NaNoWriMo attempt 2013. It's not gunna be edited or checked too carefully at this point. I'm already 6.5k words behind and its only day 11! This story will be redrafted and edited and everything in the future however. Let me know what you think :) I really appreciate it.

The Wrong Man is Best

If there was one thing Skye Marin had learned, it was that you should never accept a dare under the influence of too many strawberry daiquiris, especially if you've just seen your best friend married, and will see two others married also within the next week. In the harsh light of morning she had expected to feel sated, happy and a little more relaxed, not anxious and humiliated and... Oh, alcohol had a lot to answer for!

Tanner Harrington hadn't given much thought to the pretty raven head, not with her being his sister's best friend. He knew better than to put himself into that mine field. But one night changes everything, and now he cannot for the life of him get her off his mind. Never one for one night stands, and not wanting someone who can excite him so well just walk away, he's not willing to give up the chase, no matter how fast she runs.

Chapter One:

It was with a mixture of heart-felt joy and agony that Skye Marin stared out at the dancing couple from the edge of the circle of people gathered to watch their first dance as husband and wife.

The room was large with wooden beams and a low ceiling. Pillars and connecting arches lined the room; large windows looked out on the dark manor house gardens. The room was dim from the early evening hour and rapidly diminishing light outside, but with a warm glow from the many yellow tinged fairy lights and flickering tea lights that danced light across the couple as they moved about the clear dance floor.

Ivory's face was alight with emotion as she stared up at her new husband, colour high on her cheeks and eyes shining. Rick's back was turned to Skye, but she had no doubt that he wore a similar nauseating expression.

This was where she said goodbye to her best friend; Rick would be her main partner in crime now, especially with the news that Ivory had whispered excitedly to her the night before as they and the other girls had huddled into her room at the lodge to prepare her dress and make-up for the morning. They'd spent the evening sneakily pouring her drinks into Skye's glass whenever the girls turned their backs.

Rick would look after Ivory, she knew that. He would be good for her. That didn't mean she wasn't going to still take him aside as soon as he was done dancing and warn him about what she would do to him were he to hurt her. . . again. She smiled as she remembered the look on his handsome face when she had warned him the first time at his engagement party; she'd never seen him as pale as he had been then, not even when he'd had the flu. This time, while she had his attention, she might try and squeeze a promise out of him, a promise that she would get a least one night in seven where she could steal his wife for an hour or two. Hell, she'd take half an hour over a Costa coffee.

"Christmas weddings are magical, aren't they?" Ivory's great aunt Mary gushed to another relative behind Skye.

Mary was a lovely old lady who was into her happy-ever-afters and lovey-dovey romances. She was the type to watch romantic films back to back in lieu of daytime television; in fact her DVD player saw a lot more use than even the average university student's. Mary had a huge crush on Hugh Grant, or so Ivory had told her last week. She said her love of Hugh is what kept her happy and cheerful after the death of her husband. She was a magpie, she mated for life, but she got to see Hugh's characters find their own happy ever afters and that was good enough for her.

"Oh, yes. She should have gone with another colour, though. Wearing an ivory dress is a bit gimmicky." another elderly lady with a stronger voice replied.

Skye gripped her clutch bag tighter in her fist, the creamy-gold sequins sewn onto the front dug painfully into her palm.

Gimmicky? Dear God did she want to turn around and defend Ivory. The headache her family had put her though to keep her wedding traditional and not wear dark blue, no matter how amazing she had looked in that dress, and now they thought the most traditional dress was gimmicky? Why, because it was also her name? That was hardly her fault.

"But it's really quite lovely, isn't it? That tree is nice. Just think, whenever they put up Christmas decor in future years, they'll be able to recapture that feeling."

The ambiance and atmosphere were amazing, Skye had to agree, but for her, Christmas was not the time to get married. She probably would choose a winter wedding for herself, groom abiding –were she ever to find one – but not over the Christmas period. November or January would be good months.

