Authors: Melissa Cutler
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This book is dedicated to working women everywhere, striving to balance work and love in these crazy, modern times. In particular, I want to thank one working woman. This story wouldn't have been possible without the funny, insightful knowledge shared to me by wedding planner Kelly Tharp All.
What caught Remedy Lane's attention first was a nine iron waving like a brandished sword from the driver's side of a golf cart careening up the path. When the nine iron's owner, a sour-faced, blue-haired golfer, saw Remedy, her eyes narrowed. She speared the club in Remedy's direction and bellowed, “A golf course is no place for an elephant!”
On the word
Remedy tripped over an invisible crack and caught herself on a golf-scoring platform. Little yellow pencils rained onto the ground along with a mishmash of safety pins, Band-Aids, compacts of concealer and powder, and mesh pouches of pastel butter mints from her blazer's pockets.
The golf cart slammed on its brakes a few feet in front of her. The blue-haired driver and her balding, watery-eyed passenger scowled at Remedy as she regained her footing. “Did you mean an actual
? Down there on the course?”
“No, it's a piÃ±ata,” the driver said. “Of course it's an actual elephant, and I want to know what you're going to do about it. We have a game to finish. It's shaping up to be my best of the week.”
Remedy took her time restuffing the wedding emergency supplies into her pockets, stalling. Only one elephant had been permitted onto the grounds of Briscoe Ranch Resort that dayâand she wasn't supposed to be anywhere near the golf course. According to the schedule Remedy had been given, the elephant's handlers were supposed to be grooming her for a photo shoot near the gazebo with the bride and groom of that afternoon's Kumar/Srivastva wedding.
The driver clanged the nine iron against the roof of her golf cart. “Don't just stand there like a dunce. What's your plan?”
Aruba. Remedy's plan should've been to find a job as a wedding planner in Aruba. What the heck had prompted her to relocate to a resort in the middle of nowhere? Worse than nowhereâTexas, which was tantamount to a dirty word in Los Angeles, like
. Actually, she was only too aware of why she'd chosen Briscoe Ranch Resort, which was why she had to make the job work.
She scanned the rolling hills that surrounded them. The resort's roof was visible in the distance, but no other employees were in sight.
“Hang on.” Remedy trudged up the short grassy rise for a view of the course, feeling the golfers' judgy, impatient eyes on her back. The rise afforded a sweeping view of the rambling hillsides and lush landscape of Texas Hill Country that still had the power to awe Remedy, though it'd been more than two weeks since she'd moved to Texas. In the valley immediately below, the neatly manicured grass of the golf course flowed out in all directions, punctuated by the occasional sand traps, water hazards, golfersÂ â¦ and one very large elephant wearing a purple-and-gold headdress galloping over the grounds with unmistakable glee.
Swallowing a curse, Remedy did what any self-respecting new hire would. She prayed that no one would blame the disaster on her as she brought her cell phone to her ear and called her boss. “Alex, it's Remedy. Tell me I'm hallucinating that the elephant we rented for the Kumar/Srivastva wedding is careening across the golf course at top speed.”
Alex was silent for a beat, then, “Damn it, he brought Gwyneth again. I thought we had an understanding after last time.”
Remedy watched the elephant pluck up a flagpole and run with it in her trunk as if she were Victory incarnate. Only two thoughts broke through Remedy's shock as she watched a pair of golfers dive into the brush at the edge of the course, out of the elephant's path. One: who would name an elephant
? Because, seriously, that was a ridiculous name for an animal. And two, “This has happened before? Why is it the first I'm hearing about it?”
Alex sighed. “Hector said he was bringing Petunia for the wedding, not Gwyneth, which would've been great, because Petunia usually only eats flowers. But that Gwyneth, she's crazy about golf. Well, the seventh green, specifically.”
After a head shake, Remedy checked the time on her phone. “The wedding photographer is slated to arrive in less than ten minutes, and the mother-of-the-bride specifically requested that the elephant be in the wedding photos. Something about getting her money's worth. Where's Hector and how did he not notice that his elephant's missing?”
“No idea,” Alex said. “I'll send someone to find Hector. You stop Gwyneth before she reaches the seventh hole's water hazard. And whatever you do, don't panic.”
“Wait, what?” She could either not panic or stop a thundering elephant, but not both. The two commands were mutually exclusive. “I can't do that. I'm a wedding planner, not an elephant whisperer.” But Alex didn't answer. “Alex, are you there?”
Nothing but silence. He'd already hung up.
