A Romantic Comedy
“WHAT THE HELL?” Alex shot upright and rubbed his unshaven face. He surveyed the messy bed and did a double take when he saw his friend beside him.
Chris rolled over more slowly, more agonizingly, and groaned. “Lord, I must have really tied one on last night—”
Alex stared past the foot of the bed at Kennie. He blinked a few times, then remembered. Oh, damn. Did he remember.
Chris’s gaze followed his, and he jerked upright, “What’s she doing here?”
“You have to ask?” Kennie gasped. She held her hands clenched stiffly at her side as she began slowly walking toward them, her voice a low, feral growl. “You mean to tell me you don’t even remember?”
“Remember what?” Chris rolled to an upright position.
Alex watched in amazement as she swung her left arm back, then flung her fist forward, catching Chris square on the jaw.
“Good grief!” Chris dived under the covers, his arms shielding his face from further blows. “Stop her! She’s trying to kill me!”
“You’d darn well better believe it,” Kennie spat, grabbing an empty champagne bottle from the nightstand. All the fury of a Texas tempest fueled her rage as she wound up.
Alex snapped out of his daze and scrambled across the bed, catching her from behind, one arm firmly surrounding her squirming body, the other hand closing around the bottle. “Hold on a minute! You’re going to hurt somebody!”
She twisted in his arms, fighting to get free. “Let go of me! That son of a sidewinder took advantage of me!”
“I most assuredly did not!” Chris’s muffled voice emerged from beneath the quivering covers. “Tell her I’m innocent!”
“Innocent, my eye!” Kennie sputtered.
“It—it’s not what you think!” Alex choked on his words, his throat tightening against his laughter. She’d never forgive him for laughing. But when she craned her head to glare at him, he felt his grin widen, and he erupted into deep laughter that filled the room, and immediately regretted it.
She jerked away, freeing herself. This time the champagne bottle had a new target: him. A gentleman never laughed at a lady, especially when she was wielding a lethal weapon and packed a mean left hook.
He dodged, then leaped onto the bed and out of her reach.
“Hey, I’m under here!” Chris cried out as Alex’s knee landed on some part of him, but, green eyes blazing, Kennie crawled over him and elbowed the same part as she followed Alex.
“Grab her!” Alex shouted, and tumbled off the far side of the bed.
Chris rolled in the opposite direction and slid from the bed. “Grab her yourself—she’s your problem, not mine!” He surveyed his own disheveled appearance and frowned, and Alex gritted his teeth. Chris appeared more concerned with fastening an open stud on his shirt than with saving his friend.
Now Kennie crouched like a lioness primed to pounce, her blond hair a wild mane of disarray, the menacing champagne bottle poised over her head.
Taking a deep breath, Alex jerked the edge of the bedspread and watched with satisfaction as she lost her balance and tumbled backward, dropping the bottle. Before she could react, he threw himself over her, trapping her under the bedclothes, then swatted the bottle off the bed.
“You—you—Let me out!” Kennie thrashed wildly under him. One hand squirmed its way from beneath the covers, and suddenly he was facing five fuchsia-glazed talons.
“Calm down,” he ordered, exasperation getting the best of his usual good humor. “Blast it, Kennie, cut it out, or I’ll—I’ll—”
“What more can you do to me than you’ve already done?” she wailed. She froze beneath him. “You—you wouldn’t dare!”
“This is what you wanted all the time, isn’t it? My body!” she shrieked.
“She’s delirious,” Chris insisted from his position of relative safety near the windows.
“You’ll have to kill me first, Alex Carruthers!” she said fiercely.
“Don’t tempt me,” he snapped.
A savage pounding reverberated from the other side of the wall.
“Good God, Alex. She’s your wife—shut her up before she gets us thrown out of here! ”
“Wait a minute! Wait just a dad-burned minute!” Kennie sputtered. He felt her heaving for breath and risked easing the bedspread from her flushed face. “Just who the heck am I married to, anyway?”
“You mean, you don’t know?” Alex demanded. “You don’t remember?”
With her free hand she pointed an executioner’s finger at Chris. “It’s his ring!”
“If you’ll calm down, I’ll try to explain,” Alex urged her desperately.
Her body grew deathly still beneath him, her face frozen in a savage glare. “Start talking.”
“I’m glad she’s yours, old man.” Chris stepped nearer, rubbing his jaw. “Where’d you learn to hit like that?”
“I want an explanation right this minute!” Kennie demanded.
Alex shifted uncomfortably above her, embarrassment flickering through him. “You’re married to me.”
He watched cautiously as she gulped, closed her eyes, then reopened them to stare into his face again. “Married? You mean, really married?” He tensed, waiting for her anger, for the fury to boil up in her once more. But she only shook her head in confusion. “To you,” she stammered. “But—but—”
“Don’t you remember anything?” Chris asked from behind him, peering down at them. “We couldn’t both marry you, so we flipped for you. Alex won.” He leaned against the wall and folded his arms.
Kennie’s gaze snapped from him back to Chris, and Alex felt the heat of her rage, still too close to the surface. “Flipped, as in flipped a coin?” she asked slowly, evenly, and he knew real panic.
“Well, it seemed perfectly appropriate at the time,” Chris interjected.
“Shut up!” Alex said ominously.
Chris jabbered on, oblivious to Alex’s warning. “After all, we couldn’t both have you. We’re not into that kind of thing at all.”
“You tossed a coin for me?” Kennie repeated, her voice taking on a new, incredulous edge.
Patricia Burroughs is a fifth-generation Texan who has never been to Reno, nor has she ever awakened in bed married to a stranger. But she does like making stuff up, and as made-up stuff goes, this one was a lot of fun.