Skye peered around at the Christmas decorations. They were subtle and small, matching the gold theme of the wedding, a few threads running through the tapestry of wedding decorations. It wasn't as bad as she had thought it was going to be; naturally she had kept her reservations to herself, but Christmas was already a special time of year for her. She couldn't imagine sharing her wedding with it; she liked the thought that anniversaries would bring a special feeling and a smile to her and her husband's face – a special day just for them.

She shook her head, just once, to clear it of those thoughts. She was probably over thinking it, making a bigger deal out of something that wouldn't be. It wouldn't be the first time. Life was full of let downs, and to a romantic, never lived up to expectations.

A ripple of laughter throughout the crowd caught Skye's attention and she turned back to her best friend and her new groom. Tanner Harrington, the best man and eldest brother of the triplets Ivory, Violet, and Hazel, had joined them in the centre of the circle where he was currently prying Rick's hands off his sister, a broad grin across his face.

Tanner was gorgeous. There weren't any other words to describe him. Well, no, there were plenty others, none of which Skye could say out loud without blushing redder than a chilli pepper. Broad shouldered and strong muscled from his job as a fitness instructor; he stood just shy of six foot. With his tawny hair cropped short, just long enough to slide her fingers in and get a firm grip (or so she imagined), and his grey eyes that were always alight and dancing, he was well out of her league, even if he hadn't already been forbidden to her.

Skye watched, amusement tugging at her mouth as he pulled Ivory away from Rick and into a dance. But just because he was out of the picture for her, for more than one reason, didn't mean she couldn't look, or smell in the times that he was near enough. She loved the colognes he wore; he had three so far as she had been able to tell. Hugo Boss was a favourite of hers, but she was partial to the spice of one of the others, and the cool scent of the third. Maybe it was just him, his natural pheromones wafting out and overpowering the fragrances and her senses.

She didn't mind that she didn't have a chance with him, it meant she was able to relax and be herself about him, to join in on his jokes and conversations without agonising over whether he had intentionally grazed her knee or hand as he had moved, or whether his comments were a serious attempt to get her into bed and not just a teasing remark to help pass the time.

She didn't get to watch him dance with Ivory long however, which was a damn shame. She had been enjoying watching the way his muscles bunched and moved beneath his white shirt as he waltzed his sister around in quiet confidence, or had been until Rick had materialised in front of her and pulled her out to dance with him.

As she was manoeuvred and directed about the rapidly evaporating circle, Skye noticed that both of the Ivory's sisters had joined with their husbands to be, Marshall and Peter, along with her parents and cousins.

"Hey, there's no need to look so sad." Rick's voice was laced with concern.

"I'm not sad."

"Yes, you are. I've been watching you today; your face says it all. I'm not stealing her from you." He smiled down at her. "I resent how much of her heart belongs to you, actually."

Mollified, Skye returned his smile. "Yeah, yeah. I'm still making you sign a custody contract."

"May I cut in?"

Rick stopped dancing, immediately letting go of her waist and stepping back as Skye turned her attention to Ben, Ivory's cousin, with a sinking heart. By no means was there anything wrong with Ben Turner, in fact she was very appreciative of the view of him in his suit, but his appearance effectively ruined the speech she had prepared mentally for Rick.

Ben was charming, good-looking and well sought after by the female population, a demand he was only too willing to oblige. He was fun and decent company, but his constant flirting and flattery irritated her from to time. She was by no means fooling herself; she knew she wasn't the only girl he attempted to charm consistently. Actually, there were probably less girls he didn't try it on with than there were that he did.

"By all means." Rick said, motioning for Ben to take his place with one hand before heading off to the back-lit bar at the far end of the room. Over Ben's shoulder, Skye saw Ivory join him.

"Skye." Ben murmured. He stepped in closer, moving his body in flush against hers. His warm breath was a feathery caress on her forehead as he spoke, "You look gorgeous."

She glanced up at him, unable to help the exasperated and amused smile forming on her face. "Don't I always?"

"Yes." He grinned before he leaned his torso away from her and let his gaze drop lower than her neck. "But that's a damn fine dress. Gold is good on you."

