Book 2 in Wedding Town Romances
She’s a city girl. She may be in for a change.
Bella’s a Nashville wedding dress designer who loves city life. But her business is in trouble she accidentally made worse. There’s one option to save it and that involves her . . . and a small town.
Micah enjoys living in tiny Two Hearts, Tennessee, but his grandfather wants him in Nashville and has offered him two choices—get married quickly or join the family law firm. By agreeing, Micah helps his family, and receives part of his inheritance.
Bella and Micah strike a deal to get married . . . by Monday.
Falling in love isn’t even an option. This marriage is a temporary solution for both of them.
Then why won’t their hearts stay out of it?
Get this fun, sweet book and start reading it today (even if it isn’t Monday).
Author’s Note: A marriage of convenience. A charming small town. Laughter and fun. A hero who wants to stay. A heroine who longs for city life. Sweet and clean.
Bella Bennett eyed the red fire alarm on the wall. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to flip the switch on these when I saw them. One in my first school caught my attention every time I walked by.”
Her friend Cassie laughed. “Troublemaker.” She folded the flaps on a box and stood. “You’re right, though. I wondered exactly what would happen if I pulled down.”
“You see, that’s why we’re friends.”
Cassie raised an eyebrow. “Because we’re both troublemakers?”
“Because we have the same sense of adventure.” Bella reached for the switch. “Besides, what better time to fulfill an old whim than to do it now with a disconnected fire alarm in an old building?”
“Bella, wait! What if it is connected?”
She waved around them with her left hand. “In this dump?”
“It’s a charming brick building from the 1890s with original details.”
“One overhead light—”
“But it’s a gorgeous period fixture.”
Bella continued. “We found a single wall plug that worked. The rest of them—of the few there were—didn’t.”
Cassie frowned. “I may have made the wrong decision when I chose to put our mini bridal event in one of the old storefronts on Main Street. I hoped the brides would see themselves getting married in the small town of Two Hearts if I immersed them in it.”
“Cassie,” Bella added gently, “Every store around this building closed years ago. There’s no charm.”
“You’re probably right.”
Bella shifted the mood back to playful. “But I can knock one childhood wish off my list.” She pulled the handle down, breaking the glass rod, a spike of concern rushing through her in spite of her bravado.
A horn honking in the distance was the only sound they heard.
“I know you enjoy living in Nashville, but Two Hearts is my home now. I see only the potential in the old buildings, especially these historic storefronts on Main Street, but I guess you’re right.”
Bella shrugged. “See? I told you so. I know you love this town, Cassie, but—”
An ear-shattering ringing came from over her head. Shoving her hands over her ears, Bella raced out the front door. Cassie emerged right behind her.
“I may have made a mistake,” Bella shouted over the alarm. “At least there isn’t a real fire.”
“Real or not . . .”
Bella’s heart sank, and she groaned. “A fire truck is on its way. Cassie, the firefighters will be angry when they find out what I did.” Just when you thought your situation couldn’t get worse, you do something stupid, and it does.
“You’re right.” Cassie pulled her phone out of the purse she’d apparently thought to grab as she’d exited the building. After a few swipes across the screen, she shoved it back in the bag. “Greg isn’t answering. I remember him saying something about helping his mother with a project, so maybe he can’t hear his phone.”
Bella hadn’t thought about Cassie’s fiancé, the town’s sheriff, being annoyed too.
“I’ll run over to his mother’s house to see if he’s there. Maybe he can contact the station before the volunteer fire department’s men and women load up the truck and come over here.”
Cassie raced across the street and through the walkway to what Bella knew was the residential area behind Main Street’s empty stores. As Bella turned around, she saw people hurrying down the street. Toward her. Well, not her specifically, but toward what they assumed was a burning building.
Was there a hole big enough for her to escape into? At least she could hope that Cassie would find Greg and that his car would come down the street at any moment to save her.
