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Authors: Melody Grace

Tags: #romance, #christmas, #unbroken, #melody grace, #beachwood bay

Unwrapped

BOOK: Unwrapped
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Copyright © 2013 by Melody Grace

Smashwords Edition 2013

***

Copyright © 2013 by Melody Grace

Smashwords Edition 2013

 

Interior design by Angela McLaurin, Fictional
Formats

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by
any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in
writing.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons,
living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked
status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this
work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The
publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated
with, or sponsored by the trademark owner.

 

All rights reserved.

***

Start of
book

After

The
Beachwood Bay Series

Sneak
Peek: With Every Heartbeat

 

 

 

It’s December 24th and I’m running late. Way
late. So late, I don’t even stop to retrieve the bag of Skittles
that tumbles out of my purse as I bounce through the Departures
terminal at LAX, trying to hang on to my coat and magazines and my
stupid wheel-on overnight luggage that’s picked today of all days
to bust a wheel.

“Sorry, buddies,” I huff under my breathe,
looking back to see the bag of candy trampled under the feet of
five hundred other last-minute holiday travelers. “Can’t stop! It’s
every sucker for himself.”

I slow to a jog as I reach the board.
Atlanta … Atlanta …
I let out a groan as I
see the gate flash up. Forty-two. As in, forty-two ways for me to
miss my flight as I get all the way across the building in the next
ten minutes flat.

My phone buzzes as I take off down the hallway.
I shift my purse to my other arm and pick up in time to hear my
best friend, Juliet, wail, “Where
are
you?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” I tell her, trying to
duck around a ground of super-slow tourists with their backpacks
hiked up high. “Hello!” I glare at them. “What’s German for ‘get
the hell out of my way?’ Gee, thanks!” I push through and keep
running.

“Lacey, Lacey?” Juliet is still wailing. “You
said you’d be here already, and the yard is a mess, and Brit hasn’t
finished my dress, and everything’s a disaster!”

Another voice comes in the background: Brit,
sounding annoyed. “I’d be finished sewing if you didn’t keep
changing your mind about the lace.”

“I didn’t change my mind.” Juliet protests. “You
said it would be better longer. Or do you think I should leave it?
I don’t know anymore.” Her voice comes back to me, stronger again.
“You see? I can’t do this without you.”

“Since when did you turn into such a
Bridezilla?” I catch my breath, wheezing. “Man, I should’ve run
cross-country in college. Or, you know, walked up to our apartment
even one time instead of taking the elevator.”

“Elevator?” Juliet interrupts. “Lacey, what are
you talking about? This is my wedding. Mine and Emerson’s. It’s the
only one I’m ever going to have, and I need it to be perfect!”

“Relax,” I order her. I stop moving for a
moment, and step back out of the flow of traffic into an alcove.
I’ve no idea why Juliet has lost her mind, but it’s my job as her
BFF and maid of honor to talk her down from whatever ledge she’s
clambered up on.

“Everything will be fine,” I tell her in a
soothing voice. “I’ll be there in a few hours, we’ll have a crazy
bachelorette night, and tomorrow we’ll set up the yard like a
winter frosted wonderland. Brit will be done with the dress, just
like she says. I promise, it
is
going to be perfect.”

Juliet catches her breath. “Promise?” she asks
in a hopeful voice.

“I promise, babe.” I smile. “Like a picture
postcard. White ribbons and baby’s breath and all the lace you
need. If I could order you up a gentle dusting of snow, I
would.”

“Don’t say that!” Juliet yelps. “A blizzard will
wreck my hair!”

I laugh. “Chill, Jules. Go work out some of this
stress on your hunk of a fiancé, OK? You’re probably driving him
crazy with all this panicking.”

“He went to go hang out with Garrett and
Hunter,” Juliet sounds sheepish. “Said to call when I stopped
acting like a crazy person.”

“There you go.” I laugh again at the thought of
stoic, silent Emerson trying to deal with Juliet in this state.
“Seriously, go find him, lock the door, and don’t come up for air
until I get there. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“OK,” Juliet sighs, but she sounds calmer
already. “Love you.”

“Love you too.” I hang up, sending a silent
prayer to the Gods of Winter Weddings that everything I’ve promised
does actually come true.

This weekend was supposed to be a slice of
(vanilla raspberry frosted) cake, and up until this morning, it
was. An intimate, small-town ceremony in Beachwood Bay: just
Emerson, Juliet, and their closest friends and family in the
back-yard of the beach house where it all began. Simple. Except the
only flight I could afford back from LA was this last-minute
stand-by that would get me over on the East Coast with barely any
time to spare. I’ve planned everything long-distance, right down to
the (sexy yet flattering) bridesmaid outfit currently getting
crushed in my bag, but I know, about a million things can go wrong
before I get there. And with Juliet in this state, nothing can go
wrong.

I check the time again. Six minutes. Oh
crap!

I lurch out of the alcove at full-speed—and
barrel straight into someone heading past.

“Oof!” The breath is knocked clean out of me,
and I stumble, about to fall flat on my face, until a pair of
strong arms grab me, hoisting me back to my feet.

“Lacey?”

I blink, staring up into a very familiar pair of
brown eyes: the color of dark caramel, thickly-lashed, and full of
surprise, but just as devastating as they ever were.

“Daniel,” I gulp, feeling my face flush bright
red. Of course, of all the times to run into him again, it’s now,
when I’m wheezing and scatter-brained and have trashy tabloid
magazines spilling out of my purse. “Umm, hey! How are you! I
haven’t seen you since …” I stop, the words dying in my throat as I
remember what happened over the summer, when Juliet brutally dumped
Daniel for the love of her life, Emerson.

Yes, that Emerson. The guy she’s marrying in
approximately thirty-two hours.

Daniel clearly remembers it all too well, but he
gives me a polite smile all the same. “How have you been?” he asks.
“I heard you moved out here after graduation.”

“Yup, LA. I came to make it in Hollywood! Event
planner to the stars!” I make jazz hands, then immediately wish the
ground would swallow me up.

Jazz hands? Way to play it cool, Lacey.

“That’s great,” Daniel smiles, “I was just out
here for some depositions. I’ll have to look you up the next time
I’m in town.”

“Sure, sounds good.” I try to think of something
to say that won’t make me sound like a total idiot—an idiot who
can’t take her eyes off his dark stubble and well-fitted navy coat.
I always thought Daniel was cute, but in the six months since I saw
him last, his whole preppy lawyer look has gotten a new polish.

Dangerously attractive.

And your best friend’s ex. Totally
off-limits.

I drag my eyes away from the line of his lean
physique. “You heading home for the holidays?” I yelp.

Daniel nods. “Back to New York. What about
you?”

“I’m, umm, heading East.” I say carefully.

But not carefully enough. Daniel gets a look of
realization. “Oh, right. That’s this weekend.”

I stay silent, feeling like the worst human
being in the world.

“It’s OK,” Daniel must see my discomfort,
because he gives me a quiet smile. “He proposed. I knew it would
happen.”

“Right.” My heart twists with sympathy. He’s
still in love with her—he has to be. They were together for a year,
even engaged by the end of it. They were planning a whole life
together, right up until Juliet went back to Beachwood Bay and
discovered that her old life, and love, was where her heart really
lay. “I better get going,” I say quickly. “I’m going to miss my
flight.”

“Me too,” Daniel jolts back to attention,
checking his watch. “Say hi to everyone for me. I wish them the
best,” he adds, and I can see, he really means it.

Hot and noble. Damn but he’s got it down.

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