With a brand-new M.D. behind her name and a wonderful man by her side, Nichole Atherton thought she had her happily-ever-after all sorted out. Then her fiancé told her he was gay. Nic can fake a smile better than anyone, but she’s hanging by a thread. She just has to make it through her best friend’s wedding…and an encounter with his nightmare little brother, Tucker Matthews.
Weddings make Tucker antsy—he’s got a bad track record with "forever." The family screw-up became a screw-up famous rock star, and bottomed out fast. Now he’s putting his life back together, and the last person he wants to see is perfect Nichole. No matter how hot the fantasies he had about her growing up, Nichole is out of his league and he knows it. It’s just too bad they have so much chemistry. Because there’s no way the two of them could ever make it last…
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Nick of Time
A Blue Ridge Romance
By Allison B. Hanson
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Allison B. Hanson
All rights reserved.
Tucker's phone rang as he was heading back to his loft. He stopped on the sidewalk and pulled it out of his pocket, surprised to see the call was from Cooper.
"Hey, big brother," he said with a smile, seeing his breath in the January air. It was that time of year — when the snow lost its appeal and he wasn't sure whether his balls would ever unshrink — when he wondered why he had ever moved to New York City. His body wasn't bred for this kind of climate. He had Virginian genes, which made him a candy-ass in extremely cold weather.
"Hey. How are things with you?" Cooper asked.
"Great. It's cold as fuck here," Tucker said, earning a scowl from a proper-looking woman walking along the sidewalk next to him. He gave her one of his grins, causing her to smile a little and look away.
"I was wondering what you were doing next month."
"Third Saturday in February."
"I don't think I have anything planned." He wrote songs for a living. Some of them were hits, some were jingles for commercials. All were sung by someone other than him.
He'd had his chance. A year and a half ago he'd been living the high life. He was a rock star on tour with his band. Then he'd hit the wall or rock bottom or somewhere in between. Whatever he hit, it had been hard and unrelenting.
"Good. I'm getting married," Cooper said happily.
"I thought that wasn't until the end of June."
"Yeah. That was the plan, but we're moving it up. You know how hot and humid it is here in June."
"I do, but February is still kind of cold down there."
"That's okay. Can you be here?" Cooper asked with hope in his voice.
"Of course." There was no way he would miss his brother's wedding.
Cooper hesitated and Tucker waited, guessing what he was going to say.
"I was wondering if you would be a groomsman."
Groomsman. Not best man. He knew exactly who was going to be the best man. He rolled his eyes as he unlocked his door and went into the warmth of his loft.
"Seriously? You're having a girl for a best man?" Tucker shook his head and threw his keys on the stand by the door.
"I know it's not common, but she's my best friend. Plus she lives down here, so it will be easier."
Tucker knew better than to buy that line of crap. It wasn't an issue of geography and he knew it. The problem was that his brother didn't trust him, and as mad as he wanted to be about that, he couldn't. Because he had messed up in the past and needed to earn that trust back.
He'd learned that in rehab. At the time it had seemed like a bunch of shit, but here it was staring him in the face. He could see how true it was.
"I would love to be a groomsman."
"Thank you. It really means a lot to me," Cooper said. "Promise me you won't sleep with Roslyn's sister?"
"Okay." Tucker laughed.
"No. Say it."
"I, Tucker Wade Matthews, do so promise not to sleep with Roslyn's sister ...?"
"And?" Cooper pushed.
"I have to say the whole thing?"
"Fine. I, Tucker Wade Matthews, do so promise not to sleep with Roslyn's sister, Riley Fisher, under penalty of my dick never working again." He cringed just saying it.
"Thank you. And can you please be nice to Nic? She's been through a lot lately."
"Sure." Though he wasn't putting his dick on the line in a promise about that.
"How are you?" Cooper asked again. They were the same words, but it was a completely different question.
"I'm doing really good. You don't need to worry about me."
"I'm still going to. I've been doing it for so long, I don't think I can stop," Cooper admitted.
"Maybe when you have some kids. Then you'll have someone else to worry about."
"Or my ability to worry could increase."
"Or your head could explode." Tucker laughed.
"Until that happens, can you plan to be here two weeks before the wedding? We're doing a bachelor party the Saturday before."
"Do I get to help with that?"
"You'll have to check with Nic." Translation: no.
Basically, he would be forced to do whatever Miss Bossypants wanted to do.
"It's going to be great," Tucker lied.
"You're moving the wedding up?" Nichole repeated, looking at them closely across the table. They weren't making eye contact with her, which meant they were hiding something.
