Love is a Battlefield (Seven Brides for Seven Mothers #1) - Whitney Dineen

Chapter One

The Mothers

Libby Cooper is busily deadheading her hot pink double fiesta impatiens when she hears the familiar riff of “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. She picks up her phone and excitedly greets, “Ruby!”

Her best friend since their first day at Oregon State University announces, “I still think he’s perfect for her.”

Loving Ruby’s enthusiasm and pie-in-the-sky optimism, Libby kindly warns, “Addie’s never forgiven him for all those pranks he pulled on her when they were kids.”

“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean she never will. The question is, can you get her to set foot in Oregon?”

With three quick snips of her gardening shears, Libby replies, “Of course I can. My daughter isn’t as tough as she wants the world to think she is. Is she a bit uptight? Yes. But she’s really a big softy when she thinks someone needs her help. That’s the card I’ll play.”

Ruby’s familiar giggle is quickly followed by, “Excellent! Let me know when you’ll be here.”


“There’s only a four percent chance my vacation to the Cayman Islands will be canceled due to a weather-related incident. That’s a ninety-six percent chance I’m going to be lying around in a bikini being pampered,” I tell Eliza, or Elle, as she’s been called since graduating from high school. Her smiling face beams out of the laptop sitting on my bed, where she’s helping me decide what to pack for two sun-filled weeks on Grand Cayman. That’s where I’ll be celebrating the opening of Bainbridge Caribbean.

“You’re so lucky you got to decorate the most exclusive resort in the Cayman Islands,” she says with borderline envy.

“Luck had nothing to do with it,” I reply honestly. As I sort through a pile of sarongs, I tell her, “I worked my butt off to show Roediger that I was the best person for the job. I put weeks into my pitch, convincing him that going with anyone else would be a waste of his time and money.”

“Roediger Bainbridge,” Elle says wistfully as she twirls a strand of her glorious auburn hair around her index finger. “Did you know that Forbes rated him the third wealthiest hotel magnate in the world? That’s impressive considering he isn’t even forty.”

Zings of pride still shoot through me when I think about how he chose me to design the interior of his hotel. The fact that he’s single, charming, and super easy on the eyes also plays a part in my enthusiasm for seeing him again. Not that I’m shallow, but no woman with a heartbeat is immune to a package like Roediger.

“He’s like the lead in one of those romantic comedies from the nineties,” Elle sighs.

While I totally agree with her, I feel the need to add, “Real life is never like the movies. More’s the pity.” Then I add, “I wish you could come with me.”

“As much as it pains me to say, taking your mom for her sixtieth birthday is the right decision.”

“Speaking of my mom, I’d better get moving if I want to get downtown in time for our reservation.”

“I love how Libby comes into the city every time your dad is away on business.”

“It’s a great excuse for some girl time with her only child. Plus, the shopping upstate pales in comparison to Madison Avenue.”

“Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA blasts from my phone. It’s the song my mom programmed for her calls.

I shoot Elle a questioning look as I answer, “Hey, Mom, what’s up?” I wonder if she’s already at the restaurant and is checking to see if I’m almost there.

“I’m downstairs, let me in,” she orders.

“You’re here? At my apartment? Why?”

“Just let me in and I’ll tell you,” she says.

I call down to the front desk. “Emilio, the impeccably dressed woman with the shoulder-length silver bob is my mother. You can send her up.”

The doorman pauses before he informs me, “There’s a beautiful lady with a ponytail and blue jeans. Would that be who you’re talking about?”

Emilio is new so he doesn’t know my mom wouldn’t wear jeans into the city. Yet, I distinctly hear her say, “Tell him to let me in, Addison.”

“That’s her, thanks.” I turn to Elle and announce, “My mom is wearing jeans.”

“In New York City?” my friend asks in alarm before offering, “Something must be wrong.”

“There’s only one way to find out. I’ll call you back later tonight and let you know.”

Elle shoots me a thumbs up before I flip my laptop shut. Then, I hurry to unlock the front door before the woman who