Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick Lit Sweet Contemporary Romance (Companion novel to the series)
Part 1: The Not Too Distant Future
Beth Wilkinson worked to pull in a deep breath against her gown’s sleek fit. If she could breathe properly, everything would feel exactly the way she had always dreamed it would. She would know, without a grain of a doubt, that today was more than just a reaction to the events over the past thirteen months. That this moment was her true destiny.
That this wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction. That she was marrying the right man. Because when life handed you an opportunity you didn’t turn your back or drag your feet. You made a choice and you leapt.
Did Cinderella hesitate? Heck no. That girl took the leap with both feet.
And right now, Beth was leaping. No parachute required. Both feet in.
Well … almost.
Her sister, Cynthia, adjusted the veil around Beth’s shoulders. She closed her eyes as she inhaled her sister’s familiar, reassuring perfume. “Here goes nothing, right?”
Cynthia shook her head with a smile. “You know, it’s funny, I thought Gran and I would be giving you away to—”
“I know.” Don’t say his name.
Cynthia added quickly, “I just didn’t expect it.”
“And I didn’t expect Dad to be stuck overseas and unable to give me away.”
“Sure you didn’t.” Cynthia shot her a wry look. “He couldn’t make my wedding, why should he make it to yours?”
“Because he always liked me best.” She stuck out her tongue, then clasped her trembling hands, trying to force all thoughts from her mind. Cynthia was stirring up unwanted thoughts and worries. Bad sister. Beth concentrated on happy images of walking down the aisle. She and her hubby-to-be would say their vows and live happily ever after in a nice home and have a family so big she’d be surrounded by people—her people—just like she’d always wanted.
Cynthia fussed with the veil and Beth batted her away. She ignored her older sister’s raised eyebrow which meant she was trying to read Beth’s mind—the woman always had to know everything. Beth flashed her a convincing smile and Cynthia relaxed, tossing her head in a way that tousled her wavy hair leaving it sexy and perfect and making Beth think of champagne and movie stars and an easier life. Beth patted her slick chignon and glanced in the mirror. Maybe she should have left her hair down.
“You look fine, quit worrying,” Cynthia laughed.
Shouts erupted outside and Beth turned to the window, her sister leaning over her shoulder. “What’s going on?”
Beth gave the foggy window a swipe with her hand. “I can’t see anything.” She plunked down in the church’s window seat, her dress puffing up around her like a sea of whipped cream. Below, a flash of crows bobbed on the walkway. No, tuxedos. Raised voices filtered through the snow-laden trees.
Beth stood again pressing her nose against the cold glass. She gasped.
This could not be happening.
Stupid pigheaded, testosterone-driven men!
“What?” Her sister crowded against the glass. “What?”
Beth gathered the folds of her skirt and shouldered past her sister.
“You can’t go! It’s bad luck if he sees you.”
“Oh, I’ll show those men some bad luck,” Beth muttered, wrenching open the heavy door. She took the stairs as fast as she could, restricted by her heels and fluttering tulle. She reached the front doors of the church in time to witness her fiancés—past and present—position themselves to duke it out.
One fit form ducked, dodging a punch from the other. Shoes lost traction on the icy steps and a body twisted and arched through the air. A man’s mouth stretched into a perfect, comical O. In slow motion he landed head first, his body grinding into the walkway like a broken bird falling from the sky.
A scream broke the silence. Hers. She screamed, unable to stop, the terror of the scene freezing her in place before adrenalin kicked in, propelling her through the gathering crowd and toward the unconscious heap—the man she loved. Gingerly she touched the fallen man’s face as the other man she loved was herded back by a dark wall of groomsmen.
She looked at her blood-covered fingers. This was going to change things. She could feel it. Her nuptial bad luck had caught up with her.
There wasn’t enough oxygen. The world spun rapidly to the right and she couldn’t breathe. A blurred vision of dress hems and shiny black shoes was the last thing she saw before collapsing on top of the wounded man.
~ ~ ~
End of chapter 1
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