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Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Betting on Love

BOOK: Betting on Love
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ISBN 978-1-61626-230-3

BETTING ON LOVE

Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Johnson. All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the permission of Truly Yours, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc., PO Box 721, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683.

Scripture taken from the H
OLY
B
IBLE
, N
EW
I
NTERNATIONAL
V
ERSION
®.
NIV
®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

All of the characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events is purely coincidental.

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.

PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

one

Drew Wilson stared at his sister’s bridesmaid. The girl was entirely too cute to be a diesel mechanic. He gulped down the last of his punch in an attempt to stave off the taste of the green ice cream and lemon-lime drink.
Who would have thought up such a disgusting mixture, and why does everyone think they have to have it at their wedding?
He scraped his tongue against the roof of his mouth, trying not to gag at the aftertaste.

Looking back at Melody Markwell, he took in how the silver, shiny dress hugged her body in a way that he was sure it could never hug any other diesel mechanic he’d ever known. And the pinky purple belt thing around her waist—what was it his sister had called it? He chewed the inside of his jaw.
A raspberry-colored sash.
Not only did the silky strip wrap around her skinny waist in the most froufrou bow he’d ever seen, but it also matched the color of her lips, which were a bit too plump in his opinion.

And her hair—well it rolled all the way down her back like a mud-covered hill on a wet spring afternoon after he and his buddies had four wheeled up and down until their tanks were dry. He cocked his head. Okay, he had to admit her hair looked quite a bit prettier than a muddy hill, which was proof enough that the woman couldn’t really be a diesel mechanic. At least not one of any account.

That national certification license she liked to spout off about didn’t mean anything, even if he didn’t know anyone in town who had one.

He tossed the clear plastic cup into the trash can. Sucking in his breath, he stepped toward the woman who grated on his nerves something fierce. Of course, the dark-haired nuisance just had to be standing close to his newly married sister, Addy, and her husband—one of Drew’s best friends—Nick, as well as several of their friends.

“It sounds like it’s just a spark plug.” Melody’s voice lifted through the air like a little bird. More proof that she couldn’t be any kind of mechanic. “Tomorrow I’ll come out and give it a check. Won’t take me five minutes to fix.”

Drew bit back the urge to gag. The woman thought she knew everything about everything.

“I’d appreciate it,” Gracie, Addy’s best friend, answered. “Wyatt just doesn’t know much about vehicles. We usually ask Drew, but he’s always so busy….”

Drew cleared his throat. “Don’t ever hesitate to ask me. It’s no trouble for
me
to fix your car.” He knew he’d emphasized the
me
a bit too much, but he didn’t care. Melody didn’t need to fix his friends’ vehicles. He’d been helping them just fine for years.

Gracie jumped and placed her hand on her chest as she turned toward him. “Drew, you scared the life out of me. I didn’t know you were there.”

He looked at Melody Markwell, the woman who’d walked into his town thinking she could do everything from helping his sister organize a wedding to fixing every vehicle in the county. Not that he minded a self-reliant woman. He’d been raised by a strong mother and alongside an independent sister, but this Melody had some kind of chip on her shoulder. And she was too cute. And she invaded his thoughts at the oddest moments. And he didn’t like that one bit.

Melody squinted and glared at him. He smirked when she lifted her little chin up at him. “I’m sure
I
can figure it out without a problem.”

Noting the challenge in her tone, he straightened his shoulders and crossed his arms in front of his chest as he peered down at the slip of a woman. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Melody opened her mouth, but the sound of someone clapping stopped her from making any kind of retort. He looked over and saw his mother wave her hands in animated anticipation as everyone turned their attention her way. A broad smile lit up her face, and he knew she and Nick’s mom, who had been best friends all their lives, were ecstatic about the union of their children. “It’s time to cut the cake.”

Drew nodded at Melody and Gracie then made his way to his buddy Mike, who stood in the far corner. The whole day was making him sick to his stomach. Sure, he was glad to see his sister so happy, and he liked that the fellow she snagged was not only a solid Christian but also one of his best friends. But getting all dressed up in a monkey suit just to stand around choking down the frothy punch—he yanked at the collar of his shirt—it just seemed to be a waste of the time he could have spent working on the farm.

He most definitely liked beating Nick at the no-women bet he, Wyatt, Mike, and Nick had made several years before. After watching another buddy succumb to a life of working long hours only to go home to a needy wife and whiny kids, the four of them had made a bet that none of them wanted to lose: The first three to get married would have to help plan and pay for the wedding of the guy who waited the longest. Something none of them intended to take part in.

With Wyatt and Nick having already given over to the female wiles, Drew was a sure win. Mike was a great guy, but he couldn’t win a bet unless the rest of them handed the prize over to him. And Drew had never been one to hand a win over to anyone.

