Authors: Desiree Holt
Tags: #Erotic Romance
A Candy Hearts Romance
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Desiree Holt
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewilderroses.com
First Scarlet Rose Edition, 2016
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0662-9
Published in the United States of America
I have to dedicate this to my wonderful and exceptional editor Diana Carlile, who makes every manuscript sing, who makes me work harder than ever and it's always worth the effort, and who is everything an editor should be. Thanks, Diana, for putting up with me.
PRAISE FOR AUTHOR
Winner of The Holt Medallion, The EPIC Ebook Award, Author of the Year at Authors After Dark, Book of the Year at The Romance Studio. Featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, The Library Journal, The Daily Beast, US News and World Report, USA Today.
"Get out the ice water and fan...Desiree Holt delivers smoking hot alpha heroes and red hot romances."
~Lea Franczak, USA Today Happy Ever After Blog
“I’m glad we ran into each other today.”
Avery Kurtz looked up at the woman standing beside her table in Havva Cup. “Yes. Fortunate.” The woman was a referral and those were always golden so she couldn’t exactly turn her down. “Okay, let me know when you want to get together. Tweet me with a couple of dates, and we’ll see what works.”
And I’ll hope to the lord I can fit it in. Whoever thought there could be such a thing as too much success?
The woman nodded. “I still have your Twitter handle. You’ll be hearing from me.”
“Why don’t you use texting or emails like normal people,” her friend Janice Ferguson asked, breaking off a piece of her chocolate croissant. “You tell everyone to tweet you.”
“It works for me. All my tweets come into one feed, and I can just go down the list answering them. I don’t have to get out of one email or message and into another. I don’t
anyone, and if someone tries to follow me I just block them.”
Janice shook her head. “Whatever works, I guess.”
“And this works fine for me. Now.” She stared across the little table at her best friend. “I’ll ask you again. Are you crazy?”
Janice grinned. “Crazy in love. Crazy to make this special.”
Avery shook her head. “This has to be one of your more insane ideas. You want to have your wedding on Valentine’s Day?”
“Come on, Avery. It’s the most romantic day of the year, so what better time to tie the knot?”
Maybe for everyone else, but not for me. No romance in my life. I’m done with it.
“I thought you wanted a June wedding,” Avery reminded her, taking a fortifying sip of her latte.
“Will and I talked about it last night and decided we wanted to celebrate with Cupid.”
“Let me get this straight. You think I—or anyone—can pull together a wedding for two hundred people in three weeks instead of five months? Are you crazy?” She drained her coffee cup, wishing she had something a little stronger.
Janice fluttered her hands in the air. “Oh, we’re willing to make changes. We’ll cut the guest list way down. You can figure out a cute way to deliver the invites. And we managed to already get the venue.”
Avery frowned. This was news to her. All her clients checked with her before booking anything. Did Janice think the rules didn’t apply to her?
“Where?” she asked. “I didn’t think there was a bar stool left vacant for Valentine’s Day.”
“The Promenade is one of Will’s clients.” Janice grinned. “He pleaded his case to one of the owners, and luckily, they were able to reschedule an event the board had planned.”
Avery’s jaw dropped. The Promenade was one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, known for its quiet elegance, old world charm, and the latest word in everything. Avery knew Will had taken over some of the major accounts at the law firm when he made partner the year before, but wow! Just wow!
“Just like that?”
Janice nodded. “Apparently so.” Her face took on a dreamy look. “Will said he told the man he really needed to make the special woman in his life happy.”
“Either the owner is a real romantic,” Avery commented, “or Will does a hell of a job for them.”
Janice lifted a shoulder. “I like to think it’s both. So what do you say?”
Avery signaled the waitress and pointed to her empty mug. “I say I also have two other parties going on that day.”
“That’s what you have assistants for,” Janice reminded her and winked. “Right?”
Avery didn’t know whether to laugh or throw up. Yes, she had two really great assistants. Her event firm had grown that much in the past five years. Yes, she was used to juggling multiple venues and events. But holy cow!
“Are you trying to drive me crazy?” She smiled to take the sting out of the question.
“Come on.” Janice leaned forward on the table. “Would I get married and not have my best friend handle the whole thing? Puleeze. I think there’s a law against that.” She pulled a business card from her purse and gave it to Avery. “This is your contact at The Promenade. She’s expecting to hear from you.”
The waitress returned with a new oversized mug filled with a fresh latte and swirls of whipped cream on top. Avery accepted it gratefully and lapped at the sweet confection to give herself strength before she pulled out her tablet. The two parties she had scheduled for the fourteenth could indeed be handled by Shelby and Noelle. She had trained them well, and they already had established relationships with both clients. But there was just so much to do.
Deep breath, Avery. You can do it.
Then she remembered something that made her frown again. “Aren’t you going out of town tomorrow? For ten days? On a public relations junket?”
Janice worked for a large public relations firm that handled media relations for everything from performers to political candidates to just about anyone who needed their help. In the back of her mind, Avery remembered her friend telling her that she was handling a short book tour for a suspense author.
Janice had the good grace to at least look a little embarrassed. “That shouldn’t make a difference, though. You know what I like.”
