I Think I Love You (Australian Sports Star Series Book 3), page 1
I think I love you
Australian Sports Stars #3
I Think I Love You
Copyright © 2015 by Iris Blobel.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: July 2015
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To my sisters.
Table of Contents
Markus DeLeon stood in front of Tyson and stared at him. The guy looked good in a tuxedo. A smile tugged at his lips, though, when he saw Ty’s hair.
Markus cocked a questioning brow. “The hair?”
Tyson instantly raked his hand through it to mess it up a bit. “Grandma Hazel,” he said through gritted teeth.
Markus laughed. “Did I just see an eye twitch?”
“Oh man, give me a break here, okay.” Tyson looked away. “And where the hell is Oliver?”
Markus tried his best not to laugh, but failed miserably. He’d known his friend for over twenty years, and Ty’s eye twitch was enough proof for him that his friend was beyond nervous. He couldn’t remember seeing Ty so tense in…well, ever. Not even before any of his important football games.
Then again, it wasn’t every day that one got married to a gorgeous girl. And despite Katie’s best efforts to keep it a low key event, the media was present already outside the church.
Grabbing his phone, Markus flicked through a few names and dialled Oliver’s number.
“Where are you?”
“Give me five minutes.”
“The groom’s nervous.”
Oliver let out a bark of laughter. “It’s his wedding day. Yeah, I’d be nervous too. Do you have the rings? Katie will kill you, if you haven’t.”
Although sure he had the rings, panic rose within Markus as he quickly checked his pockets to retrieve the small box.
“Yes, all good.”
“Okay,” Oliver said. “See you in five.”
Markus hung up and smiled at Tyson, who was pacing up and down the small room.
“Where the hell is he?”
“What do you mean he wouldn’t say?” Tyson stared at Markus. “You’ve got the rings, right?”
Markus had known Tyson and Oliver for most of his life, since before school. They’d played footy every Saturday and later on during their teenage years hung out together afterwards as well. Yet, after watching a game of soccer, Markus changed sports, and a year later, after spending a few months in the U.S., Oliver had switched to baseball. The youngest of the trio had stayed with football and was one of the most regarded players in the Australian Football League.
Yet, their friendship had remained as strong as the first years and nowadays they caught up on Saturdays to watch cricket or motor racing.
Oliver came into the room. “Sorry for that.”
“You will be. Trust me, I’ll think of something to muck up your wedding day too.”
Oliver snorted, but didn’t reply.
There was a gentle knock at the door and the minister opened the door. “Ready?”
The guys looked at each other and nodded in unison.
“Let’s do this,” Tyson said, with a determination that brought another smile to Markus’ face.
They followed the minister into the church and stood in a line in front of the altar. The hushed voices stopped for a moment. The church was packed to the last seat. Markus saw a few familiar faces like his family, Ty and Oliver’s family, Ty’s football mates and friends, and of course Katie’s mum, family, and friends.
Nervously, he checked his pocket for the rings again.
When the organ started, everyone in the church stilled, and the three friends turned to face the entrance of the church to watch the bride come down the aisle with her father.
Katie looked sensational, but so did Teagan, her friend. Yet, Markus almost lost his breath when he saw Sarah. He’d known her for as long as he could remember. Of course, he knew she was very attractive, he wasn’t blind, but today she looked simply stunning. The hairdresser did a brilliant job getting her wavy dark hair under control, and the make-up, in his judgement as a guy, was spot on, emphasising her chocolate brown eyes like little gems.
Almost stealing the show, though, was Cailyn. Ty’s little niece led the bridal party looking like a little angel in her dress, as she walked down the aisle while carefully dropping rose petals from a small basket.
Katie took Tyson’s arm, and the minister began the service with a prayer.
It wasn’t a long ceremony and when it was time to exchange rings, Markus came forward with the small box holding the rings. Emotions like pride and happiness for his friend shot through him, as well as a little bit of envy. The twinge of envy at his friend’s relationship.
He’d had the twinges of envy a couple of times already over the last few months, and as much as he’d tried to ignore them, he now began to think that he was ready for a relationship. Something as good as Ty and Katie had. With a few eye blinks he washed away the thought and focused back on was happening right in front of him.
As Sarah Winter walked down the aisle, she was too worried to look around, too frightened to miss or lose the rhythm of her step. She’d practiced this more than she liked to remember; the last thing she wanted was to get it wrong.
Only she’d practiced without this darn headache.
And without her heart aching.
Taking a deep breath, she tried to relax and followed her instincts. It couldn’t be that hard, after all.
