What's worse than running into your ex-hookup at the airport? When said 'hookup" is the best man for the most important wedding of your career, and he's on the hunt for a fake girlfriend. Between a hysterical bride and a wedding party gone wild, wedding planner Emmy Watson can’t afford any more disasters if she wants to save her beloved Wishing Bridge Farm. Which is why she puts the best man on lockdown. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the one guy who can make her forget everything except the way his kisses make her feel.
All Christopher Henderson needs is a fake girlfriend to convince his bosses that his bad boy reputation is a thing of the pastso he can land his dream job. What better place to find said companion than at a wholesome vintage wedding. The only thing he didn't count on was seeing Emmy, the woman who dumped him. The one he hasn’t been able to get off his mind.
There's no denying the spark between them, but he’s a globetrotter and she’s a homebody, and falling in love is something neither of them has in their plans.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.44(d)|
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Falling for the Best Man
Sisters of Wishing Bridge Farm
By Amanda Ashby, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Amanda Ashby
All rights reserved.
Emmy Watson hurried across the Bradley International Airport parking lot clutching at her hastily made sign. As the bright Connecticut sun heated her skin, she should've been pleased the fall weather had turned out so perfectly for the wedding event she'd spent the last two months organizing. Instead, all she could think about was how letting the best man stay with her at the farm was going above and beyond the call of duty.
Her sisters would probably say Emmy had to stop being such a middle-child people-pleaser and stand up for herself. Then again, it was Pepper and Bec's fault she was doing this in the first place, which meant Emmy wasn't in the mood to heed their advice.
Her sisters didn't love Wishing Bridge Farm, but Emmy never thought they'd want to sell the place. More to the point, Ivy wouldn't have left them a third each if she knew what they were planning. A familiar wave of pain washed through her. She still struggled to accept that the salt-of-the-earth old lady, with her mischievous blue eyes and her seemingly unstoppable spirit, was actually gone.
It was also why Emmy was determined to make the farm's new vintage wedding venture a success — so she could convince the bank manager it was a viable business, and get a large enough mortgage to buy her sisters out.
She would get a mortgage, she amended. After all, they'd often hired out the old covered bridge to wedding parties, and over the years the various event planners had oohed and aahed at the retro treasures Ivy had hoarded. Of course, Emmy had since discovered there was a bit more to organizing a wedding than owning some old suitcases and patterned china.
That's why I'm at the airport about to invite a stranger into my house.
When she reached the arrivals gate, a crowd had already gathered and Emmy had to murmur several apologies as she squeezed her way toward the front.
Finally, the automatic doors slid back and a middle-aged couple wearing identical I Love Texas T-shirts wandered out. They were followed by a young family with two toddlers and, as Emmy obediently waved her hastily scribbled sign high in the air, it hit her how awkward this was. Especially the part where she had to explain to the best man that thanks to a plumbing problem at the Rosepot Inn, he'd now be staying with her.
She sighed as she readjusted her sign.
The fact the plumbing problem had been caused by the groom's younger brother, who'd got drunk and forgotten he'd started to run a bath, hadn't helped. Nor had the outrageous behavior of the two groomsmen who'd tried to convince the bridesmaids they could all share a room together. Naked.
Between trying to calm down Melinda, her hypercritical client, and finding new accommodation for twenty people, Emmy had thought the day was never going to end. But she'd finally managed to book out every last room in Sunshine, only to be reminded by Melinda's fiancé, Lewis, that the best man wasn't flying in until the following day.
Melinda's voice had turned into a high-pitched squeal as she declared that the wedding was cursed, and that the best man would have to sleep on a park bench. And so Emmy had done what any desperate wedding planner eager to save the family home would've done. She'd said he could stay at the old cottage at the bottom of Wishing Bridge Farm, and —
Of all the arrival gates in all the world, he walked into this one.
Time stopped as the all-too familiar figure of Christopher Henderson stepped through the sliding doors. Her breathing quickened as he casually readjusted the small travel bag hanging over his broad shoulder before peering around with the kind of confidence she'd never have.
This could not be happening.
It had been two years since she'd last seen him, but even from a distance it was impossible to miss his dark green eyes and the chiseled cheekbones that did strange things to her stomach muscles. His skin was tanned, and he'd obviously just returned from a trip. Not that she was surprised. Christopher was a travel writer with a syndicated column called Off the Beaten Track, so he was always returning from some exotic destination or another. She was pretty sure his passport read more like a stamp collection than a travel document.
It also served as a reminder of just how badly their last encounter had gone. She quickly lowered her sign and wriggled back past a group of limousine drivers until she was hidden from sight, for once pleased that, while her two sisters liked to command authority and attention, Emmy's special skill was fading into the background.
