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She's planning a wedding?not a romance!
Keeping up appearances is Yvonne Delisle's forte. But this job is going to test even her Southern belle mettle! It's not challenging enough she only has six weeks to turn a ramshackle carriage house into the hottest society wedding venue in Virginia. It's also located on her ex?husband Aidan's family vineyard. The home?and the man?she yearned for.
But Yvonne's up for the challenge. In the time since things went south with Aidan, she's become the most sought?after wedding planner in the state?popular enough to arrange her former mother?in?law's second wedding. Except?it's becoming suspiciously clear she wasn't hired for her professional expertise. Someone is plotting a reconciliation.and Yvonne is more tempted by the day. Let's see who actually walks down that aisle?
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Beth Andrews is a Romance Writers of America RITAź Award and Golden Heart Winner. She lives in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When not writing, Beth loves to cook, make bead jewelry and, of course, curl up with a good book. For more information about Beth or her upcoming books, please visit her Website at: www.bethandrews.netExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Oh, dear Lord, what had she gotten herself into?
A cool breeze blew Yvonne Delisle's hair into her eyes and she impatiently tucked it behind her ear as she stared up at the ancient carriage house. her career as a wedding consultant, the sixteen years she'd spent on the pageant circuit and, most importantly, being the only child of Savannah social royalty Richard and Elaine Delisle, had all taught her one very important fact.
Especially when it came to weddings. So why on earth retired senator Allen Wallace and vineyard owner Diane Sheppard would want to have theirs in this particular building was beyond her. The wood siding was weathered and mottled, ranging from a dull gray to deep tan. Shingles were sliding off the steeply pitched roof. What glass was left in the windows was scratched beyond repair, and the left side of the overhang above the double carriage doors dropped precariously.
She tucked her cold fingers into the short pockets of her fitted jacket. Then again, it wasn't up to her to decide where her couples got married. If it was, the Shields–Larson wedding never would've taken place at a dairy farm—complete with mooing cows and the pungent smell of manure.
No, she thought as she crossed to the building's wooden door, the tall heels of her black pumps wobbling on the gravel drive. Her job was to make sure the bride got exactly what she wanted. Whether the wedding took place at a church, the beach or a carriage house that looked as if it should be condemned.
She hoped it didn't fall down while she was inside.
With a quick prayer, she unlocked the door and stepped in. The smell hit her first—wet wood, motor oil and dust. Then she realized that even though the morning sunlight filtered through the dirty windows, it was colder inside than out. Leaving the door open, she flipped on the light switches. Several bare bulbs hanging from low–lying rafters flickered to life.
At least it was big enough to accommodate several hundred guests. Or it would be once it was cleared out. The place was packed with cardboard boxes, plastic tubs, shovels, rakes and other implements, wine barrels ranging from short and squat to one that reached her shoulder, old tools and large glass jars on a three–tiered wooden shelf.
Eyes narrowed, she turned in a slow circle and imagined the space as it could be. It had high ceilings, wide–planked floors and two exposed–brick walls. With some cleaning—okay, a lot of cleaning—a few coats of paint and new windows, it could be charming. In a rustic sort of way.
Maybe, just maybe, this could work.
She dug her BlackBerry from her purse and started to pace, kicking up dust as she typed in notes.
Candles. Dozens and dozens of white candles of all shapes and sizes. Miniature white lights strung along the rafters. Turning, she walked back to the door. She wasn't due to meet with Diane until this afternoon, so didn't know if the woman had already chosen a color scheme or not, but Yvonne was thinking chocolate–brown and bright green. Or better yet, brown and robin's egg blue.
She could incorporate the wine barrels into the decor. Use corks as name card holders. This wasn't just the setting of Diane Sheppard's second wedding after all; the Diamond Dust was her winery. A huge part of her life. Yvonne put her phone away, hung her purse on the handlebars of a faded red Huffy bike and set out to see what else she could find of use.
Twenty minutes later she'd accumulated several glass bottles, a wooden shutter she had no idea how she'd ever use but hadn't been able to pass up and some wide picture frames. And then she saw it. The inspiration for the head table's centerpiece—an antique lantern.
Now all she had to do was get to it. Easier said than done, as it was on top of some sort of workbench behind at least three feet of junk. Grabbing the arms of a hideous velvet high–backed chair, she pulled. Nothing happened. Not only was this the ugliest chair she'd ever had the misfortune of seeing, it was also the heaviest.
She slid her snug skirt up a few inches, bent and adjusted her grip on the chair.
"Excuse me." She froze. That deep, oh–so–familiar voice. A voice that, even after all these years of trying to get him out of her head, Yvonne still heard in her dreams. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
The nape of her neck prickled. She didn't have to turn to know that Aidan Sheppard stood behind her, getting a good look at her rear. She straightened quickly, swayed a little before regaining her balance.
