Who could have predicted this? Being at the same wedding. In Ireland. There’s a reason one-night stands are one-night stands. You’re not supposed to see each other again, especially not when you’re the maid of honor, and he’s the groom’s brother…
Sarah Anderson has never been more excited about anything in her life. She’s going to her best friend’s wedding. And not just any wedding. An Irish wedding. Goodbye New York, hello rolling green hills and men with beautiful accents and twinkling eyes.
But Sarah should have known that not all guests are fairy-tale princes…
There’s the chinless Uncle Trevor, whose idea of small talk is to claim climate change is a conspiracy.
Then there’s Great Aunt Eileen, who doesn’t talk at all (she’s too busy replacing the hotel cutlery with her own set).
Worst of all, there’s Declan Murphy. Best man. Brother of the groom. And the man Sarah last saw naked.
Is there anything more mortifying than bumping into a one-night stand halfway across the world? Especially as Declan seems determined to embarrass Sarah at every turn. At least when the wedding’s over she’ll never have to see him again.
But, back in New York, Sarah finds the more she tries to forget Declan, the more she can’t shake the thought of that infuriatingly charming smile and the way he wears a tux…
Was he really just for one night only, or might Declan Murphy be The One?
Prepare to laugh until you cry with this perfect feel-good romantic comedy about taking a chance on love. Fans of Sophie Ranald, Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes won’t be able to put this down!
Release date: July 30, 2021
Print pages: 350
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
One Night Only
There’s someone in my bed.
I stare at the head of dark hair beside me, trying to recall his face. Trying to recall anything really. I have vague memories of sitting at a bar, an empty shot glass in front of me and the weight of warm hands on my hips. But everything else is a blur.
That, of course, can be explained by the mounting ache behind my eyes and the fact that my mouth feels like I coughed up a furball.
I lie back against the pillows, annoyed with myself. On a work night as well. I’m usually more disciplined than this.
There’s a sharp buzz beside me and I reach for my phone on the nightstand. Seven a.m. A calendar notification reminds me what I’m supposed to be doing right now and I text Claire, my roommate, my reason to cancel.
I can hear her outside my door, moving around the kitchen before she suddenly goes quiet. Her response comes a moment later.
Why do you always sleep with someone when you’re supposed to go for a run with me?
I can’t help nighttime Sarah, I message back. She hates daytime Sarah.
Claire doesn’t answer, so I ease myself into a sitting position and pull the charger from my phone, letting the cable drop noisily to the floor.
The man beside me doesn’t so much as flinch.
I hate the heavy sleepers.
“Hey there.” I poke his bare shoulder as I swing my feet to the floorboards. His skin is warm under my touch, the only indication he’s even alive. I clear my throat.
Butt-naked, I dart the few steps to my bedroom door and grab my robe, wrapping it around me. I need a shower. My hair sticks to the back of my neck, sweaty from a hot summer’s night and whatever else I did. We did. I don’t need to look in a mirror to know my makeup is probably smeared all over my face.
I pry the door open and then, with a warning glance at Claire who’s waiting curiously in the hall, slam it shut again.
The man wakes with a start, almost falling to the floor as he jerks upright.
“I’m so sorry,” I croon, approaching the bed. I don’t touch it. That would imply I’m getting back in. “Did I wake you?”
“No,” he lies, his voice gruff with sleep. He twists to look at me and the sheet falls, revealing his chest. I keep my eyes on his face. His bleary, handsome face. Blue eyes peer out beneath thick eyebrows, now drawn together in confusion. My friend Soraya would say he has a superhero jaw. I think I may have licked it.
“I’m sorry it’s so early,” I say. “But I’ve got to get to work.” I smile my usual smile, polite and encouraging, a little apologetic.
He blinks at me. It’s like I’m watching his mind wake up in real time. “You’re kicking me out?” His Irish accent grows stronger as he speaks, the same one that had me melting last night.
“I’m going to work. Don’t you have to go to work?”
“Not really, no.”
