Title: Picture Perfect Wedding
Series: Magnolia Brides, #3
Author: Lynnette Austin
Pub Date: November 1, 2016
Third in the heartfelt and charming Magnolia Brides series from Lynnette Austin
One mistake can change everything…forever
Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable—until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child.
Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter—especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring flame…
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“So what are you thinkin’ so hard about that you can’t sleep?” Beck asked.
Tansy hesitated. It was late and her guard was down, but she found herself wanting to share with him. Like old times. She missed that.
“Of what?” His eyes darted around the room. “Of being here alone?”
She pinched the bridge of her nose. “I’m afraid I’ll never know who Tansy Calhoun Forbes is. I’ve never been on my own. Never had to stand on my own two feet before.”
“You’re doin’ a hell of a job of it right now.”
“How can you even ask that?”
“Could I have made this work without my mom? Without Jenni Beth. Without you, Cricket, Cole, Sam, Kitty…”
“Sugar, you’re a strong woman. You’re capable of doin’ whatever you set your mind to.”
“But who am I?”
“Shoot, Tansy, does anybody really know who they are? Deep down at the core? I don’t know. I think we’re constantly changin’. Evolvin’. A lot like that onion you use in your breakfast quiche.” He nodded toward one on her counter. “Layer on top of layer. We change because of situations that pop up. Because of people who come into—or come back into—our lives.”
His eyes darkened. “I’ve missed you, Tanz. You were my lover, yes. The woman I loved and wanted to marry. But you were also my best friend. I miss my friend. How ’bout we start there? By being friends again.”
Her fingers crumbled the cookie on her plate as a bubble burst in her chest. “Oh, Beck, I can’t count the times over the last few years when I’ve thought, ‘Wait till I tell Beck.’”
He reached for her hand and she took his, felt the strength there. “Friends?”
“Friends,” she answered.
“You know, I never did get my dance at the wedding.” He drew her up and led her toward the door. “The stars are out tonight.”
As if in a trance, she followed him across the kitchen floor.
He knelt beside a pair of pink, rhinestone-covered flip-flops. Lifting her foot, he slid the sandal onto it, then repeated it with the other.
Tansy could barely breathe.
“Is asleep. The window’s open. You’ll hear her if she needs you.”
She nodded. Her fingers laced through his, they slipped outside into the soft night air. Fireflies twinkled.
“You know,” he said, “when I was little, the rule was that when the fireflies came out to play, I went inside. To bed. Despite that, they’re magical.”
The radio still played inside, the music drifting out to them.
Grass, damp with dew, tickled her toes.
And then Beck drew her in, and she forgot everything but his touch. His lips dropped tiny kisses along her neck, and her knees turned to mush. Those same lips moved to her ear, and she nearly moaned.
The kitchen light shone onto the yard and created shadows.
As they danced, she realized they could have been the only two people in the universe. At that moment, her world began and ended right there in Beck’s arms, his work-callused hands strong and steady.
One song ended and another began.
He spun her out, and she laughed. When he pulled her close again, she sighed.
“I’m not sure friends is gonna cut it for very long,” he whispered into her hair.
“Oh, Beck, if it were only me… I want you. So badly. But Gracie’s already lost her father. I can’t make another mistake.”
“Believe it or not, I understand, sugar.”
“Yes. I’d be a liar if I said I won’t keep trying, though.”
He stepped away, and she shivered. The night air had cooled, or maybe she simply hadn’t noticed it before.
“Time we both found our beds, friend. Morning’s gonna come, ready or not, and we both have work.” He dropped a feather-light kiss on her cheek. “Go inside. I’ll wait till you’re in. Lock up.”
She couldn’t find her voice, so she simply nodded.
Once inside, she turned the lock and knew she’d dream of Beck tonight.
About the Author
LYNNETTE AUSTIN gave up the classroom to write full time. An author of eight novels, she has been a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest. She and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Blairsville, GA.
Print copy of Picture Perfect Wedding, open to US residents only.