Nemesis

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After Michelle left instead of heading straight back to the family room I was lurking in the kitchen considering Michelle's words. I could see all the girls through the opening from the kitchen and they all seemed to be having fun but part of me couldn't help but dwell on the thought that they'd have preferred for Michelle to be there rather than me.

Which was stupid. I knew it was stupid but I couldn't stop the thought carousel in my head. Of course they'd prefer for Michelle to be there, they'd known her for years and me for only a couple of weeks.

'They seem plenty happy to spend time with Cathy and they've known her just as long as they've known you. Less even,' the nasty, petty, self-esteem destroying little voice in my head laughed bitterly. I hated that little voice, it had whispered vitriol in my ear for two years and strove to make me feel less than the person that I knew I was. I'd spent a lot of time learning to ignore that voice and I wasn't about to let it take over now.

"Anyone need anything?" I called through to the girls.

There was a chorus of wine, wine and chips. I grabbed a bottle of wine and bag of chips and took them through to the girls who all thanked me effusively. I felt better. These girls didn't hate me, they hated the situation and I couldn't blame them because I did too. I'd have loved to spend more time hanging out with Michelle, I liked her and I missed my own group of girlfriends. Unlike my friends these girls were used to spending time together and it had to hurt that it was all thrown into chaos. My friends were scattered around the globe and we were lucky to all get together in one place every two years.

I was just filling my glass and shoving the wine bottle in the fridge, Cathy may have been sloppy with her wine but there was no way I could stand to let a bottle of white sit on a counter top and slowly but surely warm up, when a cacophony of male voices young and old shattered the feminine idyll.

The sound of a group of friends filled me with warm fuzziness, it was the sound of my parents' house when I was growing up.

I'd just slammed the fridge shut and was turning to grab my glass and join the group when I collided with a wall of warm male flesh. "How's the hangover?" Brian asked snaking an arm around my waist.

"Oh you know, hair of the dog and all that," I said reaching for my glass. His hand closed over mine and lifted the glass to his lips.

"Mmmm. That's good," he said approvingly before dropping his mouth to mine and kissing me with leisurely but devastating thoroughness.

"Want a glass?" I asked reaching for the fridge - because seriously? – I already knew his answer.

"Why not? I'm not driving," he didn't release his hold on me as I opened the fridge to retrieve the bottle.

I laughed as I poured him a wine, "Bloody hell Brian, you could teach a class in avoiding the designated driver role!"

He took a sip of wine and pressed a delicious Brian and pinot Grigio flavoured kiss to my mouth before agreeing, "I could. I've really had to level up my skills, we used to always make Johnny drive poor bastard."

I snort laughed and allowed him to lead me through to join the others. He dropped down into an armchair and pulled me onto his lap.

'Hey! Careful of my wine!" I looked around nervously at the others, wary of disapproving glances. No-one even cared, I assumed that if Brian had spent the day with the boys they had some idea that things had progressed with us. I relaxed back into Brian's embrace. The others were too busy watching and laughing at Harper's introduction to Zacky's boy. I wondered if Brian felt bad because his friends all had their kids here and he didn't. I tilted my head to look up at him. There it was, that gorgeously impassive face that told me nothing. I pressed a kiss to his jawline and stroked my index finger down his arm. My skin crawled and I could feel the eyes on me. I turned my head to see Harper standing in front of us. She glared at me before turning her attention to Brian's tattoos. I have absolutely no idea why exactly Brian's tattoos to the exclusion of all others, the other boys weren't exactly fresh faced preppies.

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