I force back a sigh. Usually, they’re halfway around the block by now. “Okay. I do. So… up.” I grab his T-shirt from the floor, which feels less personal than the boxer shorts next to it and toss it to him. It lands somewhere where I think his knees are.
He makes no move to put it on.
“Do you want to get some breakfast?” he asks.
Breakfast? My headache intensifies.
“I’m sorry if you misunderstood. But I need you to leave so I can leave.”
“Why can’t I stay?”
“Because you might steal something if I leave you by yourself.”
“Why can’t you stay with me?”
“Because I—” I break off at the smile on his face. He’s teasing me. I relax a bit. I can take teasing. I’m chill. “Because I have to go to work,” I finish.
He grabs the T-shirt and pulls it on over his head. Finally. I tie my robe tighter around me and try to remember what I need to do today. Pack. Dry cleaning. Pedicure.
“What are you doing tonight?”
“Tonight?” I’m momentarily distracted by the muscles in his arms. “I’m busy.”
“I’m busy all nights,” I say, trying to communicate the obvious thing that is happening between us. This time at least he seems to get it.
He scratches the side of his face and the hint of stubble there. He almost looks surprised. “I don’t usually sleep with someone an hour after I meet them.”
“Well…” I spread my hands out, losing patience. “I do.”
There’s a beat as he stares at me. Then he grins. “Fair enough.” And with that he flips the sheet off his body and stands, naked from the waist down.
I mutter something about giving him privacy and slip out of my bedroom.
Claire waits in the kitchen, dressed in her expensive running clothes.
“Did he go?” she asks, confused.
“He’s getting dressed.” I smooth the crow’s nest that is my hair. “Then he’s going. I promise.”
“Hey, I’m not complaining. This is the closest thing I get to sex these days.”
“Funny.” But true. With her fancy, long-hours job Claire often says she needs to live through me.
“You got mail by the way. I left it out for you last night but, obviously, you were distracted.” She passes me an envelope from the counter. “I think it’s your passport. Cutting it a bit close, aren’t you?”
I rip it open, ignoring her. I am cutting it close. But that’s because with all my planning for my upcoming trip, I completely forgot about the most obvious thing I would need. Thankfully, it is indeed my passport, a leathery blue booklet that looks very official in my hands.
“That’s not a bad photo,” she says, peering over my shoulder.
“I should have worn my hair down. I look like an alien.”
“I look like a serial killer in mine.”
We both fall silent as the bedroom door opens. My one-night stand enters the room, thankfully fully dressed.
“Good morning,” Claire calls sweetly, twirling one of her braids over her shoulder. “Coffee?”
The man smiles gratefully. “Coffee would be great.”
“No,” I say. “He can’t have coffee. He’s leaving.”
Claire stares unabashedly as I shepherd him out, pushing him with two fingers toward the door.
“Are you this pushy with all your conquests?” he asks. He doesn’t sound annoyed. Only amused.
“I don’t usually have to be.”
I feel his silent laughter under my hand. I stop touching him and open the door.
He steps out into the hall, turning to face me. God, he’s good-looking. I’m shallow, I know. But a part of me is very pleased I managed to snag him.
“I had a great time last night,” he says.
“I’m glad. Me too.”
“A lot of chemistry.”
“A lot of tequila,” I correct.
He nods, looking serious. “Also, true. Now, it might just be me, but it feels like you’re trying to stop whatever’s happening here.”
“Nothing’s happening. I’m kicking you out of my apartment.”
“I get that. Or you could—”
“Goodbye,” I say firmly and shut the door in his face.
I turn triumphantly back to the room but Claire only frowns. “I have never been more disappointed in you.”
“What?” she mimics. “Did you see him? Better yet, did you hear him?”
“I saw him. I heard him. And now I’m taking a shower.”
“For someone so smart, you can be extremely dumb sometimes,” she calls after me. “And you owe me a run!”