"Hello, Aidan," she said, praying he didn't notice the slight tremor in her voice. She smoothed her skirt back down to just above her knees, then turned. "How are you?"
He looked older, of course. She'd expected that. What she hadn't expected was her reaction to him. Her mixed emotions. He was so tall and lean and...male. Unshaven, his face was sharper, the angles more pronounced. His shoulders broader in his sweaty, white T–shirt.
But his eyes were the same, a light blue with enough green in them to make it seem as if they were ever changing. For so long, she'd tried to be the woman he saw with those eyes. Until she realized she'd much rather be loved for herself.
"What are you doing here?" he repeated.
"I was trying to move this." She indicated the chair. "I saw that lantern and—"
"And you thought you'd take it?"
She pursed her lips. "To use as a centerpiece," she clarified.
He looked pointedly at the other items she'd collected. "And you couldn't find a lantern—or any of this other stuff—in Charleston?"
"I'm sure I could. But I'm not in Charleston, am I?"
"Which brings me back to my original question."
"I wanted to check out the building, see what I have to work... " His words sank in. She frowned. "What do you mean?"
He raised one eyebrow. "What are you doing in Jewell? Why are you on my family's property?"
Surely Diane—Mrs. Sheppard—wouldn't keep something this...big, important, awkward...from her son. Would she? "Didn't your mother tell you?"
Yvonne forced herself not to stare at his bare legs. He must be getting cold in those running shorts. "She hired me."
Thanks to her parents' tutelage in presenting an unruffled facade in any given situation, there was no way he could sense her nervousness. Her uncertainty.
"To work at the Diamond Dust," she added when he said nothing.
"Is that so?" he murmured. "In what capacity?"
"She... I..." Yvonne licked her suddenly dry lips. She tugged at the bottom of her jacket. "I'm an events coordinator."
He just stared.
Maybe her mother had been right and this was a mistake. A huge one. Maybe Yvonne shouldn't have come here.
Shouldn't have thought—hoped—Aidan would forgive her.
"You're an events coordinator," he said. It wasn't a question.
"Yes. My specialty is weddings."
"Weddings," he repeated in a monotone. "Putting that business degree to good use, I see."
Ducking her head so he couldn't see that his dig had hit home, she shoved the chair a few more inches to get behind it. His was a familiar set–down, one she'd heard often enough from her parents. One she knew better than to respond to.
"Yes, well, plans change," she said, moving aside a box of record albums. "But you already know that, don't you?"
As soon as the words left her mouth, she cringed. She wasn't here to antagonize him. She was here to do a job.
But Aidan he didn't seem angry that she'd reminded him of his own forgotten plans. In fact, he now seemed indifferent...to the cold and to her.
She wanted to throw her shoe at him. Or that damn lantern. If she ever reached it.
"Since you seem surprised to find out your mother hired me," Yvonne said, setting a tarnished brass table lamp on the chair, "I suppose she also didn't mention that I'll be staying here, as well."
"Tell me you mean here as in the town of Jewell."
"At the cottage. It seemed more.convenient.than trying to find a place in town."
"We wouldn't want you to be inconvenienced now, would we?"
"I offered to pay rent," she assured him. "But your mother said it was empty, and included lodging as part of my fee." She met his eyes unflinchingly. "I wouldn't want you to think I'm taking advantage of Diane's generosity."
"One thing I never worry about is my mother being taken advantage of."
Yvonne would have smiled, if he wasn't looking at her so coldly. "No. Of course not. Diane's very...capable." Capable. Confident. Intimidating. Almost as intimidating as her own mother.
Yvonne leaned against the hard edge of the counter and reached for the lantern. Her fingertips grazed the metal base. She glanced over her shoulder at him. "I don't suppose you could...?"
His refusal surprised her. He'd never refused her anything before. But that was then, she reminded herself.
She searched the area and spied a blue metal toolbox halfway under the bench. Kneeling, she wrestled it forward. "Do you.are you living here as well?" she asked, straightening. "At the Diamond Dust, I mean."
Generations of Sheppards had lived at the historic plantation.
Aidan didn't jump in to tease her out of her nerves. Smooth things over. He simply crossed his arms. "No."
He certainly was getting good at using that one word with her. How was he not freezing in his running gear?
She turned her back to him and quickly pulled her skirt halfway up her thighs. Her face was so hot, she expected her hair to catch on fire. She stepped onto the...
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Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX037371727X
Book Description Harlequin, 2011. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11037371727X
Book Description Harlequin. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 037371727X New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.2209068