Chad Walker may be a take-no-chances man with a plan, but there's no way Amelia Snyder is going to let her best bud marry Mean Girl #1—even if the wedding is solely so he can secure the controlling shares in his family's company. But free-spirited Amelia's at-the-altar groomnapping scheme takes a surprising turn when she ends up as the blushing bride instead.
Suddenly, with Amelia living in her handsome husband's home—in his bedroom, no less—she starts to reconsider their strictly platonic arrangement. But Chad's always been strictly anti-risk and definitely anti-love, and betting a lifetime of best friendship on the chance at forever might be the biggest gamble of all.
Each book in the Stealing the Heart series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Stealing the Groom
Book #2 Resisting Her Rival
Book #3 Stealing the Bachelor
About the Author
From the time she was a child, Sonya knew she was destined to be a writer. If she didn't like the ending of a book or movie, she would write her own ending. When her children were young, she often wrote stories to entertain them. At the urging of one of her daughters, she submitted a short story and to her surprise and delight, it sold.
Sonya loves writing all things romance whether it's writing contemporary adult or teen fiction and still hasn't lost the wonder that she gets to do what she loves.
She enjoys reading, movies, chocolate, and laughter and credits her daughters as being the sweetest blessings in her life.
Read an Excerpt
Stealing the Groom
A Stealing the Heart Novel
By Sonya Weiss, Shannon Godwin, Rima Jean
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Sonya Weiss
All rights reserved.
"For the last time, you can't steal a man!"
"Chad is my best friend — it's not the same as stealing," Amelia Snyder whispered in response to her sister Ann's warning. Besides, how was she supposed to steal the groom if he never showed?
Amelia crouched by a row of evergreen bushes on an incline above the majestic red-brick church and aimed her binoculars at the limousine pulling into the long circular drive.
"Finally, he's here," Amelia said, darting a look at her reluctant partner in crime. The close sister bond between them was the only reason why Ann was here, by her side, offering support as she always had. When their parents were killed in a car accident almost fifteen years ago, her oldest sister Abby had just turned seventeen, Ann was fifteen, and Amelia was ten. Even when the siblings didn't agree, they were always there for one another.
"Thank you for helping me with my plan," Amelia said, giving her sister's hand a little squeeze.
Ann clamped her lips tightly together, her way of showing disapproval for what she'd referred to repeatedly as "Amelia's Folly." "We should forget this wild scheme and go inside. We still have time to change into our dresses before the ceremony begins."
Ignoring her older sister, Amelia focused all her attention on the scene below. Her sister didn't understand what was at stake if this wedding proceeded to the "death do us part" ending.
Camouflaged in the thick, prickly underbrush, Amelia kept her gaze glued to the entrance of the imposing building, afraid to blink lest she miss something important.
She had one shot to save her best friend from a life of sure misery. She didn't intend to blow it.
With a little bit of luck, the element of surprise would be on her side. She'd be in the limousine with Chad and on her way out of their quiet little town of Sweet Creek within seconds.
Though she hadn't slept more than six hours combined the last two nights, alternating between worrying over her sister Abby and worrying over Chad, her senses were on full alert. She knew the ramifications if she didn't succeed.
Chad would end up miserable married to Claire, the bridezilla. She would bleed him dry financially and drag his name through the mud. His finances and his reputation would be ruined. He'd become a broken man exactly like his father. Bitter. Angry.
Well, Amelia wouldn't allow it, not if she could help it.
She couldn't forget how Chad was the boy who'd punched the bully teasing her after her parents' death. The one who'd taken her to prom when her date had chicken pox. The one who taught her to how to fish, how to change a tire, and how to defend herself against boys who wouldn't take no for an answer.
She had to do whatever it took to prevent Chad's life from spiraling downward.
Therefore, failure was not an option. Friends did not allow friends to marry the wrong woman.
And without a doubt Chad Walker would marry the wrong woman unless Amelia took matters into her own hands. If she didn't act fast — in the next twenty minutes — she would have to go into the church, change into the dress she'd brought along, and watch her best friend ruin his life.
Okay, so maybe stealing the groom was a little drastic, but she'd tried everything else.
But he'd held steadfast in his decision. Even if he'd looked a little sick to his stomach doing it.
Due to some of his father's unwise business decisions before his death, Chad's family's company was at risk and he'd do anything he could to save it. Even offer himself up as the sacrificial lamb.
"All this skulking around is ridiculous, Amelia. Just tell Chad you love him so I can get out of this heat," Ann said, breaking the stillness of the moment.
She wiped the perspiration away from her eyes and settled her plump form more securely on the in-need-of-rain ground. "May is too hot a month to sit around outside and play I Spy."
"Who said anything about love? Our grandparents and his have been friends forever. You know how Chad and I were always thrown together at the holidays and vacations our families shared. We're friends, Ann, and as his friend, I'm simply worried about his future if he marries that barracuda."
She'd told Chad as much, except she'd left off the barracuda part.
He'd thanked her for watching out for him, and then assured her that his heart wasn't on the line because his upcoming marriage was simply a business arrangement.
