Now you can find out what happened to them. Did Lia really marry the wrong guy?
Find out in TEMPORARY GROOM by J.S. SCOTT!!!!
I’d never forgotten the first time I met Lia Harper, even though it was well over a decade ago. It was the first time I’d been the recipient of her gorgeous smiles that made me feel like her hero.
And I had no problem admitting that shit had become addictive over the years.
I’d been a senior in high school, and Lia had been a freshman.
Some bastard had been trying to feel her up in the hallway next to her locker.
And for some damn reason, I’d felt it was my duty to set the asshole straight about how fucking inappropriate it was to try to force himself on a female.
One broken nose—his, not mine—later, Lia had smiled at me, and my whole damn world had changed.
It hadn’t been a sexual thing back then because that would just be creepy. But somehow I knew that nothing would ever be quite the same.
After I’d left her attacker on the hallway floor holding his bloody nose, I’d taken Lia home to her grandmother’s house, and we’d been friends ever since.
The following year, I’d gone away to Harvard, but we’d seen each other on my college breaks, and in the summer. She’d been one of the best friends a guy could ask for, even when I was on the other side of the country attending the university.
Problem was, she’d grown up, and my dick had noticed it long before my brain had.
By the time I’d moved back to Seattle after I’d gotten my law degree, I’d already known I was royally screwed. I sure as hell had wanted to take our relationship to another level after college, but Lia hadn’t seemed interested, and the last thing I wanted was to lose her as a friend.
Okay. Yeah. She’d once told me she wanted to have sex with me. Too bad she’d been too intoxicated at the time to know what she was saying. And she damn well hadn’t mentioned it since, or I would have taken her up on the offer and gotten her naked before she could change her mind.
But after her twenty-first birthday, she’d treated me like I was her brother, making it pretty clear that she had no interest in exploring carnal knowledge of each other.
So I’d suffered in silence as I watched her date one guy after another, knowing damn well that not a single one of them was good enough for her. But don’t feel too sorry for me. I became a man whore, hoping another woman would finally feel as right as Lia did when we were together.
Unfortunately, that had never happened.
There had been a time a year or two ago when I was ready to put our friendship on the line to tell her the truth. I’d psyched myself up to let her know that I thought we should be dating and burning up the sheets. But that was when she’d met Stuart, and I’d known I was completely fucked.
Her relationship with a guy I hated had turned into love, and then an engagement.
All those years of keeping my mouth shut was what brought me to my current predicament of sitting in a church, waiting for the woman I wanted to walk down the aisle to marry another man.
How could I not attend an event that was so important to Lia? That would make me a pretty shitty friend. And she didn’t deserve that. It wasn’t her fault that she’d never been attracted to me that way.
I looked around, noticing that the church was full. My gut already hurt, so I had no idea how I was going to manage watching Lia say her vows to the man she loved, a guy who wasn’t…me.
Maybe if I thought she was going to be happy, this whole thing would be easier to swallow. Or…maybe not. I didn’t know Stuart all that well, but enough to know he was a rich prick who wanted everything his way. We’d pretty much had a hate-hate relationship from our very first meeting at Lia’s apartment.
It was the first time that jealousy had reared its ugly head inside me, and I’d never gotten past the feeling that Stuart was all wrong for Lia.
I squirmed on the uncomfortable bench seating, the necktie that matched my custom suit feeling like it was a little bit more snug than it had been when I’d put it on earlier, as I waited to hear the dreaded Wedding March.
I should have just fucking told her.
“Shit!” I cursed under my breath as I jerked on my tie. “I’m never going to be able to hold my peace.”
There was no way I could be silent because I had plenty of objections. I just hadn’t realized quite how many until I’d sat down in the church for the ceremony.
Maybe my timing wasn’t exactly ideal, but I knew I couldn’t let Lia marry Stuart without telling her exactly why she shouldn’t.
I’d dropped plenty of hints, and Lia knew I thought Stuart was a jerk. But had I ever really told her that he wasn’t ever going to be the guy she needed?
And I hated myself for it.
Stuart was never going to appreciate Lia for who she was. He’d try to mold her into somebody else who fit his ideal. He was already trying, and in the end, Lia would end up miserable.
Stuart would never understand her ambitions, and desire to make a difference in the world.
Stuart would never get Lia’s addiction to Peanut M&M’s.
The bastard would never comprehend why she cried at sad movies when someone died.
He’d never joke around or fight with her just to get her big-hearted hug when it was all over.
I felt a few droplets of sweat fall down my forehead as I stood up, my heart hammering against my chest wall.
It’s not too late. Not yet. I can talk to her. Make her wait for somebody who will actually make her happy. Fuck Stuart.
As I made my way determinedly down the aisle, I knew that nothing would stop me from saying everything I’d never said.
Okay, maybe I wouldn’t admit that she should be with me. That obviously wasn’t something Lia had ever wanted, and I respected it. But I was going to finally lay out every single reason why she shouldn’t be getting married to Stuart, minus my usual bullshit.
I was done being sarcastic about her choice, and throwing her hints about why I thought her fiancé was an asshole.
Reality had slapped me in the face a little bit late, but I was still reeling from the blow. And I wasn’t going to be normal again until I talked to her.
Before the service started.
As I shoved my way through the closed double doors that lead to the hallway outside the chapel, I stopped abruptly when I lifted my gaze and saw Lia.
My first thought was how beautiful she looked in her wedding dress.
But after the initial quick glance, the second thing I noticed was the tears pouring down her face as she met my gaze.
She looked broken and upset.
So, my last thought as I pushed through the people around her, and she flung herself into my arms, was all about how I could make her happy again.
And that was the only thing that really mattered.
I thought I had my life all worked out. My wedding had been meticulously planned. All I had to do was walk down the aisle and get married to the man I'd been engaged to for over a year.
Pretty easy and uncomplicated, right?
Unfortunately, all of my well laid plans go up in smoke when my fiance leaves me at the church alone because he found a woman who was better suited for his snobby world of wealth and privilege.
Problem is, I really have to get married. All of my hopes and dreams are dependent on me tying the knot by my twenty-eighth birthday, and the date is closing in fast.
As usual, my best friend Zeke Conner is there to pick up the pieces when I get jilted by a jerk. He helps me work through the demoralizing event so I can put it behind me and move on. But when he offers to marry me himself, I'm stunned. But it's a bargain I can't really refuse.
As my relationship changes with my best friend, I find myself caught in a web of sensual desire and unending passion that's as terrifying as it is satisfying. Probably because it seems all too real.
But our arrangement was supposed to be temporary. A deal between friends so that we'd both benefit. What will happen when it all ends?
*Temporary Groom is the first book in the LEFT AT THE ALTAR series in a collaboration of six New York Times Bestselling Authors: J. S. Scott, Ruth Cardello, Raine Miller, Sawyer Bennett, Minx Malone, and Melody Anne.
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