When she arrived at the front, she moved to the side and finally dared to steal a glance at the guys. She almost needed a second look to take in how good Markus looked that day. As much as she tried, she came up with a blank when it came to seeing him in a tux. Not even for his sister’s wedding had he dressed up so nicely. Not in a tux, anyway.
Oh my Lord.
The two shared a quick smile before the minister started, and she tried her best to focus on the service.
A couple of hours later, she’d found herself in the middle of the big wedding reception. She leaned back into her chair as she looked around taking everything in. The official part of the reception was finally over, and she was able to relax some more. As much as she had enjoyed the wedding ceremony, not to mention the immense pride she felt to have been part of it, she was glad that the formal part of the day was over. The photo session after church had dragged on because of the boys mucking around so much, and although her headache had been relentless, it’d been good letting go of some of the b
Rubbing her temples, Sarah closed her eyes to give them a moment of rest from the light. Even the Panadol didn’t seem to be able to cope with the pounding war behind her eyes. She was glad that she’d managed to plaster her best smile onto her face for the photos. The alternative would’ve been Katie killing her for turning up to her wedding with a hangover.
When she heard the start of the next song, an old ballad from the nineties, she opened her eyes and looked around. Oddly enough, her gaze fell on Markus straight away. Sarah still couldn’t believe how sexy he looked in the tuxedo. She smiled, because she’d seen him in his surf shorts, sans T-shirt often enough, but that tuxedo did something to her—or to him—that got her heart racing a little. Tilting her head a little, she studied him. As Markus was laughing at one of the guys’ jokes, she noticed his dimples even from the distance. He got them from his father, she thought. Very slowly an unfamiliar sensation crept up within her. It took her a moment to figure out the reason for it was the blonde girl next to Markus, trying desperately to get his attention.
Couldn’t be. She’d never been jealous of Markus’ girlfriends before, so why would she be today? Damn, she wished that girl would leave him be.
A long sigh escaped her.
Tired, she squeezed another little bit of lemon into her tea as she watched all the couples on the dance floor.
“Aww, baby, that’s your second cup of tea now. What’s the matter?” Markus asked as he sat next to her.
Startled, Sarah nearly spilled the tea.
Yet, the few simple words and his presence made her feel better already. As long as she was able to remember, Markus had called her baby. Initially, it had annoyed her, because she’d been so proud of having finally reached teenage years, but nowadays…nowadays she reeled in the comfort of their closeness.
Tilting her head slightly to look at him, she let out a little sigh. He laughed and placed his arm around her for a little hug.
“Want to dance?”
His mouth was so close to her ear, she could feel his breath on her skin as he spoke. A little shiver went down her spine, and it took her by surprise. She’d known Markus for almost twenty years, and she couldn’t remember her body responding to him like this. It was a bit eerie. The combination of red wine, hangover, and the Panadol was obviously too much for her. After all, they’d shared lunches together at school, went together to movies or concerts, shared heartaches, and even their first kiss celebrating Mark’s thirteen’s birthday. Both decided then and there that it wasn’t for them. In all fairness, it’d been their third kiss, but they were about five years old when their mouths had accidentally met for the first time, and Markus had given her a wet, sloppy kiss in Kindergarten as well when she’d fallen off the slide.
So why was her body betraying her today?
“I’ve gotta take a raincheck, Marky,” she replied. “But thanks, anyway.”
“Wanna tell me what’s up with you?” He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “You’re usually the first one on the dance floor and the last one to leave.”
Sarah let out another long breath before she decided what to tell him, if anything at all. Markus had always been a very good friend. More than that. He’d always been there for her, during good and bad times. Especially during bad times.
“I walked in on Timmy with another woman yesterday afternoon,” she said, barely audible, more embarrassed than hurt.
Markus leaned back and met her gaze. Like so often, his beautiful blue eyes conveyed such warmth and understanding.
“Ouch!” he whispered.
“C’mon, say it,” she coaxed.
“You know what. The I told you so.”
The words stung like acid in her stomach. Yes, he had told her more than a couple of times that there was something iffy about Timmy. Even Ty and Oliver had noticed the vibes, but she’d been happy the last four months. She hadn’t expected that one. Not at all.
So last night she’d drowned her sorrow in that one glass of red wine too many and was paying for it now.
Markus gently pulled her a little bit closer. “I’m not saying any such thing.”
“I deserve it, though.”
A smile tugged at his lips. “Baby, no you don’t. The only person deserving something is Timmy. And that’s a big fist connecting with his face.”
