by Jenna Bayley-Burke
E-Original published by Swerve
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Seattle attorney Miranda Rose arrives in Las Vegas determined to keep her best friend-with-benefits from making a costly mistake – marrying some stranger just to save his family trust. But once there, Miranda discovers she’s the surprise bride! One red-hot honeymoon later, they’re back to their over-scheduled lives on opposite coasts. But a marriage of convenience with regularly scheduled sexytimes turns complicated when Miranda gets the shock of a lifetime: she's pregnant...with twins.
Miranda has always wanted a family of her own, but her infertility made it impossible. Besides, Callum’s difficult upbringing places him adamantly in the no-kid zone. Now she must decide between the man she’s been in love with for years and the children she’s longed for. Or will Callum surprise her yet again and come through when it matters most?
A bolt of nausea pealed through her like church bells in a quiet town. “You’re still planning to get married?”
“Of course.” He lifted her chin with two fingers. “To you.”
Miranda gasped, her hazel eyes sparking with emotion. Her gaze narrowed on him and she shook her head, dislodging his fingers. Her furious expression sobered his smile. He’d never seen Mira angry, not at him at least.
“Listen, doll.” He reached for her and she batted his arm away with one hand, and her other landed squarely on his cheek with a loud slap. The sharp sting was chased away by heat spreading up his face. He pressed his palm against the pain, his mind numb from shock.
“No, you listen you spoiled son of a bitch. I could strangle you right now.” Her finger jabbed at his chest so hard he looked down to see if it left a mark. “You don’t get to call me and say you’re getting married in a day, make me show up and try to talk you out of it, and then say it’s some kind of joke. If you want to vacation with your friends, you invite them. And don’t talk to me about marriage. I am not a game you play. I deserve more respect than that.”
She shoved him aside with more strength than he’d thought possible and pushed her way out of the shower. She snagged the robe from a hook and wrapped her hair in a towel at mach speed.
Fear squeezed his chest. Of all the ways he thought this might go, he’d never imagined her outraged. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist as he chased after her.
“It’s white.” She stood in front of the closet, clutching the bridesmaid gown. She tossed it onto the huge bed and pointed at the flowers on the bedside table. “And those are bouquets. That’s why they are tied and set in the water, not fanned out.” She smacked her hand against her forehead. “And this is the honeymoon suite. I thought the hotel had made a mistake, but this is all you. All some cruel game you dreamed up to bring everyone together.”
“Listen. I can explain.” He stepped to the foot of the bed, but didn’t get too close to her. He’d never seen this side of Miranda, and it unnerved him. He’d thought he knew her so well.
She tipped her head back and gave the saddest laugh he’d ever heard. “Of course you can. You’ll have to make your excuses while I get ready, because I am so out of here.” She brushed past him to the vanity.
“Miranda, please hear me out.” His stomach knotted as he turned to catch her gaze in the mirror. He had until she made it from hairbrush to perfume. Less than that really, because she was sure to drown him out with the blow dryer.
“What did you expect?” She tugged the brush through her hair and then tossed it onto the marble countertop. She picked up a tube and squeezed a white cream on her hand and scrubbed it into her flushed face. “Was I supposed to throw my arms around you and confess my undying love and follow you back to New York tomorrow? Drop everything the way I did when your father died? I have a life, Cal.”
“I don’t expect anything in your life to change. Mine either.”
She spun around so fast he stood up straighter, sure another slap was on her agenda. “You want to get married but you don’t want anything to change. Now you’re not only disrespecting me, you’re disrespecting marriage. A union I happen to believe in.”
He held up his hands in surrender. He had to stop digging this hole he’d tossed himself into. “I’m going to start at the beginning.”
SMP Romance: http://smpromance.com/contemporary.html#just-married
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By day, JENNA BAYLEY-BURKE is faster than a speeding toddler, stronger than a stubborn husband, able to leap tall Lego structures in a single bound...but by night, while the family sleeps, she writes romance novels where no one ever has to scoop up after the dog, change diapers, clip coupons, drive carpool, do laundry, mop floors, get Silly Putty out of hair, vacuum, empty the vacuum bag (gross!), exercise, count calories, apply Band-Aids, clean up puke...wait where was this going? Oh, Jenna writes romance because it is glamorous.
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