Authors: Kirsten Osbourne
Wishing in Wisconsin
Book Three in At the Altar
By Kirsten Osbourne
Copyright 2015 Kirsten Osbourne
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Cindy Lambert thought she was done with the small town of Blevins, Wisconsin, but here she is, back in her home town, managing a bed and breakfast and following her grandmother's dream. The problem is, she's tired of being alone, and there are no single men for miles that she's interested in. Plus, with her busy schedule, she has no time to date anyway. When her best friend coerces her into contacting a matchmaker, she decides to make it work for her.
Trey Zayne, a web designer from Texas is sick of his sister constantly trying to set him up with women he has no interest in. When he's contracted to do a website for a company called Matchrimony, he finds himself fascinated by the concept. A relational psychologist will interview him and find him a match. The only catch? They will meet at the altar. Can a techie from Texas fit in with a small town girl from Wisconsin? Will they find more than companionship and move straight to love?
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This book is dedicated to two incredible ladies, who I'm greatly looking forward to meeting in Atlanta in August this year. They are the real Cindy and Cissie, and their last names have been changed to protect the not so innocent! Thank you both for the hours you spent listening to me plot and revise this book. I hope you're both pleased with the final product!
I also need to make sure that Lachele Simpson gets a shout out. Sweet Lachele loaned me her personality, name, and everything about her for this series, including her favorite saying, "Good gravy!"
Cindy slipped into a chair in the snack bar of the Blevins Bowl. "I'm here. What's so important?" Cissie had left her an urgent message to meet her at the bowling alley she managed as soon as she could. Normally they met for lunch, so it had to be important.
Her best friend, Cissie, looked at her, excitement obvious on her face. "You will never believe what I just heard!"
Cindy groaned, grabbing one of Cissie's fried cheese curds and popping it into her mouth. "Don't make me guess. Just tell me!" Cissie loved to play little guessing games, and Cindy would rather just be told whatever was so important.
"Remember when we drove into New York last summer, and we met that crazy woman with purple hair in Central Park? She was walking two bulldogs and told us how they were brother and sister and they were making her crazy, but she loved them too much to care?"
Cindy nodded. "Yeah, Lachele wasn't it? Her husband was with her. What was his name?"
"Yes, that's her! Sam was his name. Anyway, Lachele and I have been writing ever since, and she just told me something I think you're going to find interesting."
"I find a lot of things interesting," Cindy responded, grabbing another cheese curd and taking a swig of Cissie's root beer. "What did she tell you?" She didn't have time to play guessing games. Cindy had opened up a bed and breakfast in her grandparents' old house three years before, and she tried not to be gone for prolonged periods of time.
"She's started a new business," Cissie announced with a grin.
"Isn't she a psychologist?"
"Yeah, but she's doing something else as well." Cissie was practically bouncing up and down in her seat. Obviously whatever the business was excited her for some reason.
"What is she doing that's so wonderful?"
"She's started a matchmaking service, but there's a catch."
Cindy made a face. Too many people had tried to match her up with her perfect man, but he just didn't seem to be out there. She wanted to refuse to be any party to it, but there must be something more to it for Cissie to be so excited. "What's that?"
"The couples have to agree to meet at the altar, and once they marry, they have to sign a contract stating that they'll stay together for at least a year. I think it's brilliant!"
"Why are you telling me this?" Cindy asked suspiciously. She knew Cissie well enough to know she would do anything she could to get Cindy happily married. Why she didn't worry about her own single status, she didn't know, but for some reason, Cissie seemed to feel like Cindy should marry first.
Cissie shrugged, obviously concerned when Cindy didn't get excited. "No reason..."
"You didn't tell her I was interested, did you?"
When Cissie didn't confirm or deny, Cindy slapped her on the shoulder. "You freak! You told her I was interested? I have no time for a man! I'm trying to get my business off the ground."
"Well, you don't have to date. You would marry him the day you met him. See how much simpler that is?"
Cindy took the plate of cheese curds and Cissie's root beer and put them in front of her. "Just for that, you can't have your food back."
Cissie shrugged. "I got them for you anyway. I knew you'd steal them. It's not like I drink root beer."
"Are you saying I'm predictable?" Cindy asked after another big swig of the root beer.
