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Still The One

Still The One

Автор Louisa George

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Still The One

Автор Louisa George

Длина:
173 страницы
1 час
Издатель:
Издано:
24 авг. 2017 г.
ISBN:
9781386484806
Формат:
Книга

Описание

She broke his heart once, now she's back to do it again…

When rugged cop Daniel Wade agrees to help organize his friend's Christmas wedding it brings him face-to-face with the bridesmaid, his estranged wife. Emma is determined that divorce is on the cards, but sometimes all it takes is a second chance to get things right...

(Previously published in the Lovecats Hot Christmas Nights Boxset as BABY IT'S HOT OUTSIDE)

Издатель:
Издано:
24 авг. 2017 г.
ISBN:
9781386484806
Формат:
Книга

Об авторе

Award-winning author Louisa George has been an avid reader her whole life. In between chapters she managed to train as a nurse, marry her doctor hero and have two sons. Now she writes chapters of her own in the medical romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction genres. Louisa's books have variously been nominated for the coveted RITA Award, and the NZ Koru Award and have been translated into twelve languages. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.


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Still The One - Louisa George

Chapter

1

The trouble with weddings, Daniel Wade observed as he picked his way through the teetering piles of gold and silver wrapped gifts on his friend’s lounge floor, was the expectation.

Expectation that the Best Man’s speech would be hilarious. Check. He’d been rehearsing the damned thing

for

days

.

That the bridesmaids would be beautiful. Definitely. Without a doubt. One in particular. Stunning. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

That there would be tears.

Not

his

.

No one ever mentioned the disappointment. All that fancy wrapping, but when you’ve torn away the glitz the only things left are a pile of crock, a huge overdraft, and a healthy disregard for the future.

Although, the hole in Dan’s chest at the thought of his own ill-fated marriage didn’t feel particularly healthy. It felt raw—even after two years of being apart, of living without her. Of learning not to love her. And failing.

And damn, but he’d thought he was

over

her

.

Daniel fixed a non-too sarcastic smile on his face, trying not to let his cynicism spoil his best mate’s wedding weekend. Maybe Bas and Megan would last. Maybe theirs was a true happy ending love story. Maybe

pigs

flew

.

Bas’s tiny old colonial villa was brimming with every kind of festivity. Silver and red party streamers looped across the lounge ceiling, a Christmas tree stood proudly in the corner sheltering piles of Christmas presents. The place looked like the grotto of gaudy. A playlist chimed out Christmas songs about love and babies.

Yeah, Christmas and a wedding—the double whammy of cheese. Bas’s wife-to-be, Megan, was a sucker for celebrations so a Christmas Day wedding was her idea of utter heaven. And Daniel’s idea of pure

unadulterated

hell

.

He called across the empty room, "Hey honey,

I’m

home

."

Finally. Dan, the very late best man. Cristian Basso—Bas to his friends—appeared from the kitchen, a beer bottle in hand and a grim look on his face. "Where the hell have

you

been

?"

Naw…did you miss me? Daniel tried for positive as he shook his mate’s hand. Because he understood exactly what he was going through. Their roles had been reversed when Dan got married four years ago. "I was at work and you knew that. One of us has to keep the good folks of Waiheke Island on the straight and narrow. We can’t all swan around in pre-matrimonial bliss and ignorance. Talking of which, how are you feeling? Like a condemned man? Or

all

good

?"

I’m good now that you’re here. An hour late. And not even bothered to change into civvies. Bas shook his head wearily at Daniel’s police uniform and took a slug of beer from the bottle. So yeah, maybe he should have gone home to change but that would have added more minutes and another whole level of groom-nag. Which was clearly already starting to escalate. This is supposed to be a mix-and-mingle party for the out of town guests to get to know everyone else. And it’s painful, so I need some moral support.

"I’m right here, man. Tell me what

you

need

."

"You’re the best man—you should be hosting the damned thing. It’s meant to be a wedding weekend, Dan. Uncharacteristically, Bas was pacing. The man was freaked. By his own wedding. We have something planned for each day, finishing with the ceremony on Monday—you can’t just saunter up for that and miss out everything else. Tell me you’re going to be around and not off mooching on your own on that rusting tin boat of yours?"

Whoa. Simmer down. Stop panicking. For you, my friend, I’ve gotten time off from the end of my shift tomorrow. I’ll be there. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. With Christmas bells on. I’d move in here for the duration if my presence is that important to you—but three’s a crowd and all that… Daniel wandered through to the kitchen and helped himself to a ginger beer from the fridge. "I swear this time it was not my fault I was late. We got a drunk driver just before the shift ended and you know the crapload of paperwork that comes with that. You did the right thing taking a

month

off

."