Sarah laughed, but regretted it straight away. “Oh my God, Marky. Don’t make me laugh, please. I’ve got the worst hangover ever. The last glass of the red wine last night didn’t agree with me.”
“You’ve done well fooling everyone today if that’s the case.”
Sarah stared at him. “Have you got any idea what Katie would’ve done to me if I hadn’t performed?”
He laughed. Yes, he probably did. Katie was kind and petite, but knew what she wanted.
“How about I take you home? I’m sure this wedding party is near its end and will possibly survive without you.”
“Promise me a hot chocolate?”
His body shook slightly as he held back his laughter. She assumed he was thinking of their holidays in the Swiss Alps as well.
A few years earlier, Markus had played for an English soccer club and invited her for a holiday in Switzerland. They’d spent a week in a wooden farm house just outside a small village, between massive snow-capped mountains. Wherever she’d looked were ski slopes or fields with cattle. It’d been divine. And after a long day outside, they’d sat down by the fire and drunk hot chocolate.
“C’mon, princess. I will make you a hot chocolate as well.”
She stood and saw Oliver come over. “Please don’t tell him,” she whispered.
“What’s up?” Oliver asked.
“Saz drowned her sorrow in some red last night after finding out Timmy cheated on her,” Markus explained.
Sarah slapped him against his chest. “I asked you not to say anything,” she said through gritted teeth.
Markus cocked an eyebrow. “I thought you meant the chocolate.”
Oliver laughed and pulled Sarah into a hug. “I told you—”
“Don’t say it,” she mumbled against his chest.
“You should try—”
Sarah placed a finger on his lips. “Just tell the happy couple congratulations, and I’ll catch up with them when they get back from their honeymoon.”
“You really are out of it, sweet pea. They left about half an hour ago.”
She sighed again. “Even better. I don’t have to feel guilty.”
Oliver placed a kiss on Sarah’s forehead.
“Honey, you’d better go and have a dance with Tamara,” she whispered. “I know you two have issues, but try to put it aside. She seems a bit lonely.”
He followed her gaze before he said, “Hope you feel better soon.”
She nodded and then followed Markus towards the doors. Again, she noticed how sensational he looked in that tuxedo, the white shirt, and the dark grey tie. His blond hair was cut short and the usual slight wave was gone. She liked it when his hair was a bit longer. It gave him that mischievous look that she’d known since childhood. That same look in his blue eyes that had radiated trouble fifteen years ago, when he’d taken her hand and led her to the top of a diving board with the words Let’s go flying.
Today, he’d even shaved for the occasion.
Her lower body tingled, and she rolled her eyes at herself. For crying out loud, it’s Marky, she told herself.
Amused, she let out a little chuckle as she caught up to him. “Slow down Mr. Superfit. Miss Lazybum following here.”
He laughed, and a shiver ran down her spine. Again.
What was the matter with her today?
He took her hand and excused himself while getting through the crowd. No way was the party nearly over. Rather the opposite, she thought. This party was about to warm up.
She couldn’t believe it. Her chance to meet someone fr
She was cursed to end up old and on her own.
And that thought hurt.
It was a short walk to his car. Sarah relished the feel of fresh air against her face. A breeze off the ocean sent a sudden chill down her back. Sensing it, Markus put an arm around her shoulder.
An hour and a little snooze in a car later, they arrived in front of her place. Her little house which she was so proud of. At least something that she had achieved in life. Fair enough, Markus had helped her when she’d hit financial problems, but it was a success that nobody in her family had been able to accomplish.
At least if she’d grow old alone, she’d do it owning a house.
A smile lingered on her lips.
Markus got out of the car and opened the passenger door for her.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Then she leaned forward, quickly slipped into her shoes, before she got out and walked to the front door.
The sound of Markus’ steps told her that he was following. Half of her appreciated his thought of making sure she was safe, the other half was too tired to care or think. She rubbed her eyes with the ball of her hand before she turned and met Markus’ eyes.
“Thank you, Marky,” she said softly. “Thanks for taking me home.”
Nodding, he came closer, took the key from her, and unlocked the door. “Have a good snooze, baby. And call me in the morning.”
She bit her lip and took the keys. “I will,” she replied.
Sarah had to close her eyes for a moment. The situation was so unfamiliar to her that she needed a second to refocus. It wasn’t unusual for Markus to give her a lift home and drop her off at the door, but it was unusual for her to have every nerve in her body responding to his nearness. Somehow, his familiar scent affected her tonight, and she had no idea why. She even had to lock her knees to withstand the look in his eyes.
And before she knew it, her mouth was on his.