A siren in the distance, much louder than one man’s police car, told her Cassie hadn’t. Would she need to pay a fine for a false alarm? She could barely afford gas money right now, so that could be a problem.
Sighing, she looked down and realized she still wore a wedding gown. Running inside, she ignored the sound that would probably be in her ears for a week and grabbed the blue dress she’d worn this morning.
Turning toward the mirror they’d placed against the wall for customers to use, Bella reached for the row of buttons that ran down the back of her dress. One, two, three buttons slipped out of their loops. As she stretched for the fourth button, a woman stopped in front of the window and pressed her face against it to see inside. More people joined her.
Facing them in a partially unbuttoned wedding dress while the alarm blared heralded a new low in her life.
Could the humiliation grow any worse?
Never ask a silly question.
Bella started for the back room, but had only taken a step when flashing red lights reflecting in the mirror said her time was up. She picked up her purse and turned toward the door. She squared her shoulders and waited for someone to enter. She’d explain her mistake to, hopefully, a kind firefighter and ask for forgiveness.
Someone—man or woman?—wearing firefighting gear, including a helmet with a shield, entered the building, clutching the end of a fire hose. The person stopped and stared at her. When they flipped up the face shield, the puzzled face of Greg’s friend stared at her.
Micah. The man who had accidentally showered her with fruit punch at Cassie and Greg’s engagement party. And ruined her dress.
“Isabella?” His green eyes stared at her as though she must be an apparition—and she had to admit that it would be rare to find no smoke or fire, and a woman in a wedding dress. He continued through to the back room. A minute later, the ringing blissfully stopped.
When he returned, he had his helmet under one arm and the fire hose under the other. “I don’t see anything that looks like an emergency. Now, please tell me what happened?”
A voice from outside shouted, “Did you say ‘now’?”
Micah shouted over his shoulder. “Yes, but I don’t want—”
The fire hose shot water across the room. Micah struggled to stay upright as the hose he’d barely been holding onto went wild. The wet stream sprayed everywhere—including right into her wedding dress display.
“No!” Bella threw herself in front of the dresses. “Turn off the water!” she sputtered as it pummeled her. Shouting between Micah and the firefighters outside continued, but she could barely hear it over the rushing deluge.
When the barrage ended, a stunned Micah stood before her. He blinked and stared at her. “That shouldn’t have happened.” He shook his head and seemed to be muttering to himself when he added, “Of course, it shouldn’t. We must need more training.”
Three dresses had blown off the rack and lay wadded up in a grimy pool on the floor. The others hung dripping on the rack. She leaned closer. Some of the embellishments looked damaged. When the crowd outside shifted, allowing more light in, the water on the floor glittered with either sequins or crystals, maybe both.
Her inventory. Every sample. Ruined.
Micah seemed to be talking to himself. He might have continued—if she hadn’t screamed.
He hurried over. “I’m so sorry, Isabella! Are you hurt?”
Fighting tears, she shook her head.
A man and woman in firefighter gear rushed through the door. “Need help, Chief?” the woman asked.
Bella shook her head. More people would not be better.
“I think we’re good here. I’ll let you know when we need cleanup.”
The man said, “I’m sorry about the water,” before the two of them left.
Right. Water. Lifting a limp and soggy dress off the rack, with beading hanging off it by a thread, she knew nothing could save the former beauty. Bella held it up facing Micah.
“It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, right?” His shrug told her he knew nothing about silk and handmade lace.
Bella swallowed hard as she realized the implications of her stupid decision to pull that alarm.
What would she do?
“Isabella?” Micah’s voice from beside her made her jump. “Are you okay?”
She shook her head. “No,” a small voice she barely recognized croaked.
Micah stared at Bella. She looked like she might be on the verge of tears. “It’s just water.” When she didn’t answer, he added, “We can throw them in a dryer.”
Isabella’s whimper told him the problem might be bigger than he realized.
“Silk and handmade lace. Beading. Sequins.”
