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SERIES: Knight In Shining Suit (Episode 6B)

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After our dance, we went back to our seats, hand in hand, where we enjoyed dinner.


“Did you order the food too?” He asked.


I nodded as I stared at the salmon fillet and beef mignon on my plate.


“Although in my head, I’d rather have a buffet for the guests.” I said.

“I know you weren’t the cheapskate in your relationship.” He teased.

I had to laugh at that because I know it was at Bryan’s expense.


After dinner, Ryder and I danced once again. He would give me occasional kisses that I didn’t mind anymore. For the first time in months I felt that I was actually having fun with another man. A man who made me feel that I matter more than anyone. That I am the only woman in the room. That I am the only woman in the world for him.


I had a chat with former acquaintances I met through Geena and Bryan. I introduced Ryder to them. Some seemed genuinely happy for me and yet there were some girls who looked at me like they couldn’t believe I caught a guy like this.

There were some girls hanging around us making goo goo eyes at Ryder already, hoping to catch his eye so they could send him some signal. I guess Geena’s friends weren’t very much different from her. Ryder didn’t give them a chance. He showed everybody that he could only look at me.


When we were on the dance floor, I felt people staring at me more than they should. I’m sure I was the topic of most conversations at the tables. ‘Operation: Revenge’ is going exactly as planned.


It seems I am the last person people thought would come to this wedding. They couldn’t believe I was actually having fun.


In the middle of our dance, my Uncle Jack asked to cut in.

Ryder nodded graciously at him and stood by the side of the dance floor while we danced. 

“I am so happy, Ash.” Uncle Jack said to me.


“You should be. Your little girl got married today.” I said.


“Not only that. You’re here. I’m glad to see you’re happy, and taken care of.” He smiled.


I smiled back at him, trying to hold back tears. I was just a basket case today, it seemed.


“Ryder is quite a catch.” He said. “He seems like a decent man, well-bred and he looks besotted with you.” 

He looks besotted with me, because he’s a great actor, I thought guiltily.  


My eyes drifted off to where Ryder was standing but suddenly I couldn’t find him there anymore. My eyes searched the ballroom until finally, I spotted him, holding his hand out to my Mom and asking her to dance. My heart warmed at the sight and I can see my father laughing as my mother headed to the dance floor hand in hand with Ryder.

“He’s a charming man.” Uncle Jack. “He’s a hundred times better than Bryan, Ash.” 

“Uncle!” I couldn’t believe what I just heard. “He’s your son-in-law!”

“I know, sweetheart. I accepted him for my daughter’s sake. However, I still can’t forgive him for what he did to you and Geena. You two… are like sisters. Bryan drove a wedge between the two of you, and despite what your mother hopes, I know your relationship will never be the same.”


I leaned forward and gave my uncle a hug. “Don’t think about that, Uncle. Geena and I have a long… history together. Time heals all wounds.”


“That’s why I’m happy to see you here. It’s a good start. And I’m so… so happy to see you with someone who… can heal you. Then hopefully, someday, you may forgive what Geena did to you, so you two can start all over again.”


This time, I couldn’t help tears from rolling down my cheeks. Uncle Jack had to wipe them away with his thumb.


“Now, now dear. You don’t want to ruin your makeup.”


We had a fat laugh as we headed off the dance floor. I danced with my father next. He too expressed his glee to seeing me on my feet.


“You’re all radiant and happy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy! That man makes you giddier than Bryan ever did.” 

“Dad!” I laughed. “Let’s not throw stones.”

He laughed too. “I’m really glad you found him.”

“I’m glad I found him too, Dad.” Out of all the lies I’ve told tonight, I know that one has truth in it. I was so glad I found Ryder… but not for the same reasons my father thought.


I danced with almost all my Uncles and Ryder danced with almost all my Aunts. There were a couple of cousins and hopeful bridesmaids hoping to get a dance from him, but Ryder danced only with the elder women in the room, all of whom were relatives of mine. They were all quite infatuated with him by the end of each dance.


After my dance with Uncle Reynolds, Adam surprised me by cutting in.


I had a laugh as soon as I looked into his mischievous eyes. He chuckled too.


“Is it worth your tens?” I asked him teasingly.

“So much worth it.” He whispered against my ear. “You’re a star, Ash.”

“Thank you, but I can’t take all the credit for it. I couldn’t have done it without Ryder.” 

He nodded. “So, what do you think of him?”

“Hot!” I answered truthfully.

Adam raised a brow. “Well, he is a fine piece of art, but you have to remember why he’s here with you, Ash. I don’t want you to get your heart broken twice in the space of three months. 

“I know you’re worried about me, Adam. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. A little flirtation with Ryder here and there won’t hurt.” I whispered to him.


“I’m just warning you, it’s not hard to get your heart lost along the way with a devil like that.”