Drew grabbed Mike’s hand in a firm shake. “How’s it going?”

“Just standing here watching another one of us get reeled in.”

Drew glanced at his sister and Nick. She had just shoved an oversized piece of cake into his face. Nick gripped both her hands in one of his and held them in the air while he rubbed his cake-covered face against her cheek. Drew wrinkled his nose. Seeing his friend and his sister so lovey-dovey made his stomach turn.

He looked back at Mike, two years his junior, and guffawed at the horrified expression on his face. He patted Mike’s shoulder. “Well, we both know you’re next to fall.”

Mike shrugged off Drew’s palm. “I don’t know about that. I have just as many prospects as you.” He lifted his hand and connected his index finger to his thumb to make a zero.

Drew blew out a breath. “Are you kidding? You and Lacy have been making moon eyes at each other for nearly two years.”

Mike’s face reddened, and he stammered as he did every time someone said something that was a bit too close to the truth. “We have not.” He nodded toward Melody Markwell.

“What about that gal over there? Nick’s cousin? She seemed to get under your skin fast enough.”

Drew snorted. “You said it. The woman gets under my skin like a tick burrowing its head into flesh so it can suck out the blood of its victim.” He shook his head and almost chuckled at how true the analogy was. “No. I don’t believe that gal’s a threat to my bachelorhood.”

“How ‘bout Terri Fletcher?” Mike motioned toward the tall, thin girl who stood close to Drew’s mother. Terri had always reminded Drew of Olive Oyl from the old Popeye cartoons. Not only was she almost as tall as Drew and as thick as a blade of grass, but she even wore her black hair tied in a knot most of the time. “She’s had her sights set on you since the ninth grade,” Mike said.

Drew flared his nostrils. The woman had been quite the nemesis to him throughout high school and a few years following. That is, until he’d let her know in direct terms that he was in no way interested in pursuing romantic notions with her or anyone. “I don’t suppose I’ve got my sights set on Terri either.”

Mike shrugged. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”

Drew turned his attention back to Nick and Addy. Melody walked up to his sister and handed her another napkin to wipe the cake off her face. The sunlight from the window seemed to dance around Melody, probably from the diamond-looking thingies she’d stuck all over the top of her head.

He exhaled a sigh of disgust. The woman looked downright adorable. Even prettier than a newborn fawn. The truth of it grated Drew’s nerves and twisted something on the inside. He didn’t want to think about what that something was.

Melody folded the last raspberry-colored tablecloth and laid it in the box Addy’s mother had given her. Laughter and squeals from children romping on the playground seeped through the windows and door, tempting her to slip off the rhinestone-studded heels and join them.

She peered around the room. Addy and Nick’s wedding party and family had spent the last few hours cleaning up after the ceremony. The sanctuary and fellowship hall were undecorated and freshly scoured, ready for Sunday services the next morning. Warmth crept up her neck and cheeks when she remembered the look of longing in both Nick’s and Addy’s eyes as they headed for their first evening as husband and wife to the cabin he’d built.

Peals of laughter filled the room again, and Melody bit her bottom lip. She knew it wouldn’t be proper to roughhouse with a bunch of kids in her fancy silver bridesmaid dress. Despite how much fun she’d had getting all dolled up for her cousin’s and Addy’s big day, she longed to let down her hair, both literally and figuratively, and just have a good time in the spring sunshine. She wondered how long it would take her to get the rhinestone twirly things out of her hair. Aunt Renee would have to help her when they got back to the house.

She looked out the window, watching as the children struggled to push the merry-go-round fast enough. She smiled at the determined expression of a little guy who couldn’t have been more than five.

Kentucky was especially beautiful in the spring when the dogwood and honeysuckle, daylilies, tulips, and irises bloomed to breathtaking perfection. This May sky didn’t contain even a trace of the showers that so often dripped, sprinkled, and even poured during the fifth month of the year in the Bluegrass State. Today, the sun smiled upon River Run, and the breeze blew with just the slightest kiss to the cheek.

Melody couldn’t stand it any longer. She kicked off her shoes, picked them up, then raced out the back door. After dropping the heels on the picnic table, she scooped up a handful of her dress and made her way to the merry-go-round. “You want me to push you?”

“Yeah!” The little boy she’d been watching jumped onto the merry-go-round and wrapped his legs and arms around one of the metal bars. She knew he was Dana’s—the church custodian’s—great-grandson, but she couldn’t remember the boy’s name.

Melody nodded to the two redheaded girls, Beth and Becca, twin granddaughters of Sherri, the soloist in the wedding. Melody figured they were probably about the same age as the boy. “You ready?”

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