Hitched (Promise Harbor Wedding) - By Erin Nicholas
To my coauthors and friends, Kelly, Meg and Syd—how much fun was this?! To Kim, beta reader and cheerleader extraordinaire. To Kinsey Holley and PG Forte, without whom we would have called these books Book One, Book Two, Book Three and Book Four.
And to my family, who claim they really like having frozen pizza for dinner once a week, whether they mean it or not.
I also want to give a huge thank-you to Dana L. Petersen, DVM, for inspiring Gavin’s interest in polar bears and working with the US Geological Survey and making sure I didn’t screw up any of the details. (Well, if I did, it’s all my fault—she answered endless stupid questions and gave me all kinds of great inside stuff!)
And a big thank-you, also, to Jennifer Bernard, who made sure that I got my Alaska facts straight as well! If she ever wants to write a book set in Iowa, I’m there for her!
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to unite this man and this woman in holy matrimony.”
“Oh, hell no.”
Every head swiveled toward him as Gavin Montgomery strode purposefully down the center aisle of St. Mark’s Methodist Church.
“Gavin?” Allie’s shocked question was the first thing he heard over all the other noises—gasps, whispers, creaking pews.
The second thing he heard was the groom’s question. “This is Gavin?”
The groom was Josh Brewster. Of course it was. The Brewsters had been close friends with Allie’s family for years. Who else but Mr. Perfect would be standing next to Allie at the altar?
Nobody was more dearly beloved that Josh Frickin’ Brewster.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Josh demanded.
“I’m here to talk to Allie.”
Josh moved to stand between Gavin and Allie. “We’re kind of in the middle of something.”
“Yeah, this can’t wait.” Gavin looked past Josh to Allie. “I need to talk to you. Now.”
Her eyes were wide and she looked pale. Like she-might-faint-any-minute pale. But he wasn’t so sure it was from the shock of seeing him. She’d looked terrible in the wedding announcement in the Promise Harbor Times, too. She was way too thin. She was too pale. She looked…sick and tired.
He suspected, based on the two a.m. phone call he’d received, that she was also hungover.
He knew he looked like shit himself. He felt like shit. He’d been out in the field for the past two weeks and hadn’t known Allie was getting married until last night. He needed a haircut, his beard had been growing, he hadn’t slept or showered or eaten in…he wasn’t sure. A long time. Once he’d heard the phone message from Hayley, his best friend in Promise Harbor, nothing had mattered but getting to Allie. Before she married another man.
Even with owning one-twelfth of a small private jet and living forty miles from the pilot, it took awhile to get from Alaska to Massachusetts. He’d landed in time to rent a car and drive like a bat out of hell to get here. Just as she’d been about to say I do.
In spite of the thinness of her cheeks and the dark circles under her eyes, she looked gorgeous to him. Seeing her for the first time in over a year shook him. He wanted to grab her. He wanted to carry her out of here. He wanted to hold her and take care of her.
He wanted to feed her.
Good lord, she’d always been thin, but now she was downright skinny. Her long, blonde hair was piled on top of her head in a mass of curls and baby’s breath. Her dress was white and lacy and left her shoulders and arms bare, showing off smooth skin that was as white as the dress. She wore three-inch heels, putting her at five-ten, and her big green eyes were watching every move he made.
She looked dazed.
He could work with that.
He started toward her but Josh moved to block him. “I don’t think so, Gavin.”
Gavin sighed. He’d known this was going to be a spectacle, of course. Barging into a church during a wedding and stealing the bride created a spectacle by anyone’s definition.
The church was completely silent, and he saw camera flashes going off from every direction. He was pretty sure this particular spectacle was going to end up on the Internet.
“Listen. I can do this here in front of the whole town. I don’t mind. I’m leaving here with Allie one way or another. But I think keeping some of this private might be appropriate.” He leaned around Josh to look at Allie.