He had been her best friend since middle school, but she was finding Roslyn was just as easy to read as Cooper.
"Right. We just decided we didn't want to wait," Cooper said, fiddling with the pork fried rice on his plate.
"Uh-huh." Nichole stared at Roslyn. "When are you due?"
Both heads snapped up, and then they looked at each other.
"How did you know?" Roz said, while Cooper winced. He knew how Nichole played. He never would have given it away that easily.
"She didn't know," Cooper said with a sigh. "She was just guessing, and now you confirmed it." Cooper smiled at Roslyn before turning a scowl on Nic. "You're awful."
"But I'm so damn good at it."
"We didn't want anyone to know," Roslyn explained.
"Um. Sorry to say this, but generally when people want to move up a wedding, it's either because the groom is being deployed overseas or the bride is pregnant. Besides, I'm a doctor, and your boobs are huge." Nichole gestured at her friend's chest.
"I know." Cooper's eyes practically glowed, while Roslyn smacked him playfully.
"So when are you due?"
"September. We just found out two weeks ago. I really had no idea." Roslyn was beaming.
"Well, your secret — as mystifying as it is — is safe with me," Nic said sarcastically as she finished off her egg roll.
"Tucker will be flying in two weeks before the wedding so he can help you with anything."
"Oh, good. Do you have someone else flying in to watch over him, so I don't need any help with anything? Because I have to tell you, he'll be the thing I'll need help with."
"Sorry, no. Just you and him. Roz is having Riley as her maid of honor and Lexi as her bridesmaid."
"At least I know you won't take him to a strip club for the bachelor party," Roslyn said, elbowing him in the ribs.
"As if I'd want to go look at other women when I have you." He kissed her neck, and Nichole looked away.
She'd gotten over her heartbreak, dealt with the scrutiny once the real reason for her cancelled wedding got out. But there were still twinges when she saw people who were happily in love. She wanted to think she was above jealousy, but she wasn't sure.
"Do you need me to pick up little brother from the airport?"
"No. I've got it," Cooper said.
"Good, because that would be above and beyond."
For the rest of the evening, Cooper and Nichole shared stories of Tucker when he was little, and how much trouble he'd got into. Roslyn seemed entertained.
Starting with his stupid pranks in elementary school and moving through his attendance problems and fighting in high school. Followed by more fighting and partying, which landed him in juvenile detention. When he was eighteen he'd started the repetitive cycle of wanting to go to college only to bail or get kicked out after a semester. That had happened four times before he'd joined a band and started partying again. At least that time he was getting paid.
"And then he became a rock star," Roslyn said. Nichole hadn't followed Tucker's career too closely. She'd been busy finishing medical school, plus she just hadn't cared that much.
"He's playing a song at the reception," Cooper said proudly, while Nic fought the urge to roll her eyes. Cooper always defended his brother.
Sure, sometimes he got pissed off, but when Tucker needed him, Cooper was always there. It infuriated Nichole. Or maybe it was jealousy after all. She'd grown up watching the relationship between Cooper and his brother. It never made any sense to her how Cooper could continue to love someone so exasperating. Being an only child, she'd never had the opportunity to experience the strength of sibling bonds. But she felt it between the brothers — an invisible wall — and she'd always been on the outside.CHAPTER 2
Cooper had offered to pick him up at the airport, but Tucker knew he would need a car, so he'd declined. He didn't like feeling trapped without his own transportation. He didn't need a vehicle in the city, but in Roanoke he wanted his own wheels. Just in case.
Cooper had also begged him to stay with them in their new house. Tucker had tried to get out of it, but they wouldn't take no for an answer. Apparently, they had a lot of guest rooms.
When Tucker explained that it might be better if he stayed in a hotel in case he met someone, he was reminded again about not sleeping with Roslyn's sister.
So of course the first thing he'd said when Cooper came out to meet him in the driveway was, "So where is this sister?"
Cooper smacked him on the back of the head, and the two of them hugged, sharing a very unmanly moment. Complete with a trace of moisture in both of their eyes.
"It's great to see you, man," Tucker said as he patted his brother on the back. "I can't believe you're getting married. I didn't think either of us would ever fall victim to that trap."
"Wait until you meet Roslyn. You'll see."
"If she's so great, maybe I'll steal her away from you," Tucker joked.
"If there was any worry of that ever happening, I wouldn't be marrying her." Cooper seemed happy in a way Tucker had never seen before.
"Good for you."
Tucker followed Cooper into the house, where a tall blond woman was waiting. She was pretty, but he knew his brother wouldn't fall for someone just because of looks. She had to have something else to win him over.