"I don't think you care much which colour it is." Her lips twisted wryly.

"No, but I am interested in the colour you're wearing under it."

"I'm afraid that is to remain a mystery."

He sucked in a gasp in mock horror. "Damn shame." He shook his head enigmatically. "With such great wrapping paper, I suspect the present inside would be amazing. . . And it's not addressed to me? What's the world coming to?"

Skye didn't answer; instead she rolled her eyes and let her gaze shift back to the room over his shoulder and caught a glimpse of Ivory at the bar with some of the girls. She was waving her hands, declining a shot from a very insistent Brianna, and then Tanner and Hazel, Ivory's non-identical triplet, danced into her view and she lost sight of Ivory.

She should really go help her. That's what best friends and head bridesmaids were for, wasn't it?

Skye opened her mouth to excuse herself just as Ben bent his head fractionally lower, and she paused. Her breath shuddered to a stop. While she professed that she wasn't foolish enough to hold romantic notions when it came to Ben, she wasn't immune physically.

"Who is it addressed to?"

Her eyes swung back to meet the all to close ones of Ben's. "It? I'm not gift wrapped for anyone."

"Really?" His dark eyes lit up and he leaned closer. His mouth by her ear and his breath ruffling her hair, he whispered lowly, "I don't suppose I can change your mind and get my name on there?"

Her breath caught even as she shook her head slightly. "No, I don't think so."

"Damn shame," he repeated his earlier words huskily in her ear, still leading her in the sensuously close and slow dance. "But I'll leave the offer open. All night. Even should you not come knocking on my door later tonight, I won't try my chances elsewhere."

Skye drew back, raising a questioning eyebrow at him. "Why not? That's not like you."

Ben's eyes roamed over her appreciatively. "You're the best catch here. I can easily spend a night alone in the off chance I might spend it with you." He paused and then added with a wink, "Tomorrow's another story."

Skye mocked disapproval and extricated herself from his arms, finishing the dance. "Why you're just charming, aren't you?" She laughed and waved a goodbye. "Thank you for the dance."

"You're welcome, my lady." Ben bowed.

Skye curtsied in response and was half way across the room to the garden doors when she heard his shout behind her.

"Will I see you tonight?"

"Who knows?" She yelled back over the music, and pushed open the glass door. Would he really hold out all night for her? To say she was sceptical would be an understatement and yet she felt strangely inclined to believe him. Perhaps it was because he never had the need to lie before, why would he start now?

She probably wouldn't go to him; her decision wasn't really in question. She wasn't against sex for sex's sake, but she generally didn't go there with people she knew, was friends with, or had some sort of connection closer than complete stranger. It would complicate matters, and she could do without that. She had no illusions that he was after anything more than that.

The patio outside was as crowded as the hall was, despite the December chill. Black and grey suits and beautiful dresses in every colour clustered in groups. Laughter and excited chatting mingled with the steady thump of the music from beyond the glass.

She paused at the top of the steps; breathing in a deep, cool breath of air and watching the vapour of its release rise up in a cloud of fog in front of her. She hadn't realised how hot it had been inside until her body cried out in relief from the chill.

Skye walked through them, occasionally waving to someone in greeting, and out onto the lawn. The heels of her pale gold sandals sank into the grass and she dreaded the mud that she would have to clean off of them, but she had her heart set on the flower bed wall a few metres ahead of her.

The stone was freezing beneath her, the cold seeping through the material of her dress but she was grateful to ease her weight off of her feet. They ached terribly, blisters burning on the balls of her feet and ankles, and to think she had to do this all again in two days time for Hazel's wedding, and then again in another two days for Violet's.

That was another thing she disliked about Ivory's wedding and wouldn't choose for herself, not that she had sisters let alone triplet sisters to share the occasion with. Maybe Skye was just selfish, but she would want a wedding that was entirely her own and, while each of the triplet's weddings were different and unique they were all in the same manor house, the same gardens and with the guests staying at the same lodge at the back of the estate. It was lavish and romantic, but not Skye.

