Needing Happily Ever After - Elena Aitken

Chapter One

There were probably a million ways that Katie Langdon could have told her family about her upcoming nuptials to Damon Banks. Particularly considering as far as anyone knew, she wasn’t even dating Damon, and certainly the news was unexpected, to say the least.

She’d actually toyed with the idea of telling her mom privately first, but she couldn’t help but feel that there was safety in numbers. Her mom may be slight, but she was tough and even her big brother Logan was smart enough not to piss Mom off.

Not that news of Katie’s nuptials should piss off her mom, but it was sure to get a reaction. There didn’t seem to be a very good way to share the news at all, so Katie made the split-second decision to just blurt it out in the middle of a family dinner. And not just any family dinner. No way. A going-away dinner for her cousin Levi and his new wife, Hope, who had been like a sister to her growing up. The two of them were scheduled to leave early the next morning on an extended honeymoon around the world—or a lot of it, anyway—so everyone was focused on them. No one would really pay much attention to her announcement.

At least, that had been her hope.

She’d been wrong. Very wrong.

Forks clattered to plates. Someone coughed. There was a sound somewhere between a choke and a laugh. She didn’t want to look, but Katie was a little bit afraid that her mom had made a sobbing noise.

She sighed, and braced herself as the questions began.

“What are you talking about?”

“Married? Like, married married?”

“To Damon? Are you even dating?”

“Have you ever dated Damon?”

“He’s your best friend.”

The questions, really, were valid and all things that she herself would have asked if the roles were reversed. Still, she kept her answers as vague as possible.


“Yes, married married.”

“Yes, to Damon. We’ve been close our whole lives.”

“Dating is such an old-fashioned idea.”

“I love him very much.”

It didn’t matter that she’d never loved Damon that way. It was true, they’d been inseparable since grade one. Marriage would just make them even more inseparable. No one knew her better than Damon Banks.

Even so, her family did not look impressed.

Yes. She totally should have waited to tell them.

At least until Damon himself was in town.

Isn’t that how people announced their engagements? With their betrothed by their side?

Hell, she didn’t even have a ring.

Katie looked down at her lasagna, and took a deep breath before looking up with a smile on her face. She focused first at Faith Turner, who had a funny grin on her face. Hope’s twin sister, Faith had also been like a big sister to Katie growing up, although she’d only recently moved back to Glacier Falls to take over her sister’s wedding business at Ever After Ranch, which was the only reason Katie had brought up the whole marriage thing in the first place.

“You want to have your wedding at Ever After Ranch?” Faith put a bite of pasta in her mouth.

“No!” It was Logan, her big brother, who objected. “She is not getting married. Never mind at the ranch.”

Faith rolled her eyes and kept looking at Katie, but Hope spoke next. “Do you want us to change our travel plans? If you’re getting married right away, we’ll—”

“No!” Levi interrupted. “I love you, Katie, you know that. But we are not changing our plans.” He looked pointedly at his new wife. “We only have a limited time to do this before the baby and your treatment and…no.” He shook his head and Hope nodded.

“No,” Katie agreed. Hope had been recently diagnosed with uterine cancer, and her doctor had given her only a small window of time in order to attempt to conceive a child before she would need to have surgery to treat her disease. Their trip was too important. “You aren’t changing your plans. But yes, I was hoping that maybe if there was an opening at the ranch…”

“No,” Logan said again. “You aren’t getting married.”

“I am.”

She still hadn’t looked at her mother, but this time there was no mistaking the sound that escaped her mother’s lips. She did not want to see her mom crying.

“It’s really not a big deal.” Katie knew the moment the words were out of her mouth, they were the wrong choice. She tried to quickly backpedal. “I mean, it is a big deal. Obviously. I mean, it’s marriage. I know that. But I don’t know why everyone is so surprised.