"Tucker, this is Roslyn. Roz, this is my baby brother."
"It's nice to meet you, Tucker. Thanks for coming. I know you're probably busy back in New York," Roslyn said with a pleasant smile.
"Not too busy to see my brother get married. Thanks for letting me stay here."
"It's no problem at all. We have plenty of room. I thought you and Cooper might want to hang out and catch up before the wedding."
She seemed genuinely welcoming, and Tucker glanced over at Cooper to see the big smile on his face.
God, these two were so disgustingly happy, he'd probably develop some kind of allergy from overexposure.
"That sounds great," he said.
"Let me show you to your room," Cooper said as he took Tucker's bag and gestured toward the fancy curved stairs. As soon as they were on the second floor he turned to Tucker and said, "Isn't she amazing?"
"Yeah, she's great." How could he tell? They'd spoken a few sentences. She could be a serial killer for all he knew. "Very pretty."
"I know, but she's also a great person."
After Tucker unpacked — which took all of six minutes — the three of them played get to know you over dinner. Roslyn was a really good cook.
Soon they were chatting easily, and Tucker realized his brother had made a good choice. Not that anyone had asked for his blessing.
"So tomorrow night is the bachelor party. It's casual," Cooper said when they all headed upstairs to go to bed.
"Seven. A car will be coming to pick us up."
"I'll be ready. I'm going to go buy a tux in the morning."
"Do you need help?" Cooper asked, making Tucker grin.
"Are you afraid it's going to be a sequin jumpsuit?"
"No. I just thought it would be fun to go with you."
"You want to drive my rental car?" Tucker guessed.
"Yep," Cooper said quickly. Tucker had splurged on a Corvette for the trip.
"We'll make a day of it. Get some lunch."
Tucker and Cooper had a great time the next day. They bonded, spending the afternoon catching up. Cooper drove the car around town and then Tucker suggested they take it on the Parkway.
"Holy shit! It's almost six. We have to get back; we're going to be late," Cooper said when he finally realized the time on the dash wasn't correct.
"Relax. So we're a little late. They can't start without you anyway."
"Nichole has spent a lot of time making sure this night goes perfectly."
"I'll handle Nichole," Tucker said.
"Please! You couldn't handle Nichole if you had an army with you."
"I'm not afraid of her anymore." There had been a time when that wasn't true. Maybe even recently.
"We'll see about that." Cooper laughed and revved the engine on the way home.
Despite Cooper's worries, he and Tucker were both dressed and ready when Nichole got there.
Tucker found himself checking her over like he would a normal woman. She was attractive. He'd known that for a very long time, but he hadn't let himself think about it.
She was an evil demon beneath the sexy, long legs and the auburn hair. He was sure her green eyes shot flames when mortals weren't looking. But right now she was rocking a pretty dress that showed off those legs and the perfect amount of cleavage.
Her gaze met his and he felt himself bracing for battle.
"Hey, Tucker. How are you?" Nichole praised herself internally for not sounding bitchy.
"Good. I couldn't help but notice I didn't get an official invite to the bachelor party."
"I didn't have your number." She looked away, feigning sudden interest in the backyard.
"Uh-huh. So what's the plan here? Strippers?"
"Um. No. We're going out for a nice dinner, and then I've arranged a special private showing of The Godfather."
"Wow." He raised his eyebrows.
"What? It's his favorite movie. He's never seen it on the big screen. He didn't want strippers."
"Every guy wants a chance to look at naked women. If he said he didn't want strippers, he was lying."
"That's why I'm the best man. Because I know him better than you, despite the fact that you share the same DNA."
"Whoa! Don't go using that doctor lingo on me," he said with a wry grin.
She'd only been talking to him for a few minutes and already he was pushing her buttons. She wanted to punch him. "If you're not up for dinner and a movie, you don't have to go," she suggested sweetly.
"Of course I'm going! He's my brother. Besides, I could use a nap."
"Very nice," she said with an eye roll.
"I'm still jet-lagged." He was trying not to smirk.
"We live in the same time zone."
"There you go again, showing off all that brain power."
"Grow up." She couldn't help but feel like they were still thirteen and seven instead of thirty-three and twenty-seven.
"Are we splitting the bill?" he offered.
"No, I've got it."
"Fine. Is there anything I can help with?" he asked in irritation.
"No. I have everything taken care of."
"I see. Well, if you think of anything you forgot, like maybe something fun, let me know. I'd be happy to help."
