Nightmare bridesmaids’ dresses, tasteless fondant icing, budget-busting wedding expenses—some women just aren't about it. They’ll laugh off tradition, make their own rules—and find the most outrageous ways possible to flip wedding day lockstep into true love.
She's done, finished, had it. Between her family’s expectations and being always-a-bridesmaid, Lily Perry is fed up with being nagged to find a husband. She's happy with her life—and tired of being burned by “nice guys” who demand she fit their dreams. So she’s going to settle the issue once and for all: by marrying herself. And celebrated chef Vincent Caro's fabulous restaurant is the perfect place for a big-time, blow-out,
not-hearing-it-any-more wedding. Lily doesn't care if everyone—including Vincent—thinks she's crazy. Especially when his mouth-watering talent and no-commitments style ignites one sizzling, no-strings fling, or two…or more.
But no matter how hard they try to keep things light, their relationship keeps getting hotter. The more Vincent helps Lily tackle unexpected trouble, the more he finds she might be everything he’s ever wanted. Can she afford to forget caution and finally let go? And can they both take a risk to discover if what they have is meant to last long after the dessert course?
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To Me I Wed
An Unconventional Brides Romance
By K.M. Jackson
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Kwana Jackson
All rights reserved.
"You're not just gaining a wife, you're getting my best friend." Lily Perry took one look at her sister, Sophie, and realized her mistake. Shit. Now I've done it. Did she really just use the same best friend line on Sophie that she had with Sophie's twin, Audrey, at her wedding? Or was it Peggy who she used that line on when she married Marcus? Her sisters had been getting married left and right, and all the weddings and toasts were starting to blur together. You'd think they were in some sort of great marriage race.
Lily looked around the banquet room of the VFW hall and caught her mother's sister, Aunt Ruby pulling a face and whispering something to her newly engaged daughter, Nikki. Lily swallowed back a grimace. Jeeze, even Nikki was jumping the broom. At the rate her family was going, there would not be a broom or a groom to be snagged in all of the Rockaways. Not that Lily was actively looking for either. She had a vacuum in her apartment for sweeping, and, well, for other tasks, if her dating life hit a lull she had an electronic device to take care of that too. It was way more reliable than men anyway. Still, Lily glanced left and caught her mother, Renée Henton-Perry, staring too. The hyphenation in her name was still new to her and intentionally left off the wedding invitations. She preferring to keep things simple she said and going the traditional route of Mr. and Mrs. Perry request the honor blah, blah, blah and so forth. Her hair and makeup were flawless, as usual, and her skin was smooth and unlined. The untrained eye would never determine that she was the mother of six grown daughters — four married — with a grandchild on the way. One would also not know that right then she was highly pissed. But Lily knew. She caught the glint of disapproval in her mother's eye and the ever-so-slight pull of tension around her perfectly lined mouth. Lily wondered if it was due to her speech faux pas or the fact that, one table over, Lily's father, Philip Perry, was sitting with his arm draped casually around his current girlfriend, who was happily sipping on her pink cocktail and batting her long, glued-on lashes.
Lily cleared her throat as her cousin Nikki smirked and rolled her eyes in her direction. Unperturbed by her cousin's cutting glance, Lily raised her glass higher, giving her sister what she hoped passed for a glowing smile before turning to the crowd. "I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have been blessed with the world's best sisters. And to all my brothers-in-law, you'd better treat them right, or there will be hell to pay." She then directed her final words to her newest brother-in-law, Simon, who looked ecstatic to be marrying Sophie. His big blue eyes shined brightly for her as they had every day since they'd met in Sophie's improv class.
