When I finished writing Waiting for the Big One, I thought I’d said everything I needed to say about Gabby and Derek. Then they surprised me by showing up in Love, From A to Z, and in Let Me Count the Ways. And I began to wonder if I hadn’t closed the door on them a little too quickly.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself playing with the idea of writing a wedding story to set in Erin Nicholas’s Sapphire Falls Kindle World. I couldn’t resist the chance to finally give Derek a voice, and the opportunity to tell his side of things. And now that the rest of the Browne and Novello families have introduced themselves, I suspect that at least some of them will be getting their own stories soon too.
Gabby and Derek have gone from being friends to lovers, now they’re waiting for their big day. But will it be the wedding of their dreams? Or a bride’s worst nightmare?
A quick trip to Gabby’s hometown, Sapphire Falls, turns into a wedding disaster when Gabby and Derek are plagued by hailstorms, lost reservations, voracious goats, angry bees and enough family drama to fill a barn.
Can they hold it all together, or will their Big Day turn into a Big Mess?
* * * * *
We arrived at Gabby’s family’s farm at about four in the afternoon. A large metal sign hanging from the front gate proclaimed it to be the Quick Browne Goat Farm. “So who’s Quick?” I asked.
Gabby shot me a puzzled look. “What are you talking about?”
“On the sign.” I pointed behind us. Browne was the family name, and the goat part was also obvious, but Quick?
Gabby smiled. “Oh, I don’t know. The goats, I guess. You know that sentence they make you memorize when you learn touch typing: ‘the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’?”
“I’ve heard of it, sure.”
“It’s like that. ”
Puzzled, I turned in my seat to stare at her. “It’s ‘like that’ how?”
“Well, I mean, we’ve always had some of the laziest sheepdogs you’ve ever seen. I’m sure they’ve been jumped over a time or two.”
“No.” Gabby eyed me strangely. “By goats. It’s a goat farm, remember?”
I probably should have given up at that point. I’ve gotten into these kinds of conversations with her before. They never end well. “Okay, but then where do the foxes come in?”
“Look, the whole point of that sentence is that it uses all the letters of the alphabet, right? They had to use fox. Goat wouldn’t have worked at all in that context.”
“Okay, and so what should also be obvious is that it wouldn’t make any sense to call this the Quick Browne Fox Farm. Right?”
None of it made sense; that was the problem. And I was just about to say so when she hit me with that smile.
Now, here’s something you might not know about my Gabe. She has one of the greatest smiles in the whole damn world. It’s fucking radiant. It’s the kind of smile that makes men stupid. If you haven’t seen it, you’ll just have to take my word on that. I knew I was in trouble the very first time she flashed it my way. I’d never before been covetous of a facial expression, but in that moment I desperately wanted to keep her smiling at me—and only at me—just like that, forever.
I know it’s only a matter of time before her career takes off, because I can’t be the only one who feels that way.
“Well?” Gabby prompted. “Would it?”
But her smile had done its usual good work. My train of thought had so thoroughly jumped its tracks that my brain was the mental equivalent of a heap of twisted steel. “Uh…what were we talking about again?”
Gabby shot me a mock glare. “The Quick Browne Fox Farm. Remember?”
“Oh, right.” Now, I’m all for sticking to my guns, but I also know when I’m beat. “Yeah, you’re right. That’s crazy. That wouldn’t work at all.”
“Exactly,” Gabby purred as she pulled the truck to a stop. She glanced at me again, and her smile went from bright to brilliant; I felt a thrill of delight, until I realized the reason for it wasn’t my easy capitulation, it was the fact that she was home.
I turned to look around me. We were parked in front of yet another picturesque farmhouse; this one was white, with blue trim and shutters, a wraparound porch, and a white picket fence. Blue hydrangeas clustered around the foundation. Blue morning glories twined along the fence. Baskets overflowing with light and dark lobelia hung from the eaves of the porch. “I see someone likes blue.”
Gabby nodded. “My mom. It’s a Sapphire Falls thing.”
The theme, unfortunately, was not confined to the house. Now that I knew what I was looking for, I saw hints everywhere. In the English Sheepdog dozing on the porch swing; mostly white with bluish-gray patches. In the flock of mop-headed chickens pecking at the lawn—oddly reminiscent of the dog, with similar plumage in matching shades. Even the drive where we were parked, with its blue-gray gravel, and its border of whitewashed rocks fit the picture. It was impressive, in a slightly over-the-top, borderline obsessive kind of way. Not that I’d ever say so.