She'd been too stunned to reply.
Business arrangement? Amelia had wanted to pursue the conversation, but his fiancée had called him on his cell phone at the exact moment to whine about ruining a pair of shoes.
Amelia had heard the woman's nasal voice before Chad switched off the speaker.
Oh, the horror of a pair of ruined shoes, Amelia scoffed inwardly. Claire was the most materialistic woman she'd ever known. The woman could smell money the way trained police dogs could sniff out contraband.
A fat bumblebee hovered around Amelia's head and she shifted her weight, ignoring the droning buzz as she kept her gaze focused on the limousine.
Though it was a very small wedding with only family and a few friends — unlike the event-of-the-decade reception she was sure Claire would have preferred — she needed the parking lot completely cleared before she could act. The fewer witnesses, the better. She knew Chad's family was already at the church, so Chad should be alone.
"Seriously, you've gone overboard this time." Ann waved her hand to ward off a bevy of gnats and lifted her shoulder-length brown hair away from her neck with a sigh of frustration. "This is probably the dumbest thing you've ever done."
"I haven't done anything yet."
"The yet is what worries me," Ann muttered, letting her hair fall back into place. "How I let myself get talked into tagging along on this fiasco I'll never know."
"Whatever. You know you secretly love the drama. Plus someone will need to tell everyone Chad has run off with me — after we're safely away from here, of course."
"If you say so." Ann pulled at the thick material of her blue jeans. "I should've put on a pair of shorts."
"Shh," Amelia said, "I need to pay attention."
So far, there was no sign Chad was attempting to exit the limousine. Maybe he was having second thoughts. Amelia's hopes crept upward. She wouldn't have to resort to such drastic measures if Chad would pull a disappearing act on his own.
Then she could enjoy the rest of her long-awaited vacation secure in the knowledge that her best friend was safe from the clutches of yet another woman hungry for his wealth. Amelia frowned. At least until the next gold digger surfaced.
There was always someone waiting in the wings to try to take advantage of him. Women flocked to him because of his good looks and then stuck around once they realized his net worth.
The driver's side door opened, the black paint glinting in the sun. Chad's aging chauffeur lumbered from the car and headed toward the back intending to open the door for Chad.
Leaving the car running.
Amelia's heart pounded.
Now or never.
Amelia made her move. "Don't forget to call and let the woman Grandpa hired to care for the cabin know that I'm on the way," she said over her shoulder as she leaped into action.
Amelia ran down the sloping incline and headed for the car as if it was the last piece of cream cheese red velvet brownie left on a tray at Great American Cookies.
Skidding to a stop by the driver's door, she yanked on the handle and slid behind the wheel. The keys dangled in the ignition, a sure sign she was doing the right thing.
Astonished, the chauffeur moved his hand away from the rear door and took a hasty step back.
After hitting the button to engage the locks, Amelia put the car in gear and pressed the gas pedal. The tires squealed and she cringed as she made her escape from the church parking lot.
So much for sneaking away unnoticed.
She turned right and made a beeline down Main Street. The powerful car bumped over the rarely used railroad tracks and flew past the flower shop with its striped green-and-white awnings and the bookstore advertising a sale.
Even though it wasn't quite noon, Frankly Eating, the hot dog diner made famous by a mention on America's Best Eats, already had customers lined up out front.
Behind her, she heard an abrupt, muffled exclamation and a body tumbled sideways. A couple of seconds later, there was a knock on the large black privacy window.
Exhaling, Amelia wiped her clammy hands down the sides of her grass-stained shorts and forced her breathing to regulate. She'd done it. She'd actually saved Chad from marrying Claire!
Amelia lowered the window halfway and braced herself for what was to come.
Judging by the scowl marring his handsome face, Chad didn't appreciate her good deed.
"What's going on?" he asked. "Who are ..." His shocked blue eyes caught and held hers in the rearview mirror. "Amelia?"
Amelia stalled answering until she eased onto Interstate 26 and headed west toward Columbia. Then she chose her words carefully. "Bet you're wondering what this is all about."
No response. Just that oh-so-familiar raised quirk of one brow. His gaze continued to bore into hers until Amelia focused once again on the road.
"I can explain," she began, darting another glance at him. Her stomach twisted at his what-the-hell-have-you-done-now expression. "In fact, I have a rational explanation for what at first might appear to be a completely irrational act."
Chad folded his arms across his chest. "You? Irrational act?"
She ignored his gibe. "Do you want me to explain or not?"
Hell yeah, he'd want her to explain! She'd known him long enough to know he'd want a detailed justification for what she had done, paired with an equally thorough briefing on what she was about to do. But for now, he drily said, "I can hardly wait to hear what you were thinking."
"I did it for love."
Chad stilled and something flashed in his gaze, gone as quickly as it had appeared. He swallowed hard, speaking cautiously, "Love?" He drew the word out, turning it into a question.
"Remember? We swore we'd only marry for love."
He winced as if in pain. "Oh, for crying out loud, Amelia, we were what? Eight years old?"