Both budding actors, they made a slightly sickeningly perfect couple. Sophie with her cocoa-brown skin and finely chiseled model features, and Simon with his wavy dark hair and captivating eyes. They looked like a couple in an aspirational car ad or in the picture that comes in the picture frame that you replace with your mediocre second best. Plus, they were always smiling and complimenting each other. If Lily didn't know them in person and up close, she'd swear their love was faked for some reality TV show. Lily smiled at her new brother-in-law and continued from her heart. "Simon, I'm not worried about you. Your love for Sophie has been shining bright since day one. May it shine on forever." Lily turned back to the now-beaming crowd. She had them. Hell, even Aunt Ruby was blinking back a tear.
But just as Lily took a sip of her champagne, she caught sight of a sneer from freaking Lacy Colten. Ugh, why had Sophie invited that man stealer? A nemesis since high school, Lacy was well known for frequenting weddings to get free booze and easy prey. Lily watched as Lacy stopped sneering, quickly sat up straighter, and stuck her already-on-display double Ds out even farther as she looked across the room, no doubt at her next victim. Lily's eyes shifted.
It was him, and surprisingly, he was staring at her, not Lacy. Oh crap. His eyes so dark and intense they reminded her of hushed quiet in the dead of night. Midnight. Lily frowned as the heat of his stare penetrated her being. Working her over from the inside out. Stirring up feelings that she'd long told herself she was well and good over. What the hell, dude? Mind your own business. Lily pointedly tried to look in any direction but his as she wondered what he was doing there and mentally cursed Thomas for backing out at the last minute and leaving her to attend this wedding on her own. She'd fix him the next time he needed someone to attend one of his boring corporate functions and one of his usual cookie-cutter airheads just wouldn't cut the mustard.
"Your toast was great," Scott, Simon's brother, said as he took his spot to make the best man's toast and thankfully pulled Lily's attention away from Midnight and back to the task at hand.
"Thanks," Lily said, her voice slightly shaky.
Why was he staring so dang hard? As a matter of fact, why was he there at all? Lily knew he was a friend of Simon's, but were they really close enough to warrant an invite to an intimate family affair? She snorted to herself. Hell, Lacy was there. Seems anyone could get into this party. But still, she couldn't believe she missed his name on the guest list. Wait, she couldn't believe she missed his name all together, as in the fact that she couldn't remember it. How could a person not remember the name of another person she made out with pretty hot and heavy one night? Lily inwardly shifted as she wondered what her mother would say to that. She'd probably purse her lips so hard she'd pull a muscle. But still, there it was. For the life of her she couldn't remember his name. Not that it was all that much of a bad thing. The not-remembering-his-name deal Lily considered it a bit of a triumph, as after their hot-and-heavy make out session on the beach those months ago he went radio silent with zero communication sent in her direction. So Lily made it a point to not dwell on him for longer than the week she'd given him to call and then mentally erased his name from her "give a crap" database.
Still Lily worried at her bottom lip. It was a short name, that she knew, and her face heated up when she recalled that his name was the only thing that was short about him. Lily felt the heat rise in her cheeks to a near boiling level as she looked back at midnight eyes and caught a distinct raise of his brow just as she was turning to take her seat once more. It was as if he knew what she was thinking. And it was then that she almost tripped on the hem of her dress, getting it caught in the toe of the stupid dyed-to-match satin-and-sparkle shoes that Sophie insisted they all wear. If it were her day, there would be no matching dresses. Come on, no one dress flattered everyone and dyed-to-match. Please. The horror. This was not nineteen ninety-eight. Had she not taught Sophie anything?
Lily righted herself with the back of the spindles of the rented gold chairs, and once again her eyes connected with Midnight's. He smirked and raised his beer in mock salute. The freaking nerve.
Lily squelched her blush as she turned away and tried to focus on Scott's speech. He was going on about something to do with a keg and a goat, and she told herself she really should have vetted what he'd planned to say. It was a rookie move leaving the best man's speech up to chance. More than one fight has broken out due to mention of a boys-gone-wild bachelor party.
