I swear I wasn’t looking for a man for Valentine’s Day.
I sure as hell wasn’t looking for a groom of my own.
You know the phrase, always a bridesmaid"
Well, that’s me to a tee.
In fact, I’ve made a career out of being a bridesmaid.
And not just any bridesmaid. I’ll be your best friend through the entire wedding process.
You need a BFF to throw your baby shower" Boom, I’m on it.
You need a girl you can trust to arrange the stripper for your bachelorette" I’m all over it.
You need a wedding planner, soul sister, loyal woman warrior who’s got your back, no matter what"
The one bridesmaid who will never, ever let you down on your special day"
I’m your girl.
Do I ever get tired of being the bridesmaid"
Do I ever wish it was me waltzing down the aisle, the man of my dreams waiting lovingly at the altar"
Ehh, hell-to-the-no. Been there, done that, got the heartbreak.
After the way I got burned, I’d rather die than go through that torture ever again.
Until this one.
The wedding that changed everything.
A Valentine’s Day Wedding.
And one brother of the groom who will not take his fierce, sexy eyes off me.Books by Author:Chance Carter Books
I stared beyond my desk at the row of windows on the far end of the room. It was bright outside, one of the first days of sun in nearly a week. Portland"s streets would be bursting with life as the glittering rays drew out its citizens and tourists with the promise of warmth and light. I wished I could be out there too, and was considering calling it a day when my office manager, Julia, came by with the mail.
"I wasn"t expecting to see you in here today, Aurelio," she commented, tossing a stack of envelopes onto my desk.
I laughed. "Why""
"Because it"s Valentine"s Day."
I cocked a brow. "And you don"t think I should work Valentine"s Day""
"I just thought you"d be busy with your bow and arrow." The young redhead mimed shooting an arrow toward Vince, the graphic designer whose desk sat facing mine. He clutched his chest dramatically and groaned.
I chuckled and shook my head.
"My clients are already in love by the time they get to me. Trust me, I would make a poor matchmaker."
Julia didn"t usually linger to chat, but she pushed her glasses further up her nose and asked, "Got any jobs on the go""
I noticed the pink staining her cheeks and wondered if her sudden interest in my work had anything to do with the sultry smile Vince sent her way.
"I"ve got a couple coming up this summer," I replied.
"Only a couple""
"I can only take on a few weddings a year since I spend a lot of time with my clients."
Her longing glances toward Vincent indicated she wasn"t really listening, so I didn"t tell her about my blog or online consultation services.
She finally moved on with a cheery, "Good luck!" and I pulled the stack of mail toward me and began to comb through it.
The only piece that wasn"t spam or a bill was a postcard from Barbados. I flipped it over, smiling as I read the familiar loopy handwriting.
The card was from my latest client, Olive Waller"Olive Dennington now, I supposed. She and her husband were having a whale of a time on their honeymoon, and she said she couldn"t thank me enough for making their big day such a success. It seemed like only yesterday that Olive and I were sipping champagne in the bridal suite while her mother flapped around us like a baby bird. Half my job was keeping Mrs. Waller calm, and it had been quite the job. I would miss Olive and her kooky family.
With an air of satisfaction, I pinned the card next to the others on the cork board beside my desk. Olive"s addition brought my collection up to seven in total. Not all of my clients sent postcards from their honeymoons, but the seven who had were undoubtedly my favorites, and I displayed the cards proudly. After the initial surge of happiness wore off, however, a pang of sadness hit me right in the gut.
I couldn"t help it. It was Valentine"s Day, after all, and I was alone. Having reminders of other people"s marital bliss staring at me all day long was a great way to motivate myself for work, but it sucked on days like this when loneliness hung around my neck like a noose.
The name of my business, Always the Bridesmaid, was beginning to seem a little cruel.
Then again, I didn"t intend to get married anytime in the near future, even if there were a man in my life. Been there, done that. But would it hurt to have a little something more to go home to on Valentine"s Day than a pint of Ben and Jerry"s and my vibrator"
I sighed and continued gazing at the blinking cursor on my laptop. So far, I"d managed all of twenty words for my Valentine"s Day blog post.
"Hey," Vince whispered.
I looked up at him. "Yeah""
"So, you"re like a dating coach, right""
I shook my head. "No. I"m a wedding planner, plus a little extra."
Vince frowned and the entirety of his shaved head seemed to crinkle. Most of the people who worked in my shared office had no idea what I did, which was more my fault than any of theirs. I talked to Julia from time to time, but most of the other people rotated in and out or kept different schedules than me. It seemed like a waste of energy trying to talk to all of them.
"What"s the little extra"" Vince asked.
"I also perform all the maid of honor duties," I said. "I organize the bachelorette, go dress shopping, provide emotional support, that kind of thing."
"Isn"t the maid of honor usually the bride"s best friend or something""
I rankled. I had this conversation a lot. "Yes."
"So these women are hiring you to be their best friend""
"Is that so wrong" It"s hard having to go through the stress of a wedding without knowing you"ve got someone at your side you can rely on."