Ah ha! So you noticed that I didn’t put anything up for Excerpt Wednesday. That’s because I was saving it all up for today. Yes, today is Release Day for One Night with a Star! Come and join me with Simon and Jenny as they rediscover their passion and decide if love can recover after one beautiful, fateful night….
Jenny Young was not the sort of woman to be held down by a challenge. And few things were more challenging than pulling off a celebrity wedding.
Not that she was actually in charge of the wedding, even though the bride was her best friend, Tasha Pike. The fact that the groom was superstar Spencer Ellis put this wedding way out of Jenny’s organizational league. Sand Dollar Point—the stately Victorian house built on a cliff that overlooked Summerbury Beach in Maine—was crawling with catering staff and assistants to the wedding planners. Plural. The planning staff scrambled to set up the ceremony on the beach below the house, while the caterers handled the reception, which would be on the lawn around the house. Jenny’s job, as she saw it, was to make sure the whole lot of them talked to each other and got things done.
Not an easy task when balancing a six-month old baby on your hip.
“Okay, Daniel, what do we do next?” she cooed to her son, bouncing him to make him laugh. “Do we check on the flowers? Do we? All right, let’s check on the flowers.”
Daniel burbled and waved his arm with the same sort of energy that kept her going, even when she didn’t think she could. She swung him around to her other hip to keep her right arm free, and marched across the lawn and up the stairs to Sand Dollar Point’s south porch to see how the flower arrangements were coming along. As large as it was, there was barely enough space in the house for everyone who needed a workspace to be accommodated, but at least Nancy, the florist, had been happy to work on the wicker table outside.
“How are things going here?” Jenny asked as she and Daniel approached. For Daniel, she added, “Look at all the pretty flowers. Pink and purple and white.”
Nancy paused in her work to smile at Daniel, reaching out to let him grasp her finger with his little pudgy ones.
“He’s such a sweetheart,” Nancy said. “And he looks just like you. Same blond hair, same blue eyes.”
“Say thank you,” Jenny cooed to Daniel, doing her best to keep her smile intact.
Yes, Daniel looked like her. He was her son, surprising though it was. Everyone noted the resemblance when they held or played with Daniel. None of them saw what she saw—that Daniel was actually a carbon copy of his father. He had the same nose, the same shape to his eyes, the same irresistible charm that could draw you in and leave you helpless. Damn Simon Mercer and his empty promises. One night of fun, one night of letting herself be bad, and her life had been changed forever. She’d been a fool to think a movie star like Simon could actually care about her.
If she could, she would push him right back out of her thoughts, like she had for the past year. The problem was, Simon would be there any minute. He was Spencer’s best man, and she was the maid of honor.
“It looks like you have things under control here,” she told Nancy. “Just let me know if you need help carrying those to the tables.”
“You’ve got enough to carry on your own,” Nancy said, making a face at Daniel then patting his head. “Besides, shouldn’t you be changing for the photos?”
“Oh, I’ve got plenty of time for that.” She brushed the suggestion off with a wave of her hand. “I want to make sure everything is perfect down here first.”
She turned to head around the porch to the north side, ponytail swinging, kissing Daniel’s head. There had to be something else that needed her attention. The food? No, Blue Elephant was the best caterer in southern Maine, and they had everything under control. Music? Taken care of. Guests? Not there yet. Security? Ha! The place was crawling with gigantic men in black suits.
Jenny sighed. “Looks like you’re mommy’s not going to be able to avoid this for much longer, is she?” she told Daniel in a sing-song voice. “Aunt Tasha is getting married and everything is going to be beautiful and perfect, and Mommy will suck it up and face your daddy with a smile. It’s all going to be okay, isn’t it?”
“Are you expecting him to give you an answer?”
Jenny gasped and twisted to see Tasha poking her head out of the screen door. Her short hair was already done in a dazzling style with jeweled accents that looked like she was crowned with dewdrops, but she wore a robe instead of her dress.
“What are you doing downstairs?” Jenny did her best to distract Tasha from what she’d overheard. “Aren’t the photographers going to be here any minute?”
“That’s why I came down to find you.” Tasha stepped fully out onto the porch. Like everyone else, she was drawn straight to Daniel, her smile wide and excited, arms stretched out to him.
Grateful for a quick rest, Jenny handed Daniel over. “I’m just trying to make sure that everything is perfect for you,” she said. “I’ve got to feel useful somehow.”
“Don’t be silly,” Tasha said in the kind of voice that grown women only used around babies. “You’re the most useful person I know.”
“Am I?” Jenny crossed her arms. “These days it seems like every time I start to get something going, this little angel calls me away, and whatever I’m doing falls apart.”
“Maybe.” Tasha held Daniel closer. He was tired and getting fussy, but some days Aunt Tasha was as good as Mommy. Tasha peeked up at Jenny. “Work still getting you down?”