Lily shook her head as the crowd laughed and her thoughts went back to Mr. Eyes. Maybe he was the plus-one of another guest. At that thought Lily got a surprising and completely unwelcome knot in her stomach. What should she care if an old hookup was a plus-one at a wedding she was attending? That wasn't awkward at all. Well, not all that much. And what was he doing looking at her like that if he was someone else's plus-one? She let out a deep breath and did a quick flip in her mind, his overly dark, midnight eyes taking Lily back to their first and only meeting the summer before, on the beach where Sophie and Simon were on a not-quite-date with a group of friends and she tagged along, still feeling slightly salty after Thomas giving her his little speech about their not being mutually exclusive. Well, hell, she'd wished she'd had known that bit of bullshit before she'd gone and turned down her fair share of good-looking man candy while he was tipping around the city spreading all his joy. For the life of her she didn't know why she still gave Thomas the time of day. And now here she was, obviously dateless, when he was supposed to at least be available as her plus-one, mutually exclusive or not. They had an understanding.
No matter though. Right now Lily was focused on Midnight, and she couldn't help but note that he looked just as good now as he had then. Though now he wore his hair shaved close to his scalp, and he had this scruff that looked quite, well, touchable in a rough but irresistible way on his chin. And his shoulders, which were wide then, seemed even wider now. As a matter of fact they were practically straining the hell out of his black suit jacket. And just as he'd done on the beach that afternoon, where they'd shared beers and tacos then later quite a bit more, making out under the dock, he was looking at her as if he could see right through her dress, past her mask of calm reserve and down to the fact that just his stare was making her hot as hell. Forget the champagne, maybe she needed a cold shower.
Sophie leaned over to Lily and patted her hand. "Nice toast, sis," she whispered between smiling clenched teeth. "I liked it the first time I heard it too."
Lily shook her head and turned her younger sister's way. "Can you cut me just a little slack? You gave me only three months to put this shindig together, and I pulled out all the stops for you, calling in many markers with my vendors, mind you — even passing on a job in order to slip you in. So sorry if I bungled the toast, but you have to admit the rest of your day has been perfect."
Duly chastised, Sophie shook her pretty head in agreement. Yes, it had been perfect, Lily knew that. As a high-end social event planner, Lily was just getting to the top of her game, or at least she could envision the top from where she was standing in the valley. And she had been working overtime for her sisters as of late. "Thank you, this day has been wonderful," Sophie finally said. "I just wish you would be in the moment with me and stop to enjoy what's going on. You're not a robot, you know. And we're family, I'm not just any of your other clients."
"Of course you're not just any other client," Lily started just when the DJ decided to strike up a particularly annoying nineties dance track that had the crowd quickly exiting the dance floor and heading back to their seats. Lily frowned and looked at her sister. "If you were any other client, I wouldn't have let you hire Awful Roy from high school to DJ this gig." She let out a sigh. "But thanks to me and my extraspecial way of treating all my clients like family, I'm going to handle this for you and go kick some sorry DJ ass right now to get this party on track."
As Sophie let out a breath and shook her head, Lily headed in Roy's direction, a new and improved set list the only thing on her mind.
"So when is it going to finally be your turn to walk down the aisle? You can't let your sisters have all the fun."
Really? The slightly slurred voice came at her from behind and instantly ruined Lily's semi-good mood after the Roy smackdown. Just when things were starting to get back on track. People were dancing once again; DJ R-Town, aka Roy Husker, had promised no more songs with the words groove or celebration in them; and Sophie was currently booty shaking in a semi-disrespectful way around her longtime love, newly minted husband, Simon.
All was in place and running beautifully. Not to mention the normally slightly drab VFW hall on the North Shore of the Island had been transformed to a bridal oasis. All done up in Sophie's colors of lavender and rose. It took Lily pulling quite a few strings with some of her vendors to get everything in place, but when they heard the wedding was for her sister, none of them would turn down the opportunity to do Lily a favor with hopes of being called upon for some of her more high-profile clients.
