Package Deal

Package Deal

by Charissa Stastny

Paperback

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781983571763
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Spring

"Ah, Spring." Brandee squeezed me. "That dress is gorgeous on you. I knew it would be."

"Today isn't about me." I stepped aside to smooth her Stella York wedding gown we'd spent months searching for. Months I'd never get back. But Brandee was not only my best friend, but my savior. She'd been there for me when I had no one else to turn to, when life seemed dark and bleak. She'd held out hope and made me believe life would get better. And it had. I owed her. Therefore, I'd be the best maid of honor ever, which meant wearing this revealing pink eyesore she'd picked out for me.

I patted my bare shoulders to ensure the threads keeping my dress in place hadn't strayed. Why, oh why hadn't I tried harder to talk my friend out of her choice of bridesmaid dress? As if it wasn't bad enough that the gown was strapless — save for a pair of useless threads over my shoulders — it also dipped lower in the back than I appreciated, exposing more skin than a lamb during shearing season.

"Stop it." Brandee tapped my hand harder than necessary. "It's perfect."

I bit back a sarcastic retort. Perfect to toss in the dumpster maybe. Today I had one job to do. Keep the bride happy. Complaining about her wardrobe choices wouldn't accomplish that goal. "You're the star today, lady." I stepped around her, fluffing frothy layers of tulle. "Now let's get you outside for pictures."

She hugged me. "I love you, Spring. Thanks for everything." She sniffled.

"Whoa, girl." I pried myself out of her arms. "Don't get emotional on me, please."

She fanned a hand in front of her eyes. "Ugh! My nerves are catching up to me."

"Hun, you have nothing to worry about. Everything is so meticulously in order we'd have to plan for something to go wrong at this point. Besides, you and Jeff are so madly in love that none of that matters anyway. Right?"

Her dreamy smile appeared at the mention of her fiancé. "Yes. You're right. I'm just ... I don't know. This sounds terrible since I'm about to become part of Jeff's family, but I'm worried about his idiot brother."

I blinked. "Wait. Jeff has a brother?" How did I not know that? I thought I knew everything about the love of her life.

She grimaced. "I wanted you to like Jeff and not be biased because of the family screw-up." She squeezed her eyes. "His half-brother's a jerk. Always gets drunk and starts fights at family dinners, when he bothers to show, that is. I want everything to be perfect today, but he's a live wire that could spark and blow everything to pieces." She laughed, but clenched a layer of tulle between her fingers.

"Look at me, Brandee." I tugged her chin up with my thumb. "I swear, under no circumstances will I allow the idiot brother to ruin your day. Trust me, and stop fretting."

Her eyes glistened as she hugged me again. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

I grabbed her by the elbows. "Stop blubbering before you ruin your sister's makeup job. Now let's get out there for pictures before they send in the cavalry."

As I flung open the French doors, she walked out onto the Tuscan patio to hearty cheers from the rest of the wedding party. I followed in her graceful wake, admiring her gown. From the lace-covered bodice with the sweetheart neckline to the delicate layers of tulle spreading out from her waist, my friend truly resembled a princess. But it was her inner beauty I loved most. Brandee was the kindest soul on earth.

A short, perky photographer pushed up to the front. "Ah. The bride's here. Let's set up over by the willow."

She grabbed Brandee by the arm, and for the next few minutes, she positioned the beautiful couple in various poses under the sweeping branches. While I waited, I savored the scent of roses in the garden. The weather was perfect today, which didn't always happen in the Denver area in early June. Of course, how could the elements not rejoice at my friend marrying the man of her dreams? Jeff and Brandee were a match made in heaven.

"Maid of honor! Where are you?"

Hearing the photographer's high-pitched call, I realized the wedding party had moved on without me. As my high heels sank into the dewy grass, I winced and rerouted to a paved brick pathway lined with ornamental shrubs and capped with a wooden trellis full of tangling vines. The scent of honeysuckle filled the air, and I paused for a moment to inhale the sweet scent.

When I looked up, an attractive man in a tux leaned against a nearby pillar. He was tall, and had a sleek, yet powerful build that reminded me of a panther in his tux. His dark hair was cut short, and he had a clean, flawless jawline I found appealing. Most guys now days were so scruffy. Not that I was in the market for a man. But I appreciated quality when I saw it.

