Title: Happily Ever After
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Timeless Scribes Publishing
From a fall from literary stardom to becoming the heroine in her own romance story, Beth Holmes has turned around her career and her love life. She owes it all to one very special person.
Jarred Watson has loved Beth since he read her first novel and suspected the heroine was the embodiment of the author. But the road to romance was fraught with pitfalls. He almost lost everything because of a conniving agent and a little white lie that got out of hand. At the eleventh hour, with honesty and hard work, their book sales are off the charts and a movie deal is in negotiations.
Interfering families and changed plans take their toll. Will they go their separate ways or will Holmes and Watson continue their literary collaboration and personal partnership in order to find their own happily ever after?
“Hello, Matt. I need you to do a few things for me... Why? Because you’re my best man and that’s what the best man does.”
Thirty minutes later, Jarred drove down the country highway into Havenport and called Beth.
“I’m turning into the driveway. Where is everyone?” he asked with a quiet emphasis.
“They’re all in the kitchen taste-testing another menu. I told them I would be surprised tomorrow. I can’t face them right now.” Her soft voice was filled with an apologetic tone.
“Good, come outside and get in the car. Don’t stop to talk to anyone.” He pulled the car up the drive and to the front door.
Beth ran down the stairs and out onto the front porch.
“Beth, is that you? Where are you going?” her mother called from the kitchen.
“Jarred is here to take me to the photographer. I’ll be back later.” She didn’t wait. She got into the car. They drove away before anyone could stop them.
“Jarred, you passed the street. It was a right turn at the corner.” She glanced at the street sign as they passed it.
He didn’t say anything.
“Where are we going?” It was difficult, but he kept his face still.
“Do you love me?” He waited for her answer.
“Yes, I told you I do,” she answered quickly.
“Even with our interfering families, do you still want to marry me?” He pulled up to the library, glancing at her sideways.
Beth stared at him, a confused expression on her face.
“What are we doing here? Was there something wrong with our story?” Beth grabbed his arm. “I don’t know if there’s time for another edit.”
He parked the car and they walked into the library.
“We can’t do any research now. It’s five o’clock. The building closes at five thirty. The photographer is expecting us.”
“There you are.” Wilma the librarian met them at the door. “The boardroom is all ready for you.” He led the way up the stairs.
He loved this building. Five years ago, the historical Victorian townhouse had been renovated and enlarged and converted into the town library. They kept the mahogany paneling, coffered ceilings and large windows that flanked the fireplace. The building was spectacular. He and Beth were in discussion with the town and historical society about buying the adjacent property to add a new modern wing to the building.
He opened the boardroom door. The large room had been part of the original master suite. They were in the suite’s original sitting room with large windows and a massive fireplace. French doors led to a bedroom that had been turned into a conference room.
Matt stood in front of the fireplace. Wilma, a broad smile on her face, came up beside Beth and handed her a bouquet of daisies.
Jarred turned her toward him.
“Marry me. Now. You are all I want. You are all I ever wanted.” Beth looked into his eyes. His heart leapt into his throat. Was he too late? Had he lost her? “I don’t want to lose you.”
“Are you both ready?” Matt stood in front of them. “You don’t need a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right?”
The French doors to the room opened. Beth’s and Jarred’s families and friends came in.
“Come in. You’re just in time for a wedding,” Matt said.
A gasp escaped Beth’s throat. She squeezed his hand.
“I had Matt tell them to meet us at the library. I knew you’d want them with you, but on your terms,” Jarred said. Still Beth said nothing.
“Why here?” Beth’s mother asked.
“Because this is where they had their first date,” Bernice said. “What a wonderful surprise.”
Beth turned to him. He looked into soft smoky eyes. She didn’t have to say anything. He knew. “Of course I’ll marry you. You’re all I’ve ever wanted,” Beth whispered in his ear.
“I want to hear that for the next fifty or sixty years. Now, we better hurry before your mother decides you need to change your dress.” He took her hand and they faced Matt.
“You’re standing in front of a lot of people, looking fancy, holding flowers, and being stared at by pretty much everyone who means anything to you. Why? The marriage ceremony has been an important part of nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. There are thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others.
“Why do we share this moment? Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier--our one universal truth. No matter who we are, where we come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right.
“That’s why you’re both standing here. And why your families and friends are here to watch you, attest that you say your vows and make your commitment to one another.
“We all have loved in our lifetime, and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity. Each of us here today has their own love story. Some are short, others long. Some are not yet written, while others are just getting to the good part. There are chapters in all of our stories that are sad or disappointing--and others that are exciting and full of adventure.
“Beth, there is no one who loves you more than Jarred. He has loved you silently for a long time. He worries about you and cares about you.
“Jarred, there is no one who loves you more than Beth. As your close friend I see it in the way she speaks about you, the way she worries about you.
“You both are extraordinary people willing to put aside your goals to make certain the other attains theirs.
“And that brings you here for a time to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought you here. And a time to look ahead to all the moments that are still to come.
“I’m here--we’re all here--because we want those moments for you.”
Jarred took out his handkerchief and gently wiped the tear that slid down Beth’s cheek.
“We’re here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that, like the wonderful stories you write, love is the experience of writing your own story, your own happily ever after.
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit www.RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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