Lacey Garrity is about to have the wedding she's always dreamed of. She and Galen had planned on a big family, but now fertility issues are turning that dream to ashes. When another setback comes to light a week before their wedding day, she wonders how she can marry him knowing that being with her might mean he can never have the life he imagined…
Galen Thomas loves his woman, and whether they have a big family or it's just the two of them forever, he can't wait to spend his life with her. With the big day coming, he'll pull out all the stops to remind her how good it can be between them and that, together, they can do anything…if he can just get her down the aisle.
Each book in the Dare Me series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Down for the Count
Book #2 Down and Dirty
Book #3 Down the Aisle
Book #4 Down on Her Knees
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Down the Aisle
A Dare Me Novella
By Christine Bell, Kerri-Leigh Grady
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Christine Bell
All rights reserved.
Lacey Garrity — soon to be Thomas, once she got hitched next week — erased the last of the math problems from the chalkboard and turned to face the students.
"Okay, guys. If any of you need extra help before the test let me know. If not, focus on the last two chapters and do your sample tests, and I'm sure you'll all be fine."
A few of the kids shifted in their putty-colored chairs, like a heat of runners taking their marks. It was Friday, and this group had already gone the extra mile by staying almost two hours late — during summer school, no less — to get algebra help for next week's final. She'd reached the end of their attention span, and she didn't blame them one bit. She was on the same page. Galen would be home in an hour, and they were going to put some steaks on the grill. Then, if she was lucky ...
She grinned. "I can see you guys itching to get out of here, so go."
All twenty of the fourteen-year-olds stood at once and made a mass exodus toward the door — which was why it was so strange to see one of them fighting her way back in through the crowd, like a salmon heading upstream in a river surrounded by bears.
"'Scuse me. Pardon me."
Ah, not a student at all, Lacey realized when she heard the exasperated voice. It was her best friend and sister-in-law to be, Cat.
"Jesus, watch the kicks, Junior. These are Jimmy Choo's and cost more than a year's supply of tater tots and chicken patties at this place."
The kids ignored her, barreling out of the room like it was on fire, which was good. The less time they spent around Cat the better.
Lacey crossed her arms and gave her friend the stink eye.
"Damn, they're making 'em so much taller these days, huh?" Cat said, peering up at Lacey and blowing a chunk of copper hair from her eye.
"Yeah, it's not that you're freakishly short, it's just that they're mutant giants."
Cat shot a finger-gun Lacey's way and grinned. "Touché. I love when you get mouthy with me. Now, listen," she leaned in and took a furtive glance behind her at the last of the kids exiting the room. "I know you said you didn't want me to, but ... I did something."
Her gamine face scrunched like she expected — and deserved — a slap upside the head. Lacey's Spidey senses started tingling. This was going to be bad. And if Cat thought it was bad? It was really bad.
She narrowed her eyes and leaned closer, hoping she looked as menacing as she felt on the inside. "What did you do?" she demanded.
Cat put her thumb and forefinger to her lips and twisted, making the universal sign for putting it in the vault and throwing away the key.
"If you don't tell me, I'm going to call Shane and tell him you shrank his New York Giants jersey on purpose."
Cat had the balls to look wounded, and Lacey wanted to chuckle, but if she showed any sign of lightening up, her friend would sense it and take that as her giving in, and she was so not on board with whatever scheme Cat was cooking up.
"Threaten me all you want," Cat said. "I've already said more than I'd planned to. I did it because I love you. Remember that when things get weird and possibly a little scar —"
Lacey's world went dark as something — a hat? A hood? — was thrown over her head. She yelped and clawed at the cloth with her fingers, heart slamming against her ribs as she wriggled to get loose.
"Damn, she's stronger than she looks," a soft voice muttered near her ear.
She stilled. "Courtney?" she whispered furiously.
"Noooo," the voice responded, taking on a forced, ghost-like quality. "What makes you say that?"
Lacey shoved her away and tried to remove whatever was covering her eyes. "Lilac Dreams. I bought you that perfume for your birthday two months ago, remember?"
Wiry little arms came around her then, pinning hers to her sides, waist-high. Cat.
"Look, we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way," Cat grunted, "And I'm sure you know which I prefer, since I haven't gotten a chance to kick your ass since eighth grade. But no matter what, you're coming with us. A lot of people are going to be seriously disappointed if you don't, so stop being a pain in the ass."
Lacey ceased struggling and blew out a sigh. Way for her lifelong friend to play on her Catholic guilt. She hated letting anyone down, even if the alternative involved agreeing to her own assault, kidnapping, and several counts of borderline bad-touching.
Still ... "Guys, I told you I didn't want a bachelorette party, and I meant it. It's just not my thing. Galen and I —"
"Are going to be chained together for the next seventy years. And if you and my blockhead brother don't spend a little time apart now and then and give yourselves a chance to miss each other, then you're going to be bored in ten."