He glanced up at the staccato beat of my heels on the bricks, and our eyes locked. I wasn't close enough to discern his eye color, but his dark lashes and brows rendered them striking whatever hue they happened to be. He raised both brows, as though asking me a question.

"There you are." The photographer's voice next to my ear yanked me out of my trance. "Follow me."

As we marched past the gorgeous man, she motioned to him. "You, too."

The stealthy panther in a tuxedo fell in step behind me, and I wondered about his identity. He must be Jeff's best man. But was he an old college roommate? A childhood best friend? He couldn't be the idiot brother. He looked nothing like Jeff, nor did he appear to be a faulty wire waiting to spark trouble.

As a breeze caressed my exposed skin, I became hyper aware of the plunging back of my dress. What I did in the name of friendship.

The photographer stopped, and pointed to the pergola. "Okay, Maid of Honor. Stand there." I complied as she gestured to the best man. "And you stand behind her, arms touching. Slightly lean in toward her."

As he situated himself behind me, I caught a whiff of expensive cologne. When he leaned closer, goosebumps erupted as his minty breath washed over my sensitive ear and cheek.

"I'm Hudson, by the way," he whispered. "I don't think we've been introduced."

I shivered from the sparks shooting through my body. "Spring," I replied as I tilted my head to peek at him.

"Eyes on me," the photographer ordered.

I returned my focus to her and tried to ignore the way my hair follicles reacted to the slight friction between our arms. A quick glance at the two bridesmaids laughing together at the side made me wish I could trade places. I never could relax around sexy men I didn't know.

The photographer snapped several shots before leading us over to a formal garden with a fountain. "Okay. Best Man, stand here," she ordered with her hand on her hip. "And try to smile this time. Weddings are happy occasions."

His lips curled into a sneer that made her huff.

"Oh, never mind." She waved her hand. "Do whatever. You're striking enough to get away with the moody look. Gives you an air of mystery."

Ha. How about arrogance?

"Maid of Honor, stand here."

I bit back a grimace, hating how she ordered us about by our wedding day titles.

She stepped up to shift my body so I pressed against the man's powerful thigh. Positioning my hands on his arm, she tilted my head into his shoulder and stepped back to appraise us.

"Hmm. Look down at her."

My skin burned as I felt his intense gaze upon me. Why in the world was she taking so many shots of us? Shouldn't she focus on the bride and groom?

She shook her head. "No, no, no, Maid of Honor. Your smile looks as fake as a three-dollar bill. Relax. Lean into him. You look like you're ready to bolt."

I couldn't help but blush as I leaned closer. He smelled divine. Maybe I'd have to ask him what cologne he used. But that would require talking to him. I wasn't brave enough to do that.

"Relax," Hudson whispered. "I promise not to bite."

My cheeks and neck grew hotter.

"Stop fidgeting, Maid of Honor."

I bit my lips, wishing we were done.

"Okay. Real smile this time."

I clenched my teeth, but managed to force what she considered a real smile onto my face.

"Just a few more." She grabbed my arm and dragged me across the damp grass. "Best Man, stand against that pillar."

Hudson leaned against the column, and the photographer squealed. "You're a natural. Have you ever modeled?"

He snorted. I guess that was a no.

The photographer dragged me over to him. "These next few shots won't be given to the bride and groom, but I can't pass up an opportunity to work with such a stunning couple. Do you mind if I snap a few photos to use on my website?"

"Oh, we're not a couple," I hurried to correct her.

She smirked. "That's obvious by how tense you are around him, dear. Just pretend. I'll only use these for advertising."

Hudson's eyebrows pulled together. "I'm fine with that as long as you send me copies of what you use."

I whipped my head around to stare at him.

He shrugged. "You have to admit, we look amazing together. And we'd be helping this good woman out."

I frowned. "Fine. But make it fast. Brandee's paying you to photograph her and Jeff, not us."

"I'll be quick." She positioned me in front of Hudson, and had him wrap his arms around my waist and tilt his head into my hair. As his breath tickled my neck, my heart began to pound like a herd of elephants.

His nose traced a line down my ear. "You smell good."

I heard the camera shutter clicking, and hoped we were almost done. The way my body reacted to his touch made me want to flee.

"It must be all these flowers in your hair."

"Uh," I stammered.

