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One Bossy Disaster: Chapter 26


So, here’s the thing about my wedding.

Unlike some girls, I never really planned for much in my head before I wound up engaged.

I know.

I know it’s meant to be this big pinnacle of life and love and blah, blah, blah. Something every girl dreams about from the day she’s old enough to play with Barbies, but I’m not like other girls.

I always figured that once I met the man of my dreams, our wedding would just be this day to pledge my undying love to him, accept the ring, and that would be that.

Happy finito.

The end.

But it turns out that once you’re engaged and planning a wedding, your brain chemically changes.

Once Shepherd asked me to marry him, it was like flicking on a switch.

Suddenly, I had opinions on flowers and dresses and freaking champagne. I had to pick bridesmaids and decide what I was walking down the aisle to—I went for “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver, because who doesn’t love a classic?

And there were all the tiny details, too.

Dad basically demanded we put the entire wedding on his tab, traditionalist that he is, but the decisions are all on Shepherd and me.

Well, Shepherd agreed, after I backed him into a corner and forced him into accepting my father’s generosity.

Billionaires and their egos. Woof.

But the biggest surprise is Hannah, the real MVP.

When Shepherd gets bogged down in meetings about new tests for the underwater sensors, she takes my calls and gives her well-researched opinion on caterers, water-wedding venues, rings and flowers and cakes and music.

She’s the one who sends the invitations after I help design them, and she suggests a custom website to help with RSVPs and logistics like a custom web domain for our guests.

I don’t know why she’s being so nice until she drops the bomb.

“Because he’s finally happy,” she says simply. “Frankly, I didn’t think I’d ever see the day. It’s none of my business, his life, but when I’ve spent as much time this close, I’ve seen him suffer. He’s been hurting so much. You broke the cycle, Destiny.”

I try to protest.

I try not to get choked up.

I try to explain that she doesn’t have to be our auxiliary planner.

But she’s insistent, telling me she’s doing it as a friend and not just his executive assistant.

It’s her job to handle his company’s affairs.

And making sure we’re happy?

That’s human.

Honestly, with all the wedding planning stress, having her help is invaluable. Also, I like to think we’re actually becoming friends.

We’ve even gone out for coffee a few times without Shepherd anywhere in sight.

It’s been good getting to know her off the clock. Even if she and Shepherd aren’t close in the traditional sense, she’s important to him. She’s someone he could depend on during his personal storm, and even though it’s passed, she’s not someone he’ll ever forget.

Plus, it’s important to make an effort with the very few people who mean so much to him.

Shepherd being Shepherd, there aren’t many of those.

I’ve also been pretty selective with what I share online. Shepherd certainly doesn’t mind our relationship being public—and if he was trying to hide it, coming on live TV and confessing we’re dating with a big dramatic display isn’t the way to go about it.

But, out of respect for his privacy, I’ve been picking and choosing my cute moments to broadcast to the world very carefully.

Fame, like infamy, always comes with a cost.

We both know that. It’s just the sad reality of what I do, but if there’s any way I can protect him from any future unintended crapfests, I will.

Fortunately, the drama is pretty low-key these days when my channels are a mix of travel, animals in peril, and showing off how lucky I am with my man.

I love how much he respects my dreams and what he’s prepared to do to make them happen. It’s just thrilling to see everything I want coming together, and how supportive everyone can be as our future comes closer.

The morning of my wedding, I wake up in Shepherd’s arms.

Yes, tradition says we should have spent the night apart.

But it’s not like we haven’t slept together before and even one night without him feels like an eternity. You only get to live the best day of your life once.

I can’t imagine starting it any other way than waking up beside my future husband.

“Morning, sweetheart.” He drops a kiss on the end of my nose.

“The birds are singing.” I lie back and listen, then wiggle my way up.

Oh, God, this is happening.

I’m so excited I can’t breathe.

“Just a few more hours.” Shepherd leans over, rubbing his bristly chin all over my chest, making me squeal.

I wrap my legs around him and that familiar heat enters his eyes.

The first time we slept together, I was sure it was a one-off.

A flippant mistake we’d struggle to forget.

Yet here we are, still ravenous for each other, and counting down the seconds until the knot is officially tied.

“Not now. We have to wait until after the wedding.” I twist away from his searching mouth.

