Authors: Kathryn Springer
Love on a Deadline
Copyright Â© 2015 by Kathryn Springer
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
ePub Edition Â© July 2015: ISBN 978-0-310-39604-8
Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by Zondervan, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any otherâexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.
Interior design: James Phinney
To Wendy Lawton
It's important for an author to have a good agent, but it's a blessing for an author to have an agent who is also a good friend! This one is for you
A heartfelt THANK YOU to Daisy Hutton and the
amazing team at HarperCollins Christian Publishing for giving me another opportunity to use all the wedding intel I gathered two summers ago when our children (all THREE of them!) got married.
Editor Becky Monds, Lorie Jones, Karli Jackson, Elizabeth Hudson, and Katie Bondâyou all make this so easy (and so much fun!).
And to Pete, for providing Friday night pizza, melt-me hugs, and the occasional emergency cupcake when I'm having a bad day. But especially because you still look at me the way you did when we were married twenty-seven years ago . . . even though I no longer look like I did twenty-seven years ago!
And to the Creator for writing the very first romance and showing me what true love is all about.
“Have you finished that special feature on the historical
society's fashion show yet, Mac?”
Mackenzie Davis smiled up at her editor as she discreetly hit the Send button. “It should be in your in-box, Mr. Buchanan.”
Right about . . . now.
“Great!” Grant Buchanan stepped into Mac's cubicle and held up a sheet of paper. “Because I've got the perfect story for you.”
“Great,” Mac echoed, trying to match the editor's enthusiasm. The last time Grant claimed he had the “perfect” story for her, she'd been sent to interview the cheerleading squad about their upcoming fall fund-raiser. Forcing Mac to relive certain moments she'd rather forget.
Like all four years of high school.
“I guarantee this will have the whole town talking.” Grant continued to hold the piece of paper just beyond her
reach, the proverbial carrot dangling in front of a hungry reporter's nose.
“Senator Tipley agreed to an interview?” Mac was the one who'd found out the politician planned to spend a week at a friend's cabin a few miles north of Red Leaf. She was also the one who'd hinted that
should set up a meeting with Tipley to discuss his stand on proposed cuts to Wisconsin's tourism budget. And Mac wantedâno,
âthat someone to be her. The interview would be her ticket out of Red Leaf.
“Senatorâno, this is better.” He slapped the paper down on the desk, creating a breeze that ruffled the collage of multicolored Post-it notes stuck to Mac's bulletin board.
She glanced down and the one-word subject line shattered the front-page byline dancing in her head. “A . . . wedding?”
“That's right.” Grant looked so happy, one would think he'd come up with the concept. “What do you think?”
Probably not a good idea to tell him what she was thinking. Not when Mac practically had to beg the man to hire her in the first place.
In a world where people had instant access to the headlines on their cell phones and tablets, the
Red Leaf Register
's survival depended on low overhead costsâGrant's wife, Beverly, and her twin sister worked for freeâand good old-fashioned loyalty. The weekly newspaper had been around as long as the town itself because really, where else could people list their children's accomplishments or find out the stats for the men's summer baseball league?
Grant hadn't been looking for a reporter, but the fact Mac had a minor in photography seemed to tip the balance
in her favor. Kind of a two-for-the-price-of-one special. It probably hadn't hurt that she'd turned in her rÃ©sumÃ© on the opening day of fishing season, either.
Mac hadn't cared. She needed a job and working for the
would give her experience. An opportunity to write storiesâ
storiesâthat would capture the attention of a larger newspaper. Except . . . no one in Red Leaf seemed to take her seriously. After being assigned to attend the garden club's monthly meetings instead of the city council's, Mac realized that in her editor's eyesâand in everyone else'sâshe would always be little Mac Davis. The coach's daughter.
And right here, in black and white, was the proof.
Trying to hide her disappointment, Mac dropped her gaze to the first sentence of the e-mail and her heart stalled. “Hollis Channing”âshe practically strangled on the wordsâ“is getting married? In Red Leaf?”
Grant's eyebrows hitched together over the bridge of his nose. “Brides traditionally return to their hometown to tie the knot, don't they?”
“Yes, but the Channings moved away years ago.” Ten, to be exact. Not that Mac was counting.
“The family never sold the house on Jewel Lake after Dr. Channing passed away, so maybe they still feel some sort of connection to the town,” Grant pointed out. “It doesn't really matter
Hollis chose to get married here. The
is going to be there every step of the way.”
“But . . .” Mac pushed out a laugh even though the expression on her boss's face told her that he wasn't joking. “Newspapers don't
weddings. At least, not unless you're a celebrity.”
“Or marrying one.” Grant smiled. “Hollis is engaged to Connor Blake.”
“Connor Blake the
?” Mac recognized the name immediately. Critics who'd previewed
Dead in the Water
were already predicting that Connor's big-screen debut about a rookie cop who takes on a powerful drug cartel would be a runaway hit at the box office when it opened in three months over Thanksgiving weekend.
“That's right.” Grant spread his hands apart, framing an invisible headline in the air. “Future Academy Award Nominee Marries Daughter of Prominent Local Family.”
Given the recent buzz surrounding Connor Blake, Mac couldn't refute her editor's claim. But Hollis, a local? That was a bit of a stretch.
“The Channings live in Chicago,” Mac muttered.
“Doesn't matter. This is going to sell newspapers. Lots of newspapers. People love all that hoopla, happily ever after, blah, blah, blah,” Grant went on, revealing the heart of a true romantic. “Don't you remember how big the wedding reenactment went over last fall? It was the highlight of the historical society's open house.”
How could Mac forget? Grant had given her that assignment too. Annie Price and county deputy Jesse Kent's wedding reenactment at historic Stone Church, meant to honor the young couple who'd founded the town, had been scriptedâexcept for the part when Jesse actually proposed during the ceremony.
Grant expected Mac to do a follow-up story when the couple exchanged their real vows at the end of September, but she wasn't sure she'd be in Red Leaf that long. In fact . . .
Mac skimmed through the rest of the e-mail and found an escape clause.
Yes! Thank you, Lord!
“According to this, Hollis's wedding is the last weekend in August.” Mac tried to hide her relief. “I might not be here.”
Not if everything went according to plan. It had to. Mac refused to consider the alternative.
“Well, you're here now, aren't you?” Grant didn't look the least bit disturbed by the reminder, which Mac found . . . disturbing. Did everyone assume she'd come back to Red Leaf to stay?
When she'd returned to her hometown to take care of her dad after he'd suffered a mild heart attack, it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. And yet here she was, a year later, monitoring his diet. Making sure he got his prescriptions refilled and didn't overdo it. It was the last one that proved the most challenging.