Title: The Wedding Dilemma
Author: Mariah Ankenman
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My life has always been pretty predictable. Run into burning buildings, save those in distress, be a hero. Shoot the shit with my fireman buddies, come home, and do it all again tomorrow. Little did I know that a random SOS call from a woman stuck in a plaster cast with nothing underneath (I swear I only caught a flash of her smokin’-hot body) would throw me for a complete loop.
Until I see the flighty artist again. At my mom’s engagement party. To her dad.
Suddenly the unpredictable woman I couldn’t stop thinking about is my soon-to-be-stepsister. Yeah, the same one I mortified when I accidentally saw her a tiny bit naked. This should make family gatherings way more interesting.
Except when your mom’s as loaded as mine is, you can never fully let your guard down when a guy comes sniffing around. So I can’t help but be suspicious, even though his daughter’s the perfect blend of beautiful and wild. The more time we spend together, prepping for our parents’ wedding, I start to wonder if there’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of fun in the meantime. But if she knew I was investigating her dad on the side, she would never forgive me…
Parker’s deep voice brought her out of her fog of panic. She glanced up to see his steady gaze on her.
“Everything is going to be fine. I promise.”
Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one about to have a deadly instrument used in high school shop classes drilling into a very vulnerable part of his body.
“Squeeze my hand,” he commanded.
Worried any movement would increase her pain, she tentatively gave his hand a small squeeze. No pain. His presence must have calmed the pain receptors in her brain or something. Ward turned on the drill, pumping the trigger a few times while he inspected it, the high-pitched whirring sound catching her off-guard. Panicking, she sucked in a sharp breath, gripping Parker’s hand tightly, positive she was crushing the poor man’s fingers, but he just smiled. As if this was a completely normal thing. Who knew? For him it might be. She bet first responders got all kinds of strange calls.
“Now,” Parker continued, “breathe with me. Ward is going to go extra slow, and if you ever feel uncomfortable or scared, just squeeze my hand and I’ll tell him to stop, okay?”
She nodded, afraid if she opened her mouth, nothing but sobs would escape. Parker gave a subtle tip of his chin, and Ward placed the drill against the cast on her chest, directly in the middle, right below her breastbone, then slowly pressed the trigger. The bit whirled around and around at a snail’s pace, tiny chunks of white plaster spinning around the bit and flying off in all directions.
“Good, Ward,” Parker said, his eyes on his buddy but his hand firmly clasped to hers. “Now ease off a bit. Let’s take a look.”
Ward removed the drill, and the two men glanced into the fresh hole.
“Tamsen.” Parker glanced at her. “I’m going to stick my finger in and see how close we are, okay?”
Good grief, could the man stop saying inadvertently dirty things? Her mind was having a heyday between freaking out and horning up.
She shut her eyes tight, muttering, “Okay.”
“All right, just another half inch or so,” she heard Parker say. Then the drill was back, the slow hum of the power tool wreaking havoc on her nerves.
“Good,” Parker said. “That’s good, stop there.”
Then she felt a slight pressure, the tug and snap of a few fine hairs and then the rough pad of a finger against her breastbone. Her eyes snapped open, focusing on Parker’s smiling face.
“There we are. See, Tamsen? No problem at all.”
She let out a shuddering sigh of relief. Ward drilled two more holes, slowly, with Parker stopping to check each one a few times. Then O’Neil, who had grabbed her oil from the kitchen, poured the liquid into each of the holes. Parker encouraged her to wiggle slightly to move the oil around in the cast. Then he grabbed a small saw, no bigger than her palm, turned it on, and started to cut away pieces of the cast.
She almost cried with relief as each chunk came off, allowing her skin to breathe. Tamsen promised herself she would never be this forgetful ever again. No matter how much crap was going on in her life.
As the firefighters pulled off the plaster piece by piece, a thought suddenly hit her. She wasn’t wearing anything under this cast. She was three pieces of plaster away from Parker and the rest of this team seeing her boobs!
Not glancing up from the saw that was inches away from her flesh, Parker answered her, “Don’t worry, Tamsen, we’re almost done.”
Yes. That’s what she was worried about.
“About that.” She cleared her throat, glancing at the other two men before lowering her voice. “I, um, I don’t have anything on. Under the, um, plaster.”
Parker paused, saw stopping, his gaze coming up to meet hers as the implication of her words sunk in. Though she might have imagined it, she thought she saw a hint of heat fill those golden eyes, but it was gone in an instant. “O’Neil, grab a towel or blanket for Ms. Hayes.”
The firefighter glanced around then grabbed the kitchen towel hanging from the handle of her oven.
“This okay?” O’Neil asked.
“That’s great,” Parker responded.
O’Neil hurried back over and handed the dishtowel to Parker, who then placed it over the last bits of plaster covering her chest.
“Okay,” Parker said once the towel was firmly in place. “Just a few more pieces and you’re all set, okay?”
Tamsen nodded, anxious to have this whole embarrassing ordeal over with. As Parker finished sawing and pulled the last pieces free, she clutched the towel close to her chest. They all averted their eyes as she protected her modesty, except Parker, who had to watch what he was doing as he removed the plaster. He removed the last piece covering her breasts, clearly getting a peek of the girls, but he made no indication or comment. A professional to the core.
She was sure as firefighters, they’d seen far worse than a woman’s boobs covered in bits of plaster, but these were her boobs. And as much as she might want Parker, in particular, to see them, this wasn’t the situation she had in mind.
And sadly, after this mortifying fiasco, there was no way she could face the man ever again. Even if he was her hero and the hottest man she’d even seen. She’d just have to thank him, say good-bye, and save the thought of him for a lonely night.
After all, it wasn’t like she would ever see him again.
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If you love romcoms with full heat and humor, sexy firefighters, and accident-prone artist that will have you laughing-out-loud and falling in love, then The Wedding Dilemma is for you!
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Bestselling author Mariah Ankenman lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her two rambunctious daughters and loving spouse who provides ample inspiration for her heart-stopping heroes.
Mariah loves to lose herself in a world of words. Her favorite thing about writing is when she can make someone’s day a little brighter with one of her books. To learn more about Mariah and her books, visit her website http://mariahankenman.com/, follow her on social media or sign up for her newsletter.
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