Stealing the Groom

By: Sonya Weiss



His lips pursed as he considered her words. “No. We can take this trip out of town tonight and head back to Sweet Creek in the morning.”

“You honestly think that’s going to fly with the family and friends you left behind at the church? Especially after they’ve heard you ran off with me?”

“Maybe. Probably.” He shrugged. “The wedding was somewhat thrown together to begin with. I doubt it’ll make much of a difference if it’s thrown together again a few days from now. The proverbial damage is done, for today’s ceremony anyway. And I’m sure Claire will be willing to forgive and forget, given financial compensation.”

Amelia nodded, her heart suddenly lighter at having a bit more time to convince Chad to call off the wedding for good. “Okay. I guess I shouldn’t have acted so impulsively. I was trying to save you.”

He grinned, slow and sexy, and Amelia’s breath caught. She was over that silly crush. What was wrong with her?

“Impulsiveness is part of your charm. But really, Ame, there are worse things in life than marrying Claire.”

“Much worse,” Amelia agreed, “you could marry her and end up exactly like your father.”





Chapter Two

Unwilling to be baited, Chad shot back, “Or worse than ending up like my father, I could end up married to you.”

Amelia gasped. “In your mind, marrying me is worse?” She scowled. “You should be so damn lucky as to marry me.”

Marriage to Amelia?

Hell, no. Just like his parents, he and Amelia were opposites. His thoughts jumbled as he watched people in a nearby car get out and stretch. His mind distantly registered a couple walking pets in the dog-walking area.

Amelia as his wife. No way.

A hundred reasons why marrying her would spell disaster flashed rapid-fire through Chad’s mind. They’d both end up in a marriage neither wanted—Amelia because she needed to be free to run away, and him because he wasn’t going to let love destroy him the way it had destroyed his father.

No two people were as opposite as him and Amelia. They practically defined the word “opposite.” Maybe even more than his mom and dad had.

He was a suit and tie kind of guy. Elegant dining at upscale restaurants.

She lived in blue jeans and her favorite T-shirts. She preferred hot dogs and barbecue chips on a picnic blanket.

She was a just-because woman. She’d once flown all the way to Michigan in December with her sisters just because she wanted to build a snowman. Had flown to California alone just because she wanted to see the sunset on the West Coast.

As a freelance photographer, she never stayed in one place long. She was always flitting off to various parts of the world to take photographs of locations—the kind that people looked at in coffee table books and dreamed of visiting.

He’d take routine over dreams any day. Dreams would let a man down, but routine never did.

The thought of marrying her, of being involved physically with Amelia, his childhood pal, his teenage confidant, caused his heart to react in a new way.

He shoved it aside.

Claire, no matter how shallow, was the better—safer—bet. A business arrangement and nothing more.

So why the hell was he running from his wedding?

He looked at Amelia. “Lucky to marry you? How do you figure? What about love, as you pointed out?” he reminded, trying desperately to gain some sense of normal in the conversation.

Amelia gave him a suspicious look. “We are talking hypothetically, correct?”

At his nod, she continued, “By lucky I meant that starting out as friends, at least we would have more going for us than you and Claire.”

“And the ramifications of a marriage between the two of us?”

“In our hypothetical world, we could stay married long enough for you to get your full shares and take over the company. When the dust settles we go our separate ways.” She shrugged. “I’m surprised you didn’t come to me first instead of agreeing to this sham with Mean Girl Number One. You know I would have helped you.”

He heard the reproof in her tone. “You’re too much of a free spirit, you’ve said so yourself. You couldn’t even stay put for six weeks, let alone six months.”

Not that he would have asked her to marry him even if she weren’t such a free spirit. There were too many variables. Too many things that could go wrong.

What if he fell in love with her? Then she’d leave. Run off the same way she always did. Break his heart. He couldn’t. Too much to risk.

When the silence stretched to the point of becoming uncomfortable, Amelia cleared her throat and said, “We should laugh this off, chalk the groomnapping up to another Amelia-moment-gone-wrong.”

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