It’s a beautiful summer’s morning in New York. Blue-skies, green-trees, glittering-skyscrapers beautiful. The weather app on my phone says it’s sixty-five degrees and I barely last five minutes outside before I’m shrugging off my jacket. In a few hours the temperature and humidity will creep up but for now it’s perfect and I hurry through the city, the soothing tones of an NPR podcast murmuring in my ears as I join the throngs of people on their way to work.
It’s a twenty-minute walk from my apartment in the East Village to the offices of Baxter & Sons Architects, located just off Union Square. Offices might be the wrong word. We take up half a floor of a midsized, glass-walled building that sits above a Chipotle and a nail salon that never seems to be open. And it’s not so much Baxter & Sons as it is just Baxter. Harvey’s kids left years ago to start their own firms but he kept the name so he wouldn’t have to change all our branding.
Despite the delay to my morning, I arrive a good thirty minutes before I’m supposed to, only slightly out of breath. The place is mostly empty but my cubicle buddy, Will, is already there, halfway through a fruit cup. Not a morning person, he barely gives me a grunt as I sweep in. Normally, I wouldn’t say a word to him for at least another hour, but as I tug out my earphones, I spy a large takeout coffee next to my keyboard.
“A latte,” Will says, spearing a strawberry with a small plastic fork.
“Do I need a reason to get my co-worker a coffee in the morning?”
I dump my purse on my desk. “What do you want?”
“Harvey came by.”
Ah. So that’s what the coffee is for. Not a bribe but a commiseration.
I pick up the tall cardboard cup and take a sip.
“Maybe because he picked the wrong person,” I say lightly.
“Glad to hear you’re over that.”
I make a face.
It’s been three weeks since I lost out on a promotion. Three weeks since Harvey gave the job to Matthias. Hard-working, good-looking Matthias who always brings in snacks and always says hello. He organized the office to get flowers for my birthday and has twice loaned me his large man umbrella when it was raining because I’d forgotten mine.
That’s how annoying this whole thing is. He’s not even my enemy, so I can’t even hate him. I’m happy for him.
And miserable for me.
All the articles online say that when something like this happens you should start looking for a new job. But getting a new job is stressful. It means secrets and sneaking off to interviews and evenings lost to prep work.
It’s making an effort when I don’t particularly want to.
Unless I’m forced to.
I turn on my computer, dread settling in.
“Aren’t you going to go see Harvey?” Will asks, a little too innocently.
“I’m going to wait until after your ten o’clock with Yasmin so you two have nothing to talk about.”
He scowls, finally looking at me. “Spoilsport.”
“If he fires you, I’m taking your desk.”
He dodges the pencil I throw at him and goes back to his breakfast.
But he’s right. I should go see Harvey, bite the bullet before the rest of the office gets in. But my thoughts instantly change track when I log in and see an email from Annie.
Annie’s been my best friend for over ten years since we shared a room at NYU. I was studying architecture. She hopped around before settling on art history but then got a job in HR straight after graduation and, in her words, never looked at a painting again. She’s great at trivia nights though.
Last year, she and her fiancé Paul moved to London for his job, completely disregarding the drunken promise we made at nineteen to always be there for each other. It broke my heart to see her go but they’re coming back to New York this winter and we’ve spent the last few months making plans for all the things we would do.
But first comes the wedding.
And not just any wedding. An Irish wedding.
Paul is from a small village on the east coast of Ireland and it didn’t take much persuasion to get Annie to agree to a summer ceremony in the Irish countryside. It took even less persuasion to get me to come too.
I am the maid of honor and have never been more excited about anything in my life.
What better reason to splash a good chunk of your savings than for the happiest day of your best friend’s existence?
And judging by the high-priority-marked email she’s sent me, the happiest day of mine too.
Only one more sleep until you’re here! she writes. Paul checked out the hotel yesterday to see the final plans. Everything is DONE and it looks BEAUTIFUL and I am only hyperventilating two times a day now.
I click through the attached photos, marveling at each one. The hotel is the reason for the long engagement. Paul was adamant he wanted to get married there but a lengthy waiting list coupled with a not-so-small price tag meant this was the earliest they could get.