"I don't need your help," she snapped with the tone she had been working so hard to contain.
"Oh, I'm sure of that." He shook his head and walked away.
Why did she let him get to her?
Nichole had been certain the night would be great, but now he had her doubting whether everyone would have fun. Cooper never lied to her, so she knew if he said he didn't want strippers he really didn't. But maybe he only felt like he should say that. Damn.
She took a deep breath and smoothed her dress nervously. There weren't going to be any strippers. Everyone would just have to deal with it.
Everything was going smoothly. Dinner was delicious, and on time. The group seemed to be having a good time. Some of them were already drinking pretty heavily. Twice she observed Tucker to make sure he wasn't getting shit-faced, but he seemed to be steady.
He wasn't sloppy drunk like Darrell from high school or Cousin Kelvin. Her phone chimed a reminder.
"Okay, everyone. Let's make our way back to the cars so we can head to the theater."
"Are the strippers at the theater?" someone yelled. Surprisingly, it wasn't Tucker.
"Ah, come on! Who put a chick in charge of a bachelor party, anyway?" someone else questioned. She glanced over to see Cooper in a discussion with another relative. He wasn't able to come to her rescue.
"We want to see some tits! Are you going to show us yours, honey?" a bigger man with a very red face started stumbling toward her. She felt her heart rate pick up as she tried to remember what she'd learned in her self-defense class. All she could think of at the moment was how to make an origami swan. Wrong class!
"Back off, Baker. This is her show, and Cooper didn't want strippers. Leave her alone and get your fat ass out to the car or we're leaving you here," Tucker said, coming to stand in front of her protectively.
Excerpted from Nick of Time by Allison B. Hanson. Copyright © 2016 Allison B. Hanson. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
I thought it was a good summer read , good characters . Slr
Nick of Time is a fast paced, sweet romance that features a doctor with a complicated past and a former rocker trying to find a new path. The story opens with Nichole learning that her fiancee is gay on the day of the wedding. She is relived but worried about how her mother will react. Her best friend Cooper is getting married, and Nicole is determined to keep her troubles from spoiling their big day. She is the best man and is asked to help along with Tucker the grooms brother. Tucker quit a band a year ago and now lives by writing songs for other artists. He and Nichole find out that they have a lot in common and they begin to build a relationship that starts with hot hook ups. Will their new relationship survive Nichole's family and his return to music? This is a cute story with an entertaining characters, a fast pace and realistic problems. I enjoyed the book and plan to follow the rest of the series. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
Nick of Time by Allison B. Hanson is a fun, slightly emotional read with characters that I really wanted spend more time with. Ms. Hanson's voice is strong, easy to understand and straight forward. She deals with being jilted at the altar, alcoholism and sexuality in an amusing yet serious manner. This novel has a lot going on and as result, I was captivated from beginning to end. Nichole Atherton is a brand new doctor that has thrived on helping people from a very young age. After her fiancee tells her he is gay minutes before their wedding, her carefully planned life naturally changes. Nichole grieves for a longtime afterward, which eventually evolves into a numbness she is unable shake. Luckily her best friend Cooper is around to help her cope and pick up the pieces. Before she knows it, Cooper's wedding is on the horizon and her role as best-man becomes her primary focus. Tucker, Cooper's younger brother and a famous rock-star, is a groomsman, which he is not very happy about because Nichole has the job he believes should be his. Tucker and Nichole have never gotten along, and they stay out of each other's way whenever they have to be around each other. However, Cooper's upcoming nuptials change their relationship and within a very short time, they are falling in love. A future together is not a sure thing, because they both have abandonment issues and Tucker's addiction to both alcohol and drugs is a constant struggle. Over the course of the story, we understand what makes both Nichole and Tucker tick, as their tremendous dislike for each other evolves into true love. Nichole's mother is a horrible woman, and her opinions and commentaries are beyond nasty. This book is replete with hot steamy sex, a little mystery and forgiveness. Overall, Nichole and Tucker are amazing together, and they challenge each other without even knowing it. They never give up on the chance for happiness. This is a nicely-written book that should be added to your TBR list. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Loved this one! Nic and Tucker were so great together and their story was incredible. Very well written with a great pace. She thought she had everything she ever wanted but Nic is left reeling after her fiance announces he's gay. Now she has to face her best friends wedding with a smile on her face as all her plans go up in flames. The last thing she wants to deal with is Tucker Matthews. The grooms screw up of a brother. While dealing with all the wedding plans though, Nic quickly realizes she has underestimated Tucker and the man he truly is. Definitely a book I highly recommend.