She wants to call off the wedding. Now her groom’s missing and a new man’s helping her search for him.
Summer realized she’d made a big mistake. Why did she say yes to him? When her groom never arrives at the church, she uses her one clue to find him. She gets a big surprise. And she meets her Watson to help her search.
Cameron agrees to help Summer because a family member’s caught in her mystery. She’s glad to have someone working with her, especially when he’s handsome and has a great smile, but a new romance is out of the question. But she sometimes (maybe too often) gets in trouble when she leaps before she looks, so he could come in handy.
Cameron and Summer are immediately pulled into a mystery bigger than a missing groom (with no dead bodies!) and fighting their attraction to each other. If they can find the groom—and solve this mystery—they’ll part ways and never need to see each other again.
They’re caught in a situation they didn’t create. Can a woman who almost got married find love on the run?
“Woof! Woof!” a dog barked in a nearby yard.
Summer jumped and put her hand on her racing heart. “It’s probably a pack of wild dogs that will attack any second. Thank you, Don Daily. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, my wonderful groom,” she muttered as she continued down the dark Nashville, Tennessee, sidewalk.
She’d wanted to call off her wedding for weeks, but every time she’d tried to pick up the phone or even tell him in person, she’d chickened out. Today, time had run out. She either had to tell him it was off or walk down the aisle, and, chicken that she was, she had put on the dress.
Only it seemed like he had found something more important to do.
Her brow furrowed. This address and Don’s name had been on a large bouquet of white roses that had arrived at the church. She’d hoped Don had bought them, and for a reason that would give her a hint as to his whereabouts. But it simply didn’t make sense that he’d abandoned her at one church, then gone to another. She shrugged. It wasn’t much of a clue, but right now, it was her only clue.
Lifting the voluminous skirt of her wedding dress to the side, she carefully walked toward her destination. Both Don and his luggage were missing from his quarters at the inn he owned. As soon as she found him and told him their relationship was over, that it wasn’t a reflection on him but completely about her, she could move on.
He had been her focus as she’d left the church on the other side of town, so she’d forgotten about the dress. Stumbling along the dark sidewalk, she really wished she’d remembered to change out of these high-heeled satin pumps.
Summer leaned against one of the big, old trees that lined the road, slipped off a shoe, and rubbed the arch of her foot. These shoes were barely comfortable enough to walk down the aisle in and certainly not built for a two-block trek down a sidewalk at night. She’d driven by the address and, after seeing it was a church, parked a couple of blocks away. She wanted to sneak up on it to see what was going on here. A woman in a wedding dress could be conspicuous.
After slipping the shoe back on, she walked toward the side of the building. Stepping onto the soft lawn, her feet felt instantly better. She’d been relieved that the clue had led her to a church; she wouldn’t have wanted to visit an abandoned warehouse at ten o’clock at night.
Carefully looking around as she went, Summer made sure no one else was nearby. Nothing stirred. Not even a mouse. She stifled a giggle at the thought. Wow, she must be getting punchy.
The sound of voices drifted around from the front of the church. Slowly, ever so slowly, she peered around the corner of the building to look at the front door. The church’s entrance glowed with light so bright that she blinked her eyes. When she could focus, she jumped back. A sobbing woman stood in front of the church, and a man was obviously comforting her.
Summer peered around the corner again, sighing in frustration when she got a clearer look. The man wore a white tuxedo and the woman a Hawaiian-print dress. They looked ordinary.
Who was she kidding? There wasn’t anything normal about a man in a tuxedo and a sobbing woman in a Hawaiian-print dress standing outside a church late at night. But they didn’t look like criminals.
She eyed the woman suspiciously. Maybe things were not as they appeared to be. Maybe the man and woman had kidnapped Don, and the woman regretted it. Maybe they were waiting here to meet a contact. Streetlights illuminated a limousine as it turned the corner a block away. When Summer pressed into the shadows to hide, the lace fabric of her dress caught on the brick building.
After gently pulling it away, she gathered the dress tightly against herself and peered around the corner.
Her eyes opened wide as the vehicle swung into the church parking lot. This was it! A long, black limousine pulled up to the front of the church. Then an older woman walked out of the church, put her arm around the younger, sobbing woman and helped her into the limo before climbing in beside her. The man closed the door, and the limo drove away with the two women.
And so did her clue. If they were just people in a church, the address on the flowers must have been a mistake from the flower shop. And if Don had nothing to do with the flowers, he had abandoned her at the altar. She may not have wanted to marry him, but to be left at the altar?