Yes, the day was going well, or at least better than expected given the fact that she was once again being showcased as a bridesmaid. It wasn't all that much of a problem, despite the shoes, but she was a surprisingly dateless one, thanks to Thomas and his unreliable ass. Well, that just made things unnecessarily inconvenient. He was supposed to be there for her as a buffer against stupid-ass questions like this one.
Lily gave herself a mental kick. She should have known the question was coming. Even with Thomas by her side at Audrey's wedding, she hadn't made it out without the big M question coming her way. She didn't know why she'd thought she'd make it through this one. Maybe it was the long lull that gave her a false sense of hope that just once she'd get through one blasted family wedding without the focus turning to her lack of a significant other. Today it was Uncle Gene holding up the singleton mirror as he jabbed at her with his not-so-innocent questions. Lily turned away from her inspection of the ice-cream martini bar to face a bleary-eyed Uncle Gene. She tried her best to reach the back corner of her heart to come up with a retort that was, if not kind, at least not the "step off and mind your own damn business and while you're at it maybe lighten up on the whiskeys. Oh, and by the way, my eyes are up here, Uncle Gene" retort that she really wanted to blurt out.
Nope. Lily knew that comeback wouldn't do, so she sucked in a breath and forced a smile for her half-drunk, but mostly harmless, uncle. She was just about to say something when out of the corner of her eye she caught him staring at her ... again.
Okay, this was getting highly uncomfortable if not wholly unwelcome. It wasn't like he was an unattractive man, he was quite the opposite; she just wasn't in the mood for flirty games. Well, not much. She looked past Uncle Gene to sweep him with a brief glance. Hell, it wasn't like Thomas showed, or like they were exclusive, Lily thought as she twisted at her lip. And if he were a plus-one, well, where the hell was his date?
Lily glanced again. Broad shouldered and tall, even by her standards, which meant exceptionally tall since she was five foot ten, Midnight was handsome in that slightly rough way that went against her norm but was just her thing back when they hooked up. With his smooth, tanned skin; full lips; and now that close-cropped hair, he had her instantly thinking of how luxuriously bristly he'd feel beneath her palms. But it was his eyes that really pulled her in. Framed by full brows, they were deep set, dark as pitch, and after all these months still made her feel as if he was seeing way too much. As if he knew what she looked like under her clothes, past her Grecian-styled one-shoulder dress that matched her sisters' but was a darker shade of rose, highlighting her status or, as some would think, shame, as maid of honor. The dress skimmed her generous curves in a flattering way but was still modest enough to not cause a stir. But with the way Midnight was eyeing her, she may as well have been naked in the middle of the VFW. It was as if his eyes caught it all.
It was then that Uncle Gene snapped his fingers in front of her face. "Earth to Lily. Girl, are you listening to me? That last boyfriend run out on you due to your lack of hearing?" Lily felt the rage start at her toes and work its way up. Screw niceties. Uncle Gene had gone too far that time. She opened her mouth to let him have it when another voice entered the fray.
"Shut your drunk behind up, Gene, and leave the child alone!"
Lily couldn't help the smile that quirked at the corner of her lips as Uncle Gene's face fell with the verbal smackdown from her grandmother, Delilah. Immediately, he flipped from being annoying Uncle Gene to being Gene, set upon son-inlaw. "Aww, come on, Mama Dee. I'm just teasing her. I don't mean any harm."
Excerpted from To Me I Wed by K.M. Jackson. Copyright © 2017 Kwana Jackson. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fed up with the expectations and disappointments of love, Lily decides to step off the escalator and take control of her life. Sounds sane, right? The way she goes about accomplishing this task, is anything but. To Me I Wed has to be the most over the top love story that I have had the pleasure of reading, yet that is what I found so adorably intoxicating about it. When it comes to love, everyone is clueless. Love is the most frustrating, heartbreaking, irresistibly alluring emotional out there. No one understands how it works, but we all know when it feels right. K.M. Jackson scores points for originality. She created a story that is identifiable, at times certifiable, but in the end proves to an edible addiction of sweet and tempting charm.