Authors: Sheila Seabrook
an Oops and a Hard Body
You met her in The Valentine Grinch. Now Stephanie Goodwin is back with her own story in Caught Between an Oops and a Hard Body.
Can a marriage phobic wedding planner with a history of picking the wrong kind of guy find a forever kind of love with a man who fears commitment almost as much as she does?
This story includes a marriage-phobic wedding planner, a hunky divorce lawyer whose attitude toward wedded bliss—and family—is about to change, one really big oops, peanut butter cookies, nighttime naughtiness, a beautiful bride-to-be who swears she doesn’t love another man, and a battle-of-the-sexes secondary romance.
This book is dedicated to all of you soon-to-be moms out there.
It’s exciting and nerve-racking and all kinds of scary, and the journey from here on out is totally amazing.
Welcome to book two in the Caught Between series!
When I wrote The Valentine Grinch, I had no idea that Mandy Goodwin’s sister would get her own book. And yet, Stephanie Goodwin walked into my life, demanded I tell her story, and Caught Between an Oops and a Hard Body was born.
At the time, I had absolutely no idea that “conception” was going to play such a big part in the hero and heroine’s growing relationship. I thought the book was going to be all about weddings and brides and all things nuptial related.
But the characters are always in charge. I simply take dictation and therefore have no control over their story. I mean, what would be the fun in that? It’s not like I aspire to appear sane or anything…
Neither Stephanie nor her hero, Stone Kincaid, are looking for love. I guess that means I’ve ended up with two OOPS in this book.
Now turn the page and start reading already!
an Oops and a Hard Body
On an early spring morning, a month after his great-uncle’s wedding, Stone Kincaid’s inner office intercom buzzed, and the disembodied voice of his legal assistant, Wanda, came through the device.
“Your mother called. She said your dad is at it again. I suggested he might be bored, but Grace reminded me that golf season on Serendipity Island runs year round. What more could the man possibly want?”
“Peace and quiet?” Stone scrawled his name on the document in front of him, then leaned back on his chair as his assistant walked into his office. “How much trouble can he get into down there?”
“I asked her that precise question.”
When she didn’t continue, he raised one eyebrow and finally prompted, “And?”
“She said keeping your father in line was your job.”
“Yeah, right. Nobody keeps my father in line,” he snorted and returned his attention to the file in front of him, pretty certain that being a divorce lawyer—not a babysitter—was his primary occupation. Although occasionally, he conceded, the two were eerily similar. “What about Mariam or Liz?”
“Exactly my question. She said your baby sister is far too sensitive to shoulder that kind of responsibility. And Mariam? Well, Mariam has her own problems right now.” Wanda laid a single sheet of paper down in front of him and indicated the line at the bottom of the page. With a brief look to confirm the contents of the letter, he scrawled his name across the bottom. “By the way, Bill Tremaine called. He wishes to retain your services. It seems he’s met someone.”
“Again?” he muttered with disgust. Despite Stone’s aversion for the institution of marriage, even he knew where to draw the line. “How many is this?”
“Wife number five.”
“Bill’s an idiot.”
“Mmmmmm,” she hummed. “Would you like me to pass on your sentiments?”
“Just book him in for an appointment as soon as you can. Let’s see if I can talk some sense into him this time. He’s not getting any younger, you know.”
“But his wives sure are. And with every new wife, his bank account diminishes, just like his hairline.” Wanda scooped the documents off his desk, stuffed them into the file folder in the crook of her arm, and jotted a note on her steno pad. “Did you watch your mother’s show today?”
He glanced up at the dark screen that sat in the corner of his office. “You’re kidding, right?”
“I never kid about marriage.” She gave him one of her steely-eyed looks. “The
show is an institution. If you watched it, you might actually learn something about what makes the female species tick.”
“Maybe I don’t want to know what makes them tick,” he said as he slouched back in his chair.
She shook her head, a disgusted expression creasing lines on her forehead and at the sides of her mouth. “You’re as bad as Bill. The only difference between the two of you is that at least you have the common sense to refrain from giving wedding rings to every woman you want to get into the sack.”
Sarcasm. Coming from the queen of sarcasm. He ignored it and with a resigned sigh, prodded her. “Was there something else or are you hanging around to make my life miserable?”
Lifting her chin and thrusting her nose into the air, Wanda headed toward the door. “Reminding you about your family is one of the few joys in my life.”
“And forgetting I have a family is one of the few joys in my life.” Stone watched as Wanda clicked the device at her hip to answer the main phone line.
“It’s your baby sister.” She switched the call over to his phone, then returned to his desk and riffled through the stacks of paper in his inbox.
Stone snatched up the receiver. “Hey Liz, what’s—”
“It’s Mother,” his twenty-three-year-old sister wailed into the phone. “I need you at home today or I swear, Stone, I’ll kill her and bury her on the ninth green of Dad’s golf course.”
