Dance With Me
Author:Hayden Braeburn

chapter TWELVE



When Mason came home the following Friday evening, he found Kat staring into the walk-in closet, a determined look on her face. “What's wrong, babe?”

She turned, her arms outstretched in defeat. “I have no idea what to wear. I have gowns, dresses, costumes, but what should I wear to a black tie party at your parents'?” She heaved a sigh. “I am so out of my element here.”

He laughed at her predicament. There were dresses of every color in the closet, yet she had nothing to wear. He kept his smile to himself. She'd find out soon enough he had planned it that way. “I have a suggestion,” he said as he made his way across the room. Reaching into his side of the closet, he plucked a floor length cream silk dress off the rack. “You should wear this.”

She goggled at him. When had that incredible gown shown up in their closet? Almost completely backless, the dress hung from one lacy shoulder. “Wow.”

“It will be perfect for tonight,” he promised before pulling his tuxedo from its place and laying it on the bed. He grinned at the memory of the last time he'd worn it and what was to come. “Put it on, babe, I want to see it.”

She stared at the dress for long minutes before tearing herself away from it to curl her hair. When she was finally ready, she held her breath. What if it didn't fit?

Mason held back his grin as he pulled up the side zip of Kat's dress. He knew it would fit—he'd employed her costumer to make the gown, and now he just hoped everything else he'd planned for tonight went as well as the zipper.

They arrived at his parent's home a scant twenty minutes later, walking arm and arm up the circular drive. They were almost to the front door when Camryn intercepted them. “Kat!” she called. “Come back here with Cass and Mom and me.”

She flashed a smile at Mason. How things had changed in the last month. “What's going on?” she asked as she followed Mason's youngest sibling. She loved the celery color of Cam's dress, the cut similar to her own. “How is it we're both in one-shouldered dresses tonight?” she asked.

Cam stumbled over a crack in the walkway. “One-shouldered dresses are big this season,” she answered. “Cass's dress is one-shouldered, too, actually.”

“Really?” She followed to the backyard where a tent was set up. She stopped dead in her tracks. Mason had dressed her in a cream silk confection of a dress, his entire family was decked out in finery, and there was a tent in the back yard? She squeezed her eyes shut, opening them to find nothing unchanged. Mason wouldn't have... She broke off the thought, choosing instead to say, “If I didn't know better, I'd think this was a wedding.”

“Would ya now?” Cam replied through a giggle.

“Wait...” Kat held up a hand. “Just wait.”

Cassidy appeared at Kat's other side just then, her dress a perfect match to Cam's. “Nope, no time for waiting. You don't want to be late for your own wedding, do you?”

“I hate being late,” Kat automatically replied before what Cassidy had said registered. A second later, she whipped her head around to face the attorney, beautiful in her pale green dress. “What?”

“Oh, there's still a party tonight, but first there's a wedding!” Camryn jumped in, a wide grin splitting her face.

Her heart sped up as her knees turned to jelly. “Oh my God.”

~*~

“I see how you planned some of this without her knowing, but how the hell did you get the license without tipping her off?” Caleb asked his older brother.

“Licenses are good for two months. She knew we were wasting no time, but she didn't know what I had planned.”

Caleb slapped Mason on the shoulder. “You are the only man in history with balls big enough to plan a surprise wedding, bro.”

Mason laughed. “It seemed like such a good idea when I had it.” There was no turning back now. He straightened his tie. “She'll be happy, right?”

“Eventually,” Caleb decided with a nod. “I just hope you live to see the honeymoon.” He shook his head at his brother. Most men endured the planning of a wedding over a long period of time, but not his overachieving brother. No, Mason had to not only look forward to getting married, he had to plan a wedding in less than a month and pull the damn thing off, too. Katerina, Cassidy and Camryn looked great in their dresses, the guests had all kept the invitations secret, and though he knew little about flowers, even he had to admit the place looked beautiful. He had no doubt the bride would happily marry his brother whether or not she had planned the wedding herself, but he had to give Mason hell. He snickered. He would be remiss in his duties as younger brother if he didn't seize this opportunity.

Dylan walked through the door just then, one arm still immobilized in a sling. “I'm here,” he announced, his expression pained.

“Don't look so happy, Black,” Mason said with a chuckle. “Seeing as I owe my life to you and all, I wanted you to stand up there with me.”

He understood that, and he was happy to do it, but he'd rather face down another crazy woman than spend the next six hours in a monkey suit. “A tux, Everett? I could've handled a suit, or, hell, a uniform...” he trailed off. What good was complaining? He was already wearing the damn thing, anyway.