My new passport arrived this morning! I email back. We are officially all systems go. I can’t wait to see you.
Harvey, my boss, stands beside the cubicle, his glasses pushed into his gray hair. “Do you have time for a quick chat?”
No. “Of course!” I hit send and grab the latte.
Will gives me a pitying look as I follow him. At least no one else is in to see this.
“It’s about your plan for the Grayson Group,” he says as we enter his office.
He shuts the door and my mood drops. Harvey’s door is always open. Always. He only ever shuts it for serious moments. HR moments. Bad-news moments.
I sit in the worn leather armchair in front of his desk, trying to steel myself for what’s to come.
At least I can always rely on him to be straight and to the point.
“They want to move in a different direction.”
Of course, a little easing in wouldn’t be too bad either.
“Oh.” I muster up a smile. “Did they say why?”
“They did. They felt it was uninspired.”
“Right.” I can feel myself growing defensive, but I can’t help it. “I’m following the brief.”
“I know you are.” A pause. “I also know you’ve got your vacation coming up.”
“That’s not a problem. I’ll give them a call. Take a look at things before I go.”
“I’m going to give them to Matthias.”
Any attempt at professionalism drops. It’s impossible to hide how disappointed I feel.
Harvey sighs, sitting back in his chair. “You’ve got a week off. I want you to enjoy that time. Take a break. You’ve been working hard the past few months; don’t think I haven’t noticed. But I need you fresh. I need you at your best when you get back.”
I force back my annoyance at his words. Best for what? Grayson was supposed to be my focus for the next few months. And now it was Matthias’s. Just like that.
“You okay?” Harvey asks when I don’t say anything.
“Yes.” I try to brush it off. Try not to let it hurt me as much as it is. “I’ll take a break. I promise. And in the meantime, I will get to work.”
I smile brightly as I leave the office. It drops as soon as I’m in the corridor. Working hard the last few months and nothing to show for it. Not only am I not moving forward here, I appear to be moving backward.
“Watch it,” I snap on instinct as I almost walk into someone rounding the corner.
It’s Matthias, carrying a croissant in his hand.
“Sorry,” I mumble at the shock on his face. “I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“I thought you were a morning person.” He smiles. “You’re in even earlier than me these days.”
Is that a dig? One look at his face tells me it’s not. Of course it’s not. He’s being friendly. Because he’s Matthias and that’s who he is. Mr. Friendly guy. Mr. Talented, super nice—
“I left breakfast in the kitchen if you want some.”
“Sounds great, thank you.”
He opens his mouth to say something else but I’m already walking away, forgoing the chat and the pastries to go back to my tiny, cloistered cubicle where I belong.
Stupid Grayson Group and their stupid cultural center. Stupid Matthias and his stupid visionary mind. Stupid me and my stupid dull one.
I fling my suitcase onto the bed and unzip it. There’s still some sand inside from last summer when Annie and I visited her family in Florida. We spent a lot of time eating shrimp and drinking beer and drunkenly video calling Paul at 2 a.m. his time.
It was a good weekend.
Now I shake the sand onto the floor. I have a few planned outfits I want to wear but what about everything in between? The majority of my closet is office based, the rest of it embarrassingly casual. None of it is suitable wedding-week attire.
“Within budget” is what they meant to say.
“Following the brief with practical yet stylish adjustments” is more like it.
You want inspired you whack on another million bucks, Grayson.
My phone buzzes on the bed and it takes me a moment to locate it underneath all the clothes. It’s a text from Dad.
I stare at it, feeling a little guilty. We were supposed to be going camping soon, our annual father-daughter tradition, but with the trip to Ireland, I can’t afford to take any more time off work. He said he didn’t mind but I know he’s disappointed. He’s been on his own since I moved to the city, and though I try to visit when I can, it feels like every year we’re seeing less and less of each other.
I quickly message back as Claire’s voice sounds from the hallway and emerge to see her eyes glued to her own phone as she untucks her blouse from her tight pencil skirt. She’s already swapped her heels for a pair of sleek black trainers.