Just ’cause my family’s dysfunctional, doesn’t mean I don’t know better than to criticize someone else’s.
I’d have had to be an idiot not to notice the eager expression Gabby’dbeen wearing ever since we’d left Omaha. While, intellectually, I knew she loved acting, that she loved the life she’d built for herself out on the coast, that she loved me, I still found myself starting to worry. How much work was it going to take to drag her away from here next week?
“Let’s go see where everyone is,” Gabby said as she jumped from the truck. I started to follow, but just then a man came striding around the corner of the house to greet her. He was tall and lean, with the kind of weathered skin and corded muscles that you only get from spending most of your life working out-of-doors. I’d pegged him as Gabby’s father even before she turned and waved impatiently for me to join them.
Gabby’s dad, Mick, looked every inch the aging hippy farmer Gabby had described him as being. His hair was long, just starting to go gray, and the bandana on his head was clearly there for functionality, not as a fashion statement—despite it being blue and white, like everything else around here.
He had a firm handshake, a steely gaze, and a smile that would probably have been a whole lot warmer if I were someone else. But I was the stranger who would shortly be marrying his daughter, the bastard who’d gotten her pregnant. I suspected it would be a long time before he forgave me for either of those offenses. And, until he did, I figured my chances of getting a genuine smile out of the man were slim to no-fucking-way.
“Did I tell you that Derek teaches yoga?” Gabby asked, threading her fingers with mine and leaning against my shoulder. I was intensely aware of her tit pressed tight against my bicep, and not in a good way, given that her father was looking on. I felt like she was claiming me for her own, marking me as hers, all of which I’d normally be in favor of. But, right now, with the hostile vibe already rolling in waves off her old man? Not so much. “That’s how we met.”
“So you’ve said,” Mick replied dryly. I didn’t miss the way his face hardened as his gaze latched onto all the places where Gabby’s body and mine connected. It was all I could do not to push her away. Something told me that would be worse.
“My dad’s been practicing yoga for years,” Gabby informed me, seemingly oblivious to the tension.
“Very cool.” I smiled at Mick. “What style do you prefer? Sivananda? Kripalu?” I was expecting him to be into something like that, something old skool and classic. Maybe a little Bikram in the winter.
What I wasn’t expecting was, “Goat.”
“Daddy!” Gabby scowled at him.
“What? You’ve never heard of goat yoga? Look it up sometime, if you don’t believe me.” Mick gazed at me challengingly, and added. “Sometimes the chickens join in too.”
“I think I saw something about that online.” Of course, I’d assumed it was a joke, but maybe I was wrong? “I’d be interested in seeing that in action while I’m here. We don’t get much of a call for it in Los Angeles.”
“I guess so.”
* * * * *
Going To The Chapel is available only through Amazon.
Check out my website to read more about the upcoming sequel to the sequel, Going Up The Country.
How far will you go for the love of your life?
Pro-wrestler Wyatt Novello never believed in love at first sight. Not until he attended his brother’s wedding—last summer, in Sapphire Falls—where he met a girl who made him go weak in the knees.
Arielle Browne knows a bad boy when she sees him. She should; her weakness for the type has already landed her in trouble a time or two. It didn’t take more than one look to convince her that Wyatt was everything she wanted in a man—and everything she needs to stay far, far away from. Both for her own sake, and that of her two impressionable sons.
But Wyatt’s determined to go the distance. Either he’ll find a way to convince Arielle that she’s wrong—about him, and about their chances of achieving their own Happily Ever After–or he’ll die trying.
They’re each convinced they’ve chosen the right path. But how do you know when you’ve gone too far?
* * * *
Or check out my paranormal take on Sapphire Falls, Going Back to Find You.
Because even a vampire deserves a second chance.
When Jason Cook boarded the train to San Francisco, he never thought he’d see Nebraska or Lizbeth Petersen ever again. But when an unexpected turn of events threatens the woman he’d loved and lost, he has no choice but to go back and try to make things right.
Lizbeth never thought she’d see Jason again, either—and she’s not so sure she wants to see him now. Her life’s a mess, but at least it’s her mess. And after a lifetime of other people making decisions for her, she’s looking forward to finally figuring out some things on her own. Besides, Jason already left her once when she needed him. Why should she trust him not to do the same again now?
Warning: This is not a drill. Vampires are invading your favorite, small Nebraska town this Halloween. Does this mean Type-O flavored booze will soon be the new rage in Sapphire Falls? Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But you never can tell…
Read an excerpt HERE