“Janice.” Avery tried hard to keep the exasperation from her voice. “Surely, you don’t expect me to approve everything without you. That’s a huge responsibility. Oh, wait. “She snapped her fingers. “Is Will taking your place? You trust him with this?”
Janice burst out laughing. “Will would approve those little candy hearts with funny sayings on them and wine in a box just to get it done. Anyway, he’s going to be out of town for a while, too.”
Avery stared at her. “And you still want to do this? You really are nuts, aren’t you?”
Janice flapped a hand at her. “Never fear. I have a substitute.”
Avery narrowed her gaze. “Oh, yeah? Who, exactly?”
Janice glanced at her watch. “Oh, goodness, look at the time. I have to run.” She took her wallet from her purse and dropped some bills on the table. “This should cover my part.”
“You aren’t leaving until you tell me who you gave this very important role to,” Avery said between clenched teeth. “Otherwise no deal.”
“Oh, oh, yes.” She gave Avery a bright smile. “Tanner Voss will be doing it for us. He’ll tweet you.”
“What?” Avery hit the side of her head with the heel of her hand, as if she hadn’t heard correctly. “Tanner Voss? Are you for real?”
Janice was already halfway to the door, but she turned back. “Will and I went over our preferences with him. He’ll do all the tastings and everything. He helped with his sister’s wedding.”
“Oh! Oh! Oh! And that’s a recommendation? Tanner Voss is a…a…a…”
“A great guy who’s agreed to help us out.” She flipped a hand in a casual wave. “He’ll tweet you. Bye for now.”
Bye for now?
Avery rose, ready to drop her own share of cash on the table and follow Janice, but the woman was already out the door and down the street. She dropped back into her chair and wondered if she was still asleep and would wake up from this nightmare any minute.
Tanner Voss? Tanner Voss was going to be her taster? Tester? Approver?
Okay, so Janice and Will had already picked out some stuff that could be adapted. And Janice already had her wedding gown, although thankfully that wasn’t on Avery’s to-do list. But there was no way she could see Tanner Voss helping her pick out candies and candles or taste wedding cake or sample dinner menus.
Tanner was a high-powered trial attorney at Will’s firm who had a reputation for being as deft with the ladies as he was in court. Too sexy for his own good, with his square jawline, piercing gray eyes framed by dark lashes, a thick shock of midnight black hair, and a body that gym rats would kill for, he was a player by any definition of the word. She wasn’t about to play in his world. Been there, done that, got the torn T-shirt as a souvenir.
She’d believed a man like Tanner once before. Just like him, a player, successful, charming, sexy, who seduced her heart as well as her body. He’d ended it with a public humiliation that still gave her nightmares. It had taken her months to recover, and she still shook whenever she thought about it. No, she wasn’t about to take that chance again.
Tanner had made a pass at Avery a few of times when they’d all been together as part of a group, but thankfully, the functioning part of her brain had given him a polite brushoff. Now, she was going to be stuck with him. Crap! Double crap! And did he even really know anything about what was needed?
Janice, I hope you enjoy your honeymoon because just as soon as you get back I’m going to kill you.
As she gathered her purse and tablet, ready to leave, the tablet chimed with a new tweet.
“@tvattorney Gld we r working 2gether. Drnks 2nite?”
Avery snorted. Not with a man who made her hormones want to do bad things. How on earth was she going to handle this? And tvattorney? How lucky for him his initials worked so well. Who did he think he was, Perry Mason?
“@eventplanner Coffee. 6 pm? Havva Cup?”
Might as well meet someplace familiar that she felt comfortable in. At least it would give her the edge.
Three tweets scrolled in while she was waiting, then here came Tanner’s.
“@tvattorney 7pm Raquel’s.”
Not even a question mark? Did he think she would just say yes? And why a place as high-end as Raquel’s? This wasn’t a date, and she hoped he understood that. If not, she would make that very clear. But okay, she didn’t want to rock the boat. This was Janice’s wedding, and Janice was her best friend, even if she had dumped this whole thing in her lap at the last minute.
“@eventplanner fine, meet u there.”
Back in her car she scrolled through the list of tweets, checking to see which ones she needed to answer right away and which ones could wait. She couldn’t believe Janice had tweeted her.
@bridetobe Tanner call? Have fun w/him. Pick good stuff.”
Have fun? Pick good stuff? If it wasn’t for the fact that Janice was her oldest friend, she’d be tempted to tell her to get another planner for the wedding. And with a tweet. She was sure her friend was playing Cupid, and she didn’t like it one bit. Well, she’d show everyone. She’d be totally resistant to Tanner Voss’s charms. If he was no help, she’d kick him to the curb and take care of everything herself. She could do it.
“@eventplanner having blk & gray colors, meatloaf & wine in a box.”
There. That should hold her for a while.
Next she tweeted both of her assistants.
“@eventplanner don’t go anywhere. Office meeting asap.”
They’d have to do a lot of shuffling, but she could make it work. Then she replied to the other important tweets, stuck her tablet back in her purse, and started her car. She had work to do, and yesterday wasn’t soon enough to start. First stop was The Promenade, just to be sure the room was really theirs.