God, how was she going to do this again the day after tomorrow? She tugged off the sandal on her raised foot and rubbed at the sore skin. At least she wasn't head bridesmaid, or even in the bridal party for Hazel and Violet's weddings. She did feel sorry for Ivory though, who was, but then Ivory was wearing sensible, easy on the feet slippers hidden away under the skirts of her dress today.

She rubbed at her arms, looking out across the acres of emerald lawn glistening from the wet in the patches of light from the many small lights along the flowerbeds and pathways. She'd have to go back in soon, or find a coat.

"Hey, Skye?"

Skye snapped her head back around towards the manor house to see Tanner, hands in the pockets of his suit trousers, picking his way across the grass, dodging the bigger patches of mud on his way over to her. Unlike her, he was in the wedding party for both of the upcoming weddings so she didn't laugh out loud at his odd dance across the lawn. He needed to keep his shoes mud free or risk a messy hour cleaning them.

"Aren't you cold?" He asked, coming to stand a few feet before her low seat on the wall.

"Only as cold as you, I suspect." She glanced at his white relatively thin shirt, the pink colouring of his skin visible through the material in the places where it held tight enough to his body. "What happened to your suit jacket?"

Tanner shrugged and gave a slight laugh. "Dunno. I'd better find it before Friday though or Violet will kill me."

"You don't need it for Hazel's on Wednesday?"

"Nah," he said. He screwed his nose up. "She has a special waistcoat for me to wear to hers. It's emerald green."

Skye laughed. She wouldn't say so out loud but she suspected that emerald green might look quite striking on Tanner.

"Anyway, Ivory wants you up at the manor for drinks, pronto. She and the girls have captured one of the big circle tables at the back."

"Oh no, I was hoping they were joking about drinking a lot tonight." Skye strapped her sandal back on, wincing at the pain as it once again pressed against the sore and blistered skin. She climbed to her feet and looked up only to find Tanner's eyes following the same trail that Ben's had, although Tanner was a lot more subtle and dignified about it. She tried to pass off the red tinge on her cheeks as an effect from the cold and rubbed at her arms but she really didn't feel the chill anymore, not with the way his eyes had been on her and waft of his spicy cologne on the air.

"Well," Tanner said as his eyes returned to her face as casual and cool as anything, "you have three large pink things waiting for you. I'm not sure what they are called, but they look sickly sweet. And lethal. I'm sure they'll put some warmth back into you though." He offered her his arm and then a smile as she accepted it. "What's so bad about drinking, anyway? It's a celebration."

"Oh nothing, I mean I have nothing against drinking. It's just. . . I tend to embarrass myself. I don't think so at the time, I laugh everything off and enjoy myself, but the next day. . ."

"You worry too much. You're always such fun with a drink or two in you."

"Just then?"

"Of course." He winked down at her, his usual half-smile in place. "Totally dull the rest of the time, naturally."

Together they made their way back up into the hall before Tanner moved off to talk to his best friend Rick after pointing out Ivory's table in the far corner. Sure enough a group of women huddled around the circular table, a mountain of cocktails and drinks before them.

Skye crossed the hall over to them, eager to have a seat and ease off of her burning feet. The alcohol should help with the pain too, she reckoned.

Ivory was chatting to the girls animatedly as she approached. A quick glance around at the faces showed her that both of the other triplets, Brianna, Cheryl, Hayley, and the ever so quiet Georgina were quickly demolishing their share of the sugary death that was cocktails.

Strands of Ivory's hair had fallen from their grips throughout the day, now they framed her face prettily. Occasionally she'd twine them around her fingers as she spoke. "—really looking forward to it. It should be amazing. All cosy and romantic – Skye! We were wondering where you got to. Come. Sit, sit." She scooted over on the soft cushion of the bench seat winding around three quarters of the table and patted the spot where she had been sitting.