Jenny sighed and leaned against the porch railing. “It’s kinda hard to be the Closer of the Kennebunks when you have to cancel showings and bail on signings.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Not that I’m complaining.” Jenny held up her hands. “Not with Mom pitching in like a pro to help out. I wouldn’t trade Daniel for the world. God, Tasha, I never knew it was possible to love so much.” Her words caught in her throat as a sudden burst of emotion threatened to make her weepy. Better now than after she put mascara on.
Tasha stepped to Jenny’s side and hugged her. Daniel’s face scrunched into pre-cry tension, so Jenny took him back and cradled him against her shoulder so he could, hopefully, go to sleep.
“You’ve done an amazing job of switching into mom-mode,” Tasha told her.
“Yeah,” Jenny admitted. “I just wish that it wasn’t one mode or the other, Mom or real estate maven.”
“I still think you’re in the wrong career,” Tasha said. “There are plenty of jobs out there where you could kick ass and still take care of Daniel.”
“I should be able to do it where I am,” Jenny mumbled. “If not for….”
Tasha reached out and rubbed her arm. “I know. Extenuating circumstances. At least you didn’t date Simon for thirteen years before getting dumped.”
“I didn’t date him at all. I shouldn’t be so broke up about it,” Jenny insisted. “It’s just that for one minute there, for one awesome minute, I thought I was Cinderella meeting the prince.”
Tasha didn’t say anything. She only hugged Jenny as best she could with Daniel in the way, and kissed Daniel’s head. Then she rocked back and fixed Jenny with a worried look.
“Spence texted me to tell me that he just got off the phone with Simon. Simon will be here any minute.”
Jenny gave her a half-hearted grin. “You two texting each other from across the hall?”
“The groom can’t see the bride before the dress reveal,” Tasha said, unable to hold back her giddy joy. And why should she? Tasha was the one living the fairy tale. She was the one about to marry a smoking hot movie star who had bought her Sand Dollar Point as a wedding present. “The old traditions don’t say anything about texting though.”
“No, they wouldn’t.” Although they might say something about the bride and groom getting ready at the same house. It was a precautionary measure to avoid unwanted paparazzi. That and the upwards of a dozen security personnel stationed around the house and the beach.
Tasha’s expression shifted back to concern for her friend. “So you think you’re gonna be okay?”
Was she? She hadn’t heard a word from Simon Mercer, not even a peep, for fifteen months and three days. Not when she discovered she was pregnant with his baby, not when she made the surprisingly difficult decision to keep it, and not when Daniel was born. She’d avoided every pre-wedding event she could just so that she wouldn’t have to see him. If she’d had her way, she would go on not seeing him, but that was all about to end.
“Yeah, I’m gonna be okay,” she lied. “Let’s go upstairs and get ready.”
They headed into the house. Even though Spence and Tasha had closed on Sand Dollar Point nine months ago—the last really significant closing Jenny had had—they hadn’t done much redecorating. The old couple who sold them the house had taken a few items of furniture and some of the artwork that had sentimental value, but they were in the process of downsizing. Spence especially had been eager to keep the house as much like it was as possible. In her heart, Jenny was glad about that, but it did feel a lot like she was reliving the most world-changing few days of her life. Only it was October now and had been July then.
“There’s my grandbaby,” Jenny’s mom greeted them when they were halfway down the hall. “Hello there, tiger.”
“Mom. You’re here early.” Jenny managed a genuine smile for her mom. That was another thing she had to be grateful for where Daniel was concerned. After the initial shock of finding out their daughter was pregnant—and who could blame them for that—her mom and dad had stepped up and taken care of her when she really needed it.
“I came to see if they needed a hand setting up,” she said.
Jenny grinned. For years people had been telling her the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. Now that she was getting older, she believed them.
“Would you mind taking Daniel while I go upstairs and get changed?” she asked.
“Sure, sweetheart. Although I need to run down to the beach to give this tape to Tasha’s mom.” She lifted her wrist where she wore a role of duct tape like a bracelet. “Do you mind if I let him sleep in his carrier up here for a second?”
“No problem.” Daniel had fallen hard asleep in a matter of seconds. She felt the wonderful, familiar twang in her heart as she stepped into the dining room and transferred him from her shoulder to his carrier on the table. “There are so many people running around here that someone will call me if he wakes up. Seeing as he just fell asleep, I think it’ll be at least half an hour until he moves.”
“I swear I won’t be but three minutes,” her mom said.
“Cara can keep an eye on him,” Tasha said, turning toward the kitchen. “Cara?”
“I can keep an eye on him,” the helper from Blue Elephant piped in. “Go. Get ready.”
Jenny leaned over to give her son one last kiss on his precious little head. True, Simon had turned her inside out in the worst possible way, but she wouldn’t change a moment of it if it meant losing Daniel. As crazy as her life had become, he was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
“Now,” she said, stepping back. “Let’s go upstairs and get gorgeous.”
Keep reading by buying One Night with a Star now! Available exclusively at Amazon (click here) … at least for now. *wiggles eyebrows*