The photographer saved me. "Perfect. Now turn and put your hands on his chest. Best Man, keep your arms around her waist. Talk. Laugh. Act natural. I want some candids."

I chewed my bottom lip as I raised my hands to rest on his tuxedo. As his fingers brushed the bare skin on my lower back, I could hardly breathe, let alone think of something to say.

"You know," Hudson said in a rich baritone, "it's a low-blow to upstage the bride at her own wedding." He winked, and I felt my skin burn in another embarrassing blush.

I dropped my gaze. "Brandee's the most stunning bride ever. It's impossible to outshine her."

He nudged my chin up, and smiled.

I blinked several times, wondering if I was seeing things. His smile transformed him. Whereas he'd appeared intimidating and unapproachable before — dangerous even, like the panther his body called to mind — his smile made his striking green eyes crinkle at the corners, rendering him younger and friendlier looking. Totally disarming. Charming. The wool-silk blend of his suit rubbed against my arms, and I trembled.

"Tis true the bride is lovely, but no matter what Brandee does, she'll never outshine an angel like you."

My left strap chose that moment to slip from my shoulder. As I reached to fix it, his hands released my waist and stopped me. His lips curved slightly as he pulled the strap over my shoulder, caressing my bare skin. I flinched and looked up to meet his gaze. The deep forest green of his pupils held golden flecks, and dark lashes framed them to capture my focus like a hypnotist. I gulped and tried to still my pounding heart. What was wrong with me? No man had elicited such a physical reaction in me ... even my ex-husband, although Brandee kept telling me he wasn't a good specimen to judge men by. I'd given up hope of finding someone special. Not that Hudson would be that special someone. I was jumping ahead of myself to even think such an idea. But it was difficult not to when he held me hostage with his gaze.

"Do you have a name, angel?" He squeezed my shoulders, releasing hundreds of butterflies inside my body.

"Uh-h-h," I said through a shaky breath. "It's Spring."

"It's actually summer."

I shook my head at his teasing. "No. That's my name."

"Spring." He showed off his pearly whites, and I sighed. That smile should be bottled up and distributed as an anti-depressant. "The name fits you."

I lowered my gaze. "My mom was a hopeless romantic."

"I don't blame her. You have that effect on people." He squeezed my shoulders.

When I peeked up at him, he winked again.

"Perfect!" The photographer's voice shattered the magical bubble Hudson had somehow created around us with his soothing voice and tender caresses. "You two have fantastic chemistry."

I jerked away from the best man and searched for Brandee and Jeff. "We should find the bride and groom." I hurried as fast as my high heels sinking into the grass could go to escape Tall, Dark, and Captivating. My over-the-top reaction to him flustered me.

When I reached the dining area, I stopped to admire the elegant tables and ribbon-wrapped chairs under the gauzy tree tunnel. Several weeping willows draped with twinkle lights added to the magical effect. They'd be spectacular come evening. Leaning against the gnarled trunk, I closed my eyes and sighed. It wasn't even noon, but I already longed for a bubble bath and my bed. Keeping my friend from having a nervous breakdown this morning and dealing with whatever had gone on between the best man and I back there had me exhausted. And I still needed to find the idiot brother and keep him from stressing out the bride.

As I turned to rejoin the wedding party and sniff out the faulty wire, Hudson approached.

"There you are. You disappeared into thin air like a real angel."

If only I could. "Here I am." I averted my gaze and studied the willows. "So, uh ... how do you know Jeff?"

"I've known him since we were kids."

Oh. So he must be a childhood friend. "You know his family well then?" He smirked. "You could say that."

I touched my shoulders to ensure my straps hadn't strayed. "I heard he has a brother, but I haven't met him."

"Half-brother."

I chewed my lips, searching the wedding party for Brandee's nightmare. Was the idiot brother here yet? "Could you point him out to me if you see him?"

His eyes narrowed. "Why do you want to meet him?"

Was he jealous? "Oh, I don't. I'm just curious to see what he looks like. I've known Jeff for almost three years, and he's never once mentioned a brother. Brandee made him sound like the black sheep of the family when she told me about him earlier."

He snorted. "That's a good way to describe him."

My brow furrowed. "You don't think he'd try to sabotage or ruin the wedding, do you?"

A dazzling smile transformed him once more, and I couldn't help but shiver. I'd become a fan of that smile in the short time I'd spent with him.