“Why, dammit?”

“Because. Tradition.”

“Fuck tradition.” He growls the word into my shoulder and bites down gently. “Woman, don’t you know better than to tease me like that?”

“I’m not teasing you! I’m bringing us good luck.” I’m also breathless. Heat curls through my veins, pooling between my legs.

“You’re about to be my wife,” he rumbles. “Give me one good damn reason why I shouldn’t throw you down and make you scream my name right now.”

“Because anticipation makes it sweeter?”

“Anticipation isn’t what I call limping through my own wedding vows with balls so blue they look like they’re ready to be made into a pie.”

I laugh at how he pouts, letting my head fall back, and he chuckles down at me.

That’s another lovely thing about Shepherd.

He doesn’t mind it when I’m blatantly messy.

I told him once that I was considering not shaving and he told me I’d be just as beautiful with or without hair.

Right now, though, I’m waxed bare. Not a single hair out of place, and I don’t want him to see it until the wedding night.

“You’re a dirty fucking tease, Miss Lancaster.” He grabs me and presses me into the mattress with his weight.

Molly watches us from the floor before lying back on her side with a sigh. By now, she’s used to these long, lazy mornings.

“You love it anyway. And you’d better not go back to Miss Lancastering me again. Today definitely isn’t the day, dude.”

“I suppose not, considering the name expires in a few more hours.” He kisses my collarbone so reverently I shudder. “By sunset, these will belong to Mrs. Foster.”

He rubs a thumb over my nipples.

If they weren’t hard before, they definitely are now.

“Don’t be—ohhh.”

“If I can’t have you now, you’re going to suffer right alongside me. Touché.”

“Cruel man.”

“I do have a reputation to uphold as head of a premier security company. Can’t let the world think I’m all fluff as a married man.”


He definitely doesn’t look like the stern, stonehearted man everyone thinks he is—Mr. Ex Mafia Brat Perma-Grump.

In my eyes, he’s the kindest man I’ve ever known.

I reach up and kiss him. “I can’t wait to marry you.”

“Good. Now you know how impatient I feel.” He kisses me back before lifting me up and slapping my ass. “Now get yourself put together. Hannah will be here in twenty and she’s never late.”

Oof, like I don’t already know it.

I think I love her, just a little bit. Even if she’ll give me the evil eye if I stagger outside late—it wouldn’t be the first time.

I grumble to myself and him as I walk around his enormous bedroom, collecting my stuff.

He’s had a whole new closet built for me and my things, and I make sure my back is to him as I collect my special ‘fuck me in my wedding dress’ lingerie.

I just know he’ll love it.

Shepherd chuckles and disappears into the bathroom wearing only his boxers. I run for the guest room shower.

At eight o’clock on the dot, Hannah arrives.

I’m barely showered and out of my pajamas, dressed in something presentable, before I hear the doorbell and race down to get it.

“Do you have the dress?” Hannah looks at her smartwatch and sighs. “You have two minutes.”

“Yes, Mom.” I grin at her before flying back upstairs and grabbing everything I need.

Hannah being Hannah, she has everything mapped out with devilish precision.

First, it’s breakfast with my parents and Lena, my maid of honor.

Eliza cries happily over the world’s most delicious strawberry shortcake waffles.

I cry.

We all cry.

Tears of joy, of course.

This sense of giddy rightness with the world, of belonging, of being ecstatic with something so perfect.

And I know I deserve this happiness, too.

I’m just thrilled that the people I love are here to share it with me.

Soon, Dad and I duck out for a quick stop at the memorial where Mom is buried. It’s just her ashes in this mausoleum. Her real memorial is in Hawaii.

Although we weren’t close, and she was gone when I was so young, I still try to pay my respects every so often.

Dad stands behind me silently with his hands clasped while I lay flowers.

I tell her about Shepherd and all the hopeful, happy things happening with my conservation work. I’m not Catholic, but it’s a little like how I imagine a confession might feel, and it’s fitting for today.

Not goodbye, but closure.

When I was a kid, I always wondered how weird it would be not having a mom to gab over wedding plans with or share my tears as I walk down the aisle. In times like these, I miss her, never mind the fact that I never knew her too well.

