Turnabout's Fair Play (Matchmakers Series #3)

Turnabout's Fair Play (Matchmakers Series #3)

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by Kaye Dacus
     
 

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Lift your heart with this humorous inspirational romance, where matchmakers turn the tables and unwittingly wind up with loves of their own.

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Overview


Lift your heart with this humorous inspirational romance, where matchmakers turn the tables and unwittingly wind up with loves of their own.

Editorial Reviews

Fresh Fiction - Vicki Ferrell

Kaye Dacus pens another wonderful story in her Matchmaker series with Turnabout's Fair Play. Her characters are endearing and their escapades will have you continuing to turn the pages to see where they lead. This is a delightful story about friendships: those from the past, the present and future hope for those friendships to continue. It's also a story about changes in our lives and opening our hearts to God's plan for us. I hope you enjoy this inspirational romance as much as I did.
USA Today's Happily Ever After - Serena Chase

Kaye Dacus has written a humorous tale of 2-for-1 matchmaking gone right. Turnabout's Fair Play is a sweet, fun, dual romance -- with just the right touch of "dork" to make you smile long after you've turned the final page.
Fresh Fiction

Kaye Dacus pens another wonderful story in her Matchmaker series with Turnabout's Fair Play. Her characters are endearing and their escapades will have you continuing to turn the pages to see where they lead. This is a delightful story about friendships: those from the past, the present and future hope for those friendships to continue. It's also a story about changes in our lives and opening our hearts to God's plan for us. I hope you enjoy this inspirational romance as much as I did.

— Vicki Ferrell

USA Today's Happily Ever After

Kaye Dacus has written a humorous tale of 2-for-1 matchmaking gone right. Turnabout's Fair Play is a sweet, fun, dual romance -- with just the right touch of "dork" to make you smile long after you've turned the final page.

— Serena Chase

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607425649
Publisher:
Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Series:
Matchmakers Series , #3
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
169,205
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Kaye Dacus is a graduate of Seton Hill University’s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. She is an active member and former vice president of American Christian Fiction Writers and current president of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Her Stand-In Groom was a Christy Award finalist in 2010.

Read an Excerpt

Turnaout's Fair Play

Matchmakers


By Kaye Dacus

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Kaye Dacus
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60742-565-6


CHAPTER 1

I hate weddings."

Flannery McNeill sank down on the top step of the broad stage as the rest of the wedding party gathered around the wedding planner. She didn't need to hear all of the dickering and whys and wherefores. She just wanted the bottom line: where to stand and how to get there.

"You don't mean that." A gorgeous man with sandy brown hair, vivid blue eyes, and dimples to die for plopped down on the step beside her.

Flannery looked at her boss and friend, Jack Colby. "Yes, I do. A wedding is a flashing neon sign warning everyone that they're never going to have the same relationship with these people ever again."

Jack's broad forehead creased. "What do you mean?"

Flannery braced her hands on the stage floor behind her and locked her elbows. "Take my sisters, for example. They were fine before they got engaged. But then they couldn't carry on an intelligent conversation. They morphed into this unrecognizable we-us entity and couldn't see anything in terms of me-I or make their own decisions."

Jack laughed. "People just get caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding. They've both been married a long time—it can't still be that bad."

"Ha!" Flannery's cheeks burned a little when several people turned at her echoing derision. "Emily was one of the youngest junior executives in the bank where she worked before she had kids—now she can't even balance her own checkbook; her husband does it."

"Maybe she just got tired of—"

"And Sylvia, who is a sound engineering programmer in the recording industry, has to get her husband to program the clock on the DVD player every time the electricity goes out. 'He has to do it; I just can't figure it out.'" Flannery imitated the high-pitched, baby-talk voice Sylvia sometimes used when talking to or about her husband. It made Flannery's skin crawl, especially hearing it come from someone now thirty-six years old.

When Jack said nothing, she glanced at him and then looked away in disgust at the smile of amused pity on his otherwise handsome face. "You just don't get it. You don't have sisters."

"Is this about your sisters ... or about the fact that your two best friends recently got hitched up and you feel somewhat left out?"