"Don't worry your pretty head about that. Jeff's brother might have a few hang-ups, but he's a decent fellow. He won't crash a wedding, even if he is less than excited about his little brother's upcoming nuptials."

I frowned as I located the happy couple visiting with friends under the pergola. "Why wouldn't he be happy for him? Anyone can see those two are perfect for each other." I sighed as Jeff pecked Brandee's cheek.

"Bride and groom! Maid of Honor! Best Man!" Hudson and I groaned as we heard the photographer calling us again.

"This is why I hate weddings," he muttered. "The misery never ends."

I agreed with his sentiments.

As we crossed the lawn and took our places besides Brandee and Jeff, my strap strayed again. Stupid dress. I yanked the thread up over my shoulder, and patted my hair.

Brandee tapped my arm. "Stop messing with your hair. It's starting to come out of the wreath."

I turned my head, hating her eagle eyes that let nothing slip past. I fidgeted as the photographer kept snapping pictures.

Another hand slap. On my shoulder this time. "Will you knock it off?" Brandee hissed. "Your dress is gorgeous. Why won't you believe me?"

Because it wasn't true. I stared forward as the photographer positioned the bridesmaids on my other side.

Hudson spoke up from beside Jeff. "I'll second what Brandee said. That dress looks freaking a-MAZE-ing on you."

Brandee turned his direction. "Shut up, Hudson. No one asked you."

My eyes widened. Her outburst was so foreign to her kind and compassionate nature. The stress must be getting to her. I needed to distract her and settle her nerves.

When the photographer dismissed everyone except for the happy, wilting couple, I scurried off to retrieve my purse from the Tuscan-themed office near the parking lot.

"Hey, wait up." Hudson's hand caught mine.

I came to an abrupt halt and stared at my hand in his. "Did you need something?"

He had the audacity to thread his fingers through mine. "Your last name would suffice. And your number."

I tugged free of his grasp. It didn't matter how good his hand felt, he didn't have the right to hold mine. "It's Flowers, and I don't give out my number." I marched away. He'd calmed my worries about Jeff's idiot brother, but I wasn't in the market for a man. Besides, I wanted to scope out Jeff's brother and make my own judgment about whether I should keep tabs on him or not.

He chuckled behind me. "What's the hurry, Spring? Is winter chasing you?"

"Ha ha." I refused to look at him.

As his hand moved to the small of my very bare back, I tripped. Luckily, he caught me before I face-planted into the grass.

"Are you okay?" As he rubbed my exposed skin, goosebumps formed under my flesh.

I cursed Brandee for not choosing the cute, silky dress with sleeves and a back to it. "I'm, uh ... peachy." I found it impossible to string a coherent sentence together with his hand caressing me.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Package Deal"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Charissa Stastny.
Excerpted by permission of Charissa Stastny.
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.

Table of Contents

Other Titles by Charissa Stastny,
License,
Dedication,
Touched by an Angel,
1 Spring,
2 Hudson,
3 Spring,
4 Hudson,
5 Spring,
6 Hudson,
Avoiding an Angel,
7 Spring,
8 Hudson,
9 Spring,
10 Hudson,
11 Spring,
12 Hudson,
13 Spring,
14 Hudson,
15 Spring,
Pursuing an Angel,
16 Hudson,
17 Spring,
18 Hudson,
19 Spring,
20 Hudson,
21 Spring,
22 Hudson,
23 Spring,
Winning an Angel,
24 Hudson,
25 Spring,
26 Hudson,
27 Spring,
28 Hudson,
29 Spring,
30 Hudson,
31 Spring,
To My Readers,
Other Books by Charissa Stastny,
Acknowledgments,
About the Author,

