Eager to be alone, Travis lifted Abby into his arms. She waved her bouquet as he carried her into the night, toward building five. I thought about what would happen once Taylor and I reached our room, and my body screamed at me to make up an excuse for us to leave. I looked over at Taylor having so much fun with his brothers, and I ignored the overwhelming lust building inside of me.
Thomas and Liis were the next to say their good-byes, leaving the middle-born Maddoxes and their cousin with their dates.
An upbeat song came over the speakers, and Taylor pulled me onto the makeshift dance floor, which was only an area of the patio cleared of tables. For the dozenth time that evening, he spun me around, but then he tripped, and we stumbled to the floor. In the few seconds it took for us to fall, despite the many drinks he’d had, he reached out, making sure to hold me inches off the ground while his hip and shoulder banged against the concrete.
“Oh!” his brothers said, all gathering around us.
Shepley, Tyler, and Trenton worked together to help me up.
“I didn’t even hit the floor. Are you okay?”
He nodded, his eyes unfocused. “I can’t feel anything at the moment.”
America shook her head, turning to me. “Want anything besides sparkling water? He’s way ahead of you.”
“I can see that,” I said, smiling when Taylor’s brothers took turns pushing him back and forth.
“Okay, okay,” Shepley said. “We’re all drunk. Quit fucking with one another before someone gets pissed, and a fight breaks out. I don’t want to be kicked out of a hotel when we’re out of the country.”
“This is US territory,” Taylor said, weaving. “We’re good.”
“See?” Ellison said, pointing at Taylor. “He’s not too drunk. Partying may proceed.”
The boys left for the railing to take a smoke break, and America, Ellison, and Camille joined me at a table.
America rested her arm on top of the back of a chair, looking exhausted.
“Every last detail,” America said. “Abby wanted nothing to do with it. If I was going to get my dream best friend’s wedding where I was the costar maid of honor, I was going to have to plan it myself. So, I did.”
The pattering of rain prompted the servers to rush to lower the fabric sidewalls and move the tables to protect the guests. The boys didn’t move, happily standing in the shower of the warm island rain.
Camille jumped up and rushed to Trenton, hugging him. He twirled her around, and she squealed in delight, letting her head fall back while closing her eyes.
A server approached the boys, offering a glass of water for them to extinguish their cigarettes, and they returned to us. Spatters of rain made translucent specks on the shoulders, chests, and sleeves of their white button-downs.
Taylor sat beside me and lifted my hand to his mouth before kissing my knuckles. “I’m trying to be polite, but all I can think about is getting you back to the room.”
“We’ll see them tomorrow. It’s been a long day. I think they’ll understand,” I said, unable to even pretend I wanted to stay a second longer.
Taylor stood, bringing me with him. “We’re out!” he called.
We walked in a not-so-straight line from Sails to the sidewalk leading back to our building. The waves crashed against the sand less than fifty yards from our path, but it was dark, and all I could see was the sprinkling of lights along the hills across the cove.
Soon, voices could be heard between the sounds of restless water.
“You act as if loving someone can just be flipped off like a light switch. We’ve had this conversation a dozen times. I want you. I’m with you.”
Taylor froze, and I ran into him from behind.
“Sorry,” Taylor whispered, but he wasn’t being as quiet as he likely thought. “That’s Tommy.”
“… missing her,” Liis said, “wishing you were with her. And you want me to change everything I trust for that?”
I cringed, feeling guilt and empathy for them both. “C’mon,” I whispered. “We shouldn’t eavesdrop.”
“Your payback?” Liis cried. “You’ve made me believe all weekend that you were falling for me!”
“I am! I have! Jesus Christ, Camille, how can I get that through your head?”
“Did he just call her Camille?” I asked, horrified.
Taylor nodded, weaving as he tried to stay upright.
“Goddamn it,” Thomas said, his voice desperate. “I am so sorry.”
“Can we please go?” I asked, tugging on Taylor’s arm.
“I am so … stupid,” Liis said. The hurt in her voice could have carried all the way across the ocean.
Just then, Thomas emerged from the beach, startled to see us standing there. His features turned severe.
“Hey, man. You all right?” Taylor asked, using me to steady himself.
Thomas’s expression softened from anger to concern. “How much have you had to drink?”
“Not that much,” Taylor said at the same time.
Thomas glanced at me and then leaned closer to his brother. “Remember what I said. Just sleep it off. You know how you get.”
Taylor waved him off, and Thomas patted his brother’s shoulder.
“Night.” He looked at me. “Make sure he goes straight to bed. No shower. Don’t even undress him. Just get him into bed, so he can pass out.”
I frowned. I’d seen Taylor drunk before. He had been wasted on New Year’s Eve. I was the sad drunk. Taylor just liked to talk a lot—like, until sunrise. But I liked it. He was honest and shameless about his thoughts and feelings on everything. There was no filter, no holding back.
“Falyn?” Thomas said in an authoritative voice.
“I heard you,” I said, unappreciative of the order. “C’mon, Taylor, let’s go.”
Thomas passed us, and I guided Taylor up the never-ending staircase and into our room. He leaned on me to kick off his shoes and then peel off his socks.
“Gross. I think I just need to throw that pair away. They’re so sweaty that they probably weigh five pounds apiece.”
“Yep,” I said, “there’s that honesty I love so much.”
Taylor looked up at me, something sparking in his eyes, but he looked away, attempting to unbutton his shirt.
“Here, let me help,” I said.
He didn’t make eye contact while I undressed him, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of me while I took off my own clothes. I knelt down in front of him, but he stepped back.
I let my hands slap down to my thighs. “What is going on with you?”
“Nothing,” he said, pulling me up to stand. He walked backward, leading me toward the bed.