"I—" Flannery clamped her lips down on the denial about to pop out of her mouth. Zarah and Caylor were nowhere near as bad as Emily and Sylvia had gotten as soon as those diamond rings went on their fingers—well, Caylor didn't have a ring yet, even though she'd been officially engaged for five weeks now. After all, when Flannery, Zarah, and Caylor got together for their regular Sunday afternoon coffee-and-chat sessions, they still talked about many of the same things they discussed before Bobby and Dylan entered the picture—their jobs, their families, their hopes and fears. Of course that last part, of late, included more discussion of Bobby and Dylan ...and Zarah and Bobby's Memorial Day weekend wedding. She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her knees.

"Who's the hottie?"

Flannery followed Jack's gaze to the back of the room. She groaned. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

Jack leaned back on his elbows, his expensive silk tie flopping to the side. "What's the matter?"

Flannery shook her head, pushing her hair behind her ears. "Nothing. Just someone I'd hoped never to see again."

Jack's gaze remained for a moment longer on the guy introducing himself to the few others at the back of the sanctuary, and then he sighed. "I'm just saying that you need to start taking note of men like that. I'm not going to be around to be your platonic date forever, you know."

Flannery turned her head so she could indulge in rolling her eyes without his seeing it. "Whatever."

The rest of the wedding party moved toward the back of the room. Caylor turned, caught Flannery's attention, and motioned her to follow.

Jack stood and offered her a hand up. But he didn't let go immediately once she got to her feet. "Flannery, you're a good friend, and I hate to see you so miserable. Have you talked to Caylor and Zarah about this?"

She shook her head and looked everywhere but into his piercing blue eyes.

He dropped her hand. "Fine. Just remember that I reserve the right to do the I-told-you-so dance of victory later on down the road when you lose it because you've decided to keep everything bottled up and aren't woman enough to talk to your best friends about your innermost thoughts and fears." He turned and did a soft-shoe dance down the steps, waving an imaginary top hat and cane. "Now, I'm off to go ush ... or whatever an usher is supposed to do." He flashed her a megawatt smile, turned on the balls of his feet, and sashayed up the aisle.

Flannery's face hurt from trying to hold in her amusement at Jack's blatant attempts to jolly her into a better frame of mind. By the time she joined the rest of the wedding party out in the foyer, a smile had forced its way through.

Zarah and Caylor were not as far gone as her sisters—and they'd made a concerted effort to ensure the three of them continued spending time together without Bobby and Dylan present.

"Well, that solves it." The wedding planner grabbed Flannery by the elbow and placed her in front of Caylor, right beside Chase Denney, a friend of Bobby's from work.

Flannery looked over her shoulder—and realized what needed to be solved. Since Zarah had asked both Caylor and Flannery to be her maids of honor, she'd stressed over which would be the one to stand beside her during the ceremony. At six feet tall—and the shoes Zarah's mother-in-law picked out for them to wear would add to that—Caylor would be taller than any of the men in the wedding party other than Bobby's best man, Patrick MacDonald, who dwarfed everyone present at six foot six.

Just three inches shorter than Caylor, Flannery had worried about towering over her escort wearing the inch-and-a-half high heels. But with the boost of the slightly higher heels of the tasseled, kiltie-style, burgundy pumps she'd worn to work today, she was still a little shorter than Chase.

They practiced processing in and out a couple more times.

"Maid of Honor Number Two—quit talking to your escort on the way down the aisle," the wedding planner called from the foyer behind them when Flannery and Chase reached the front of the sanctuary the third time.

"Busted," Flannery whispered as she and Chase parted at the bottom step. His laugh boomed through the large sanctuary. Flannery pretended to lift the long Aline skirt of the black gown she'd be wearing Saturday evening.

"Stop!"

She froze, foot hovering over the next step.

"Wait at the bottom until the bride arrives—you have to help arrange her train."

"Oh yeah. I forgot." Flannery turned, almost lost her balance, righted herself, and stepped back down onto the floor. Ugh. The train.

Poor Zarah. Since Zarah's mother had died when Zarah was very young, Bobby's mom had taken over the wedding planning—even taking Zarah, Caylor, and Flannery to New York City to go dress shopping. And while Zarah wanted something simple, Beth wanted drama. Thank goodness Caylor had found a compromise. From the front, Zarah's dress was an elegant A-line that suited her figure and personality perfectly. The back, however, was all about Beth and her desire for sensation ... bustles and silk roses and a long train that Beth thought of as "presence" and Flannery viewed as powdered sugar on top of whipped cream on top of meringue.