"I wouldn't say predictable, but I did know you'd tell me you were too busy for a man. Here's what I think you need to do. Dr. Lachele said she'd fly out here and follow you around for a day, and she can ask her questions, and you can answer them while you work. Doesn't that sound doable?"
"Not really. Cissie, why don't you have her set
up with someone? Why pick on me?"
Cissie shrugged. "I'm just not ready to be married yet. You are."
"You're full of cow manure!"
"I'll make you a promise, Cindy. If you go through with it and marry the man Lachele picks for you, then I'll let her pick someone for me."
Cindy eyed her friend, knowing Cissie was even more gun-shy about marriage than she was. "I'll need that in writing."
"Fine! Whatever! Lachele will be here in the morning."
Cindy groaned. "You asked her to come without even asking me? That's going to cost you another plate of cheese curds, and at least another six pack of root beer."
"Fine!" Cissie got up to go into the kitchen to make them more of the fried cheese curds.
As Cindy walked back to her house from the bowling alley that evening, she thought about what Cissie had suggested. Could she go through with Cissie's plan? She wasn't sure, but if she could, it would answer some prayers.
She loved living in the small town of Blevins, Wisconsin. She'd never known anything else except her time away at college. Walking through the streets of the small town made her smile. It was late at night, but there was no worry that she was in danger while walking. It was too peaceful here. She waved at a car on the road as she turned into the driveway of the B&B.
Staring up at the old house that had been in her family for generations, she smiled. She loved running the B&B. It hadn't been her intention to move back to Blevins after college. She'd thought she was done with small town living, but her grandfather had died of a heart attack shortly before she'd graduated. She'd come home to take care of a grandmother who was struggling with the idea of a life without the man she'd been married to for the past forty-five years.
Together they'd made the plans to turn the house into a bed and breakfast, fulfilling a lifetime wish of her grandmother's. The opening had been delayed by her grandmother's cancer diagnosis and slow death, through which Cindy had remained by her side every minute. Now, three years after her grandmother died, she was running a successful bed and breakfast in the same small town she'd vowed to never return to.
She stopped on the front porch and sat on the swing for a moment, enjoying the cool June evening. She loved summer nights in Wisconsin. Where else could she sit in silence and just relax? Life seemed slower here than it had in the city where she'd gone to school. Everything seemed slower in a small town. She didn't know how she'd ever thought that she wanted out.
Cindy couldn't get what Cissie had suggested out of her mind. She did want to marry, and the men weren't exactly knocking her door down. Maybe she should talk to Lachele. She'd seemed like a sweet woman.
She sighed, shaking her head. Was anyone really desperate enough to agree to see a matchmaker?
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a star go shooting through the sky. The habit of many years wasn't to be denied. She closed her eyes tightly and whispered, "I wish for a man who doesn't need anything financially, but who wants me to be his wife. Oh! And his car has to be paid for!" She opened her eyes, laughing at herself. Who wished on stars anyway?
Stephen Nathaniel Zayne, III, known as Trey to everyone in the world who didn't hate him, picked up his ringing phone. "Yeah?" he asked, not bothering to check the caller ID.
"Trey! I found you the perfect girl!" Trey's sister, Penny, had been trying to match him up with 'the perfect girl' for over five years. He'd gone out with a few 'perfect girls' and they'd all been annoying to him.
"No, you didn't. Working." Trey clicked the phone off and looked back at his computer. He needed to make sure this client's website was in working order before the end of the day, and listening to his sister harp on about the girl she thought he should marry, was not the way to get anything done.
The website was different than anything he'd ever done. It was for a company called Matchrimony that was
your average dating site. From the information the owner of the business, a Dr. Lachele Simpson, had given him, it was a company that matched up singles and introduced them at the altar. It was a strangely tempting concept for Trey.
If he didn't meet a girl before they married, then they wouldn't see all the reasons he wasn't marriage material. Girls liked him on first sight; it was after they'd realized what a nerd he was they all backed off.
Trey was sick of everyone in his life trying to set him up. He'd never been into the bar scene. He did want to marry, though, and he just had no clue how to go about finding the right woman. He couldn't imagine using a dating website, but what Dr. Lachele offered was something different.
