Busted (Promise Harbor Wedding) - By Sydney Somers
To my fellow Promise Harbor Wedding authors Kelly, Meg and Erin, and our awesome editor, Lindsey. It was an incredible experience working with all of you on this series. And also to our beta reader Kim for her enthusiastic support and indispensable feedback.
Detective Hayley Stone loved weddings as much as the next person. Or she had right up until the moment she’d arrested her date.
In less than twenty-four hours she’d managed to infuriate half the East Coast tourist destination of Promise Harbor by handcuffing hometown hero Jackson Knight—in front of a crowd no less—and become the subject of hushed whispers when they’d shown up at the wedding together.
She hadn’t been the subject of any whispers since leaving her rebellious teenage years in the past, and she’d worked damn hard to keep it that way. Apparently arriving in Jackson’s ’69 Dodge Challenger warranted the dozens of speculative looks—and whispers—well after she’d taken her seat and Jackson headed toward the altar.
The woman sitting next to her stared at something directly above her ear. Trying hard not to think of her and Jackson’s slightly rumpled state, Hayley pulled a twig from her hair.
Those not gossiping about ostracizing her for Jackson’s arrest were probably blaming her for making him late to the wedding, seeing as he was the best man. She’d have placed bets most people weren’t thinking about Jackson Knight’s troublemaking reputation—both on and off the ice—now that he was back in town. Promise Harbor’s golden boy couldn’t possibly be responsible for their late arrival or the debacle last night.
A familiar twinge of irritation twisted her stomach, one she heartily embraced if for no other reason than it gave her an excuse not to look at Jackson.
She’d made a name for herself on the Promise Harbor police force by following her gut and knowing the right things to say to defuse a bad situation. Thirty seconds in Jackson’s presence with what felt like half the town looking on, and she felt like a tongue-tied sixteen-year-old being singled out by the star quarterback on game day.
It would have been downright embarrassing if her line of work hadn’t conditioned her to keep a lid on emotions that would interfere with getting the job done. But she could have sworn by the occasional smile Jackson aimed her way that he was all too aware of the effect he had on the female population—her included.
Fighting the flush of warmth that raced across her skin, she scanned the gathered crowd. The church was jam-packed. Those Hayley didn’t recognize from growing up in Promise Harbor she knew from her time spent patrolling.
If Josh and Allie’s wedding weren’t already the social event of the summer, Jackson’s presence would have drawn people like a moth to the jersey-covered flame. Most of the women surrounding Hayley were already whispering about everything from Jackson’s former pro hockey career to the certainty that he was single and most definitely available.
Sparing Jackson from the town’s puck bunnies was one of the reasons she’d talked herself into being his date. She just hadn’t stopped to consider how much of the town would be witness to her probable lapse in judgment.
Telling herself she was being ridiculous, she finally glanced Jackson’s way and found him watching her. Used to seeing him in just jeans and T-shirts, or in a team jersey when she’d watched him play hockey on one of the televisions in her brother’s sports bar, she had to admit Jackson looked damn good in a suit.
What the hell had she been thinking?
Self-preservation, she reminded herself, but that would all be for nothing if she ended up making a fool of herself. Going to the wedding with him might keep her own ex at a distance, but she had no interest in looking like another notch on Jackson’s bedpost.
From the altar’s steps, Jackson continued to stare at her. One corner of his full mouth tipped up, making him look far more innocent than they both knew he was.
As if reading her thoughts, he winked.
She rolled her eyes but failed to contain her own smile. Before she let herself read anything into a gesture meant for everyone else’s benefit, she turned her attention to the procession of bridesmaids—whoever had chosen the gaudy ball gowns had to be a closet Gone with the Wind fan—and finally the bride.
Allie looked simply stunning. Long blonde curls were piled high on her head and threaded through with stems of baby’s breath. Lacy and white, her gorgeous sleeveless dress fell just shy of