Skye folded the skirts of her dress beneath her and squeezed into the seat. Brianna, who had taken down her hair up-do at the soonest opportunity after the ceremony ended so that it was now a luscious curtain of dark waves, pushed Skye's three drinks across the table. Three large cocktail glasses, lined with sugar and full to the brim with strawberry daiquiri.

Hardly lethal, she thought, remembering Tanner's words, but definitely tasty. Taking a sip, she glanced at Ivory and then the cocktail glass poised at her lips. "So what's cosy and romantic and going to be oh so amazing?"

"The honeymoon in Switzerland next month." Ivory replied, placing her glass back onto the dark wood of the table. "I can't wait!"

Hayley, immaculate as always with her manicured nails and long, straight blonde hair– prim, proper and with a stick shoved up somewhere dark – leaned forward on the table. "With all that snow? I've never understood why some people go to cold places for honeymoons. Don't you think some where traditional and hot like Mexico or Spain would be better? Sun, sea . . . sex? Lovely temperatures and swimsuits? Not snow, frostbite and a billion layers of clothing?"

Ivory sighed, the smile for Hayley a lot more agreeable and lenient than Skye's would have been. "It's romantic. Think about it. Wooden cabin, cosy fire and snow flurries out the window. Beautiful scenery and stars at night . . . all while it's far too cold to go out and leave the cabin often. No one else but the two of you, shut away from the world?"

"I must admit," Cheryl cut in. "That sounds good. We went to Africa. Big mistake. You don't get much action in hot climates; it's too sticky and uncomfortable." Cheryl was the notorious over-sharer but no less loved for it.

"But that's extreme!" Violet, Ivory's identical triplet, said. "Me and Marshall are going to Australia. It's normal temperatures, you know like thirty-six degrees. It will be lovely."

"I dunno. . ." Hazel frowned at the tabletop. Her hair and eyes were dark, the opposite of her sisters'. "Ivory's honeymoon does sound pretty amazing."

As the girls occupied themselves with the argument, Skye took the opportunity to lean over and whisper to Ivory. "How come you're drinking? Were you wrong?"

Ivory smiled mysteriously with a small shake of her head.

"Then what? I know they don't have that much alcohol content but they do have some." Skye said with a frown at the remaining strawberry daiquiris on the table.

"It's a pseudo cocktail. Me and the barmaid are in cahoots." Ivory whispered back. "Every time one of the girls orders a drink she puts the bridal umbrella in the glass with no alcohol." She spun the white cocktail umbrella for emphasis.

"Ah, clever. Shame I can't get out of it so easily."

Ivory laughed. "Like you really want to. You forget I know you."

The girls made short work of the drinks, gradually getting louder and louder as the night wore on. Every now and then they'd gain a new addition to the drinks and chats – Ben, Tanner, Rick, an aunt or a cousin – each in turn, or lose a girl to the throng of guests dancing and drinking elsewhere before they made their way back eventually.

The conversation wavered and jumped from topic to topic, getting louder and more boisterous until Skye found them wading through territory she wasn't particularly wanting to address. Their table consisted of two wives – one of which was the bride of the day – two soon to be brides, and three singletons. Naturally that meant the topic of talk soon switched to when Brianna was going to tie down her long term boyfriend, and when Georgina and Skye would find a serious boyfriend.

Georgina flushed under the attention before murmuring in her quiet manner, "Actually there is this guy. . . I'm – we're just talking, friends but it might be going somewhere."

"Really?" Ivory leaned her forearms on the table top, the patch of wood in front of her being one of the few sections that didn't have a sticky coating of alcohol. "Where'd you meet? What's he like?"

"At work, actually. My mother brought him in to work in the store as eye-candy. She thought that bringing a good looking guy in would increase sales. Our everyday cupcakes and desserts weren't selling, only the party and birthday stuff was, even the low fat cakes weren't bringing anything in. Too many women on diets in my town, there's a huge weightwatchers following. And it's hard to make a cake look manly enough to bring in a male consumer base." Georgina replied with a shy smile.

Skye watched her, a small smile on her own face. She had been friends with Georgina for years now, but had never seen her talk so much in one go. "Is it working?"