Customer Reviews

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Package Deal 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Gurlay Garcia 5 months ago
I got this from Kathy of ebooksforreview.com and iamareader.com. I've read a book of the same author before and I enjoyed it, so when I saw this one up for review from the same author, I decided to sign up. Thanks again Kathy for the ebook copy. This is a story of a single mom who tries so hard to raise her two-year old daughter. Then, on her best friend's wedding, she met a very handsome and charming man but when he saw her daughter, he was disappointed. He definitely did not want any excess baggage. Spring Flowers. What a cute name, right? Yes, that's the name of one of the main characters in this story. Her cute two-year old is Emma. And to complete the set of characters, we have Hudson Sandel, the handsome man who was smitten with Spring. To him, Spring would have been perfect if not for Emma being part of the package. Spring and Hudson's first meeting is a meet-cute. Isn't it romantic to meet someone on a wedding? And Emma in all of her pint size personality threw a tantrum and Hudson came to the rescue which was not exactly what he planned, but he wanted so much to impress Spring. That gentlemanly act is what started to bring them together and there's no denying that Emma has a way of worming slowly into Hudson's heart. There were a lot of cute and warm moments here, especially with Emma involved. She's just so cute with all her two-year old vocabulary and not yet able to pronounce words properly. She's one of the things that makes this story work and I can't help but fall in love with her also. Hudson also had a lot of moments here. He's just so sweet and caring. After meeting Spring and Emma, he realized what he's been missing in his life. He ended up doing a lot of sweet, generous, and kind things for the mother and daughter and not just because he wanted Spring to fall for him but because he wanted to make these two happy and make their lives easier. Ah, Hudson is just another book boyfriend one could wish for. I give this book 5/5 cute little flower girl dresses. I really enjoyed the story. It was so cute that it made me swoon and wish for my own sweet Hudson. This is a feel good story though Spring and Emma's life was not perfect. Spring had to hurdle and overcome a lot of challenges in her personal life, career, and most especially in raising Emma. But her character is just so admirable that you can't help but root for her. Emma is her strength, so everything she does has to be all for the good of Emma. Even falling in love with Hudson has to be favorable to Emma. Fortunately, Emma has made sure that Hudson would fall in love with her also. She's just so adorable and oozing with cuteness, so Hudson was no match for this little devil. He was putty in her very small hands. What's the hurry Spring? Is winter chasing you? Forgiving means you let go of the bitterness poisoning you. - Charissa Stastny, Package Deal -
HumorMyWay More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this fun funny read. Man meet girl, thinks she might be the one only to find she has a little girl of her own. Raising someone else child is a big turn off not in his plans, and he exits left only to find everywhere he turns the lady of his dreams and her little nightmare of a daughter is right before his eyes, now isn’t that just his luck. There are many misunderstandings as well as lots of fun twists and turns that kept me very well entertained. A little drama as well as pain and sorrow. The show stopper and stealer is one little girl who is just adorable with her charming ways of getting into trouble and her hero which is the white horse she rides on. All that is needed is one princess and one knight to get on the same page. If one sweet angel has her way they will be married before you can say sweet! It isn’t your normal boy meets girl, and they live happy ever after. From Spring’s name to her darling little girl and the man everyone hates to her delightful friend who Spring promises to help keep the big bad brother away from stirring trouble at the wedding it was a delightful charming clean read that holds your attention and keeps you invest. I loved the plot, as well as how the author twists it from misunderstandings to deeds as well as sticking one big foot in your mouth time after time. There are some big surprises for our characters that kept me smiling and laughing my way through. I loved the chemistry between Spring and Hudson you could feel the sparks, they did their best to put distance between them but it just wasn’t in the cards. There really were wonderful characters that really got off on the wrong foot and kind of stay on that foot for a while. The supporting characters are wonderful Brandee just steals my heart and then breaks it, but she comes right back and really makes me love her. She and Hudson has one heart melting scene that just about had me in tears as well as some very touching scenes between Emma and Hudson that just totally melts my heart. The author knows how to pull her reader in she had me laughing, smiling, yelling, saying a few bad words as well as just about in tears at one time. Romance that makes you swoon, mouth dropping moments, a few shockers, sexy men and sassy women that know how to stand their ground, the author gives you a little of everything. I really didn’t want the story to end. I thought it was worth my time and a book I will read again and again.
belllla More than 1 year ago
4.5stars A beautiful love story between a single mom Spring and bachelor Hudson. When they first meet they are sparks flying everywhere but when Hudson finds out that with the sexy Spring comes also a little monster he doesn't want to have anything with her. Faith mix her fingers and they bump into each other constantly and little by little a little monster find a way to Hudson's heart. Both Hudson and Spring are very likable characters strong, well developed and the chemistry between them is burning. But there are insecurities especially on Spring side and she is determined that she doesn't need a man who doesn't love her or her daughter. Hudson changes a lot trough book and in a good positive way. I loved that he fought for both Spring and her daughter until the end. An emotionally, funny and great love story. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly