The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5)

BOOK: The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5)
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Blurb

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Epilogue

Other Books by Regina Duke

About the Author

THE WEDDING GUEST

by

Regina Duke

The Wedding Guest

Copyright
©
2015 Linda White

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from Regina Duke.

www.reginaduke.com

[email protected]

Published by Linda White

United States of America

Electronic Edition: July 2015

Digital ISBN 978-0-9862903-2-9

This book is a work of fiction and all characters exist solely in the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Any references to places, events or locales are used in a fictitious manner.

Digital formatting by StevieDeInk,
[email protected]

Edited by Marian Kelly, RavensGateEditing.com

Cover design by StevieDeInk

Cover photo © uranus_smf - Fotolia.com

Madlyn Lake goes to dinner expecting a marriage proposal. What she gets instead is shattered dreams and a broken heart. Her best friend takes her to New York as a wedding guest to lift her spirits and she meets Kirby Banks. He grew up with billionaires but when he learns that Madlyn despises the wealthy, he pretends to be a chauffeur to win her heart. When his uncle dies and leaves him a fortune, will Madlyn still love him? Find out in this sweet, clean romance from USA Today Bestselling Author Regina Duke.

The Wedding Guest
is #5 in the Colorado Billionaires series.

CHAPTER ONE

Eagle’s Toe, Colorado

August 15, 8 p.m.

M
adlyn Lake was certain that this was the big night. She and John Dare, her long-time beau and favorite policeman, were sitting at a cozy table in the rear of Il Vaccaro, the Italian restaurant inside the Cattleman’s Inn. Dinner had been spectacular, and dessert was light and simple. John seemed unsure of himself out of uniform, and he was looking worried. Madlyn grew more and more excited as the meal went on. The more nervous John appeared, the more certain she was that he was going to pop the big question.

At last, once dessert was over, sweet John, the man of her dreams, folded his hands around his coffee cup, leaned forward, cleared his throat, and said, “Madlyn, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you.”

Madlyn felt butterflies rising like a dust devil inside herself. “Yes?” she said, then wished she’d said it differently because she sounded like some kind of limp starlet in a B movie, waiting for the man to make all the decisions, and she didn’t like that at all. But it was too late. She’d already said it. So she waited for John to speak. And she had time to think all of this in the meantime because he’d become transfixed by coffee in the bottom of his cup. Madlyn shook her head and sighed. Men just didn’t seem to have as many verbal genes as women. A silliness took hold of her as she realized that, if John were a woman, the entire proposal would already be laid on the table, the ring would be on her finger, and they would be planning the wedding.

Mentally, she urged him, Come on John, ask your question!

John took a calming breath, straightened his shoulders, and said, “Madz, will you come with me to L.A. so I can practice being a policeman in a major city?”

Madlyn blinked once, then twice, then squinted at him in confusion. “What?” She wasn’t quite sure she’d heard him right. “Would you say that again?”

John pulled at his collar and began again. “Would you come with me to L.A. so I can be a policeman in a big city? That’s the best way to get ahead in law enforcement. With that experience, I can pretty much write my own ticket when I come back to Colorado. At least, that’s the plan.” He gave her that cocky grin she’d fallen in love with.

“Let me get this straight,” said Madz, twisting her napkin between her fingers. She spoke slowly and deliberately, parsing every phrase. “You want me…to go with you…to Los Angeles…”

John nodded encouragingly, his face full of hope. “Yes.”

“So you can take a job there and practice being a cop in a major city.”

“Yes, that’s right. We can start our lives together. It will be wonderful.”

Madz held up her hand to stop the flow of words. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

He frowned and shot his gaze left and right. “No, I don’t think so.” Then the light bulb seemed to come on inside his head. “Oh, don’t worry. I’ve got my credit card. Dinner’s on me.”

Madlyn's eyes grew as big as her outrage. “You better believe this dinner is on you.” She threw her napkin down on the table and wished it was a brick so it would have more impact. “You want me to quit my job at Mina’s Boutique, give up my sales career, and move with you to L.A. to start our lives together?”

John nodded cautiously.

Madlyn glared across the table. “Didn’t you leave something out?”

John looked at her, then down at his lap. He scratched his head, but he just couldn’t come up with it.

“Didn’t you forget the part where you ask me to marry you?”

“Oh!” said John. He laughed, but choked it off because he could see Madlyn was not amused. “Oh,” he said again, this time somberly. “Oh, that. Well, of course, someday we’ll get married. I just didn’t think we should jump right into it, because when people get married, things happen.”

“Really?” Madlyn’s sarcasm could have sliced steak.

He stumbled on. “Yeah, you know, they want to have kids and pretty soon your life gets really complicated.”

Madlyn’s butterflies dropped one by one to the pit of her stomach. She felt cold and miserable. “You want us to go to L.A. together, but you don’t want to get married or have kids. You want me to give up the career I’ve worked so hard at since high school, uproot myself from everything I know and love, and go with you to a big city, which you know I hate, and all because you don’t want to go alone. Am I right?”

Now John was visibly uncomfortable. “Well, it does sound a little one-sided when you put it that way, but really, I was going to take care of you. I’ll pay the bills and everything.”

Madlyn made a noise that would have been a scream if her jaws hadn’t been clamped so tightly together. Didn’t he know he was just making it worse? It was bad enough that he’d just run a bulldozer through the carefully constructed future she’d built in her mind. Now he was attacking the ruins with a wrecking ball!