A tear slipped down one cheek, followed by another. Angrily swiping at her wet cheeks, Summer stepped away from the building in the direction of her car. Then she ran into a tree.
“Hey, there wasn’t a tree—”
Very human hands touched her arms. Before she could scream, a hand clamped over her mouth. When she pushed with all of her weight against her captor, she was pulled closer to what was obviously a male body. Kicking at his shins, her right shoe flew away.
“Ouch.” He flinched when her still-shod left foot made contact with his shin. “Don’t move. I don’t want to hurt you.”
It’s a man, and he doesn’t want to hurt me. Isn’t that what the criminal says just before he does something drastic? She shoved her body against his again, but he didn’t budge.
“Please,” he whispered, “I don’t want to disturb the people in the church.”
His sentence broke through her panic. He doesn’t want to disturb people in a church? Isn’t it against the thug’s code to care about things like that? She stilled her body, but her breath came in ragged gasps under the pressure of his hand.
“Thank you.” He released what was obviously a sigh of relief and fractionally relaxed his hold. “I want to know what you’re doing here.”
Great. The big oaf has obviously forgotten he has a hand clamped over my mouth. She nipped at his hand with her teeth.
“Sorry.” He released her but didn’t step away.
Squinting in the near total darkness, she tried to get a glimpse of his features. With only a vague outline visible, she gave up and stepped back. After brushing herself off and straightening her dress, she said, “Mr.?”
“Powers,” he filled in.
She crossed her arms over her chest. “Mr. Powers, my heart is still racing from your assault. And you bruised my arms. Who do you think you are?”
“Miss? Mrs.? Ms.?”
She stood silently.
“Fine.” He sounded annoyed. “I think I’m a man who saw a woman in a wedding dress skulking down the street, darting behind trees and hiding in the shadows of the church where my sister was supposed to be married. That’s who I think I am.”
Embarrassment replaced her anger and heat flooded her skin. At least it was dark enough that he couldn’t see her blush. She searched her mind for a plausible excuse and decided on the whole truth. “I was supposed to get married today too.”
“If I believe you, you have a reason for the dress. But not for sneaking around. Tell me why I shouldn’t call the police.”
She glared at him. Then she remembered he couldn’t see her. “I can explain. As I was saying, I was supposed to get married today, but my fiancé Don Daily took off, and I’m looking for him.”
She nodded. “Do you know him?” Maybe this was the break she was searching for.
He leaned closer. “Don Daily?” he repeated. “Blond, about this tall”—he held a hand up to his eye level—“about twenty-eight?”
“Yes! You do know him. Do you know why he missed our wedding this afternoon?”
He looked heavenward and seemed to mutter a few words of prayer before looking at her again. “I wish I knew what was going on. He missed his wedding to my sister tonight.”
Summer laughed, but it sounded strained even to her ears. “That can’t be my Don. My Don missed our wedding.”
The man shook his head. “Come inside.” He reached for her arm. She wanted to push him away, but she needed answers, so, wobbling on one shoe, she walked beside him into the church.
Inside, he gently pushed her into the back pew. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”
Staring into space, she thought about what he’d said. Don? Marrying another woman? Had he planned to be a bigamist? She shook her head. There were obviously two very similar men with the same name. Unlikely, yes, but not impossible.
The man came back and handed her a cup of water. She squinted in the dim light of the church but still couldn’t clearly see his face.
“Here, drink this.”
Summer stood and held out the cup of water to him. “This is all a mistake. We can’t be talking about the same man.”
“Does your Don Daily own 1902 Inn?”
Summer nodded. “See, it can’t be . . .” She stopped talking and looked up at him. When he nodded, she tried to take a sip of the water, but instead the cup slipped slowly out of her hand and hit the ground. Blinking, she tried to look up at him as the lights dimmed and swirled around her.
It seemed like seconds later that she was staring up at two women she didn’t know. One was chafing her wrist, the other patting her cheek. They appeared to be sweet old ladies about her grandmother’s age. Struggling to get up, she wondered what held her back. Then she looked down and saw the yards of fabric of a wedding dress twisted around her body.
Was this some sort of dream?
A handsome man with dark brown hair stepped into her line of sight.
Yep, it was a dream.
“Are you all right?”
As soon as he spoke, it all came back to her. Don had left her and the man’s sister at the altar.