It’s a lump in my throat. Hard emotion that won’t budge until Dad lays a firm hand on my shoulder and squeezes.

“Come on, love. Wherever she is, I’m sure she warmed up to Shepherd faster than me,” he jokes.

We walk back to the car.

Later, I find out my mother’s absence isn’t weird at all.

Because I do have a mom, and Eliza bawls like a baby the minute I show up at our venue. I think I even catch Dad turning away a few times, muttering about allergies making him all misty-eyed.

The dress takes over an hour to squeeze into.

I went for a white slip, roaring twenties style.

Lena wears an orange jumpsuit dress she loves as she fusses over me and brushes Molly. I’m a little glad I don’t know what Shepherd’s wearing.

By the time we get to the docks in the stretch limo, I’m fizzing with excitement.

We’ve gone for a water wedding. What else?

That means ignoring the blustery weather and venturing out on the Puget Sound.

It’s where our story began, out on the water, the day I bumped heads with a man who only had a kayak and a death wish.

It feels right having our wedding here, even if it’s a chill autumn day.

Eliza and Lena fuss over me like bees, making sure my veil is perfect, not caring that the wind will probably blow everything out of place. Dad stands in the corner with Molly and my little siblings, watching them as they stroke the husky and get a thousand face licks back.

“Are you ready?” he asks once Eliza goes back to her seat and it’s just us.

The deck sways gently underneath us with the swell, but surprisingly, my mind doesn’t go back to that stormy, scary evening.

Adriana Cerva has lost her power over us.

My chest fills with so much happiness I’m pretty sure it’s close to actual bodily harm.

I don’t care.

“Sunshine on my Shoulders” begins playing gently from the speakers with everyone assembled.

I squeeze Dad’s arm as we turn, step onto the main deck, and walk up the makeshift aisle.

We’re just in time for an afternoon sun full of oranges and yellows, emerging from a slate-grey Seattle wall of clouds.

It’s brilliant and extra special for this time of year, but it’s got nothing on him.

Shepherd waits for me like a god made flesh.

His eyes are blue smolder, his hands clasped in front of him. His fitted suit looks sewn on, and his shoulders span the horizon.

But I’m not really looking at that beyond a glance.

The only thing I really see is his smile.



Beaming, just for me.

You’d better believe I’m smiling right back with my entire soul.

I love you!

His smile says it back. So does the pressure of his hand against mine as Dad hands me over with a murmured, “Treat her well, Foster. Or else.”

So does the way his fingers slide through mine.

So does the deep cadence of his voice as the ceremony begins and lurches forward in a haze, and before I know it, he’s saying his vows.

When we first met, we truly thought the worst of each other.

He thought I was vain and nosy and a spoiled brat.

I thought he was heartless and crude, a typical hardass CEO who only cared about money and nothing more.

Then we accidentally gave ourselves a second chance.

Thank God.

He chose to see me for who I am, and I saw past his defensive façade, straight to the vast, vulnerable lion’s heart underneath.

We fell in love and the rest is history.

This is our whole future, standing here in front of everyone we love, declaring our love to the world.

The mood lightens and I’m struggling a little less against blazing tears as our ring bearer appears.

Molly—who else?—trots down the aisle like we trained her to.

She does a fabulous job, even if she gets a little distracted along the way.

She only pounces on an impressive two people for quick pets—including Dad, whom she adores—before she arrives by our feet, tongue lolling, the ring box swinging from a small clip attached to her collar.

Shepherd grabs the rings and gives her the sweetest kiss.

Oh great, I’m tearing up again.

“Here’s to the rest of our lives,” Shepherd says as he slides the platinum band on my finger.

His hands are broad and strong and calloused.

They still do obscene things to my stomach. My lady bits practically burst into flames as he runs his fingers along the inside of my wrists.

Sir, we are in public.

The secret smile he gives me says he knows exactly what this does to me and he’s enjoying it.

Oh, I’ll make him pay for that later.

Then it’s my turn to slide the ring onto him.

I’m pretty sure the seabird above us cackles with delight. The sea quiets and the sun burns hotter, or maybe it’s just my blood.

I know it’s not truly official until the wedding certificate gets filed.

But this—this here—feels like eternity unfolding.

The rings. Binding ourselves to each other. One fate and two hearts and so many heavy words.

Pure magic.