Though she'd promised to turn it off, her phone started vibrating in her pocket. The muscles in the back of her neck and down her left arm twitched with the need to see if it was the call she'd waited for all day—the final decision on a major book deal she'd been working on for months.

But she couldn't insult Zarah and Bobby—or anyone else—by pulling out the phone and looking at the caller ID ... or worse yet, answering it. Which she would be tempted to do if she looked.

Her hand sneaked toward her pocket, but she pulled it back and gripped the invisible stems of the invisible flowers she was pretending to hold. "Wait—if we're holding flowers, how are we supposed to arrange the train?"

Caylor reached the end of the aisle, her expression clearly telling Flannery that if they weren't in public, Caylor would gladly pummel her.

"We each use our free hand and work together," Caylor hissed between clenched teeth as she took her place beside Flannery.

"Oh, right. I remember that now."

"What is with you tonight?"

Flannery couldn't tell her the truth—about how much turmoil this wedding ... no, rewind ... how much turmoil her best friends' falling in love and getting engaged caused her. "Um ... it's been a stressful week?"

"Whatever it is, try to keep it to a dull roar—and try to pay attention. Zarah's stressed out enough about this wedding. She doesn't need your flaking out to add to it."

All of Flannery's former annoyance turned into guilt. She shouldn't be thinking about herself. One of her best friends in the whole wide world was getting married day after tomorrow. Flannery should be doing whatever she could to make it the happiest day in Zarah's life.

The blushing bride—whose face had been bright red all evening from the attention lavished on her—arrived on her grandfather's arm, and after the pastor talked about giving the opening prayer here, Pops handed her over to Bobby, who would assist her up the steps. Once she reached the top, Flannery and Caylor mimed arranging the long train and then climbed the steps and took their places on the stage.

As she stood listening to the pastor talk to Zarah and Bobby about the vows they would be making to each other day after tomorrow, Flannery repeated the vow she'd made to herself at both of her sisters' weddings: She would never let falling in love change who she was, what she did, what she thought, and how she acted. She would always remain true to herself.

Not only did the phone in her pocket—which had buzzed a second time, indicating a voice mail message—torment her during the remainder of the rehearsal, but the presence of the good-looking, dark-haired guy talking and laughing with Jack and the other ushers at the back of the sanctuary also proved a continuing distraction.

The third time Jack caught her looking and responded with that knowing grin of his, Flannery returned her attention to the goings-on onstage, promising herself she would ignore Jack for the rest of the night.

After two practice recessionals—Flannery was making Chase walk too fast, apparently—the wedding planner released them. Flannery grabbed her purse off the front pew and bolted toward the doors, pulling her phone out of her pocket.

"Not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales." Jack caught her arm, forcing her to stop. He was her boss, after all. "I wanted to introduce you to Jamie O'Connor."

Flannery glared at Jack for all she was worth, then turned her most professional and sunny demeanor toward the dark-haired guy. Cataloging the fact that he was a little bit shorter than she (though she was wearing heels), she extended her right hand. "Mr. O'Connor and I have already met."

Talk about someone with a red face. Jamie looked as if he'd stuck his head in an oven for six hours on EXTREME BAKE. Or whatever the highest temperature setting was on an oven.

Jamie shook her hand, giving her an equally detached, professional smile. "Yes. Fanny, right?"

She jerked her hand out of his, and his eyes crinkled up a little more. Maybe he thought he'd come up with a unique way of teasing her, but she'd heard that little play on her name one too many times growing up. She could think of a few choice things to call him, but her grandfather would wash her mouth out with soap if he heard her say anything unkind to anyone. And she was in church.

"It's Fllllann-er-y." She wasn't about to bring up the fact that she'd been named after the author who shared his last name. She'd heard that far too many times in her life, too. "Oh, Flannery—just like Flannery O'Connor, the author!"

"I was just saying that parking is limited over by the restaurant, so maybe a few of us could carpool." Jack winked at her.

She was about to argue when Jamie spoke.

