No nonsense Nikki Nolan is tired of being the bridesmaid and never the bride. Cupid has flat out lost his aim. Or maybe he confused Nikki’s younger sister with her, since Caren’s getting married—again!
But the real kicker? Nikki has two weeks to plan the wedding of the century…and in Hawaii, no less! So she coerces tourist agent and bad boy of Waikiki, Mark Wheaton, to co-plan the event. With access to an extensive network of contacts, Mark is the perfect person to help, even though she suspects he’s more interested in luring her into his bed than picking out flower arrangements.
Will Cupid finally hit his mark, or will Nikki remain unhappily single?
Nikki’s heart raced. She jumped into her purple PT Cruiser and drove as quickly as she could to reach her nephew, Zach, his words still repeating in her mind. Mom’s freaking out! That was all it took to get her there in a heartbeat. Zach answered the door when she arrived at her sister’s house.
Emily, her niece, launched herself into a hug. “You’re here!” She relinquished her hold when her mother, Caren, hugged her just as tight.
“You’re my last hope.” Caren rushed to Nikki’s side and hugged her just as tight. Then she began to pace the floor, chewing her bottom lip and lacing her shaking fingers together.
“Whatever it is,” Nikki warned, “don’t make me say No.”
“Hear me out first.”
Nikki glared at her.
Caren quickly added, “It’s not that, I promise.”
“It better not be. I’m not going to be your bridesmaid—again—and that’s final. Seventeen times was enough!”
“Well, truth is, you only stood up for me once. The others weren’t my doing. Is it my fault you have a lot of friends?”
Nikki ignored her sister’s comment. “Besides, I thought Daisy is your Matron of Honor…”
“She is. Seriously, it’s not that.”
“Then what is it? What do you need?” she asked, now satisfied she would not be stuck with yet another ugly bridesmaid gown that would never see the light of day again.
“Be my wedding planner.”
“What happened to the wedding planner you already have?”
“I fired her,” Caren replied with a sigh, her green eyes luminous with about-to-be shed tears.
“Why on earth would you do that?” Nikki shrieked.
“For starters, no venue, no flowers, no cake, no priest, and no food. Need I go on?”
“If that’s not enough, she called me an absent-minded Bridezilla.”
“The absent-minded part is true”—she mumbled under her breath, then added louder—“but the wedding is only two weeks away.”
Caren let out a whoosh of air. Her red waves moved as she nodded. ”I knew you’d get it.”
Nikki shook her head. “And you defend your dissertation Thursday morning!”
“You know I’m a therapist—a reality therapist, I might add—not a magician.” She would have laughed if Caren was not so upset.
Moving her arms around randomly, Caren looked rattled to her core, shooting off sparks of anxiety and biting her lips. She reached for her lip balm and smoothed it on her tortured lips—always a sign her sister was worried.
Nikki stayed calm while Caren emoted, then she took charge. Physically, the sisters were as opposite as their polar personalities. Caren was petite, not short, as she’d be the first to point out—not that she would ever call Caren short. Nikki was statuesque by comparison, with generous curves. While Caren had long waves of red hair, her own hair was copper-colored, fine and straight, cut in a bob with bangs.
But she wasn’t thinking about similarities, or differences for that matter. Heaven help her, she was thinking like a wedding planner!
“You’re still sold on a destination wedding, right?” At Caren’s nod, she pressed on. “Travel arrangements are made?” Again, Caren nodded. “Chance’s doing, I presume?”
Caren just grinned and shrugged.
Chance Matthews was soon to be Nikki’s new brother-in-law. Caren and Chance had met on a tour to Hawaii. Now they were about to be married.
“Good, that’s done. Next, I need to talk to whatshisname at the whatchamacallit?”
“Who?” Caren looked at her with a blank expression.
“What’s that guy’s name at the tour company you went through for your first trip? You’re using them, right?
“What’s that mean? Either you are or you aren’t.”
With a telling grin, Caren admitted, “Truth be told, the wedding planner was handling all that. I’m not sure about whether she made reservations.”
“All righty then, for sure I need his name and number. Pronto.”
Caren complied. “His name is Mark Wheaton at World Travel and Tour.”
“He’s the handsome hunk you dated briefly, right? The George Clooney clone?”
“Yes, Miracle Mark, you called him.”
“At that time, it took a miracle to get you to smile again.”
“What’s he got to do with this?”
“Everything, my dear little sister, everything. Now, you leave Mission Impossible to me and go…go defend something,” she finished as she programmed the phone number into her contact list.
Obviously, Caren didn’t need to be told twice. She went back to her computer to prepare to defend her dissertation and earn her doctorate. The whole time she’d worked on her thesis, her mantra had been Go big, or go home.
Guess she ought to know.
Caren had absolutely no time for anything but her preparation. Currently, she was an assistant professor of English at the University of Michigan. She either earned her doctorate and kept her job, or she had neither. She couldn’t spare a moment to deal with botched wedding plans, and Nikki was happy to step in to help.
Nikki’s mind raced as she processed the fact that she had taken on planning a wedding in two short weeks. Then she shrugged. How hard could this wedding business be? Seriously.
She called World Travel and Tour and set an appointment for the next morning with Mark Wheaton. Bidding her family goodbye, she left for her condo.
As she prepared for the morning, she made notes while deciding to wear her sleeveless coral sheath for the meeting. It did wonders for her. What can it hurt to look my best? You never know… Didn’t I say something like this to Caren a few months ago? She might meet someone? I could, too. Mark’s a hunk. Anything could develop. Despite the possibilities, she was sure it would be a headache, not a romance. Still, a girl could hope.