With practiced ease she tilted her head and kept her gaze focused firmly on the patterned carpet. She was grateful she'd only managed to tug her straight brown hair into a ponytail and throw on a pair of sensible jeans, a faded blue linen shirt and her most comfortable sneakers; making her look more like a soccer mom than one of his conquests. Now all she had to do was be as still as possible until Christopher was gone, and then she could —
"Emmy Watson, is that you?"
Her throat tightened as the smell of woody spice invaded her nostrils, and she slowly raised her gaze from the floor.
I'm in so much trouble.
Up close he was even more devastatingly attractive than she'd remembered, and it took all of her willpower not to let the memories of their one weekend together flood her mind.
"Christopher?" she said with forced surprise while her face throbbed with heat. She wasn't normally one for wishful thinking, but if the ground wanted to open up and swallow her whole, she'd be okay with it. Or if someone wanted to give her an invisibility cloak, that would work. "W–what are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question. I didn't think airports were your thing." From his dry tone, he clearly hadn't forgotten their last encounter. Emmy gulped, once again pushing the memories away. Besides, even if she wanted to think about her decision (which, for the record, she most definitely did not), there wasn't time.
She was here to work.
She had a wedding to plan, a bank manager to appease, and two annoying sisters who needed to be proved wrong. There was no time for distractions. That includes Christopher Henderson and his delicious man-smells. She needed to push that all to one side and think about it later. Preferably thirty or forty years from now, when she was better equipped to deal with it.
"And I didn't think boring rural towns were yours," Emmy replied with more spirit than she really felt. In response, he lifted his hands and grinned. Not what she had been expecting.
Then again, she hadn't been expecting to see her hot fling, either.
"Touché," he said, giving her a disarming smile. Emmy's heart sped up in a way that couldn't possibly be good for her. She swallowed hard and tried to remember she was a rational person who couldn't be swayed by a smile, but it wasn't until his curious gaze swept over her that she realized he was waiting for her to speak. As in, use proper words, possibly all in a row.
Her pulse fluttered. Pepper, with her smart, lawyer's tongue, would no doubt say something withering and cool, while free-spirited Bec would just flirt and do that twisty thing with her hair. But Emmy wasn't like them.
She was sensible and quiet.
She was the one who had cared for Ivy before she died.
She made jam and patchwork quilts. Witty rejoinders weren't really her forte. Not to mention that, judging by Christopher's casual demeanor, it was obvious he was completely indifferent to her presence.
What a depressing thought, and a good reason why she had to finish this conversation as quickly as possible. Self Preservation 101. She took a deep breath.
"I really need to go ... work ... stuff ... busy. So, bye." She clutched at the handwritten sign and tried to edge away from him and his disturbing presence.
"I thought you were a bookkeeper for a local vineyard?" He followed as she tried to get back through the thinning crowd so she could once again see the arrivals gate. Up close, his eyes were the color of the velvety moss that covered the boulders at the bottom of the wishing bridge.
Why had no one written about this in the Wedding Planner's Survival Guide? It was a serious oversight.
"I am. I mean, I was —" Emmy corrected, surprised he remembered what she did. "What I mean is, I still help Rachel and Jackson out, but I've turned the farm into a wedding venue, and my first big event is on Sunday. So, if you don't mind, I really need to —"
"Wait!" His mouth twisted in amusement, and he let out a throaty laugh that sent a flurry of sensations through her veins. "You're the wedding planner?"
"What's so funny?" Emmy's embarrassment was momentarily forgotten. She might be the quiet one of the family, but that didn't mean she wasn't capable. In fact, if capable had a cheerleading squad, then she'd be on the banner — with stars around her name. "We can't all go to exotic locations at the drop of the hat. Some of us have to keep things running smoothly. What we're offering is a very valid service designed to help give a couple their dream vintage wedding, complete with a covered bridge that would make any bride weep with joy, and if you don't think —"
"Whoa!" Christopher took a step back. "I'm not suggesting your covered bridge isn't designed to make even the most hardened bride cry like a baby."
"Oh." Some of the fire left her as an uneasy sensation rose in her chest. And why had he said "the" wedding planner not "a" wedding planner? "Why were you laughing, then?"
"I was laughing because the universe has a pretty strange sense of humor."
"W–what do you mean?"
"I was told the wedding planner would be here to meet me. I just never thought it would be you."
Emmy stared at him. "No."
"Yes." He stared back as he held out his hand, his amusement seeming to be in equal measure to her horror. "Wedding planner, meet the best man."
"It's not possible," Emmy insisted, as she waved the handwritten sign in front of his nose and tried to ignore the desperate edge in her voice. "The best man is Kit Sheppard. See, it's written right here. There's no mistake. Melinda even spelled it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find him."
Christopher's lips were still twitching with amusement. "It's no trick. Back in the day, everyone called me Kit."
"What about the last name?" Emmy croaked as she vaguely recalled Kit hearing used as a nickname for Christopher. This was a disaster. It was also a cautionary tale on the perils of falling for someone you barely know, since it appeared they could turn up anywhere, with a different name and the same dark green eyes, all capable of turning a person's stomach to mush.
