Bride and Tested
Brenda St. John Brown
Publication date: April 27th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Exes working together in a wedding business? What could go wrong?
Having inappropriate dreams about my ex-husband is problematic. The fact that he’s applied to be the business partner in my wedding business – and is an infuriatingly savvy businessman – is even more so.
Our marriage ended because we were both more married to our jobs than each other, but now I can barely look at Lincoln without imagining him naked. How the hell am I supposed to work with him?
My ex-wife, Evie – aka Evil (thank you, random autocorrect) – runs the most successful bridal shop in the whole of the Finger Lakes region and she needs a business partner. Happy coincidence because I need a steady income. ASAP.
I also need to stop noticing Evie’s curves. And her smile. And everything about her that makes me want a second chance.
“I propose a toast.” Mika raises her lipstick-rimmed glass. “To finding an outstanding partner and crushing this year’s wedding season.”
“I’ll always drink to the success of my business.” I raise my glass too and clink it gently against hers.
“The right person is going to come through. I can tell.”
“Is this like the time you could tell Lincoln was going to propose? Because, although you were right, I’m hoping for a better outcome this time.” Preferably one which doesn’t involve getting my heart broken.
“Hey, Lincoln wasn’t all bad. You ended up in Enita Springs, you met me and you got his last name out of the deal for Bennett’s Bridal. The power of good alliteration cannot be underestimated.”
“True enough.” I laugh.
“Are we talking about him yet?” Mika asks, her voice softening. “Specifically, are we talking about what happened this morning because I think we should.”
I give a sharp shake of my head. “Definitely not.”
Mika studies me for a long minute then nods, too. “Okay. I figured, but you know I’m here when you want to process things.”
“I’m probably never going to want to process this.” I’d rather talk about a silent investor than what happened this morning with Lincoln. My face feels ten degrees hotter just thinking about it.
“Okay, fine.” Mika nods again and then says, “I’m just going to point out you’re bound to run into him again. Enita Springs isn’t big. Do you have a plan for when you do?”
Besides turn and run the other way? No.
To Mika I say, “I don’t need a plan. I’m sure it will be fine.”
“Because you’ve dealt with all the feelings seeing him brought up or because you’re still avoiding said feelings?”
“What’s there to deal with? I was embarrassed, which is understandable.” And the time before I was so nervous I thought my chest was going to explode, but being nervous is perfectly normal. “Besides, it’s stupid. We’ve been divorced longer than we were married.”
“Just because time has passed doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with your feelings about the end of your marriage.”
“Feelings, schmeelings. I’m avoiding them, and it’s working for me so far.” I take a sip of my wine. “Just like I plan to avoid Lincoln.”
“You two were the happiest couple I knew,” Mika says softly.
My heart feels like someone’s squeezing it and I’d wonder if I was having a sudden heart attack if I didn’t recognize it for what it is – nostalgia. “We were really happy, as much as it pains me to admit it.”
“Why does it pain you to admit it? Being happy is a good thing.”
“Not when you squander it like we did.” I take a deep breath, hoping it will help my chest expand again.
“You never saw him after you guys filed for divorce. It might be good for you to actually, you know, have a conversation with him about what happened.” Mika raises her glass to her lips and looks at me over the rim. “For closure.”
“I have the signed divorce papers, which is enough closure for me. Besides, I’m avoiding him, remember?”
“Hmmm.” Mika takes a sip of her wine but doesn’t say anything else.
She doesn’t need to. I know what she’s thinking, just like I know she’s wrong. I have zero intention of seeing Lincoln again if I can help it. If I do, I can always go with my unofficial plan to turn and run the other way and pray he doesn’t see me.
Because if he does, it’s not going to take him long to realize I still have feelings for him. Deep and complicated feelings I have no business having. Especially for my ex-husband. Add in the real reason I didn’t fight for us and, well…avoiding him is my only choice.
Brenda is a USA Today bestselling author living in the English countryside. Originally from New York, she’s lived in the UK long enough to gain dual citizenship, but still doesn’t understand Celsius. However, she has learned the appropriate use of the word “pants”. And how to order a proper bacon bap/barm/buttie. Because, well, bacon.
Brenda writes contemporary romance to make you giggle and swoon. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking, running and reading. In theory, she also enjoys cooking, but it’s more that she enjoys eating and, try as she might, she can’t live on Doritos alone.