Read an Excerpt
Every Woman's Fantasy
By Vicki Thompson
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I CAN'T BELIEVE you did it again."
Mark O'Grady glanced across the table littered with peanut shells and a couple of half-empty beer bottles. His very pissed-off best man Sam Cavanaugh, who'd uttered those words of disgust, sat across from him, still dressed in his tux. So was Mark. Going back to his apartment to change had seemed too risky.
Fortunately he and Sam were the only ones of their crowd who patronized this little bar in downtown Houston. Their friends considered it too shabby, which was fine with Sam and Mark, who had designated it their special hidey-hole ever since they'd been old enough to drink legally. And Mark needed a place to hide ... again.
He tried to come up with something to say to Sam, but he couldn't think of a damned thing. He was slime. Somebody should just shoot him.
"Ten minutes before the processional! Ten friggin' minutes. How could you do that?"
"It was her cell phone," Mark said.
"What do you mean, her cell phone? I fail to see how anything about a cell phone could cause you to back out of your wedding ten minutes before the ceremony. If Deborah hadn't smashed her wedding bouquet in your face, I would have done it for her!"
Mark gazed at his long-suffering friend. "You'reright. It was horrible, and I should have figured it out sooner. We'd had some big arguments about how much she used that phone. She took it everywhere, and I mean everywhere, and it's not like the calls were critical or anything. Most of them sounded like a lot of gossip to me. But I kept thinking it was a small issue. I could deal."
"It is a small issue. The woman has friends. She likes to talk to them on the phone. If you love somebody, you put up with a few things that aren't perfect about them." Sam gave him another disgusted look before taking a swallow of his beer and setting it on the table with a clunk. "God knows you're a long way from being perfect."
"You've got that right." Mark turned his beer bottle around and around in his hands. "And I told myself all that. I thought I was fine with her cell phone habit. Then, remember how we were going up to the altar to take our places, and we passed by that room where Deb and her bridesmaids were waiting, and the door was open?"
"Yeah, I most certainly do. Because that's when you lost it and called the whole thing off."
"There she was, in her wedding dress, looking gorgeous, and she had that damned cell phone to her ear, jabbering away to somebody. I couldn't even imagine who she'd find to talk to! Every person she knew was sitting in the church!"
"That is kind of amazing, when you think about it," Sam conceded. "Maybe she was talking to somebody who was in the church, someone who also had their cell phone turned on."
"No doubt! And I don't want any part of that! I saw our whole married life dominated by that thing. The wedding night, the honeymoon, the delivery room when we had a kid, the family vacations, the visits to the folks. I mean, if she had to talk on the phone ten minutes before we were about to say our vows, then nothing was sacred."
Sam blew out a breath. "Okay, I can see your point. I wouldn't like that prospect myself, but I sure as hell wish you'd figured all this out sooner."
"So do I."
Leaning both arms on the table, Sam trained his no-nonsense look, the one he used to intimidate juries, on Mark. "In case you've lost count, this is the fifth time this has happened. None of your friends except yours truly will show up anymore. Even your mother refuses the invitations. Is it possible you don't want to get married?"
Mark had given that considerable thought himself. He'd been raised by a single mother who'd divorced his father when Mark was two. She'd never remarried, and when he was old enough to ask about that, she'd told him she found marriage too confining and time-consuming.
Because she was all he had, he'd tried to see things her way. But he couldn't help envying kids like Sam, who had a cozy family with two parents and a bunch of noisy siblings. Finally he'd decided he couldn't agree with his mother. Although the single life might suit her, he wanted to find a woman to share his life and be the mother of their kids.
He met Sam's gaze. "I do want to get married. It's divorce I want to avoid."
"At this rate you'll never have to worry about divorce, old buddy. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the can. You can sort through your options while I'm gone."
Mark watched his friend leave. Sam appeared to be in no rush to get married, and yet the guy was extremely eligible. With his dark blond mustache and lean good looks, he was often mistaken for Alan Jackson. Plus he was a successful lawyer and drove a beautifully restored red '57 Chevy that always drew attention. Yet he'd only been engaged once, and that hadn't lasted more than two months before they'd both decided they weren't right for each other.
Obviously Sam wasn't desperate to create a family for himself because he'd had that growing up. Mark had hungered for that kind of stability ever since he could remember. But he wasn't any closer to getting it than he had been seven years ago, when he'd proposed to Hannah, his first fiancee. Something had to change, but he didn't know what.
The waitress came by and he ordered another round. Then he called her back. "Add a shooter to the beer," he said. "No, wait. Five shooters." It seemed like a fitting number.
Excerpted from Every Woman's Fantasy by Vicki Thompson Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.