How to Get Hitched in Ten Days

BOOK: How to Get Hitched in Ten Days
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How
not
to get the girl…

Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and gives amazing advice.

For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate– he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows Mikey will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.

But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart, even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…

Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?

Also by Samantha Tonge

Doubting Abbey

From Paris with Love

Mistletoe Mansion

Game of Scones

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding

How to Get Hitched in Ten Days

Samantha Tonge

www.CarinaUK.com

SAMANTHA TONGE

lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat who thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion. Her summer 2015 novel, Game of Scones, reached #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic eBook category.

http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Thanks first and foremost to my lovely editor, Victoria Oundjian, for making me see sense when my plot ideas venture into cray cray land. Thanks Victoria, for your wise words – even if they do send me running into a dark room, for a few hours!

I’m also grateful to the whole Carina team, for their expertise and support.

Thanks to my supportive agent, the lovely Clare Wallace. And, as always, to my fellow Carina authors – you are the best – and my writing, reading and blogging friends within the literary community. Your interest, generosity and camaraderie are so appreciated. A big thank you to the fab Jenny in Neverland for her support.

Martin, Immy and Jay, I couldn’t do any of this without the back-up of Team Tonge. There are not enough words to describe how much I love you.

A big thank you to the very lovely and talented Daniel Riding - writer, blogger and artist. Thanks for putting up with my questions, Dan, and always having the time to share your knowledge or a joke.

And thanks, Frank de Jong. Without you, this story wouldn’t exist.

For Jay, a very special, kind, loyal, funny young man. Thanks for your teenage perspective. Love you Four- ever…

Contents

Cover

Blurb

Book List

Title Page

Author Bio

Acknowledgement

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Excerpt

Endpages

Copyright

Chapter One – Mikey

I stepped back as Kate crossed the black and white check tiled floor. Due to the speed of her roller skates, her red dotted skirt swished from side to side.

‘Careful how you go,’ I said and smiled. New staff always took a while to get used to wheels instead of feet. ‘Big thumbs up for getting through the lunchtime rush. Any problems?’

‘No. That woman in the purple top was really impressed with the gluten-free burger and fries – said she’d definitely come back next week.’

Kate jerked her head towards a man in the corner. My stomach twisted. The ruffled brown hair. Slumped demeanour. That casual coat I was always telling him to bin and replace with an Italian cut jacket.

‘He’s sat with his head in his hands for over fifteen minutes, Mikey,’ she said, in a low voice. ‘I don’t like to disturb him.’

I cleared my throat. ‘Leave him to me. It’s Dave – my flatmate’s friend.’

‘Nice…’ Her twinkling eye caught mine and she blushed.

I threw my hands in the air. ‘What is it with you guys? What’s Chef been saying? Honestly, I’m singularly happy being single and don’t need matching up with any old bod that walks in here, waving the testosterone flag. Plus let me clarify, Dave is actually the partner of my friend.’

I beckoned to the diner’s head cook to come over. ‘John. For the umpteenth time – stop encouraging employees to hook me up. And for your information, Kate, Dave is straight – my flatmate is a fabulous woman called Jasmine.’

‘You? Happy?’ John snorted. ‘Don’t believe a word, Kate. He’s been unattached for almost a year now and it’s made him right cranky – especially since he turned thirty last month. In fact my missus has got a new hairdresser – says he’d be right up your street and–’

I raised an eyebrow. ‘The benefits office will be right up your street, too, if you don’t get back to work.’

Uneasily I shifted and gave Kate a small smile. Her eyes crinkled as she grinned and headed off to clear a table. I had a feeling she and I were going to get on. With John, after all these years, I talked about anything, but at the grand old age of thirty, I was still wary about discussing my private life with anyone who didn’t know me well.

With a sigh, John headed back to the fryers, scooting behind a glass counter. He glanced over and I winked at him. John smiled, winked back and, shaking his head, turned around to clean up before dinnertime customers trickled in. On the other side of the glass cabinet a couple of teenagers sat on chrome stools, guzzling milkshakes, feet tapping to Grease music that blared out from my gorgeous gilt jukebox.

I gazed around the restaurant, taking in the red and silver chairs at each table and the bright walls decorated with fifties American memorabilia. Not many customers realised this was a genuine diner exported from Kansas in the seventies by my entrepreneurial parents. Plus they’d found the perfect location for it, near a town and not far from a petrol station. I couldn’t believe my luck when they signed Polka Dot Diner over to me, last year, before heading off to travel the world as part of their dream retirement.

To the sound of John Travolta lamenting lost summer love, I wiped my hands on my black apron and walked over to Dave’s table, by the window. Hmm. They could do with a polish. I’d get onto that after the evening rush. He looked up as I sat down.

‘Mikey.’

‘Dave.’