"You made me promise again when I was fifteen, remember? We were standing beneath the oak tree in my backyard."
Chad raked a hand through his closely cropped dark-blond hair, his breath escaping like a leaky tire. "A childhood promise. That's what this is all about." He rubbed his firm jawline.
The same jawline she knew looked devastatingly sexy with a five-o'clock shadow. The way it had looked two nights ago when she'd tried to talk to him about Claire.
She'd noticed how handsome Chad was years ago, but she'd been a teenager then. It had been a harmless crush that she'd outgrown.
Amelia gripped the steering wheel until her fingers cramped.
She hadn't seen him in over a year but they'd been friends forever. She wasn't attracted to Chad. Sure, he was good-looking. Hot even.
But he was like her brother.
She sneaked another peek into the mirror. She could have sworn she saw an expression of disappointment on his face, and guilt surged through her. He wasn't a man who liked his plans thwarted.
His thumb rubbed the corner of his lip and Amelia remembered the silly things she'd done when she was younger to try to get his attention because she'd wanted him to be her first kiss. But that was then, when she was a teenager with raging hormones. Now she knew better.
Chad was her friend, which made him off-limits with a capital OFF.
"Big-time OFF," Amelia muttered out loud, slowing to compensate for a car practically crawling in front of them. Not that she wanted him to be within limits. She liked her freedom too much to ever tie herself down permanently, especially to a man who didn't understand the meaning of spur-of-the-moment living.
"Have you been drinking your grandfather's special juice again?"
Amelia lowered her gaze from the rearview mirror. "That was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence." Her face warmed. Trust him to remind her of an incident best left undisturbed. "I barely remember it."
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Okay, Amelia caved. What if she did remember the scene as though it was tattooed on her brain? Finding the jar of homemade liquor when she was fourteen, helping herself to a hearty glassful, wanting only to find some courage and then ... Amelia nearly groaned.
Laughing, giddy beside the heady scent of honeysuckle, she'd danced, twirling in the soft, summer rain before she'd clutched the front of Chad's fit-him-like-it-was-glued-on T-shirt and asked — correction, begged — him to kiss her. She'd wanted to get her first kiss over with to see what all the fuss was about and ... he'd refused.
He didn't think of her "that way," he'd said. He'd pried himself free and walked away, his back rigid, not once looking back.
Oh God, the humiliation!
"Stop the car." Chad leaned forward and touched her shoulder, his fingers setting firecrackers off on her skin.
She shrugged away from his touch. "No. I'm stealing you for your own good. Now will you please cooperate?"
Chad's brows lowered but he didn't back away from the dividing window. "And exactly what are your plans for me? You do have plans, don't you? Or is this another one of your infamous fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants moments?"
"I have plans." Amelia let slide his reference to past escapades and carefully negotiated around an eighteen-wheeler.
"Care to enlighten me?"
"No." Chad didn't need to know her plans for him. Not yet.
Honestly, he could be a little uptight without a plan.
The car phone shrilled and Amelia's heart beat faster. She'd known he wouldn't have his cell with him for the ceremony, but she'd forgotten about the phone in the car.
As if sensing her thoughts, Chad met her gaze again, one eyebrow lifted in a question. "Am I allowed to answer the phone? Just wanted to check since I haven't studied Groomnapping 101."
Amelia bit her lip. The truth was, other than grabbing Chad and having a place to retreat for the night to gain more time to talk him into his senses, she hadn't thought this nab-a-groom through as well as she should have.
Her grandfather and Chad's grandfather were best friends. No doubt they'd both be ready to kill her once they learned what she'd done.
She'd let panic overrule her common sense. All she'd thought about as she'd tossed and turned last night was preventing Chad from making a huge mistake.
Huge? Ha! With Claire as his wife, it was more like an astronomical mistake. She'd known Chad's fiancée back in high school, and Claire had a reputation among the other girls as the Queen of Mean. A reputation she'd rightly deserved.
Not that any of the boys ever saw it.
Now that they were both adults, Amelia tried to reason that maybe Claire had grown up, that perhaps high school Claire had seen the error of her ways and changed her behavior.
But she simply did not trust that the Queen of Mean had undergone a personality transplant.
The phone quit ringing but restarted immediately after it had stopped.
"This might be Claire. I should let her know what's going on. No doubt everyone is freaking out right now." Chad prompted, jerking his head toward the phone. "I'll talk to her."
When Amelia heard him lift the phone in the back, she reacted. She pressed the button on the front console to end the call and put the phone on lock.
"What the hell are you doing?" Chad demanded as he looked from the phone in his hand to her.
"I know you might be a little confused as to why I interrupted your wedding." She took a deep breath, wanting to make him understand her desperation.
"A little confused? That's the understatement of the century." Chad slammed the phone down. "Everyone is going to wonder what the hell happened to me. What if they think I've been in a wreck getting to the church? Or if this might actually be a real kidnapping?"
Excerpted from Stealing the Groom by Sonya Weiss, Shannon Godwin, Rima Jean. Copyright © 2014 Sonya Weiss. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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