Oh, this was bad.
"Sheppard's my legal last name but ... well, let's just say I was never a fan of it, so ever since I got my first byline I've been using my mom's maiden name. Henderson." His smile dimmed, as if a mask had slipped, but he quickly replaced it as he produced his wallet and showed her his driver's license. "Exhibit A."
Emmy stared back at a ridiculously good looking photograph before studying the name next to it. Christopher Sheppard.
She rubbed her brow in confusion. It didn't help that his overwhelming presence made it hard to think. And by "hard," she meant "impossible."
"I still don't understand. Melinda and Lewis live in California, along with the rest of the wedding party. How do you even know them?"
"Lewis and I have been friends since sixth grade. We both moved away for college, but have always stayed in touch."
"Oh." She was finally silent as she accepted that it was true: her weekend-stand from two-years ago and the best man were one and the same person.
And I've just promised a hysterical bride he can stay on the farm for the next four days. With me.
Bile rose in her throat.
How could this be happening to her? But, of course, she already knew the answer. It was like Pepper and Bec said — Emmy was always trying to keep the peace. It just didn't normally involve spending time with the one guy who had every right to despise her.
She took a deep breath. "Okay, we should get going. Do you need to collect your luggage?"
"I travel light. One of the perks of the job is that I have exceptional packing skills." He tapped the small bag slung over his shoulder.
"Of course." Emmy winced at the subtle visual evidence of just how much Christopher refused to stay in one place for too long. She stiffened her spine and reminded herself she was going to do whatever it took to save the farm, even force herself to look at his face when she told him where he was staying.
* * *
Christopher didn't normally have bad days. He'd long ago learned that if you wanted something to happen, you had to go out and do it for yourself. And that included being happy. However, having been stuck on a flight from Australia with an elderly non-stop talker in the next seat meant his head was pounding. And now he'd arrived in Connecticut only to discover the wedding planner who was collecting him was none other than Emmy Watson.
His brow furrowed.
It wasn't as if he'd spent the last two years pining for her, or living like a monk, but it still stung she'd left him standing at the airport with two tickets to Fiji and the knowledge they wouldn't be repeating the two hot nights they'd spent together.
Thankfully, whatever chemistry they'd shared was now long gone. Killed by her decision not to join him.
So, the fact I want to kiss her now is completely irrelevant.
He was focused on his next project.
His mood improved as he thought of the meeting in Hawaii he'd lined up for the following week. It was to talk with a production company about a television show that would let viewers see first hand some of the lesser-known adventures around the world. His agent, Trent had been pitching it for years, and now they finally had some interest.
There was only one small tweak the producers wanted to make. After being burned by too many bad-boy travel writers and celebrity chefs who had attracted the wrong kind of publicity, they wanted to be sure Christopher was family friendly. And the best way to do that was to show them he was in a committed relationship. In other words, he needed a pretend girlfriend.
Someone who could step in for day and help convince the producers he was responsible, stable, and not interested in causing trouble. In return she'd get a free vacation in Hawaii, and his undying gratitude. It seemed like a fair deal.
Now he just had to find the girl.
"And not your regular kind of girlfriend," Trent had quickly interjected before Christopher could begin to flick through his address book. "We need someone nice, but not too nice, if you know what I'm saying."
Unfortunately, he did. Which was why he'd decided to wait until he was at Lewis's wholesome vintage wedding to find the perfect girl. After all, what could be more family-friendly than one of the six bridesmaids who were going to be there? It was like the universe was giving him a clear sign this was the right thing to do. Not to mention — "This is it," Emmy's voice cut through his thoughts like a razor as they came to a halt next to a faded green pickup truck that had seen better days.
Christopher climbed into the vehicle. Despite the rust, the inside cab was neat and smelled vaguely of vanilla cupcakes. He put his compact travel bag on the floor and forced himself to not look at Emmy, because looking was bad. Very bad. Plus, it might lead to disturbing thoughts of nakedness, or at the very least make him acknowledge she was even more beautiful now than when they'd first met.
Okay, so no looking and no thinking.
Her hands tightened around the steering wheel. She was clearly hiding something. It was lucky she was a self-declared homebody, since she obviously didn't have the makings of an international spy.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on?" he asked as she shifted into first gear and drove through the parking lot.
"What do you mean?" Her light voice was at odds with the red patches that had now appeared on her cheeks. She didn't look at him, and if Christopher wasn't still annoyed with her for standing him up two years ago, he might've acknowledged his increased heart rate. Or the fact her skin was still dewlike. Nope, not happening. He slammed that part of his brain shut. "I told you, I'm the wedding planner. I'm here to collect you."
Excerpted from Falling for the Best Man by Amanda Ashby, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2017 Amanda Ashby. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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