Face-Off at the Altar

Page 30


Markus’s face broke into the biggest grin as Autumn Moore and her husband River came toward him, wrapping him up in their arms, careful of Dawson who had decided he wanted to stay strapped to Markus. Not that he was complaining.
As she took his cheeks in her hands, Autumn’s eyes were full of love and she exclaimed, “Your face!”
“I ran into an umbrella.”
River scoffed. “That’s gonna be a good story for the kids when we’re older and looking back at these wedding pictures.”
Markus laughed as Autumn nodded. “Other than that, how are you?”
“Good, tired. I got called up.”
A hard slap came to his back from River as he gushed, “That’s great! You couldn’t call?”
“It’s been a whirlwind, I’m sorry,” he apologized as just out of the corner of his eye he saw Mekena enter with Avery and Jace, along with baby Ashlyn. Mekena hadn’t been at the cabin when he went to change earlier, only the fat cat was there. But she must have gone back at some point because instead of the leggings she was wearing earlier, she had on a dark plum dress that stopped at midthigh, with the first few buttons at the top open a bit. Her hair was up in a messy curl thingy to the side of her head, and she looked amazing. Perfect, especially with the high black pumps that made her legs look longer than they were.
“Oh, it’s fine. You’re so busy, we understand,” Autumn gushed, pulling his attention from Mekena. “Why are you wearing my grandson?”
Markus laughed, cuddling Dawson to him. “He’s my buddy.”
“Well, give him here,” she said, but when she tried to take him, Dawson started to wail. “Dawson! What in the world? It’s Nana!”
“Yeah, but I’m Markus. He loves me more,” Markus teased just as Lucy called everyone to the dinner table. They were in the grand hall, where a large table was set up for the whole family to eat. The flowers were in abundance, and the plates looked high-end and elegant. Benji wasn’t holding back with this wedding, giving Lucy everything she could ever dream of. It was nice, and it gave Markus some intense goals for when it was time for him to settle down. The main thing was giving the lucky woman everything she ever wanted, which would be easy for him.
For the right girl.
When Markus sat down between Autumn and Baylor, Jace sat across from him with Avery and Mekena to the left of him and Lucy and Benji to the right. Markus’s eyes instantly fell on Mekena, and God, he wished he could tell her how gorgeous she was. Her face was so much thinner, more angular, but oh, still so gorgeous. When Baylor went to reach for Dawson, he stopped her. “What are you doing? He’s fine.”
“Don’t you wanna eat?”
“Yes, but if you take him, you won’t be eating.”
Baylor smiled, leaning into him. “You’re my favorite.”
“I know.”
“Um, excuse me. Husband right here,” Jayden said, which bought him a round of laughter. But that died down once the appetizers were served. Soon everyone was eating and enjoying the conversation, which was basically the Sinclairs arguing and nit-picking at each other. They were honestly their own comedy hour, and Markus loved every second.
“Are you sure you want to marry her, Benji? You’re such a nice guy, she’s gonna ruin you,” Jude teased, and Lucy glared.
“Well, Jude, problem is we’re already married, so I’m in it for the long haul,” Benji said, wrapping his arm around Lucy and kissing her cheek.
“Plus, I didn’t have to beg him to be with me like you had to beg Claire. We all know about the over-the-top girlfriend proposal,” she joked, and everyone chuckled.
“I loved it!” Claire gushed, and Jude gave Lucy a snide grin.
“I think you just made me sound easy,” Benji said, and Markus’s face scrunched up. Huh?
Laughing, Lucy said, “What?”
“You said you didn’t have to beg me to be with you, and we all know I begged. So does that mean I’m easy?” he asked. For a second, Markus thought he was serious, but then he saw the playfulness in Benji’s eyes.
“Yes, Benji, we all know you put out on the first date,” Jayden teased.
“How do you know? Wait, didn’t y’all share a room on the road?” Jace accused, and again, a roar of laughter filled the room. “I always knew you had a thing for my brother.”
“I will squish you like a bug,” Benji threatened, but Jace just laughed.
“Lucy, get your husband. He’s being mean to your baby brother.”
Lucy rolled her eyes at Jace. “You started it, brat. How do you deal with him, Avery?”
“He’s good in bed,” she joked, and then her face went beet red when her eyes met her mother-in-law’s. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, Mom.”
But Autumn was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe, which made everyone else laugh. These people were nuts, but Markus loved it. He’d never had this. Never had the siblings to pick at or the parents who laughed off stuff like that. No, he pretty much was alone after he lost his grandfather. Thankfully, though, the Sinclairs came soon after that.
The second course was served then, a disgusting pumpkin soup that Markus wouldn’t touch, but apparently, everyone else thought was amazing. Sitting back in his seat, he played with Dawson as everyone ate and talked about the upcoming wedding.
“Will the Adlers be there?” Autumn asked and Benji nodded.
“Yup, along with most of the team, except for Tate and Erik, since they are competing at Worlds.”
“Oh, yeah, I knew that,” River said, nodding his head. “You know, Elli Adler called me about coaching the Ninjas.”
Markus’s neck almost broke, whipping his head to River. “No shit?”
River laughed. “Yeah, told her no. Can’t leave my grandbabies and all my kids.”
“Dad! That is an awesome opportunity,” Baylor complained.
“You would be great down there. Coach Saint sucks,” Markus commented, and Autumn nodded.
“I told him that, also that I’d go with him, but he won’t do it.”
“My family is here, I have a great job, and my daughter coaches with me. Why would I leave that? I’m happy where I am.”
Baylor held her father’s gaze. “Are you sure? This could lead to the NHL.”