‘She told you?’

‘Not really. Didn’t want to talk much last night. Said she was tired. We drank hot chocolate together in silence.’ I sighed. ‘Look, first things first, let’s order pie and coffee.’

Dave shrugged and I called over Kate. Due to his rugby player build, it twisted my stomach even more to see him suddenly look so fragile. The Dave I knew was robust, with shoulders broad enough to carry a responsible job, to manage a local football team for underprivileged kids and look after his mum who’d been ill.

Ten minutes later, caffeinated steam rose between us. There wasn’t a lot in the world a slice of cherry pie with a dollop of ice cream couldn’t put right. However, Dave only took one mouthful before pushing away his plate. What
was
wrong? He’d never come into the diner before, on his own.

‘I’ve messed up big time,’ he grunted. ‘What an arse. Jasmine must be really upset.’

A rich fruitiness satisfying my taste buds, I wiped my mouth with a napkin. ‘Guess so. She left for work before I got up this morning – Jazz never does that. I heard you’d booked a great restaurant for Valentine’s Day…’ My eyebrows rose. ‘What happened? Couldn’t she find a vegetarian option? Or did you argue over the bill? I know she always insists on paying her half. Wouldn’t she let you treat her for once?’

Dave’s cheeks flushed. ‘Ah. So she really didn’t tell you anything.’ He swigged his coffee. ‘Get this: I proposed.’

Heart thumping, a gasp escaped my lips. My Jazz and
him
married? Wow. For some reason I hadn’t seen that coming. Dunno why. I knew Jazz wanted to settle down and her face still went all squidgy when she spoke about Dave. But weddings, mortgages… it all seemed so final. A shard of coldness pierced my chest. Soon I really would be on my own. I shook myself. Okay. Enough with the selfish reaction.

‘That’s… great news.’ We both sat in deep thought for a moment. ‘But why the long faces?’ I managed eventually. ‘She was happy, right? I mean, it’s clear to me that, ultimately, Jazz wants the white picket fence and two point four kids.’

Dave leant back in his chair, dark circles under those chestnut eyes, cheeks half-shaven. Mind you, rough and ready Dave never managed to attain a really smooth look, even on those days he tortured the world with his out-of-tune whistling. ‘I’m not so sure, now. She’s always hesitated when we’ve talked about commitment. I know we’ve not been together two years but I just thought that, yesterday, the time was right. It’s… It’s what I’ve wanted from the first time I saw her,’ he added gruffly, and fiddled with his teaspoon.

My chest glowed. Bless. That was the nearest Dave had ever got to expressing his feelings in front of me. He was a strange one. I had several straight male friends who only needed the smallest of shoves to open up a little about their emotions. Whereas Jazz’s boyfriend… privately I called him Dinosaur Dave – except he’d be one of those cute herbivore species that wouldn’t harm anyone intentionally.

I chewed another mouthful of pie and swallowed, enjoying the sensation of vanilla ice cream drizzling across my tongue. ‘Look, angel-face–’

‘Don’t call me that.’

I rolled my eyes. ‘Okay. Dave. Do you know how many wedding fairs me and Jazz have visited over the last couple of months?’

His brow furrowed. ‘But that’s only because she’s going to be bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding next year.’

‘Think again. She’s hoarded a whole bundle of bridal catalogues recently. You don’t do that unless you’re fantasizing about your own special day.’

Dave rubbed his chin and said nothing.

‘So didn’t she accept? What’s the ring like? Bet she loved it.’

Well done
moi
, managing to suppress a doubtful tone. Dave’s presents hadn’t always hit the spot. Take the sexy underwear he bought her for Christmas. Executive human resources manager Jazz is one classy lady. A clichéd black and red lacy set was never going to cut it. Not that she let on. Up until now she’d found Dave’s clumsy attempts at romance endearing. Like the pair of knitted ducks he’d found on a market stall. Not the prettiest ornaments but adorable due to their sentiment that ducks mate for life. So last night he really must have blown it big time.

‘There was no ring.’ Cue a sheepish look. ‘I hadn’t planned anything. It was spontaneous.’

‘Uh huh… well, spontaneous is good. You could have both gone shopping for diamonds together, this weekend.’ I said, aware that this was one of the longest conversations we’d ever had. You see – Dave and me, as you’ll soon come to understand, have never really… gelled. He kept his distance. I’d given up trying to figure out the reason why.

Dave’s mouth drooped at the corners and I longed to lean over and give him the tightest of hugs. Yet I didn’t. Over the months I’d learnt to respect his personal space. Dave wasn’t touchy feely – not with me, anyway. I’d linked arms with him once and he’d jumped away as if I’d scalded him. I tried to get to know him better, but the sentiment had never been reciprocated.

BOOK: How to Get Hitched in Ten Days
5.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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