If I hadn’t, Meg would have divorced me before we’d even got married. Bas laughed. "Summer holidays are only just beginning, no doubt there’ll be a few more before it’s over. Waiheke is vineyard central and this is the season to be jolly

after

all

."

Sure, but not in charge of a vehicle. When will people learn? Driving safely was hard enough, mix it up with alcohol and, man…At the far reaches of his brain Daniel registered a memory. A momentary panic. The ramped up heart beat. The sense of abject loss. But, where once he’d have sunk deep into the debilitating emotions, this time he acknowledged them and then let them go. No way was he going to allow the past to get in the way of this weekend, or any other weekend for that matter. Not

any

more

.

Bas scraped a chair out from underneath the table and sat down. "Anyone

I

know

?"

Nah. Just a holidaymaker, partaken of a bit too much of the local vino. Daniel pulled a beer out of the fridge, flicked the lid off and handed the bottle to Bas. "I love living here; I can totally live the island dream, but when it gets summer-crazy and Christmas-busy I want to jump on the first

ferry

off

."

Yeah, and sometimes I want to push you off it too. Like right now. You’re off duty, so switch off work and put your wedding head on. How’s the speech prep going? You still got the rings?

And I thought it was the women who went all Bridezilla. Daniel slapped his mate on the back and sat down opposite him. They went a long way back. Their mums always laughed about how the two boys had met in the sandpit in kindergarten and on first sight had started a discussion about whose digger was the bestest, fastest, biggest. They’d been locked in a sort of competitive mateship ever since. Of course Daniel wouldn’t let his friend down. But it was a long time since he’d seen him freaked out like this. Chill a little, it’s all under control.

Bas nodded, shoving a hand across his regulation cop buzz cut. Between you and me, bro, I’m getting a little out of my comfort zone here. For a start I don’t care what color the place cards are or who sits next to who and I definitely don’t know anything about wedding favors.

Believe me, they are not what you’re thinking. More’s the pity. Plus, Daniel knew exactly who he didn’t want to sit next to at the wedding breakfast, but he had no doubt that Best Man and Maid of Honor protocol meant they’d have to sit close. Unless he could convince the bride and groom to go against centuries of tradition—- he doubted they’d do that, even

for

him

.

He threw his mate a conciliatory grin. You were born for this, Bas. All that 'til death us do part bit…you’ll be just fine. And Meg—well, she’s definitely the girl for you. Anyone who can put up with your ego needs a bloody medal. And…well, it’s clear you love each other. There, he was getting a little soppy in his old age. You’ll both be great at the husband and wife stuff.

Not

like

him

.

Talking of wives… Bas leaned closer and jerked his head towards the backdoor, for once genuine concern showing on that ugly face of his. "She’s here. Flew in last night. Outside, talking

to

Meg

."

Shit, where’s the emergency exit? Daniel’s stomach tightened. Worse, his heart raced and jittered like a puppy with a new toy. He glanced around, making a joke of being nervous.

As it was, he didn’t need to pretend. The last time he’d seen Emma he’d been in a bad way; he couldn’t even remember the words he’d used, the things he’d said. But he could remember the way she’d looked at him. The haunted eyes, the disappointment. The relief that she was leaving him. That was burned into his memory like a brand. After five blissful years things had changed so irrevocably that she’d grown to hate him, and the pathetic thing was, he couldn’t

blame

her

.

As if sensing Daniel’s discomfort Bas looked at him. "You okay? Not wanting

a

beer

?"

"Yes. But I’m not going to

have

one

."

Bas looked at him a long moment. He didn’t need to say anything, he’d walked the road with Daniel these last few years. He knew how it went. More, he’d been Dan’s unerring supporter. "Fair enough. Good

on

you

."

I’m giving it my best shot, mate. One day at a time. Dan picked up Bas’s empty bottle. I’ll just tidy up here before Megan gets on our backs for being untidy-

Bas? Bas? The gentle tinkle of chardonnay-fuelled giggles floated in on the warm summer breeze as someone came in through the back of the house, the porch screen clattering against the doorjamb. The voice behind him got louder as it neared. "Hey! Bas! Meg says she needs you outside to help fix the fairy

lights

oh

"

Daniel caught the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle and something else—something so familiar it had him swiveling round. He sucked

in

air

.

Emma.

He wasn’t prepared for the jolt of heat that ricocheted through him at seeing her again after these last few empty years. She’d come to an abrupt halt, eyes guarded. Cool liquid blue pupils fixed on him. A taut jaw, a tight purse of

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