He shook his head. He needed to finish the website, and then maybe he'd call her and talk to her about her strange business.
Cindy carried one of Lachele's suitcases up the stairs for her to the room she'd be staying in. "I appreciate you coming here to see me. I couldn't have gotten out for several months yet."
Lachele smiled. "I'm so happy to help you in any way I can. I enjoyed meeting you and Cissie in New York last summer." She looked around the room after Cindy opened the door. "Oh, this is lovely!" She walked over to look out the window. "Nice view."
Cindy laughed softly. "It's a view of cows and cornfields. So glad you approve!"
"Better than concrete jungles!" Lachele dropped the bag she held onto the bed and turned to Cindy. "You can take the girl out of the country, but that doesn't make her less of a country girl." She stretched. "I think I'm going to lie down for a bit, and we'll start your interview after dinner. Is there a good place for dinner here?"
Cindy smiled. "We'll walk over to the bowling alley to eat. Cissie's dying to see you! Would you like me to knock to wake you, or do you prefer to set an alarm?"
"Oh, I'll set an alarm. I know you're busy, sweetie." She crossed the room and hugged Cindy tightly. "I'm looking forward to a weekend with you girls. Don't worry about a thing!"
Easy for her to say
, Cindy thought as she went back down the stairs to make preparations for breakfast the following morning. She had a feeling it would be a late night of catching up at the bowling alley, and she wanted to be able to sleep in as long as she could.
Cindy walked straight back to the kitchen of the bowling alley after leaving Lachele at a table for three. "You know you have to actually leave the kitchen when you're supposed to so you can spend time with Lachele and me tonight."
Cissie turned from the deep fryer where she had fried cheese curds going. She grabbed a spatula to flip a couple of burgers before looking at Cindy. "Let me finish this up, and then I'll be right out. Five minutes." When Cindy gave her a skeptical look, Cissie just laughed. "I promise. I'm not working tonight!"
Cindy wandered back into the dining area and slid into a booth across from Lachele. "She says five minutes, so we have at least thirty. Want to start now? Or wait 'til tomorrow?"
Lachele grinned. "How long have you two been friends?" she asked as she pulled a notepad and pen from her bag.
"On the first day of kindergarten, she sat down in the chair I wanted, so I pulled her hair and made her cry. The teacher made me apologize, and we've been best friends ever since."
"Nice." Lachele opened her notebook. "Let's get the preliminary questions over with. First of all, what's your full name?"
"Cinderella Elizabeth Lambert."
Lachele raised an eyebrow. "Really? Cinderella?"
I go by Cindy, you know!"
"I see that now! Were you an only child?" Lachele asked after scribbling Cindy's name quickly.
"Yes. My parents hurried to marry right before the Gulf War, because my dad decided to enlist as soon as he heard about it. They had a week together before he left for basic. Long enough for me to be conceived! My father was killed in the line of duty, before I was born. My mother died in childbirth."
Lachele reached out and squeezed Cindy's hand as it rested on the table. "So you never knew either of them? I'm sorry." Her beautiful green eyes met Cindy's blue. "Who raised you?"
"My mother's parents, and they were wonderful people. They saw me through teenage rebellion and all that nonsense."
Lachele nodded. "Did you inherit the B&B from them?"
"No. The B&B was my grandma's dream. She'd wanted to do it for years. My grandfather died just before I graduated from college. I'd gone away to school and never planned on living in this tiny town again, but when Grandpa died, I had to come back and help Grandma. She told me about her dream to turn their old farm house into a B&B. I saw the potential, so I agreed to help. We had the upstairs remodeled so the rooms would be bigger and more uniform in size. I wanted each room to have a private bath. Grandma's room was always downstairs, so the plan was for me to have one of the bedrooms upstairs, and Grandma to keep her room just as it was."
"It didn't work out?"
"We were midway through the remodel when Grandma found out she had cancer. It was too advanced to do much. She did chemo for a bit, but her body just wasn't strong enough. She died three weeks before we were supposed to open to the public." Cindy swiped away the tear in her eye. "I just hope she knows how successful her idea was. No, I'm not taking the world by storm with one small B&B, but people enjoy staying there, and I'm certainly making enough money to support my cheese curd habit."