Um, I also had no idea I’d turn so sappy. Captivated, I stare up at Shepherd, looking into his eyes.

This man is everything, perfection incarnate.

His eyes sparkle gently as he looks back at me for the first time as something new.

My husband.

Holy hell, that sounds amazing.

“You may now kiss the bride,” the officiant announces happily.

Shepherd must have been waiting for it all day. He takes my waist and dips me back in the most outrageous move ever.

I melt in his arms all the same.

His mouth crushes mine.

Urgent and sweet and fierce, although there’s no tongue—probably a good thing. If there was, I’d definitely risk becoming a human fire hazard.

“You are so damn beautiful,” he whispers fiercely as he pulls away. But although his voice is low, total midnight seduction, the look in his eyes is gentle adoration. “Love that dress. Pity it’ll be on the floor later.”

When he helps me up again, I’m laughing.

I twirl one more time as we present ourselves to the crowd for the first time as husband and wife. Everyone laughs as Shepherd pretends to swoon.

Then he reels me back in for another kiss like he can’t help himself.

How does it feel so different, kissing my husband?

It’s more permanent, somehow, even if it’s all in my head and heart.

Hello, forever.

It’s a promise I’ll die for before I break it.

After the magic evening, we’re plunged into one long dream.

We start our honeymoon on the Vaadhoo Shores in the Maldives.

My idea, seeing as Shepherd came up with the robo-dolphin proposal. I figured I should start pulling my weight in the creative department.

Also, as a bonus, it’s one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever seen in my life.

The overwater bungalows we’ve booked are perched over perfect turquoise waters. The resort is full service with massages and spa treatments and day trips, and the scenery—it’s not fair.

I can’t believe a place this beautiful exists and I’ve waited this long to see it.

Mostly, though, we make our own way.

The world feels so big on the open sea where it’s nothing but islands.

We spend our first few days exploring white-gold beaches framed with palm trees, swimming whenever we feel the urge in balmy waters that feel like one endless warm hug.

Shepherd brings me a colorful drink as I sit with my feet dangling in the water. The sunset shimmers through every shade of red and gold, and my body feels pleasantly sore and tired.

Five days of being a married woman.

Well, six, I suppose, if you count my wedding day.

I glance down at the gleaming metal around my finger. The band slots perfectly against my engagement ring, my tan skin so warm around it, the pearl and silver shades flickering in lovely contrast.

I swing my legs, enjoying the sea against them.

The sun feels like a hot evening kiss against my shoulders, and Shepherd sits behind me with his huge legs splayed.

He smears cool sunscreen against the back of my neck and I shudder.

“You’ll burn up if you’re not careful,” is all he says when I wiggle in protest.

Predictably, I feel his reaction against my butt.

The man has always been insatiable, but on our honeymoon, it’s been incessant.

I never knew a human being could have so much stamina.

I mean, he’s even giving me a run for my money, and I can have multiple orgasms.

Still, my body softens as I lean against him, gazing out across the tranquil sea. The island we’re on curves away, outlandishly pale sand set against emerald greenery of trees.


I’m happier than I’ve ever been with this trip, this husband, this life.

And I almost have to pinch myself to remember we get to wake up and do it again tomorrow.

Against the fading light, the sea glimmers. Faintly at first, then brighter with every wave.

Vaadhoo beach is famous for its ‘sea of stars,’ a series of bright lights on the ocean. It’s actually bioluminescence created by some special plankton.

It’s one of nature’s biggest miracles.

At night, it’s like diving into starlight.

When I turn around, I find Shepherd already grinning at me.

“Dinner can wait. Let’s go,” he says.

We shut Molly in the bungalow before we go diving in—a little too quickly.

Water sprays up my nose and plasters my hair to my scalp, and I come back up a sputtering mess.

Shepherd makes it look too easy.

He slices through the waves, his body sleek and strong and heroic, drawn like a bow.

It reminds me of when he first taught me to kayak and insisted on proof I could swim.

Back then, I thought he was a stubborn safety freak. Obsessed with minor details and things that didn’t even matter.

Could he not just take my word for it?

Now, I appreciate the caring heart he hides behind all those layers.

And okay, fine, so maybe it was sensible to not just trust my word.

