Authors: Melissa McClone
Tags: #Christian Romance, #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Reunion, #Second-Chance, #Photographer, #Attorney, #Faith, #Reconciliation, #Inspirational, #Novella-Length, #Christian Fiction
Picture Perfect Love
Copyright © 2015 by Melissa McClone
Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan,
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
ePub Edition © April 2015: ISBN 978-0-3103-9624-6
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible,
New International Version®, NIV®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Publisher’s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.
Cover design: Kristen Ingebretson
Interior design: James Phinney
To my husband and three children for their patience, prayers, and making sure at deadline time my iced tea glass is full, there’s a bag of M&Ms in the house, and Peanut Buster Parfaits show up at just the right time.
Thanks to my editor, Becky Monds, as well as Becky
Philpott, Karli Jackson, and the rest of the team at HarperCollins Christian. I so appreciate this opportunity! I’m thrilled to be a part of the Year of Weddings series!
A special thanks to my line editor, Jamie Chavez, for the time you spent on this project and all the back-and-forth emails.
A shout-out to my agents Christina Hogrebe and Annelise Robey at Jane Rotrosen Agency for thinking of me when they heard about this project and making it happen. I cannot thank you enough for all that you do and have done for me over the years!
Thank you to my dear friend Terri Reed for your support, friendship, and prayers as we’ve traveled the road from unpublished to published authors and beyond. I hope you know what a blessing you are in my life.
Thanks to my sweet friend Kimberly Field for reading
this manuscript, offering encouragement and help when I needed it most. You’re another one of my blessings, and I pray we can meet in person someday!
A high five to my Panera Write-In Group —Amy, Delle, Marilyn, Melania, and Peggy. Next to attending church on Sunday, meeting with you is the other thing I look forward to each week. Thanks for getting together so we can socialize and get words written too!
A big hug to my oldest daughter for helping me brainstorm my hero’s first name by telling me the names of the guys in your favorite band.
And finally, lots of love to my readers. You’re the best! I pray that God blesses each one of you the way you have blessed me.
Oh, no. Jenna Harrison stared at the clock hanging on
the wall of her photography studio—aka a converted bedroom. Only fifteen minutes until her clients arrived for their engagement photo session.
of the second hand pounded in her brain like a marching band bass drum. She tightened her grip on the sparkly tiara cutout attached to a long stick.
With a flurry of June weddings to shoot, her business, Picture Perfect Photography of Sweetwater, Washington, had been crazy busy since the month began. She hadn’t planned on a new save-the-date photo idea striking her at lunch today. But she recognized the potential, so she’d been making new signs to go with the photo booth props—mustaches, lips, glasses, hats, and dialogue bubbles.
She placed the tiara with the other items on a nearby table, then printed out the couple’s photo requests, including shots with the new puppy they’d rescued from a local
animal shelter. They wanted fun and fabulous engagement pictures. As if Jenna took any other kind. And her calendar stayed full with proposals, weddings, and engagement sessions.
Her cell phone rang. The generic ring tone didn’t belong to her parents or her brother, Colton. With no time to talk, she glanced at caller ID. Kerri Williams, a friend from church and one half of the couple Jenna was expecting for the photo shoot. Better take this call.
“Picture Perfect Photography. This is Jenna.”
“Hey, it’s Kerri.” The October bride’s breath sounded ragged and uneven, as if she’d been exercising. “We’re running late.”
“No problem. We’ve got all afternoon.” A half-howl, half-whimper filled Jenna’s ear. More animal than human. “Is everything okay?”
“Now, yes. Ten minutes ago, no. When Michael arrived at my house, we realized Peaches had escaped from the backyard. The shelter told us she was a digger, but we hadn’t seen her do that yet. We found her splashing in a puddle a block away. I’d taken her to the dog groomer this morning, and she looked so pretty. Michael has her in the bathtub and is washing off the dirt.”
Michael was Kerri’s high school sweetheart and fiancé. A nice guy who cracked jokes and treated his bride-to-be like a princess.
“I’m sorry. We can reschedule the session if that would be easier.”
