Weddings are a time to make new connections or rediscover old ones. They are almost a slice of life carved away from the every day and they are packed full of possibilities and chances to do or be someone different. In fact, the last wedding I went to seemed so surreal, I giggled through most of it—yes, it was my own, but I digress.
What Happens at a Wedding…
While the phrase what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is well known, what happens at a wedding most often stays at a wedding, too. Groomsmen hook up with bridesmaids, guests reconnect, or make a first time connection. You’re drunk on ‘happiness’ and the chance of a ‘happily ever after’ whether you’re a romantic or not.
I knew when I sat down to write Marine Ever After it would all kick off at a wedding and not just any wedding, a wedding for the couple that launched my Always a Marine series. It is one thing to promise a happily ever after at the end of a book, now I wanted to see where that happily ever after took my couple.
Mixing It Up
If you’ve ever been in a wedding party then you know you’re as often as not spending a lot of time with people you didn’t know BEFORE the wedding and sparks can happen in the most unexpected places. That, of course, is how Paul and Lillianna meet. Without the wedding of Luke and Rebecca, it’s doubtful they’d have ever crossed paths, but the chemistry they shared blew me away and since yes, life happens when we’re making other plans, I wanted to see where life would take these two.
Bridging the Distance
Their romance had a lot of challenges, including Paul’s deployment, Lillianna’s history, and a little thing like a baby. But the passion between the two of them—made significantly hotter by a little secret Paul kept from me until the right moment—had an unexpected twist. The friendship they forged seemed very real to me and it was the combination of friendship, romance, challenges, and passion ultimately made this couple one of my all time favorites.
While I usually find it hard to gush about the characters that I write, I’ve never had this problem with Paul and Lily, I think it’s because I met them at a wedding and they definitely turned out to be people I loved getting to know better. I hope you do, too.
What’s your favorite “it happened at a wedding” story?
A national best selling author, Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. In addition to military romance, Heather writes a wide variety of romance from paranormal historical western romance to contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She loves characters and the stories they have to tell. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.
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Marine Paul Torres is used to women who enjoy the pleasure of the moment and whom he can bed with a wink and a smile. But with so many of his friends settling down, he’s turned on by the allure of finding the right partner as well. Even more so when he meets Lillianna Hansen while attending a wedding.
After a passionate night, Paul wakes to find her gone and though he wants more than a one-night stand with the alluring Lily, his limited leave is up and he’s forced to return to active duty.
All Lillianna thought she wanted was a good time. But Paul’s attention—even from thousands miles away—is hard to resist, and while she tells herself repeatedly she doesn’t want a relationship with a Marine, she can’t deny the consequences of their passionate night.
When she finds out she’s pregnant, she’s forced to reach out to Paul. But is she ready to let the father of her child be her Marine Ever After….
Sadly, the evening wedding meant the sun was already sinking as they exited, and the shadows lessened the chance he could tell what color her eyes were.
Photographs would be next and then a drive to the reception at Mike’s Place. If he played his cards right, they’d be in the same limo. But we have to dance…. A smile curved his mouth. He would have plenty of opportunity to stare at her eyes and determine their color then.
“Paul Torres,” he murmured.
“I’m sorry, what?” She glanced at him, a distracted smile softening her expression. It hit him like a fist to the gut. He needed to revise his earlier opinion—gorgeous didn’t do her justice.
“I’m Paul Torres, you must be Lillianna.” The only bridesmaid who’d missed the big rehearsal dinner. Not that I can complain…. He almost missed it, too. His flight landed an hour beforehand and only some skillful driving with Damon managed to get them both there in time to be in place before the bridesmaids did their obligatory walk.
“Yes, sorry. I can’t get over how happy she looks.” She let go of his arm and offered her gloved hand to shake. “And I’m Lillianna Hansen.” The urge to kiss it was a little too romance-novel for him, so he shook it then held onto it.
“The captain looks pretty happy, too. I think he got the better end of the bargain.” Paul chuckled. Every man from his unit seemed to be settling down in civilian life, marrying or pairing off. He’d served with most of the men in the groom’s party and earned his invitation when the wedding coincided with his leave. Unfortunately, one of Luke’s best friends—Brody—hadn’t been able to make it. The lieutenant remained on active duty in Afghanistan, but promised to visit the happy couple on his next trip through Dallas—probably to see his girl, the artist, as much as to see Luke.
“I hope so. There’s a tiny part of me that doesn’t like him.” Her announcement surprised him, but the photographer summoned them to join the bride and groom so he swallowed the question.
Five hundred photographs later, the dismissed wedding party made their way to the small fleet of waiting limousines. Jazz and her husbands loaded into one, the freshly marrieds got their own, James and Lauren claimed the third. Paul drifted back a little, and fortunately Lillianna waited for him as Damon and A.J. helped their bridesmaids into a limo and joined James and Lauren.
Score. We get the last one to ourselves.
“Everything all right?” She eyed him expectantly.
“Fine, I just wanted to check a button.” Lame, Paul. Lame. But it was the first excuse to pop into his head. He motioned for the limo and she shook her head and led the way. Beating her to the door, he opened it, handing her inside before slipping off his cover and joining her.
She sat opposite him in the wide area of the stretch, and on the far side. He considered swapping seats, but he liked looking at her better—even if only in the illumination of passing headlights. “I hope you’re ready for a big party.”
“Me, too.” Lillianna didn’t sound ready. He raised his eyebrows and she moistened her lips.
Damn. Mind out of the gutter. He gave his body the order, but too late to prevent the shock of reaction running riot through his system. If he hadn’t already been curious about her before, he definitely was then. Out. Of. The. Gutter.