“You'll never have to wear it again,” Mason promised.

“This is supposed to make me feel better?” Dylan muttered, causing Caleb to sputter with laughter. Noticing the muscle ticcing in Dylan's jaw, Caleb narrowed his eyes, his chocolate gaze assessing the taller man. “How's physical therapy coming?”

“Bullets tear muscle,” Dylan answered. “Muscles heal.”

The strong, silent type. Perfect for his perpetually talking sister. “How's Cass treating you?”

Like a damn china doll. “I'm wearing out my welcome.”

He doubted that, but nodded anyway. “I'm sure things are getting easier. Before long you'll be driving, and chasing bad guys.”

“I don't think I'll be chasing any perps for a while,” Dylan responded. He wouldn't be doing much of anything until he had control of his body. He'd been shot once before, that bullet blowing through the muscle in his left calf two years ago. The pain then had been excruciating, but the two bullets this time made that one feel like child's play. While his major organs had been spared, he not only had muscle damage, but nerve damage affecting his entire right side. He grimaced. Too bad he was right handed—or had been. He would do everything the same if he could go back, but now he had to rethink his life plan. Not that he'd had much a life plan after Iraq. He shook his head as if to shake the dark thoughts free. “Let's go stand up for your brother,” he said to end the conversation.

Caleb took the hint with no complaints. It was almost time to make their way to the ceremony, and pushing Dylan wouldn't help. He tugged on the lapels of his own tuxedo. “After you, Superman.”

~*~

Kat marveled at the transformation of the Everett's home. The living room was decorated with garlands of cream roses and greenery down the banisters, along the windows, and at the end of each chair row, lit with standing candelabras, and filled with the music of a string quartet. She clutched the spectacular bouquet of roses, stephanotis and ivy in her hands, the long stems wrapped in the same lace as her dress. The details were perfect, every piece tying to the other in ways she may not have thought about herself. Very briefly she wondered how much he had spent before Cassidy squeezed her elbow. “Welcome to the family, Kat,” she whispered before making her way down the aisle, Cam on her heels. When the music changed, Kat glided down the aisle toward Mason, a smile on her face.

“The moment I drenched you with my mocha, I knew you were special. The day I first watched you dance, I knew you were talented. The day you made me pull over to save that stray dog, I knew you would be a wonderful mother, but the day you told me you loved me was the best day of my life." He paused, smiling down at the beautiful woman he would soon call his wife. “Until today. You are my rock, my touchstone, my heart.” He swallowed then. He hadn't expected to get choked up, and looking at Kat while tears clung to her lashes wasn't helping. “I am proud to call you my love, my salvation, my match, my wife.”

Although she didn't have the benefit of planning, Kat blinked away her tears and gave Mason vows from her heart. “If you had told me five years ago I would be standing here now, in the yard behind the Everett Estate, marrying the oldest son, I would have laughed.” She giggled. “I adore you, Mason Everett. You are everything a man should be. You are tough when you need to be tough, thoughtful when you need to be thoughtful, patient when you need to be patient—and lord knows you need to be patient with me—and kick-ass when you need to be kick-ass.” She paused as a laugh rolled through the guests. “I am honored to be your wife, and proud to call you husband.”

~*~

“So, Mrs. Everett,” Mason started before dropping a kiss on Kat's upturned lips, “are you going to kill me for springing this on you?”

Kat laughed at her husband's hopeful expression. “Why would I do that?” She hugged him closer. “This was perfect.”

He grinned. “At first, it was going to just be a party. Then it was a black-tie party—I have no idea how that happened—and when Cassidy found out, she suggested we just turn it into a wedding.”

She gasped. “Wait. The sister that went to your father to stop our wedding helped plan this?”

“Sure did,” he affirmed with a nod. “She wanted to do something to make up for jumping to conclusions.” He paused, lowering his voice to a barely audible whisper, “She doesn't like when she's wrong.”

“Who does?” She dropped her gaze to her dress. “Where did you find this gorgeous thing?”

“Michaela made it.”

Her friend and costumer had been making her dresses for so many years, she could probably rattle off Kat's measurements in her sleep. She pulled from the standard hold they were in to wrap her arms around his neck. “I can't believe this. It's like a dream.”

“Believe me, babe, it's real.”

“Good thing,” she said, a smile on her lips. “Otherwise, I'd never, ever wake up.”
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