"It's not a miracle and made us rich but yeah, I'd say it's worked amazingly well."

"He's fit?" Brianna asked. "You know, I may be visiting for some cupcakes myself." She winked.

"Hey!" Cheryl smacked Brianna's arm lightly. "He's taken. She said they might be going somewhere."

"What? That means a girl can't look? Besides all this talk about cakes and my cravings have gone insane. I can just picture one of those berry cakes right now. You know the ones with that spiceberry coloured icing, or it might be more glam plum thinking about it."

"Spiceberry? Glam plum?" Hayley frowned. "Aren't they nail vanish colours? Not your typical food colourings."

"I know which you're talking about." Georgina said. "It's berry icing. The pinkie-purple glittery ones?"

"That's it!" Brianna cried clicking her fingers.

Violet laughed. "So anyway, the guy?"

"His name's Danny. It's not his typical job, he used to be a mechanic, and he was a carpenter at one point. He looks a bit funny wearing the apron, he's so . . . manly, but I guess he was desperate for the work."

"What about your Nathaniel, Brie?" Hazel asked, stirring her cocktail with a straw. "Is he looking to tie you down at all?"

Brianna smiled. "Probably not in the way you're thinking. No, all this wedding talk put him in a weird funk for a while, but he's snapped out of that now." She waved her hand dismissively. "Besides, I think marrying off three of us in one week is enough of a blow to our group as it is, don't you?"

It was when Violet turned to face Skye and smiled wide like a Cheshire cat that Skye realised that her attempt to fade out of the conversation and disappear into the background had failed miserably.

"And you Skye?" She asked before tipping her cocktail – now a bright green concoction that Skye didn't know the name of – to her lips.

"Oh, me? Same old, same old."

The girls gave a theatrical sigh as one.

"What? I'm not looking for anyone right now. Definitely nothing serious."

"Aw still not over Mike?"

"No, I am." Skye swallowed. "I'm just not into rushing into something else that big. Fun is what I need."

"Oh, really?" Ivory raised an eyebrow at her, a coy, amused smile on her lips. "If that's true then why do I hear that you blew off my cousin again?"


"Of course Ben! Come on, you can't deny that he isn't a looker."

"What?" Hazel perked up from her alcohol induced haze. "Ben?" She glanced at Skye with renewed interest.

Skye frowned at them sceptically. "Don't you think that would be weird? I mean, I know him."

"You're after fun. Ben's fun. What's the harm?" Violet asked.

"I'm actually with Skye on this one," Ivory said. "She says she's after fun and nothing serious, but I don't believe her. I don't think a night with Ben would make her feel any good."

"I've been with guys since Mike, Iv." Skye said, stung.

"Yeah, I know." She looked at her and Skye heard the words she didn't say: But I saw the mess you were in the next morning after those guys too.

"Anyway, what about you, Hayley?"

"Oh," Brianna groaned. "Like there's a hope in hell. She's married to her job and high maintenance to boot."

It was a sure sign that collectively they had all consumed too much alcohol when Hayley – prim and proper Hayley – screwed her nose up and stuck out her tongue at the pretty brunette.

Skye shook her head. She hadn't had as much as the rest of the girls (minus Ivory who was still strictly tee-total) but she did feel the happy buzz that accompanied tipsy. She glanced around at the room, many of the guests had either headed off to their hotels, home or back to the lodge but there was still a fair few remaining. They were all relaxed and far less energetic than earlier.

Her eyes caught on Ben, Rick and Tanner standing at the bar, talking amongst themselves. Ben glanced over his shoulder and met her gaze. He nodded his head towards the door and winked. It was a bare minute later that he made his way out into the night to follow the lamp lit walkway through the estate grounds to their lodge. It sent her one last look at the door before it closed behind him.

The fact that he wanted her to follow him was all too obvious. She wouldn't go to him though, she knew she wouldn't. And yet she couldn't stop the echo of Violet's words in her head, daring her to follow him, to go to him. What's the harm?