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Read an excerpt from The Wedding Planner

Lucy Wyndham rapped on the door jamb of the CEO’s office and then waited a beat for Sterling to finish frowning at his computer screen. Even frowning, Sterling Matthew was the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on.

Not that she was biased about her fiancé or anything.

She bit back a giggle and Sterling looked up. Immediately his frown softened to a gentle smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. His gaze lowered to the cardboard coffee tray in her hands.

“Are those Vietnamese coffees from Two Beans?”

“They are.”

“Well, get in here fast and close the door.”

The Chesapeake Inn served Two Beans’ coffee at both of its restaurants, but there was a tacit agreement that they would not serve Vietnamese coffee, a potent mix of strong coffee and condensed milk. It was Two Beans’ signature drink. All the same, Lucy and Sterling were both addicted to it.

Lucy closed the office door while Sterling cleared a space on his cluttered desk to  make room for the coffee tray. She set down the tray and leaned over the clutter for a quick kiss. 

“You left early this morning,” she said, uncapping the coffees and handing one over to him.

He closed his eyes as he took a first sip of the hot sweet beverage. “Mmm.” He opened his eyes. “Wait. Why do I get the feeling you’re buttering me up for something?”

“Probably because I am?” She pulled the guest chair closer to his desk and sat down. “But first, how do the Valentine’s Day numbers look?”

The Chesapeake Inn was the premier resort in the small waterfront town of St. Caroline, Maryland. The Matthew family had run it for decades. It was struggling now, though. Lucy had loved Sterling’s late father, but he hadn’t kept pace with the times. John Matthew had always wanted the Inn to be a place where families felt comfortable, where families would return summer after summer to vacation. But today, even families expected a higher level of luxury.

Sterling raked his fingers through his dark hair and sighed. “They look good. Very good, actually. Gina’s idea to hold the weekend British baking class for couples paid off. But March bookings are dismal, as usual.” He looked up from the computer, his frown returned.

“So letting Simone and Douglas have their wedding here would be a big help.”

He took another sip of the sweetened coffee. “I know. I know. A celebrity wedding would shine a spotlight on the Inn as a wedding venue. A screwed up celebrity wedding would be an even bigger spotlight.”

“And that brings us to the buttering up portion of today’s programming.” She smiled. “We need staff dedicated to the wedding business.”

“We do. But we’ve not had many takers, other than Ashley Wardman agreeing to be our resident photographer and Gina, who already works for us, agreeing to hire and train another pastry chef.”

“Well, the best wedding planner in the DC metro area might be on the market. Sunday Miller of Sunday Signature Weddings.” 

“If she’s the best, why is she on the market?”

Lucy sighed. “She dated the publisher of Washington Wedding Style for years. Apparently, they split up recently and he proceeded to destroy her business.”

“Yikes.” Sterling paused for a moment. “Are you sure she’s really ‘the best?’”

She hesitated. “She did my wedding to Josh.”

He coolly lifted one eyebrow, saying nothing.

“Hey, it wasn’t her fault that my college sweetheart turned out to be a world class jerk.”

He grimaced. “So what are you proposing?”

“I’d like to comp her a weekend here at the Inn and show her around. Show her the facilities, the town, do the full court press. Offer her a job as Director of Weddings. If we’re going to build the Inn’s wedding business, we need someone a hundred percent dedicated to it. And that can’t be me, as Director of Operations. I have too many other things on my plate.”

“I know, love.” Sterling looked suitably guilty. “I also know that you want to get back to running your yoga studio full time.”

Once upon a time, Lucy had been the Inn’s marketing director. Then she and Sterling fell in love, he fired her, they broke up, they got back together, and he proposed. Instead of taking her old job back, she got certified as a yoga instructor and opened a yoga studio in town. Six months ago, she came back to the Inn as Director of Operations to help out, even though it was most definitely not what she wanted to do long term.

“I also want to get back to planning our wedding.”

“I told you we should just elope.”

“And then go into hiding from our mothers?”

He grinned. “Sounds good to me.” He drained the rest of his coffee, then glanced at her cup. “Are you going to drink that?”

She slid the cup across his desk. Truth be told, her stomach couldn’t handle any kind of coffee this morning. “Actually, they’re both for you. The first was to butter you up for Sunday—”

“Sure, invite her to town. Comp her whatever you want. Tea at Evangeline’s. Every treatment in the spa. Offer her the cottage rent free. Whatever it takes.”

“—and the second is because …” She paused, watching his face carefully. “I’m pregnant.”

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