She struggled with her composure. How could he ask her to do this? She was so disappointed, she could barely contain herself. She felt her chin tremble, but she refused to cry in front of John. Here was the man of her dreams, the one she thought she’d build a life with, and all he wanted was to have her hang around while he built his own career. Obviously their relationship was over. If he didn’t even think to put marriage in the equation, then he was not the man of her dreams after all.

Madlyn reached for her purse. She tidied her cutlery, scooted her chair back, and stood.

“Where are you going?”

“Home, John. I’m going home.”

“Wait. I’ll drive you.”

“No, thanks. It’s very clear that I’ll be taking care of myself for a long time. I might as well get used to it now. Goodbye, John. Have fun in L.A.” She turned on her heel and headed for the exit.

She kept it together all the way to the hostess station. By then, it was evident that John wasn’t coming after her. There would be no abject apology, no begging her to stay, no promise of a ring first thing in the morning and no exclamations of how could he be so stupid. None of that was going to happen. She knew, when she reached the sidewalk, that all her dreams of a future with John had just died, and when something important dies, one is expected to shed a few tears. That was what she told herself as she moved blindly through the lobby to the portico, where she found a taxi waiting, as if everyone in the world but her had known their relationship was doomed.

CHAPTER TWO

Three months later…

Monday, November 16

I
t was a beautiful November day in Eagle’s Toe, and for the first time in many weeks, Madlyn’s heart could let the sun in. She whistled as she got ready for work. Her thick red hair was only a little frizzy this morning, and she captured most of it in the green paisley scarf she’d chosen to match her outfit. Madlyn’s tastes ran to the kaleidoscopic. She’d always loved bright colors, and thanks to her inborn fashion sense, her gypsy style seemed to work for her. She sighed with regret at the two tiny tubs that held yet another contact lens failure and settled her black horn-rims on her pert little nose.

Things were going very well at Mina’s boutique. Madlyn enjoyed her job as shop manager, and she was looking forward to the holiday season of sales and festivities. In addition, Mina was hoping to expand the shop, which meant more responsibility for Madlyn.

She knew that Mina was worried that she hadn’t yet found the funding to expand the shop. However Madlyn had great faith that something good would happen soon and Mina would be able to either buy the building they were in or purchase the building next door to give them a lot more room for merchandise, their piano and bakery nook, and all the other improvements they were eager to try out on the growing population of Eagle’s Toe.

The Garrison brothers were going great guns on their gated community near Thor Garrison’s luxury mountain cabin. Madlyn thought it was brilliant of them to get Thor elected to the town council. Thor and Ulysses were both outgoing, kind, and community-minded. On top of that, they were billionaires and astute businessmen. It also helped that their wives understood what the common people of the town would and would not tolerate. All in all, their plan for a gated community had raised a few eyebrows, but they hadn’t made any enemies with it. At least, not so far. Mina wondered what Vicky and Jason Darby thought about the project, and half the town was wondering what Krystal Fineman-Wake’s opinion was. Madlyn mentally corrected herself. The matriarch of the founding family of Eagle’s Toe had divorced Douglas Wake last December, so she was just Krystal Fineman again. Or so Madlyn figured.

Some of the residents whose families had lived in town for generations were not quite as excited as Mina and Madlyn about the added population and the new buildings. Madlyn's feeling was the more the merrier. The shop’s sales had been outstanding over the last year, and she was looking forward to expanding their merchandise line even further.

The day promised to be more fun than usual, because her old friend, Vicky Winn Darby of concert pianist fame, had called the night before and asked if she could come by the store to chat with Madlyn about some big news, and she’d promised to spend half an hour playing the piano in the nook for any customers who happened to be there enjoying coffee and cookies from The Muffin Man. Madlyn was thrilled. She didn't get to spend nearly enough time with her best friend anymore. She’d thought marrying a rich man would give Vicky more free time, not less. But Vicky was finding her personal schedule filled with meetings and charity work and goodness knows what else. Madlyn tried to shrug it off, but deep down she felt resentment building toward Vicky’s rich husband. Today, though, she was finally going to spend a few pleasant minutes with her friend, talking about whatever was on their minds. Meanwhile, she’d once again taken far too long to put her outfit together. She threw a shawl around her shoulders, grabbed her purse and car keys, and left for work.

Vicky arrived promptly at noon, just as she’d promised. The nook was filled with customers who’d somehow gotten word that there might be live music today. Vicky obliged with her usual grace and humor, and forty-five minutes later, she left the piano to a rousing round of applause. It took her another five minutes to run the gauntlet of appreciation between the piano and Madlyn’s table near the door.

“Oh Madlyn, I've missed you so much,” Vicky said as she gave her friend a warm hug. “It feels like we haven't seen each other in ages.”

BOOK: The Wedding Guest (Colorado Billionaires Book 5)
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Ramage's Mutiny by Dudley Pope
Katie's Forever Promise by Jerry S. Eicher
The Monarch by Jack Soren
He Claims Me by Cynthia Sax
Different Tides by Janet Woods
Take Me by Locklyn Marx
The D'Karon Apprentice by Joseph R. Lallo
Dreamspinner by Olivia Drake
Inseparable by Brenda Jackson