boyish charm.”
The car speaker shrilled with a phone call. Anna eyed the name displayed on the console screen. Rachel Vine, a woman Cynthia had told her much about. Liam sent it to voice mail. Twenty minutes down the road it rang again. Same number, same name, same reaction.
“I rest my case,” Anna mumbled.
He kept his eyes on the road straight ahead and Anna knew she was right.
As the sign at the edge of Riverbend came into view, Liam pointed at it. “Where dreams begin…just around the Riverbend. I once thought that sign was written for you. I guess I was half-right. You made all your career dreams come true. Too bad love wasn’t in the equation.”
Her insides tightened and her anger boiled. A million words pummeled her mouth for release, but she bit her lip to keep them sealed. She wouldn’t be coaxed into an argument, and she flat out refused to fall for his boyish charm. No, she wouldn’t do that, not again.
The car pulled into a parking space out front of the country club, and without waiting for him to turn off the engine, she opened her door. “Sometimes dreams get run over by a fancy sports car and grinded into the asphalt until there isn’t a glimmer of hope left.”