Read With This Ring (1) Online

Authors: Savannah Leigh

Tags: #Romance

With This Ring (1)

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With This Ring

(Wedding Dreams #1)

 

Savannah Leigh

 

Copyright 2013

Doodle Designs

 

Cover design by Jada D’Lee Designs

Cover image by George Mayer

eBook formatting by Mountain Media

 

Connect with the Author

Savannah Leigh Books

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication can
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in
writing from the author.

 

With This Ring

Chapter 1

Lily

“Don’t worry,
Mrs. Perry. I’ve rescheduled your daughter’s fitting for Wednesday at three.
Please tell Cassie we hope she feels better soon.”

I try to
disguise the panic in my voice. A bride with a case of the flu is bad news,
especially when she’s due for her final fitting and the wedding is just two
weeks away. Still, it’s my job to keep the bride—and her mother—calm, so I
force a smile and tell her not to worry before ending the call.

“Fuck!” I mutter
to myself, shaking my head. This is not what we needed, not now. But I will do
the worrying. That’s what they pay me to do.

As a wedding
planner, my life consists of nothing but gown fittings and cake samples,
putting out fires, and making sure that the bride gets the day of her dreams.
Of course, I deal with my share of Bridezillas, but I love my career. I enjoy
the organizing and planning that helps to turn every girl’s dream wedding into
a reality.

Every girl, that
is, except for me.

I am thirty-two
years old, and my mother is convinced she’ll be dead and buried long before she
has the chance to see me in a wedding gown. According to her, I work too much,
and my only real chance of finding a husband of my own is if I happen to catch
the eye of a groomsman.

Which I’ve done,
incidentally, but it’s never resulted in more than just a few one-night stands
and a date with my B.O.B.

I’ve planned
hundreds of weddings—and some have actually lasted past the first
anniversary—but I’ve seen enough marital heartache to know that there is no
Prince Charming, and I have serious doubts I will ever be a blushing bride. I
know this is not what people want in a wedding planner, so I keep my thoughts
to myself.

Suddenly the
door swing opens, and in walks my partner-in-crime, ripping me out of my pity
party.

“Kill me,”
Sierra mutters. She’s holding her bag, two coffees, and the latest issue of
Bridal
Couture.
“Murder me. Seriously.”

Sierra is new to
the wedding business and has a flair for the dramatic. What she considers a
disaster rarely is.

“You can’t die
today. You have the Williams’ meeting at two.”

“That’s what you
think.”

My stomach
sinks, and I know my face is white. The shitty economy hasn’t been kind to the
wedding planning industry. More and more brides are planning their own
ceremonies in order to save money.

“What happened?”
I ask, hoping she is just being her melodramatic self this morning.

She offers me
one of the cups. “Eloped. The bride didn’t even have the guts to call. She made
her father do it.”

 
Fucking
hell! It really
is
a disaster.

“Did Daddy say
why?”

“Oh, they just
couldn’t
wait
to spend the rest of their
fucking
lives together,
so they took a flight to the Bahamas and got married on the damn beach!”

“Where the sand
is free.”

“Seriously,
Lily, I want to puke.”

I shake my head
and sigh. They were supposed to sign the contract today. Another commission
bites the dust.

“Cassandra Perry
has the flu,” I tell her.

“What a day,
huh? I think this calls for margaritas.”

“We can’t afford
to be alcoholics.” Though the thought is really tempting today!

“True.” Sierra frowns
and takes a long sip of her coffee. She opens her mouth to say something when
we hear the door open.

A customer
enters the shop, and we plaster on smiles.

“I’ve got this,”
Sierra says, following the woman over to the display of invitations.

I thank her and
boot up my laptop. Opening our financial records, I scan the screen as I check
to see if making next month’s mortgage is even a possibility.

The next two or
three months look okay thanks to tomorrow’s wedding. After
that . . . who knows?

Depression—hard
and fast—hits me like a tidal wave. We’ve had some rough times, but this is the
closest we’ve ever come to closing our doors. It unnerves me.

It isn’t long
before the customer is gone. Sierra looks completely devastated, but I try to
hide my worries about our finances by giving her a small smile.

“No dice, huh?”

“She said she’ll
just print her own.”

“Of course she
did.”
Dammit!

Sierra grabs her
bag and makes a beeline for the door. “I’m headed to the Donaldson
consultation, so that’s one bright spot in our otherwise shitty day. And don’t
forget, I’m handling tonight’s rehearsal.”

I don’t even
bother to hide my panic. “Are you sure you want to tackle it alone? Kellie can
be—”

“A lot to
handle, I know. I can do this, Lily. I keep begging you to give me more
responsibility. I won’t let you down. Go home and rest up. I’ll need you
tomorrow.” 

And with that,
she is out the door, not giving me a chance to argue.

Tonight’s the
rehearsal for the Alexander wedding at the Catholic Church on Fifth. The
wedding of Kellie Alexander and high-powered attorney, Nicholas Price, is an
upscale event with an upscale guest list to match. It’s an incredible
opportunity for our business to attract some attention, and for Sierra and me
to network with some of the area’s elite. Needless to say, this wedding is a
big deal. It could literally mean life and death for our business. But Sierra’s
right. She’s my business partner, and I need to let her handle some things on
her own, even if it scares the shit out of me.

I mentally wish
her luck and say a prayer. With a sigh, I look around my beloved shop. I opened
Wedding Dreams eight years ago with the hope of making every bride’s fairy tale
wedding come true. This business is my life’s blood, and I will stop at nothing
to keep it open. But I’m also a businesswoman, and need to be realistic. Things
are not going well and haven’t been for a while now. I have to figure out a way
to make it all work.