Claire is a lawyer for one of those large corporations that no one has heard of but that quietly runs a million companies and probably a small country somewhere. She tried to explain her job to me once. Something with taxes. A lot of reading. A lot of meetings. No actual court experience. “I’m a sellout,” she said seriously to me once. “But a sellout who is going to retire by forty.”
She’s rooming with me to make as much money as she can to buy her own place and I’m grateful for it. She gets the bigger room and insists on paying a lot more rent than I do. There’s no way I’d be able to afford this place otherwise. It’s a decent two-bedroom on Avenue A with sunlight and closet space. The neighborhood gets a little rowdy on the weekends, but I love it and it’s near enough to everything that I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“What crawled up your butt?” she asks when she sees me.
“You packed yet?”
She rolls her eyes and gestures me back into the bedroom, where she collapses into the flea market armchair I squeezed beside the bed.
“Doesn’t it rain all the time in Ireland?” she asks, examining my suitcase with a critical eye.
“Yes, but it’s nearly June. And Paul says that’s a myth.”
“Throw in a fleece. Do you have an adapter?” She sighs when I shake my head. “I’ll give you mine.”
“Thanks.” I dump a pile of T-shirts into the case, followed by my jeans.
“Bad day at work?”
I glance at her in surprise. “How did you know?”
“No reason,” she deadpans as I kick a discarded jacket out of the way.
I frown down at my clothes. Do shoes go in first or last? “Turns out I’m not the creative genius I thought I was,” I explain. “Our new client doesn’t like my design and, as it turns out, neither does my boss.”
Her face falls. “I’m sorry.”
“Yay, vacation time, I guess.”
“It will be good for you. There’s a reason I go to some nameless, extremely sunny beach every year. You never take a break.”
“I take breaks,” I protest.
“Sex with random men when you feel like it is not taking a break.”
“It is to me,” I mutter. “This is my plane outfit,” I add, ignoring her look as I hold up the sweatpants and sweatshirt.
She nods in approval. “And don’t forget to put on a face mask before you land.” She pats the skin under her eyes. “Helps those bags.”
“I don’t get bags.”
“You definitely get bags. And let’s try some serum, shall we?”
Claire’s obsessed with her skin-care regimen. Our bathroom is crammed with cleansers and exfoliators and strange contraptions that look like they belong in a doctor’s office but apparently “stimulate blood flow.” All of this plus her quarterly Botox injections sometimes makes me more than a little paranoid about my one-step moisturizer routine (I recently graduated to using it morning and night) but she assures me with my babyface cheeks and supposedly tiny pores that I don’t need to worry.
I guess it’s one upside to getting constantly carded by bouncers ten years younger than me.
“Don’t drink any of the plane wine,” Claire continues. “The last thing you need is a hangover on top of jet lag. I’m speaking from experience.”
I dump the sweatshirt onto the bed. “You’re kinda sucking all the fun out of this, you know that?”
“It’s five hours. It will fly by. Literally. And then you will be in a whole new country on a whole new continent and I will be extremely jealous.” She plants two hands on the armchair and hauls herself up. “I’m going to order too much pad thai. You want in?”
“I already ate.”
“Cold pizza doesn’t count toward your five a day,” she sings, shuffling out of the room.
Bras. Underwear. I count them out day by day, including some spares because, honestly, who knows and grab a handful of socks from the drawer. The suitcase fills quickly, especially when I add in Annie’s presents from friends unable to travel for the wedding. I keep my nicer heels in boxes under the bed and I drop to my knees to pull them out when I spy something glinting on the floor.
It’s a watch.
I don’t own a watch.
I bang my head against the bed frame as I pick it up, the metal strap cold in my hand.
For one second, I think about throwing it in the trash or selling it on eBay. Then I remind myself I am not an awful person. I don’t have a good excuse anyway. We swapped numbers last night and I haven’t gotten around to deleting it yet.
