Authors: Yvette Hines
The Marriage Clause
Take This Man
Ho, Ho, Ho and a Dom
Bet on a Mistletoe
Making the Man
Trusting St. Nick
Shot at Love
On the Prowl
Prisoner of Desire
Designed for Love
We Go Together
A Piece of Me
By Invitation Only
To Have and To Hold
A Whispers Publishing Publication
Stealing the Bride
A Whispers Publishing Publication
Copyright © 2012 Yvette Hines
Cover illustration copyright ©
ISBN Not Assigned
All rights reserved. No part
of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an
information storage and retrieval system-except by a reviewer who may quote
brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the
Web-without permission in writing from the publisher.
All characters in this book
have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation
whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even
distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all
incidents are pure invention.
, P.O. Box 1165, Ladson, SC
To my partners in crime, Aliyah and Bridget, thanks
for hopping on another ride with me. To Dawn at Whispers, I appreciate your
faith in us. To my readers, you all are out of this world and your support
amazes me. My husband, the man who accepted and loved me from the beginning,
Finally, to true friendship, let’s raise our
are officially the last of the Mohicans.” Leya Greenwood raised her martini up,
toasting her two best friends sitting at the bar with her.
you kidding me? Everyone from college is hitched now but us?” Summer Carter
circled the edge of her wine glass staring through the large window that
separated them from the other wedding reception attendees. Most of who were
dressed in bathing suits, splashing in and out of the pool with the bride and
groom or lounging in the hot tub. Some people were dancing to eighties and
nineties music on a large stone area that extended the length of the pool.
right.” Leya glanced at Martha Sanchez now Danner, sitting on her new husband’s
shoulders in a white two-piece that had “bride” written on her ass, playing
chicken against two other couples locked together in the same manner. Two hours
ago, Martha, a college friend, appeared beautiful and happy at her wedding in
the downstairs ballroom. Last night at the bachelorette party she told them all
Patrick had swept her off her feet after meeting her at a costume party last
fall. Now here they were married six months later.
of luck to them,” Kathryn Maynard mumbled as she sipped from her sunset
away from the revelers, Leya stared at Kathryn, dressed similar to her, in a
one-piece red and gold bathing suit and sarong tied around her hips. The only
difference was that Leya was wearing a white tankini and sarong.
on, Kat. Doesn’t the idea of the right man and a fabulous wedding just make
your heart race with excitement?” Leya couldn’t help the joy in her own voice.
Since she was a child she’d been collecting an album of her perfect wedding and
man. She frequently watched bridal show marathons when she had time on the
Kathryn pulled her cherry from
her drink and popped it in her mouth, and waving the stem around, she said, “What
it does make me think of is how long until I get a call to represent one of the
could understand her friend’s perspective. Kathryn was a divorce attorney and had
to deal with the worst of marriages every day. As much as Leya loved the
thought of “happily ever after,” she knew she would’ve never been able to do
her friend’s job.
Summer looked away from the people dressed in swimming attire and frowned at
the decorations of palm trees, coconuts, leis, and various plastic floating
devices turning the Virginia Beach Country Club into a beach setting in March, “would
never be my idea of a wedding. Who invites people to celebrate their new life
and asks them to come naked?”
her head, Leya hid her smile behind her martini glass as she watched the
disgusted look on her friend’s face as
healthy gulp of her wine. Summer was a brilliant dental hygienist, but she was
more than a little bit prudish. Not a pious kind of prude who was holier than
though, not by a long shot. She just didn’t believe there was a reason to go
naked unless a person was about to bathe or have sex, in private.
perfect example was the black knit jersey poncho over her one-piece bathing
suit that came to her knees was two sizes away from being a muumuu on her.
Summer, just like she and Kathryn, kept
tip-top shape and definitely wasn’t hiding out of shame.
my first choice either,
. If Martha likes it, I
love it. Patrick is not even telling her where they are going for their
honeymoon. Ah, a man that plans.”
can do my own planning.” Kathryn downed the last of her first drink and signaled
the bartender for a refill.
don’t want a man, Kat?” Leya joked.
“In my bed, yes.
At the altar…uh, no thank you.”
Kathryn winked at the bartender as he set her martini on a coaster in front of
three of them had been eyeing the scrumptious bartender who looked just like
Bradley Cooper. He was a yummy specimen of man. However, Leya was not the
bartender dating type. Not that she took issue with any employed man; for her
it was a matter of not struggling financially. Money had been hard to come by
when she was growing up. That was one of the driving reasons she had become a
financial analyst. She wanted the benefits of making money and knowing how to
her, being a bartender just said
still trying to find a career
while pulling in free-flowing money. A lot of them had ex or current drinking/partying
issues and were still trying to live the single life.
shook her head, Mr. Bradley Cooper look-alike was probably a good lay, but not
future material. Leya refocused on her friends.
“Definitely not with a tropical
beach party-themed reception.”
Summer was saying as she rolled her eyes.
Ms. Planner, when’s the last time you planned somewhere to go?” Leya sipped her
drink. “Hell, when is the last time any of us went anywhere?”
my client load, there just isn’t time. If people stop getting divorced then
maybe I can have some time for myself.” Kathryn crossed her legs.
not going to happen.” Leya sipped her drink.
wouldn’t even know where to go.” Summer leaned back holding her glass in her
lap. “I think about taking a vacation sometimes. Especially after the winter we
had this year. I thought the icy temperatures would never leave.” She sighed. “Then
time just gets away from me and I find myself fifty patients later still not
having even researched anything.”
the only thing I’ve had tropical was this coco cabanatini,” Leya declared,
finishing off the drink consisting of Malibu coconut rum, banana liqueur, and
other flavors and signaled for another.
and Kathryn laughed and agreed. Leya smiled; she really did love her two best
friends. If she was going to be single and miserable, it was great to have the
company of her girls.
know what, Kat and
, there’s no telling when Mr.