That was where she had it wrong. Lacey would never be bored of Galen. He was like a beam of light, and she was never more alive than when they were together. When he'd rescued her from her cheating groom just over a year ago at her first almost-wedding, she could never have imagined when she climbed onto the back of his motorcycle that they were going to end up on her honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and then falling in love, but that's exactly what had happened. They'd been going strong ever since. Now they were getting married in eight days, and she'd never been happier. Maybe lately things had been strained, but it was nothing that couldn't be fixed. And they would fix it. She just had to work up the nerve to tell him how she was feeling. Maybe tonight was a good night for that. Which meant trying to get out of whatever these two bozos had planned for her.
She squinted hard, straining to see through the thin black material, ready to beg if she had to. Was there anyone else in the room? She'd only heard the two sets of footsteps and two voices. If she wanted, she could knock shrimpy Cat out of the way and make a run for it. Courtney was the newest addition to their crew of friends and probably wouldn't even chase her down. Although, tearing ass out of her place of work with a hood over her face and two crazy friends hot on her heels wasn't something she was really willing to risk either. That had disciplinary action written all over it, and she'd just landed this job.
"Please just go along with us. For me," Cat added softly.
After twenty years of friendship, which basically consisted of her letting Cat boss her around, it was tough to say no. Especially when she was asking so nicely.
If you didn't count the hood and the half-nelson.
She blew out a defeated sigh. "Fine." It was one night. She could put up with just about anything for one night, couldn't she? "But can we take this thing off?"
A duet of "no" from her "friends" re-affirmed that, wherever they were headed, it wasn't going to be something she would have agreed to, like hitting Sully's for a couple margaritas. That could only mean one thing.
Thirty minutes later, the hood had been replaced with a more reasonable, narrow strip of cloth as a blindfold, and the three of them sat in the back of a rented limo that smelled like new car and betrayal. The unseen driver was apparently named William, and her friends seemed to love him.
"Can you hook this up and put on the 'Lacey's Last Stand' playlist, William," Cat said, jostling Lacey's arm as she leaned forward, presumably to hand him her iPhone.
"Sure thing, missy," he said.
A chilled, narrow glass was shoved into her hand, and she closed her fingers over the stem.
"To Lacey," Courtney cheered.
Cat echoed her, just as the strains of "Two Princes" thumped through the car. Lacey held the glass to her lips and took a long sip. Crisp, icy, sweet-tart champagne slid down her throat and tickled her nose.
"This is going to be the best night of your life!" Cat yelled, and started singing along to their favorite karaoke song.
The music and Cat's infectious, party-time enthusiasm was rubbing off on her a little. Maybe it would be fun. Friends, good booze, great music. How bad could it be?
* * *
Lacey stared up from the vinyl chair she'd been deposited into, blinking blearily as her eyes adjusted to the dim light. It was really, seriously, super bad. A mammoth of a man stood holding the blindfold he'd taken off her and grinned. His teeth were perfect, white Chiclets against leathery tanned skin that was oiled like a Christmas turkey. She tried to keep her focus on his smiling blue eyes because if she let them drift down ...
"I'm Thor," he boomed, treating her to a wink.
"I bet when he'th done with them, all the ladyth are thor, am I right, gang?" Cat deadpanned.
Courtney gave her a high five, and, to his credit, Thor laughed out loud. Lacey, however, ignored them. She looked around, trying to get her bearings. There was a lot of chatter, but she couldn't determine where it was coming from because it seemed like just the four of them were in the room. Not room, she corrected mentally as she took in the wide, red velvet curtain in front of her. Part of a room? She looked to her right and gasped. Stage and lighting equipment, a DJ booth fitted out with said DJ to the back right. Holy crap on a stick, they were backstage somewhere. Panic threatened, and Lacey bit her lip and forced a smile.
"Hi Thor. Um, listen, I think we may have a little problem here." She started to stand, but Cat stopped her with a hand.
"I had a feeling you were going to say that," Cat said, shaking her head in disgust. She broke eye contact with Lacey and then nodded. That couldn't be good. Before Lacey could react, her arms were wrenched behind her back, and she felt something close around her wrists.
"Jesus, did you seriously just handcuff me?" she asked, craning her head to get a look at her assailant.
"I did, ma'am," a low male voice purred. "Because you're under arrest, and I'm taking you ... in." A second giant oily man in a policeman's cap and a holster seemingly only held in place by his enormous, banana hammock-covered man-meat leaned over her and did a shimmy.
Surely they were kidding right? There was no way they'd really do this to her.
"Clear out, girls." Thor waved Cat and Courtney toward the narrow set of stairs heading off stage.
"No! No, get back here, you bitches," Lacey called, but no one heard her over the thumping bass of the R. Kelly song the DJ started spinning.