“Today is fine,” Kerri said. “Peaches would rather be dirty than clean, so this might happen again if we reschedule.
Who am I kidding? I’m sure she would get herself into some kind of mess or trouble.”
Kerri’s exasperation brought a smile to Jenna’s lips. “Don’t worry. There’s no rush.” By the time Kerri and Michael arrived with Peaches, Jenna would be ready. She added two veil cutouts and three different bow tie selections to the other props on the table. Now to select frames. “You’re my only appointment today.”
Having a few extra minutes to prepare for the session meant no more rushing around. Not that Jenna’s clients would know she was behind schedule. She’d built her reputation being calm and cool under pressure, especially on wedding days when stress levels could skyrocket into the stratosphere over a loose thread or scuffed shoes.
“Oh, thank you.” Kerri’s relief was palpable. “We shouldn’t be long. I never realized a puppy could be such hard work. Or how fast those little paws could dig or run.”
“Yes, but they’re so cute!” Jenna searched through her frame assortment for ones to match the couple’s outgoing personality. Maybe the black one. “Plus you get amazing welcome-home greetings and unconditional love.”
“Sounds like you want a puppy.”
“I thought about getting a dog two years ago after my wedding was canceled, but decided against one.” A pet was more than she could afford then. Maybe when she was out of debt . . .
“Speaking of canceled weddings, I saw Claire Conway this morning at the bakery.” Kerri sounded worried, the way all of them had been about the physical therapist. “Maybe she should get a dog so she won’t be so lonely.”
Jenna’s chest tightened, a mix of sadness and empathy for her former client whose groom had called off their upcoming wedding because he’d fallen in love with someone else. “How is she doing?”
“Hard to tell. She looks tired. Not at all like her normal bubbly self.”
“She needs time to deal with what happened and sleep.” Jenna hadn’t slept through the night for months after being jilted at the altar during her wedding rehearsal. Tears had flowed like Sweetwater Creek after a rainstorm. Smiling hurt, as if her facial muscles were attached to her aching heart. “It’ll be tough for a while.”
She let go of the black frame. Too thick. Fanciful design, but a lighter color would suit Kerri and Michael better.
“Claire said you returned her nonrefundable deposit.”
“Least I could do.” Jenna had been destroyed emotionally and financially by her breakup. She was still paying off the wedding-that-didn’t-happen debt. “When I went through this, more than one person told me that God had a plan. I didn’t believe them. Turned my back on everything, on Him. But thankfully had a change of heart.”
“And found Sweetwater Community Church.”
“That’s right.” The church felt like a second home now, and Jenna’s friends had become family with hers so far away. “My faith grew stronger after the breakup. My life changed for the better. I’m grateful for that. Something I never imagined happening at the beginning. I pray the same thing happens to Claire.”
“There’s always a plan.” Kerri’s voice lightened. Her
puppy frustration disappeared. She sounded like she was smiling. “Not yours or mine, but His.”
“Couldn’t agree more.” That was why a never-worn wedding dress hung in the back of Jenna’s closet, a reminder that relationships weren’t always as wonderful as they looked through her viewfinder. “If I fall in love and want to get married again, I’m eloping. That was my parents’ advice the last time since plane tickets weren’t in their budget and my brother was deployed. Should have listened.”
Kerri laughed. “That’s funny coming from a wedding photographer.”
“Maybe.” Jenna pulled out a scalloped white frame. This would work better than the darker one. She placed it against the table, then grabbed a brown frame. “Though I’d better find a date before I start talking about another wedding.”
“Does that mean you’re ready to be set up?”
“No.” The word flew from Jenna’s mouth faster than a moth dive-bombing a lit candle. She nearly dropped the frame on the floor. Her heart was still on sabbatical. “Thanks, but I’m not ready for blind dates.”
Jenna had faith that God would bring her the right guy. One who believed in her and loved her unconditionally. Until then, she had to be patient and trust in God’s plan for her. The last thing she wanted was a repeat performance of what happened with her ex-fiancé. No more rushing into a commitment.