. Stone’s grip on the receiver tightened. His parents were no doubt at it again. Although what his sister was doing home in the middle of the week was a puzzle. “Liz, settle down. Take a deep breath and tell me what’s wrong.”
“She wants me to cancel my wedding.
. How can she even suggest this? Less than a week before the wedding, and she wants me to call the caterers and flower shops and cancel everything.”
, he thought, and then her words sunk in. He frowned up at his assistant. “What wedding?”
A breath of total frustration whooshed through the phone. “I’m getting married on Friday. Didn’t you get my email?”
“What email?” He watched Wanda pull out a single piece of paper from his inbox and set it on the desk in front of him. A big red sticky note was attached to the page with the word
scrawled in his assistant’s handwriting.
You are cordially invited
He tried to get his mind around the fact that it still wasn’t too late for his sister to escape a destiny worse than death. “Maybe this is fate’s way of saving you from a bad mistake.”
Stone heard Liz’s feral hiss through the phone line. “Screw fate. Fate was when Roger blew into my life.”
“No,” Stone said in what he hoped was a reasonable tone. “Fate was when your ninth grade english teacher told you to become a journalist. Fate was when you landed the news job at CNN.” He shook his head. “Who’s Roger?”
“Roger is my fiancee, the man I’m going to marry on Friday.” Liz blew an angry breath through the phone. “Roger and I planned to elope to Vegas. No fuss. No hassle. No family. Just the camera crew.”
“Roger wants to put the wedding up on You Tube for publicity.”
“Publicity?” Okay, now he was starting to sound like a parrot. “What does this guy do?”
“He’s a musician. If you got your head out of that office once in a while, you’d know what was going on in the rest of the world.” Another hiss sounded. “This is Mother’s way of wielding control. First, she talked me into having the wedding at the estate. I thought, great. Beautiful setting, no fuss, nothing elaborate. I should’ve known she had a hidden agenda.” She sucked in a breath of air and continued. “Now, suddenly she thinks it’s wrong that we get married at all?”
Empathy kicked in and he frowned. “She’s just thinking of what’s best for you.”
“Yeah, right. You don’t believe that any more than I do. All mother cares about is herself and her stupid show and her stupid viewers. Roger embarrasses her, that’s the bottom line.” Lizzie let loose with a growl, then lowered her voice and continued. “What am I supposed to tell him? He’s arriving tomorrow, expecting to get married at the end of the week. He’ll be so upset to find out that everything he’s done this past month has been for nothing.”
Stone covered the mouthpiece with one hand and glared up at his assistant. “Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?”
Wanda smirked back at him. “Because you ignore your family.”
Liz’s wail carried through the ear piece, making Stone hold the receiver away from his ear.
“Stone, please. I need you at my side to support me. Now that she’s got this crazy idea in her head, you know she won’t let go of it. I need a buffer between us or she’ll win. By the end of the week, Roger and I will be going our separate ways.”
Silence filtered through the line and Stone had the irresistible urge to tell his baby sister to run like the wind. Because wedding vows only lead to a broken heart that never healed and an empty bank account. His sister, whether or not she’d agree, would be far better off with his mother’s new plan.
Her voice came through the phone again, soft and pleading. “Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Of course I do.” He motioned for Wanda’s attention. “Just for the record, I don’t give family discounts.”
“What?” Pause. “Oh, never mind. Forget I called you. I’ll just tell Roger that my favorite brother has tossed us to the big bad wolf.”
“I’m your only brother.” He rubbed the back of his neck. Frustration leaked into his voice. “Okay, forget about how I feel about marriage. You know Mom makes me crazy, Liz.”
“Stone, she makes everyone crazy.” A sob sounded over the telephone line. “Please. I can’t deal with her myself.”
“Damn it, Liz, don’t you cry.”
“I’m not.” She sniffled, blew her nose. “I just want to marry Roger and spend the rest of my life making him happy.”
He heard a click, blinked at his assistant, then realized that Wanda was eavesdropping on their conversation. More fodder for the gossip mill. Who cared? It wasn’t his life, just another major moment in the lives of his crazy family. He covered the mouthpiece. “Find out everything you can about some musician named Roger.”
The screen in the corner of his office clicked on and his assistant connected to Google.
On the other end of the phone, Liz was still talking. “Do you know what Mother told me? She said, screw Roger. Literally. Forget about marriage and babies and a life of pure hell. Have sex with him, then move on to the next man.”
An image popped onto the screen and Stone sat forward to get a better look. Standing beside his sister was a familiar busty blond. “She has a point, Liz. No commitment. No headaches. Just fun for both sides.”
Fun, like he’d had a month ago with an unforgettable sex goddess who right this very moment was staring back at him from the screen. What was she doing with his sister?
Liz hissed into the phone. “I should’ve known that the king of divorce would be on her side.”
Stone stared at the image of the woman he’d met at his great uncle’s wedding and recalled the way she’d looked naked on the hotel room bed, hair splayed on the pillow, reaching for him.
All they’d exchanged were first names…and one night of great sex and companionship.