She shoved the phone back in her messenger bag, her mind racing and her hand unsteady. What the heck was she supposed to do now? “Shit.”
A gasp sounded behind her. “Language!”
Remedy turned to see the golfer and her companion. Of course. Because why wouldn't they stay to watch the spectacle? That was one thing Remedy had learned in Hollywood. Everyone loved a spectacle. The bigger the train wreck, the better the entertainment value.
Remedy whirled to face the resort guests, a placating smile on her lips. “My apologies for my language. That was uncalled for, but I'm a little anxious because it looks like it's my job to, um, wrangle that elephant.”
The driver shook her head. “Well, get on with it. The day's not getting any younger.”
Remedy walked their way. “Yeah. There's just one thing.” She patted the roof of the golf cart. “I'm going to need to borrow this for a few minutes.”
“Beg your pardon?”
Leaving the golfers in her dust, Remedy careened down the concrete path at the cart's top speed. On her phone, she dialed the resort's catering kitchen. One of the line cooks answered, a man whose voice Remedy didn't yet recognize. “This is Remedy over in Special Events. I need someone to meet me at the seventh green, stat. This is an emergency. And bring all the bananas and apples you have.”
“No time to explain. Just bring me those bananas!” And Remedy had thought planning weddings in Hollywood had been a circus.
The golf cart's top speed was no match for Gwyneth's strides. Hoping to intercept the animal, Remedy cut across the fairway, waving spectators out of her path. She kept one eye on Gwyneth and the other on her phone as she activated the voice recognition search engine. “Look up âhow to stop an elephant.'”
The phone dinged, acknowledging the command; then moments later a computerized voice said, “I found âhow to stop a rampaging elephant.'”
Gwyneth was doing more frolicking than rampaging, but close enough. Remedy scrolled through the results, most of which were viral videos of vicious elephant attacks. Not cool. Maybe the cook with the bananas would show up soon. Or, better yet, Hector, the negligent keeper.
Without warning, the golf cart thumped off the grass and slammed to a hard stop. Remedy jerked forward, flailing to brace herself. As she caught her breath, she took a look around. She'd lodged the cart in a steep sand trap while Gwyneth galloped away.
Remedy banged her hands on the steering wheel. “Shit! Shit! Shit!”
The elephant ground to a halt and swung her attention to Remedy, ears pricked. Gwyneth dropped the flagpole and backtracked toward the golf cart.
Though her heart was racing, Remedy forced herself to smile. “Hiya, Gwyneth. Got your attention, did I? You like the curse words?”
Gwyneth's trunk rose. Her ears flapped.
Remedy slid to the passenger seat, her movements slow and deliberate. “Salty as a sailor, are you? Well, you're in luck because so am I. And I've got a lot more swearwords where those came from. How about this one: Damn it all to hell!”
Gwyneth's trunk lowered. Her head swung to face the water hazard and she raised a foot as though ready to run again.
Remedy sprung from the golf cart. “No, wait, don't do that. You'll ruin your pretty headdress. Was
not a dirty enough word? Okay, umÂ â¦ son of a bitch!”
Three steps into a trot, Gwyneth paused and took a second look at Remedy.
“Ass monkey!” Remedy said with gusto. Gwyneth seemed to like the term and trotted closer, but several of the gathering spectators laughed. Yeah, perhaps luring the elephant with foul language wasn't the most appropriate method.
From her bag Remedy withdrew a granola bar and unwrapped it. “The bananas aren't here yet, but how would you like a granola bar? It's organic and gluten-free. Mmm. I mean, bloody hell, it's gluten fucking free!”
Gwyneth snatched the bar right out of Remedy's palm. Remedy squeaked and stumbled back. That was one powerful trunk. Not a moment later, Gwyneth spit the granola bar onto the ground, then used her truck to sniff Remedy up and down as though on the hunt for a better goodie.
Remedy held still and tried not to cringe at the intimate inspection. “Yeah, I'm not crazy about that brand of granola bars, either. I'm definitely a gluten gal like you.” She brought her fist up. “Gimme knuckles on that, sistah.”
She'd meant it as a joke to help ease her own nerves, but Gwyneth curled the end of her trunk and bopped Remedy's fist.
“Okay, this is the weirdest job ever.” She reached a tentative hand out and patted Gwyneth's trunk.
The chug of a maintenance truck engine sounded. A hundred feet or so away, it stopped. The young man in a navy blue maintenance shirt leapt from the driver's seat at the same time as his passenger, a short Mexican man who looked like he might be Hector. In the truck bed sat a bin full of bananas and apples.