The chattering from behind the curtains amped up to a roar and Lacey froze as the curtain slowly parted. The stage lights hit her in the face, and she was temporarily blind again. Perfect. Now if only she was deaf to the music and excited chatter, she could pretend she was just standing in front of a firing squad instead of here. Doing this.
"How are all you sexy ladies feeling tonight?" Thor shouted into the mic. The sexy ladies — what sounded like a hundred of them or more — whistled and stomped.
She briefly considered running, chair and all, off stage, but with her work shoes still on, that was a recipe for a broken ankle for sure. She could barely run in sneakers, never mind two-inch heels. If she made it through this without literally dying of embarrassment, she was going to ring Mary Catherine Thomas's neck with her bare hands.
"Tonight, we have a special lady here. Meat Market ladies, give a warm welcome to Lacey!" Shouts, screams, and wolf whistles rent the air. "Little Lacey is getting married next week. You know what that means, right?"
Apparently they did, because the whole room went ape-shit.
"We've got to make sure that tonight, all her Meaty dreams come true."
Lacey opened her mouth to correct him and explain that she wasn't really the "Meaty dreams" type, but a semi-hysterical burst of laughter came out instead. Officer — she peered at the sticker of a star stuck directly to his chest — Steele leaned in and gave her a wicked, toothy grin. This was happening, and there wasn't one damn thing she could do about it.
"Hit it!" he called to the DJ. The music changed to the "Bad Boys" theme from Cops, which was apparently his jam, because he started gyrating his face off.
What to do now? Dimly, she heard Cat scream her name, "Come on Lace, don't be a party pooper!"
Party pooper indeed. Easy for her to say when she hadn't been accosted at work and kidnapped like some sort of international spy. Still, maybe it was the glass and a half of champagne. Maybe it was the enthusiasm of the crowd. Maybe it was a release of the stress that had been ever-present the past few months, but she managed to not leap to her feet and run out of the place screaming, even when the poor man's Magic Mike came at her and wrapped his arms around her hips, lifting her in the air. His face was pressed against her stomach as he carried her like a prize pig around the stage. Cat's screams had amped up to an ear shattering level, and the whole place was electric with energy. It wasn't fun, exactly, and there were about ten million places she'd rather be ... like purgatory or the dentist maybe, but even she could see the humor of the situation. Sort of.
By the time the song was over and she was deposited back into her chair, she was smiling. Okay, so the part where he'd flopped his man business in her face hadn't been all that great, but the crowd reaction was fun, and if she could wriggle out of these cuffs and get her hands on another glass of champagne, this night might not be a total bust. A few seconds later, two beefy guys dressed as Roman gladiators came and lifted her, chair and all, to carry her off stage.
Officer Steele strutted over, grinning. "Did you have fun?"
Yes, I truly appreciate having your man-junk in my face in celebration of my upcoming nuptials, sir. "Yes, thank you." She grimaced at the schoolmarm tone and gave herself a mental eye-roll. What a nerd. He took it in stride, though, and laughed as he unlocked her and then pointed her in the direction of her friends. She kept her gaze trained on the walls as she went, focusing on the photos of beefcake past plastered all over them, in hopes of avoiding eye contact with any of the patrons who'd just witnessed her humiliation. That lasted all of ten seconds as a group of ladies came over shouting their congratulations and patting her back. She'd barely managed to escape them and their bawdy jokes about her wedding night when Courtney walked up, with a tentative smile and a full flute of bubbly. "Here. Peace offering."
Lacey took it and fanned her boiling cheeks before swallowing a big sip.
"I think you're going to have to keep it coming if you want to me to get over this one."
"You know this wasn't my idea, right?" Courtney's heart-shaped face was scrunched with worry as they weaved their way to the round lacquer table where Cat had been sitting a second before. A couple ladies patted her back and wished her luck as she passed, and she smiled and waved.
Lacey gestured to a chair, and Courtney sat. "Listen, Cat and I have been friends for twenty years. She's been dragging me into her crazy our whole lives, so I know exactly who the mastermind was."
Courtney's face collapsed with relief. "I was afraid you'd be mad, but Cat said you'd forgive us. Plus, she said it was on your bucket list to come to one of these clubs."
Lacey narrowed her eyes. "Wait. I don't have a bucket list. Cat is the one who —"
"I made you one," Cat said as she bustled across the checkered faux tiles with three shot glasses full of pink liquid. "Like four years ago. You've already crossed eighteen things off it." She set the glasses down and held her hand up for a high five. Lacey skipped the high five, glaring at her instead.
"You made me a bucket list?"
"Yep." She sat down and chair danced, not even having the grace to look contrite.
"You realize that a bucket list is a list of things a person wants to do before they die, right? It's not supposed to be a list of things Cat thinks you should do before you die."