I laughed. “You worry too much about me. I’ll be fine. He’s a great guy. I know why he’s here with me, acting all lovey-dovey. Ten grand is worth it for him.”


Adam sucked in a deep breath, as if he was bracing himself, and then he raised a brow. “How well do you know this guy?”


I shook my head. “Other than the fact that he’s providing a face for the Alpha Male imaginary boyfriend that I’m showing off to everybody tonight, I know that he works as a bartender. Although I have to tell you that he’s really smart. Apart from that, I don’t know him at all.”

“Will you spend the night with him?”

“Yes. Doing nothing, Adam. Maybe just talking.”


“You’re not afraid that he might be hiding a secret identity that you should be aware of?”

I laughed. “Seriously, Adam. Too much CSI.”


He arched a brow at me.

I sighed. “I’ll be fine. I don’t think he’ll rob me. I already told him that I couldn’t afford his services. You were the one who paid him. I doubt that he’ll violate me in some way. A guy as hot as that could have his pick of any girl, any time, so I don’t think he’ll even entertain the thought of taking advantage of me. He’s not a serial killer of some sort. We haven’t heard of serial killings in the last decade in this city or in some nearby states.” The last sentences were meant to be a joke. Adam really was being too overprotective.


Adam sighed and shook his head. “I’m not worried about any of that. I’m worried about you falling for him for real.”


“I gotta tell you, Adam, it is easy. He’s… a wonderful guy. He’s smart, funny and charming. But I just met him, and I doubt he’ll want to see me again after this.” 

Adam nodded. “Just be careful, okay? He’s probably the best guy to replace Bryan with, but only if he’s willing to share a piece of his heart with you.”


I laughed. “Now, that’s new!” Somehow, I can’t believe the same ruthless Adam could say something like that to me. “Who are you and what have you done with my brutal cousin?”


Adam laughed and then he leaned forward and gave me a kiss on the forehead. “I love you, Ash. Even if sometimes I have a weird way of showing it. I am so happy to see you laughing tonight. You sparkle like a diamond that even the bride herself is feeling like she is no longer the center of attention.”

I stared back at Adam. “What? Did she say that?”


Adam shrugged. “Well, I danced with her and she basically asked me why you had to come. I told her that family sticks together. And besides, she sent you an invitation.”

“What else did she say?

“I think she’s more irritated with the fact that people here are talking more about you, admiring your courage, and being happy for your newfound love.”


“What did she say about Ryder?”


Adam sighed. “She was asking where you met him and how you met him. I said I don’t know. She’s keeping tabs of you and Ryder in her own wedding. This is a wicked plan, Ash.”

I couldn’t help laughing. “And it’s working.”


Adam nodded. “He’s already won the hearts of our aunts. You might be up for competition. They already fancy themselves twenty-five years younger and in love with him.” My eyes drifted off to where Ryder was, dancing with one of our young nieces. “And some of our nieces fancy themselves fifteen years older and in love with him.”

Adam nodded. “I gotta hand it to the guy, when it comes to charming his lady’s relatives, he’s got a PhD.”

I smiled. “Yes, he does. But I hope they won’t remember him soon enough.”




“Well, his name is Ryder Woodson. Somehow, he was mistaken by our relatives as Ryder Van Woodsen. Apparently, the Van Woodsens are famous in New York.”


“Oh. Is that so?”


I nodded. “I mean, it’s brilliant! That name tells the tale itself. But Uncle Reynolds already asked him if he could get a reservation into one of the restaurants that the Van Woodsens own. Ryder had to coolly say yes. But what if Uncle Reynolds goes to New York next week? What am I going to do?”

“What did Ryder say?” Adam asked with narrowed eyes.

“He said he knows some crew of some restaurants in New York. He’ll be able to pull it off.”


“Then maybe he’ll be able to.” Adam said icily. Somehow, something in his voice told me that he was also worried.


“He should have corrected Uncle Reynolds when he had him confused with someone else!” I groaned silently.

“Yeah. He should have.” Adam said disapprovingly. His gaze drifting to where Ryder is now, dancing with Nicole. “He really does know the way to your heart, doesn’t he?”


I had to laugh, because I thought it was actually cute of Ryder to dance with my best friend. He and Nicole inched their way towards us. 

“Hey, Nic!” I smiled at Nicole. “Great party!” 

Nicole laughed. “Thanks to the brilliant wedding planner!”

“Yeah. Wedding of my dreams!” I groaned. 

“You’re going to top this, sweetie!” Nicole said to me positively. “A few years, maybe months from now, you are going to do a lot better than this!”


Standing there, hearing those words from Nicole, seeing Adam nod in agreement and Ryder smile in encouragement, I felt I found a new hope in me. The hope to rise above it all. To rise and triumph above Bryan and Geena. I know that the time to start pulling my act together is… now. Here, with the three people who stood as my allies.

To be continued.... 

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