Those things meant something, maybe that she didn’t want to put the dresses in the dryer. When she stared at the rack of clothing like she’d lost her best friend, Micah knew he had to do something.
His grandmother liked to hang clothes on the clothesline in the backyard. She said it gave them a “fresh” scent. “They could hang outside.”
Turning to him with a glimmer of a smile, she said, “Okay.”
Whew. Crisis averted. “Then let’s pack them up and take them to my house.” He started toward the rack.
“Wait!” She put her hand on his arm. “I’m staying at Cassie’s. I can hang them up there.”
Her hand slid away when he turned toward the back room. Even though he had barely felt her touch through his heavy coat, he missed it. “You can’t.” He plucked the box of large trash bags off the shelf where he’d seen them earlier.
“Of course I can,” she continued as soon as she could see him again. Some of the fire had returned to her voice.
“No, you can’t, Isabella.”
The sun came out from behind a cloud, bringing a sunbeam onto the water and showing him a problem that loomed larger than he’d thought from his original position. They’d have to get someone with equipment to suck up the water and dry the place out as soon as possible. He hoped the ancient electric outlets could handle the fans they’d need to plug in.
“Micah—” Isabella pulled him from his thoughts.
That was the first time she’d used his name since they‘d met, and he liked the sound of it from her.
“My grandmother helped when Cassie moved into the house and lamented a time or two about the lack of what she considered the all-important clothesline,” he explained.
Isabella grabbed the box from him. He’d wanted to snap her out of her sadness, but it seemed to have been replaced with anger. “It would have been easy at Cassie’s.” Pulling out a bag, she huffed. “But we’ll go to your house.”
Why did that thought not bring him joy?
“I’ll run up to the fire station to get my truck.”
She nodded, but didn’t say anything. From the little time they’d spent together at Cassie and Greg’s engagement party, he suspected that silence wasn’t normal for her.
After a jog up the street, he returned with the old pickup he liked to knock around in. There was something satisfying about a truck that was older than he was. He also didn’t mind hauling fifty-pound bags of seed in it for a friend, as he’d had to earlier in the day.
Isabella waited outside for him, and she stepped up to the back of the vehicle when he stopped, peering over the tailgate. Her gaze went from his truck to the store. “Micah, I don’t know if this is the best way to haul white dresses.” She sounded nicer than before, but he had noticed her rubbing her eyes like she’d been crying when he drove up.
Guys could be clueless, and he certainly was more often than he should be. He surveyed the bed of the truck. “What if we put a layer of trash bags down and the dresses on top of that?”
She considered his suggestion. “That could work. We have to be careful, though. No rust. Please.”
They carried the dresses out one by one and laid them on the trash bags. When they’d all been set there, Isabella touched them almost lovingly. With a sigh, she went to the passenger side, opened the door, and stared at the seat with a frown. “Micah, I’m wet.”
He pulled open his door. “Don’t worry about it. I haul all sorts of things in here. We get in wet and dirty after fishing.”
She grimaced but climbed in, slamming the door. Or did it take that much energy for someone her size to swing it shut?
Every few seconds, he glanced in the rearview mirror to make sure the precious cargo hadn’t picked up birds or anything else. When they arrived at his house, he slowly rolled into the driveway.
Isabella stared at the house. “You live here?” The incredulous tone of her voice grated on him.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
She turned to him and shook her head. “It doesn’t seem guy-friendly. It’s so . . . small-town.”
He laughed and popped open his door. “Isabella, I live in a small town.” At the back of the truck, he let down the tailgate and reached for a dress. “It’s probably easiest if we carry these through the house to the backyard.”
She picked one up and followed him. When the tapping of her heels stopped, Micah turned toward her. Her gaze went up and around the house, pausing for a moment on the planter filled with petunias before coming back to him.
“It’s charming.” She shrugged.
Her “charming” didn’t sound the same as when someone like Cassie said it.
He charged back toward the door with the dress. The sooner they finished this task, the better.