"Much as I'd love to, I can't. I told Bobby that I wasn't going to be able to make it to the dinner—other plans." Jamie looked comfortable, at ease, standing here surrounded by her people ... well, hers and Caylor's and Zarah's. The three ushers other than Jamie were Zarah's boss, Dennis Forrester; Caylor's fiancé, Dylan Bradley; and Jack.

Last fall Zarah had invited Flannery to a cookout at Bobby's grandparents'. Jamie had been there with his grandmother, and even though Flannery tried to avoid him most of the night, she'd had the distinct feeling he was homing in on her friends and their families. She had the same feeling tonight. Smarmy advertising salesman in an expensive suit that ...showed off his broad shoulders and trim waist. Truthfully, the fact that he was even better looking than Jack made it easier for her to dislike Jamie. No guy that good looking had ever brought her anything but trouble.

She'd always known she'd fall for a nerdy, glasses-wearing, bookwormy type. Or at least that's what she told herself every time she broke up with one of the good-looking, alpha-male, jock types who seemed to be the only ones who'd ask her out. And she was the one to do the breaking up—not giving any of them a chance to break her heart.

"Hot date?" Jack asked, and though his voice had a lilt of humor in it, he glanced at Flannery with what could only be categorized as concern.

Jamie shrugged and gave an enigmatic, somewhat suggestive smile. "Something like that."

Jerk.

When Zarah mentioned that Bobby asked Jamie to be an usher in the wedding, Flannery had hoped and prayed the self-absorbed, annoying, arrogant salesman would turn down the opportunity. But he wouldn't be at dinner tonight, and as an usher and not a true member of the wedding party, he would be easy to ignore on Saturday. She could put up with anybody for a few hours, especially from across the room—she had to do it often enough for her job. But she hoped after this weekend, she would never have the displeasure of Jamie O'Connor's company again.


* * *

Though he didn't usually, Jamie O'Connor ordered his latte with a double shot of espresso on Friday morning. He pulled forward to the pickup window and gave his favorite barista a flirtatious smile and a few kind words, though his head buzzed with the need for caffeine.

After sleeping through the alarm for half an hour, he'd rushed out of the house this morning. But he hadn't accounted for the lighter traffic—and shorter line in the Starbucks drive-through—due to this being the day before the Memorial Day weekend. What usually took him thirty-five to forty minutes took fifteen, and he pulled into the parking garage twenty minutes early.

Great. Just that much more time to stew. He finished off the last two sips of the coffee and climbed out of the car.

"Hey, Jamie dawg!" Darrell Keesey jogged down the parking-garage ramp.

"'Sup, man?" Jamie turned and held out his fist, which his coworker bumped his own against. He despised being called a dog. But it was an epithet that had caught on at the office in recent months—even though he was pretty sure no one said it in the real world anymore.

"Dude, you look rough." Darrell threw open the door to the stairwell and started down. "Big date last night keep you out late?"

Jamie shrugged noncommittally. Using a hint of big plans, he'd begged off going out drinking with most of the others from the office after yesterday's golf invitational for clients. He had to spend eight to twelve hours a day with these people; he didn't have to share the intimate details of his life with them, too—like attending a new friend's wedding rehearsal and then ... what he'd done afterward. Besides, a reputation as a playboy—just another dawg —went far in an office like this.

"I'll get tightened up as soon as we get in there." He ran his knuckles along his jaw, wishing he'd checked the traffic report so he'd have known he had time to shave before leaving the house.

Unfortunately, the Gregg Agency's definition of casual Friday didn't include going unshaven.

From the parking garage across the street to the second-tallest building in Nashville and all the way up to the eighteenth floor, Darrell regaled him with tales about who'd gotten drunk, which account executive had made a pass at which client—and vice versa—and where the staff had ended up after the open bar at their boss's country club closed.

They turned into the hallway leading to the Sports Marketing Department, and Darrell paused beside the closed door of the first—and largest—office. "Hey—the meeting. Today's the big day and the announcement Armando's been promising." Darrell jerked his chin toward Jamie. "Odds are four to one in favor of you moving into this office after this morning's meeting."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Turnaout's Fair Play by Kaye Dacus. Copyright © 2011 Kaye Dacus. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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.

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