I cut through the water after him, letting it stream past my body. I force my eyes open and look at the royal-blue fish darting around us.

I’m living in a painting now, vibrant and colorful and alive.

Just like everything about being with Shepherd Foster.

We paddle out into the bay, hearts pounding, laughing through mouthfuls of surf. When he flings a few handfuls of water my way, I scream and toss a few back.

He takes a direct hit in the face and goes under.

For a second, I’m worried—until he pops up and splashes a wave over me.

I’m still screaming as he takes me in his arms, the little water spat over. We swim through the sea of stars and so many laughs.

The glow is ethereal against his bare chest.

He doesn’t look like a man here. He could be something otherworldly, every muscle bathed in luminous light. The starlight highlights all his perfections—and there are plenty.

He takes a lock of my hair and twirls it, staring. “Have I told you how beautiful you are?”

“Only every hour.” I preen. “But you can tell me again anytime.”

“Dess, you’re fucking gorgeous.”

The last sunlight disappears around us in a symphony of color and the bugs start up their night songs as we kiss in the ocean’s second sun.

Bioluminescence coats my hands as I reach up to cup his face.

Soon, we’re both smeared in it like war paint.

I wrap my legs around him and we kiss.

It’s heady and intense and I think we’ll never get enough. Then we go deeper, hand in hand, cutting through the silky waters and bobbing under the rising moon.

This is, without a doubt, the happiest night ever.

Later, when we head back inside, Molly bounces like a rubber ball in excitement. After greeting her, Shepherd drags me into bed, impatient as always but not just possessed by physical need.

This is real life.

It’s never just been about the sex.

It’s always been infinitely more, right from the start, even before we could admit the truth and put a neat label on it.

His face is so handsome, cut from pure granite in sharp lines of adoration and heat.

Inside me, I feel him pulsing, grinding me so deep with slow, deliberate strokes that mark me from the inside out.

“Shepherd,” I whimper.

“Patience, sweetheart,” he growls. “We’ve got all night. I want to take my time watching you go over.”

It’s not wild tonight.

It’s slow and steady, building so perfectly I know I’ll go to pieces when I finish.

And when it hits, I’m too shattered to even scream.

I just catch a final, searing glimpse of his eyes as his thrusts quicken, as he makes me come, as he empties himself inside me with a rough noise like a mountain falling down.

Holy buck falls.

I guess this is my wedding present.

Without doubt, one of the best orgasms of my life, and that’s saying something for a relentless beast who delivers them daily.

After we come down from the high and clean up, I’m tangled in his arms. I smile as his fingers skim my thigh, stop between my legs, and squeeze.

“This is mine. And this is yours,” he says, keeping his eyes locked on mine as he grabs my hand and lays my palm on his chest.

His heart drums like a machine.


I smile up at him. Our shower washed off the bioluminescence, but his eyes still glow sharper than the starlight.

“Mine,” I echo. “I’m a lucky, lucky girl.”

“Every part of me, Dess.”

“You know I’m yours, too,” I whisper.

His eyes close. “Tell me again.”

“Yours. Now and forever.”

He pushes inside me to the hilt again.

Yeah, I think I want to stay like this forever.

Right here, on these white linen sheets, the ocean dampness still clinging to our hair and our skin bronzed from the sun.

Right here, with my husband inside me and his eyes so warm and every shade of blue flashing in them.

Right here, with our love woven around us so tightly I can’t tell where it begins or ends.

Because it doesn’t truly matter.

We’re now bound by the same beautiful thread of fate.

And as always, he knows what I need.

He sucks my breast, his teeth insistent.

I fall apart and cling to him as he starts to thrust, hard and steady.

Before, it was slow and sweet, but now I let him take and take until these sweet, messy kisses are all we have left.

When he goes over the edge, I’m with him again, and I float in his arms with a lovestruck smile.

Soon, we’re dozing, until a pile of husky leaps up on us, licking our faces and panting with excitement.

The last missing piece.

We collapse with my new family in my arms and more love than any human heart can hold.

The last thing I hear before I drift off for a quick nap before dinner is Shepherd whispering to Molly.

“Deal with it, girl. We’re sharing her now. As long as I’m breathing, I’m going to love your mama to the stars and back. And if we’re lucky, we’ll both drive her crazy for a good long while.”


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