I sit back down
at my laptop and try to get things organized for tomorrow’s big event. After a
few hours, I need to stretch my back, so I get up and walk around the shop. I
look at the beautiful display of invitations, costume jewelry, and veils. I
fall in love with my business all over again.

Because I’m a
masochist, I walk toward the bridal gowns. Amid the ruffles and lace, finding
the dress I’m looking for is easy. This particular gown has hung in the same
place for the past two years. The ball gown has a strapless sweetheart bodice,
is covered in little crystals and pearls, has a full skirt, long train and
looks like something Cinderella would have worn if only she’d had a better
designer.

I refuse to sell
it. It’s the only dress that has ever made me long to be a bride, even though I
doubt that will ever happen. It’s been almost a year since I went on a date and
even longer since I had sex. Maybe I just need to get laid. That might help my
outlook on life and business. But I suppose I need a man for that to happen,
and the only man in my life right now is my B.O.B.

Shaking my head,
I replace the dress to its hiding place and return to the counter. It’s ten
minutes until closing time, so I don’t feel too guilty about ending my workday
a little early.

I may not be
able to do margaritas tonight, but a bottle of cheap wine is definitely calling
my name.

***

“We have a
problem.”

I sigh. This is
our third “problem” in the past half-hour.

I adjust my
headset and smile at the onlookers. Appearing as if everything is moving along
perfectly is part of the gig, and I’ve got this look down pat. I casually move
away from the front of the sanctuary and head down the hallway in search of a
secluded spot.

“Sierra,” I
whisper into the headset, “for someone who wants more responsibility, you’ve
sure had a lot of problems today.”

“That was not my
fault! I can’t help that the caterer forgot that the mother-of-the-groom is
allergic to strawberries!”

I shudder and
close my eyes briefly to calm down.
Talk about killing my business.

“What’s the
problem?” I ask, hoping that it isn’t anything worth getting upset about.

“We have a
missing groomsman.”

On the list of
potential wedding day snags, this isn’t the absolute worst thing that could
happen, but it’s not great. The groom won’t care if he’s a buddy short. The
bride, however, might throw a shit fit. Best to deal with it if we can.

“Okay, was he at
the rehearsal?”

“Yes, but he was
totally uninterested. And now he’s
not here
!” Sierra is starting to
panic, and I’m afraid the guests will hear.

“What’s his
name?” I ask her calmly, taking a deep breath myself.

“Andrew. Drew, I
think.”

I let out my
breath in a sigh of relief. Drew is not the best man. That might have posed
more of a problem.

“Okay, I’ll look
for Drew. You smile and stay calm.”

On the hunt for
a shiny vest and tie, I stealthily make my way toward the men’s dressing rooms.
I find three handsome men decked out in purple accessories. I should have four.

“Hey, guys,” I
say with a big smile planted on my face. No reason to have anyone thinking
something is wrong.

“Hey, wedding
planner!”

They are loud
and smiling like idiots. I pray they haven’t been drinking.

“Wow, in unison.
Impressive. Do we have a missing person?”

Craig, the best
man, snorts. “That’d be Drew. He’d be late to his own funeral.”

The guys laugh
loudly. I smile patiently and wait for the joke to pass.

“Could one of
you call him? I need to know if he’s planning on making an appearance.”

They all reach
for their phones and press buttons.

“Straight to
voice mail,” John, one of the groomsmen, announces.

The others nod.

“Fantastic. Will
you keep trying him? Send me a text or give me a call if you reach him?”

I give the guys
my number before heading out into the hallway. Organ music wafts through the
air as I head past the classrooms and toward the door that leads to the
memorial garden. This church is one of my favorite wedding sites because of the
rose bushes and wild flowers that grow there. It’s a peaceful place with
benches and tiny waterfalls. It is the perfect place to get away from the
craziness of a wedding day.

And that’s where
I find him.

Since I skipped
the rehearsal, I wouldn’t know he was a groomsman if not for the tuxedo. He
doesn’t see me, so I take a minute to just stare at the gorgeous man who looks
as if he’d rather be anywhere but here. He’s broad-shouldered with dark brown
hair that’s cropped close. He’s clean cut and hot—two characteristics that
typically make my mouth water.

This time is no
exception.

“Drew?” My voice
remains calm. I don’t want to scare him and have him running away from this
wedding.

He looks up, and
I find myself staring into a pair of deep brown eyes. His gaze travels over me.
I’m dressed professionally in my button blazer, pencil skirt, and pumps, but
he’s staring at me as if I’m wearing fishnet stockings and stilettos. Now, I
know I’m not ugly. I do what I can to maintain my figure, and I think I do a
fairly good job. But the way he’s looking at me makes me feel like the hottest
woman in the world. As that thought passes, my imagination kicks into
overdrive, visualizing his body—hot, naked, and hard—as he pins me against the
church wall and fucks me senseless.

Focus, Lily. You
have a job to do.

I let him stare
a second longer before I finally clear my throat and speak into the headset.

“Sierra, I’ve
found him. Alert the guys.”

He laughs
bitterly. “Yes, call off the posse. The rogue groomsman has been found.”

His voice is
deep and low, making my stomach clench and my panties get a little damp.

Is there
anything unattractive about this guy?

I take a deep
breath to steady myself before joining him on the bench.

“How’d you find
me?” he asks.

“The purple vest
kind of gives you away.”

“And you are?”

“My name is
Lily. I’m the wedding planner.”

He scrutinizes
my face. “You’re not the girl from last night. I remember her vividly because
she never shuts up.”

“That
girl
is Sierra, and she is my associate. And from what I hear, you were being less
than cooperative.”

“Yeah,
well . . .” He scrubs at his face. “How do you do this?”

“What do you
mean?”

“Plan weddings.
Marriage is ridiculous. Really, how do you sleep at night, bonding two people
into holy matrimony who have no business being together in the first place?”

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