Honeymoon-Planning Man is going to show up in any of our lives.”
would be nice.” Kathryn winked and picked up her second drink, balancing her
elbow on the back of her other hand in her lap, still not drinking it.
no.” Summer’s eyes stretched wide.
, I don’t want to have to blow the
dust off my eggs to get started.” Leya picked out the cherry floating in her
drink and dropped it in her palm pretending to blow and brush off the dust.
tossed her head back and laughed, Kathryn snickered behind a small cocktail
napkin, tears of mirth welled up in her eyes.
maybe not that long.” Kathryn used the napkin to fan herself.
I’m only thirty-two. I don’t
know if I want to sit on the shelf for another eight years. God forbid.”
Exhaling a breath, Leya leaned back in her chair and stared at the guests. In a
few weeks it would be hot enough in Virginia Beach to dip in the Atlantic. The
humidity had already begun to reach record highs. However, even living on the
coast Leya could not recall the last time she’d been to the oceanfront. At that
moment she’d never felt as if she needed a vacation as much as she did right
dropped the cherry on a napkin and lifted her fresh martini. She took a moment
to drink from it then lowering
she turned to her
friends and said, “We can agree we are successful in our perspective careers
and that we’ve neglected ourselves.
Chained ourselves to our
Kathryn said, eyeing her suspiciously.
think we also can agree that a man and a honeymoon are not in our near future.”
going to take a page out of Kat’s book—”
going to get the bartender drunk and take advantage of him?” Kathryn wiggled
Leya said, “Uh, not that book.
The one where we can plan our
tried that a couple of years ago and it never worked out,”
declared. “Our schedules kept conflicting.”
believe that was the year of the divorce case from hell,” Kathryn proclaimed
lifting her glass as if she was toasting the memory.
don’t have to do it together.” Leya set her glass down and leaned her elbow
against the bar turning fully to her friends.
Summer’s brows pinched inward.
Kathryn tilted her head and
stared at Leya.
the end of the year and all the holidays and family time start creeping in on
us again. We all pick a place and take a trip.
her glass, Leya held her glass out to her two best friends.
don’t know. This is just not a good time for me with my caseload—”
on, Kat.” Leya stopped her friend, knowing that if she let Kathryn head down
the road of thinking about her job, she would never agree. “I’m not saying you
have to do it next week.”
Kathryn raised her glass. “I’m
both looked at
, who was still looking a little
you pick a place with a beach,
, Kat and I will
even buy you a shroud for the trip.”
said, “I’m not that bad.”
and Kathryn eyed
Okay.” Lifting her glass she tapped it against the other two glasses.
high clinking sound resounded around them as they all lowered their beverages
and took a drink sealing the deal.
* * *
not sure this is a good time, Leya. It’s such short notice.” Zelda leaned back
in her oversize leather captain’s chair and stared across her smoked glass top
sat in the chair across from her boss, her legs crossed and her shoulders back,
Zelda didn’t respect a lack of confidence. Even though Zelda was giving her the
look of disappointment that Leya had fallen for repeatedly over the years, Leya
held her ground.
understand that, Ms. Hunter. However, this is time I need to take.” At Managing
You financial firm or MY as everyone called it, when you were in management,
you had to get any leave or time off approved by the head analyst, Zelda
Zelda tilted her head.
a family member die or something? Are you giving a kidney to a sibling?” Zelda’s
hands came up in the air as if she were awaiting an offering from the gods.
boss was a workaholic and never took time off. Full dedication to the job was
what Zelda believed in. If you wanted to move up in Managing You, then you gave
the same commitment to the job. Over the eight years with the company Leya had
lived by those same rules, putting her life on the back burner with promises of
one day. Well now was her one day and she wasn’t going to push it aside for
I am just taking some personal
time. I have enough time on the books to take about four months off.” Leya
allowed that news to remind her boss she never took her two weeks of vacation
time she earned every year.
months!” Zelda slapped her hands on the desk and looked as if she was ready to
pop up out her chair.
bit down on the inside of her jaw. She had to keep herself from laughing or
smiling at her boss’s reaction. Zelda could be over the top at times, but the
woman was a badass financial analyst and Leya admired her greatly. “I will only
be taking two weeks.”
relaxed back in her chair, sitting quietly. Leya could almost hear the hamster
running in Zelda’s brain.
enough, Zelda came out with her last-ditch effort. “There’s the Dumont
conference coming up next week. I was hoping you would lead the seminars.”
time Leya allowed the smile to pull up the corners of her mouth. “Stacy has
been in training with me for the last six months, and I have faith she is ready
to take on the job. Ryan can accompany her to the Hilton for the week. It may
do him some good to get more hands on with one-on-one prep and planning.”
her lip with her index finger, Zelda eyed her. “So, not only do you want me to
send an analyst to conduct the financial seminar without a manager overseeing
her, but you want me to allow an inexperienced rep under her?”
When Zelda put it like that it
did sound ridiculous, but Leya had to keep confidence in her own intuitiveness.
Leya lifted her chin and leveled her
gaze with her boss. “Even though Stacy has only been in training with me for
this portion of our MY’s services, she has been with us for two years and is
excellent at her job. The reason the management team voted to move her to the