Excerpted from Down the Aisle by Christine Bell, Kerri-Leigh Grady. Copyright © 2013 Christine Bell. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a novella, but it feels more like a stretch of an epilogue recounting Lacey's wedding plans and struggles to get pregnant and adopt a baby. It was quite cheesy and predictable at times to the point that I skimmed through paragraphs to get it over with. Some scenes fell like fillers and did not add much to the story. Not worth the money and time.
I was so excited to read more about Lacey and Galen, and Down the Aisle did not disappoint! This is just what a good novella should be - good character development, believable and fast-paced plot, fun dialogue and a satisfying ending. Sure, it is slightly predictable, but Ms. Bell's characters are so enjoyable and the dialogue is so fun and sassy that it is more than enough. This novella dealt with a serious issue that I'm sure many women and couples can relate to. I thought the conflict for Lacey and Galen, individually, and what it meant to their relationship was serious, emotional and well done. As always, there was still some comedic gold in there. And I love the set-up for the next story in the series -- hot, hot, hot! Christine Bell is and auto-buy author for me. I'd recommend starting this series from the beginning with Down for the Count, then Down and Dirty. But go ahead and pick up another book or three by Ms. Bell while you're at it!
Another winner, but to short.
This one was good, although too short & a little more serious. Still enjoyed!
Loved this book. Perfect sequel to first one. Couldn't wait for next book to come out in series.
## I think this book was a complete waste of time and money. With the second thoughts and other issues, I felt like the wedding was forced. Apprx 65 pages.
I sure hope there is a book coming out about Rafe!!!!
Reviewed by Kim for Read Your Writes Book Reviews While you probably don’t have to read Down for the Count, I think your reading pleasure would be greatly enhanced if you did. Reading Down the Aisle reminded me how much I LOVE Galen Thomas and Lacey Garrity. Their love story is truly one for the ages. With the possibly of having to spend her life with Galen childless, Lacey isn’t sure she can go through with the wedding. She’s afraid that at some point Galen will resent her for them not having children. But it’s up to Galen to show her that their love can conquer all things. And he does that in spades. The book starts off being very funny. But then it takes a serious turn. Don’t worry, there are still some hot moments in it. I really liked this book and I wanted it to continue. But on the plus side, a new potential couple gets introduced and from the eye daggers flying and challenges made, they are going to be hotter than hot. Can’t wait for more of this series.. Source: Publisher
Oh, the heartbreaking angst in this one! Watching Lacey try to carry a devastating secret all alone so as not to "ruin" the wedding day and honeymoon for Galen was painful to read. Poor Galen--he can tell that Lacey is pulling away, but doesn't know exactly why, nor does he know what to do about it. They were killing me with the drama--in a good way. Being a romance novel, I was fairly certain there'd be a HEA of some sort at the end, but yikes, there were some pretty dark moments along the way to it. Galen has his own secret, though, and that's what will bring on the happy ending. (Phew!) It was a bit on the short, sweet, and sudden side, but as it's a novella, that tends to be par for the course. For fans of the series, Down the Aisle will give a satisfying glimpse into the lives of the couples from both books one and two, and show you the direction that book three will be taking. (Can't wait to read it! Courtney and Rafe's story sounds like all kinds of smexy fun.) If you haven't read the rest of the series yet, you're definitely going to want to--pronto. In a nutshell: Angsty glimpse into the future lives of series characters. A quick but satisfying ending. A- rating. I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is a short novella by Christine Bell. Although I did not read the previous story Down For the Count about Galen and Lacy it didn’t stop me from enjoying the story. As Lacy and Galen are preparing for their upcoming wedding they run into a problem-infertility. Even though Galen and Lacy are madly in love the infertility is taking a tool on their relationship. One day Galen gives her a photo album and shows her a picture of a baby that will be theirs. They were approved for adoption. We are also introduced to two characters Rafe and Courtney. They have good chemistry and have a lot of promise as a couple. Overall, this was a short but fun and sweet read.
Great continuation of Lacey and Galen. Showed their strong love for each other and steamy to boot!!
Great!! I really enjoyed Down the Aisle by Christine Bell. To begin with, Brazen covers are really hot and this one fits in perfectly with the imprint. Ms. Bell tackles the serious problem of a couple dealing with infertility in a wistful and caring way. The tenderness and compassion that Galen exudes is truly heartfelt and beautifully written. Lastly, I found the ending slightly predictable, however, it is exactly how I hoped it would conclude. This is a well conceptualized novella. It is a fast-paced sexy romance with a realistic plot that many woman can identify with. I found the characters well-developed and engaging, especially within the confines of a short-story. The chemistry and love between Lacey and Galen is passionate, in addition to being lighthearted and playful. The love scenes are beyond sizzling. If you are looking for a quick, romantic read with an original plot, give this novella a try! ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.