Chapter excerpt…JUST ONE DAY

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE

The musical tinkling of a spoon against a crystal champagne flute made me turn.

“Everyone!” Brad called, bringing to mind Fantasy Island scenes of Mr. Rourke welcoming his guests. “Thank you so much for being here tonight.”

“Oh Lord, look at him,” Alicia said, nudging me. “All up in his element.”

His element.

He extended an arm in my direction, beckoning me to join him. I was suddenly conflicted on whether to bring my plate of shrimp with me. Was it a photo op? Should I just stand next to him with my pretty red drink, smiling? I decided to bring it, since the shrimp were pretty, too, and probably cost a mint.

As I settled into his side, gazing up at him, I counted my blessings. I truly was blessed to have such an amazing man. I’d already run the route of the ordinary, married to someone with no ambition and less dependability. I had life lessons and an amazing daughter from that early experience—I treasured that—so why not embrace the next chapter of my life? So what if he only watched ESPN and the History Channel, and didn’t believe in buttered popcorn? What did it matter that he hated sweatpants and never let me hear the end of it if I spent the day in a pair? Brad Marcus was gorgeous, successful, creative, and for some reason had chosen to spend the last two years with me.

“This is a special night for Andie and I, as you know,” Brad continued, smiling down at me. “And isn’t she stunning tonight?”

The crowd clapped, and I went head-to-toe crimson. “Stop,” I whispered, managing not to move my lips and maintaining my appreciative smile.

“I’ve been so fortunate to know this beautiful woman, and I hope you’ll all get to know her better tonight, as well,” Brad said. “Champagne is coming around, please take one, as I’d like to make a toast.”

I switched out my glasses as the tray went by, and the murmurs ceased as Brad raised his glass.

“To friends and love and beautiful futures,” he said, clinking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, sounding like a cacophony of chimes, which I would have found entertaining and lovely had Brad not then lowered to one knee.

My first thought was that he’d dropped something. Then the precious shrimp plate was plucked from my hand, the champagne glass was plucked from Brad’s, and he was gazing up at me.

“Oh my God, what are you doing?” I asked under my breath, not wanting the guests to hear.

Brad just grinned, as if my impending panic attack was cute and expected, and his charm would heal all that ailed me. He was charming. He was adorable. And he was on one freaking knee. My heart was so loud in my ears it almost drowned out the awws and oohs along with a distinct shriek from Alicia’s general vicinity.

“Please get up,” I whispered, wanting to go somewhere private.

He ignored me.

“I want the world to know you’re mine, Andie,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly the liquid sloshed over the edges. “Two years is long enough for us to know.”

No, it isn’t! my head screamed as he reached into his suit pocket.

The little white box squeaked open, and the crowd gasped in unison, as if on cue. The oddest thought zipped by as I wondered if that was staged, but that could have just been the lack of oxygen to my brain.

“I can’t brand you,” Brad said, his blue eyes and perfect smile radiating charm and bringing laughter from all sides. “But I can put this on your finger and give you my name,” he said, kissing my fingers as I stared down at him. “If you’ll have me.”

The marble-sized rock in the box swirled and doubled in front of my eyes. It looked like all the crystals that hung around the boat, catching the light. Ahh, I thought. That was creative. My head swam with random bursts of sound from the guests, the band playing something soft and backgroundish on a violin overhead, and all the thoughts pinging me at once. Mostly that I needed to say something. That everyone was waiting for me to say something. But something in me was still waiting—for him to say something.

I blinked hard, and willed the image in front of me to focus, but I had bigger problems, as my head went light and three plates of cocktail shrimp crawled back up.

“Brad,” I whispered, as the little pinpoints of black started closing in.

“Andie?”

I wheeled around and ran blindly for where I knew the railing to be, shoved two gasping Vera Wang gowns and their owners aside, and unloaded all that pretty shrimp back into the water. Not quite the same way they left it.

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