I take a picture and message my one-night stand. I think this is yours? I keep my tone polite, not wanting to give him the wrong impression when he was so keen this morning. I’m leaving it with my roommate. Going out of town for a few days.
Friendly but formal.
I stare down at the text, deliberating. Smiley face? Or is that too inviting? Maybe I— oh my God just send it. I hit the button, hesitate and send another.
This is Sarah by the way.
Unless I didn’t tell him my name.
From last night.
Ugh. Too many texts. But too late to take it back.
I throw my phone on the bed and continue packing. It’s barely a minute later when his reply comes.
I’m outside now.
What the… Is he kidding? I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, dressed only in faded gray shorts and a sports bra I should have thrown out years ago. The skin around my eyebrows is still a stubborn pink, smarting from my wax down the block.
I stand in the middle of my room, listening hard for the sound of the buzzer or a knock on the door. When nothing happens, I scramble over the bed to the window, which is already open in the faint hope of a night breeze. We’re on the second floor and the light is beginning to fade. A couple of people are smoking on the corner and a man across the street is talking loudly into his cell. But there’s no one waiting below.
He has to be.
I abandon the window and head for the kitchen, grabbing a T-shirt so I’m semi-decent, and peer through the keyhole, squinting at the warped bubble of hallway.
There’s no one there. I huff a sigh of relief as my phone trills with another text.
Made you look.
I turn my phone off and grab a plastic freezer bag from the kitchen, dropping his watch inside, before I knock on Claire’s open door. She’s sitting in the middle of her neatly made bed, still in her work clothes and glowering at her laptop.
“The guy from last night left his watch in my room,” I say to her without preamble. “I told him he can drop by and pick it up. Is that okay?” I wait but she doesn’t look up from the screen. “Claire?”
“The hot guy you slept with forgot his watch. Got it.”
“How do you do it?”
I turn back at her question, already thinking about my packing. “Do what?”
“Meet people so easily?”
At first, I think she’s joking, but the look on her face is completely serious. “I don’t know. You talk, you drink, you bring them home. It’s not rocket science.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Pretty sure.” I laugh. “Where is this coming from?”
She closes her laptop lid, shifting so she’s facing me. It’s like she’s about to launch into a presentation. “I think I’m becoming a spinster.”
“Which would make me a spinster in Jane Austen times.”
“And at thirty-one what am I? A crone? You’ve got everything going for you. You don’t need to meet someone.”
“I know I don’t need to, Sarah. But I would like to. Is that so terrible? Does that make me a bad feminist?”
“Did your sister get engaged again? Is that what’s going on?”
“Mark’s moving to Seattle.”
I straighten in surprise. “Moving moving? Forever?”
Mark works on the floor above Claire. She’s been obsessed with him since before we even met. All I ever hear is Mark cut his hair. Mark wore a new suit. Mark made eye contact. They kissed once, years ago, after a late night of crunching numbers or shredding files or whatever it is they do. According to Claire, they never spoke of it again. Except she, of course, never forgot it.
“A trial run for a few weeks while they open the new office,” she says. “But everyone knows they’re going to give him a good position there. He’s so talented they’d be idiots not to.”
“Not that it matters,” she says firmly. “He has a girlfriend.”
“Had a girlfriend,” I remind her. “You told me they broke up months ago.”
“Yes, but it was serious. They were practically engaged.”
“Practically engaged isn’t actually engaged. You’re too scared to say anything to him.” But she’s tuned me out, the glow from the screen illuminating her face as she opens her laptop again.
“He’s moving anyway,” she mutters. “So, unless you can teleport me to Seattle, that’s not happening.”
“I’ll work on it.” I lean against the doorframe, my own troubles momentarily forgotten. “If the guy from last night comes for his watch, I give you permission to flutter your eyelashes at him.”
I get a smile for that. A small one at least. “I wish I could come with you to Annie’s wedding. I bet there will be loads of single men there. Men with beautiful accents and sparkling eyes.”
“Because they’re so charming.”
“You need to get laid.”
“I know,” she says sadly. “Maybe I’ll ask your watch man. . .
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