The Best Laid Wedding Plans
by Lynnette Austin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
SOME DREAMS ARE WORTH WHATEVER IT TAKES
Jenni Beth Beaumont left her broken heart behind when she took her dream job in Savannah. But after her brother's death, Jenni Beth returns home to help mend her parents' hearts as well as restore their beautiful but crumbling antebellum mansion. New dreams take shape as Jenni Beth sets to work replacing floors and fixing pipes to convert the family homestead into the perfect wedding destination. However, some folks in their small Southern town are determined to see her fail.
old turmoil is brought to the surface and Cole and Jenni Beth will have to work through some painful memories and tough realities before they can set their pasts aside and have a second chance at their own happily ever after.
Cole, I’m so glad you could stop by for a visit today. I know between your architectural salvaging company and your renovation work out at Magnolia House, you’re incredibly busy!
Cole: Are you kidding me? I’m happy to be here. It gives me a chance to put my boots up and catch my breath.
Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
Cole: You do know I grew up in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, right? Coming from a small town, a person doesn’t have any secrets—at least not for long. The second I sat down at Jenni Beth’s table in Dee-Ann’s Diner, the tongues started waggin’. My guess is that half the town knows exactly how many sips I stole from her sweet tea and how many times she told me to go away. (He winks.) She didn’t mean it, though. She always did have a thing for me—until I screwed it up, anyway.
Does that bother you?
Cole: Which? That I messed up with Jenni Beth? Oh, yeah. Or that everybody in town knows my business? Truthfully, sometimes. I mean, it would be easier fallin’ flat on your face without an audience. But those same people would be the first to lend a hand to help me up, so…Guess it all goes with the territory. There’re no greater people in the world than right here in the Low Country.
I’m sure readers are wondering how in the world you ended up in a book.
Cole (laughing): Honestly? I have no idea. There’s nothing special about me. Now, Jenni Beth? Besides being the most gorgeous thing on two feet, that woman is a dynamo. She’s got two degrees and is dead-set on saving this entire town.
Cole: Misty Bottoms, like a lot of small Southern towns, has fallen on hard times. By starting a wedding destination business at Magnolia House, she’s hopin’ to jumpstart the town again. Personally, my money’s on her. Did I mention the woman’s out-of-this-world beautiful?
I think you might have, yes. What was the hardest day of your life?
Cole(his smile disappearing): The day I got word my best pal Wes, Jenni Beth’s brother, had died in the line of duty. And because I’d made such a mess of things, she wouldn’t—or maybe couldn’t—let me comfort her. I’d give anything to change that.
Let’s talk about something lighter. You’re getting ready for a night out. Where are you going? What will you wear?
Cole: I’d take my best girl dancin’. Jenni Beth and I’d no doubt stop by Duffy’s Pub, then I’d try to sweet talk her into heading to my converted barn for some under-the-stars dancing. What’ll I wear? (He shakes his head.) You women and your clothes. It depends. Here in Misty Bottoms, I’d dig out my Sunday jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt. (He blushes.) My mom does my laundry when I’m in town. In Savannah, I’d probably swap the jeans for a pair of dark dress pants.
You spend a lot of your time in Savannah, don’t you?
Cole: Yep, it’s where my business, Traditions, is. I’ve got an apartment there. Two different worlds, but I feel equally at home in both. By the way, for anyone who hasn’t been to Savannah, you owe it to yourself to come on down. It just might be the most beautiful city in the world—and I do mean that.
I have to ask. What exactly does an architectural salvager do?
Cole: Short answer? I preserve the past. A lot of magnificent homes have been let go to the point they can’t be saved…or somebody likes a location but not the house. Other times, it’s an old bank or a business. The handcrafting in those places is unsurpassed. Before they meet the wrecking ball, I save parts of them. I remove the crown molding, the doors, the old columns…sinks, doorknobs, you name it. They can be used again in a restored home or in a new one, blending the past with the present.
Jenni Beth: He found the most fantastic chandelier for my office! It’s a pink cherub with lots and lots of crystals.
Cole: (Wide-eyed, he jumps up from his chair, a grin spreading at the sight of Jenni Beth in skinny jeans and a lacy halter top.) When did you get here?
Jenni Beth: A couple questions ago. It’s been interesting eavesdropping on the two of you.
Anything you want to add, Jenni Beth?
Jenni Beth: Cole makes me so much more multi-dimensional. I tend to go all business. But then he shows up on his Harley, and we take off on the back roads, have some good Southern barbecue, and get away from it all. I’d never have guessed I’d enjoy it so much.
Cole (winks): It’s ’cause you’re with me.
Jenni Beth: Did I mention how modest and unassuming Cole is? (She laughs)
Do you like the way The Best Laid Wedding Plans ended, Cole?
Cole: Hell, yeah. It’s a romance. I’m assuming I get the girl…and a happy-ever-after. J
He looks at Jenni Beth, who sends him a cat-and-mouse smile.
Cole: I do get the girl, don’t I?
Jenni Beth: Time for us to go.
With that, holding hands, she and Cole say their good-byes. Watching them leave, I sip my sweet tea and marvel at how this guy fills out his jeans. I hope you can join Cole, Jenni Beth, and me in Misty Bottoms, Georgia, for The Best Laid Wedding Plans, book one in my new Magnolia Brides series.
The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A finalist in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, PASIC's Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie Contest, she’s published five books as Lynnette Hallberg. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody...and all their business, for better or worse.
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