Sara Richardson brings us the conclusion to her Heart of the Rockies series in this stunning, heartwarming novella. SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW-AND SOMETHING SHE NEVER EXPECTED . . . If anyone had told Ruby James she'd be marrying the man of her dreams after starting over at the Walker Mountain Ranch, she'd have keeled over laughing, if not crying. Yet here she is: ready to walk down the aisle with her soul mate, Sawyer Hawkins-and make the adoption of their sweet foster daughter, Brooklyn, official. But just days before the event that will make their family complete, a miraculous little wrinkle appears in her plans . . . Ruby's already the most beautiful woman in the world to Sawyer, but she seems to be glowing even more than usual . . . and now he knows why. Sawyer couldn't have wished for more. Soon enough he'll have a new wife, a new daughter, and a new bundle of joy. But not everyone sees a happy future for him and Ruby. With a blizzard rolling in, Sawyer must help his family-to-be weather a different kind of storm-and clear the skies for an unforgettable Rocky Mountain wedding.
Release date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Forever Yours
Print pages: 108
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Rocky Mountain Wedding
Whoever coined the term blushing bride had it all wrong.
Ruby James studied herself in the full-length mirror that hung over the door in her friend Avery Walker’s bedroom. In front of an audience that included her bridesmaids, Avery and Julia; her soon-to-be aunt-in-law, Elsie Walker; and her matron of honor, Paige, Ruby’d been attempting to squeeze herself into her wedding dress for the last ten minutes. It was supposed to be a prewedding tea, one more girls’ celebration before she officially became Mrs. Hawkins.
But now her hair, which had been neatly piled on top of her head, had broken free, frizzing around her face as if she’d just spent an hour out in the humidity. Speaking of her face…her forehead looked like it might pop a vein.
Blushing bride? More like gasping, heaving, red-faced bride.
“Come on,” Paige said, clutching either side of the gaping zipper. “Suck it in, Ruby. We can do this.” If anyone could do it, Paige could. The woman actually had biceps. As a mountain guide, she’d climbed most of the cliffs within a thirty-mile radius of Aspen. You’d never know it just looking at her on the street, what with her petite frame, gleaming hazel eyes, and wavy streaked hair, but Paige was pretty much a badass. “Suck it in,” she commanded.
“I am sucking it in,” Ruby wheezed. Lordy! She’d been sucking it in for the last decade. Not that she was overweight, just a bit curvy, which her faithful fiancé, Sawyer, insisted he loved. Don’t you dare lose a pound, he’s say when she’d mention a diet she might like to try. You’re perfect. Then he’d grab her ass and tell her he liked having something to hold on to. She directed her gaze to the mirror again and ran it down her body in a critical assessment. Lately, though, it seemed like he’d had a whole lot more to hold on to. Obviously. The wedding was four days away and her dress didn’t fit.
Grunting, Paige yanked on the fabric. “Okay, on the count of three you’ll inhale and clench that stomach,” she instructed. “Then I’ll jerk up that damn zipper before it knows what hit it.”
“Good idea,” Paige’s sister-in-law, Julia, chimed in, wheeling her chair closer to the spectacle like she wanted a front-row seat. Julia had recently gotten back from her own wedding in Tahiti, where she’d married her childhood sweetheart, Isaac. And wow, the woman looked good—the tanned and glowing new bride. Her long dark hair was sun-streaked and lovely, and those exotic brown eyes of hers seemed to glisten in a way they hadn’t before.
Ruby would bet that the woman hadn’t had any problem fitting into her wedding dress.
Then there were Avery and Elsie. They’d probably never sucked it in. Though she had a seven-month-old, Avery had one of those naturally lean bodies. Along with her blond hair and ice-blue eyes, she could still walk the runway somewhere. Elsie may have been a bit plump, but she was still petite and graceful—the typical grandma-to-everyone.
Cheeks puffed out in a sigh, Ruby checked herself in the mirror again. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” It was Thursday. The wedding was on Sunday. “I’ll have to find a new dress.” Which would break her heart. After she’d bought this dress, she’d had Elsie make a matching dress for Brookie. In just a few short months, she and Sawyer would be officially adopting the sweet foster girl they’d both come to love and they’d wanted to make sure she was an integral part of the ceremony.
“Like hell you will,” Paige grunted. She’d always had a slight competitive streak, and this dress had just become her nemesis.
“We’ll get it this time, dear,” Elsie soothed. “Don’t you worry.”
“It’ll fit fine,” Avery agreed, but concern rounded her eyes and Ruby could practically see her thinking through a plan b.
“Here goes,” Paige said, getting a tighter grip on the material. “One, two, three.”
Straightening, Ruby inhaled and held her breath, cinching her ribs so tight she swore they touched her spine.
Behind her, Paige cursed with the passion of a sailor and jerked the two edges of the satiny material together.
Blood pounded in Ruby’s head. Her fingertips tingled.
“Come on!” Paige groaned. “Avery, pull up the zipper!”
Avery jumped into action and tugged.
Ruby’s body jolted. She swayed. Whoa…she was going to pass out. The air whooshed from her mouth with hurricane force. Her body slumped forward. “God, I feel like I’m going to break a rib!”
Paige stood behind her, eyeing that zipper. “I’m sweating,” her friend complained. “I’m actually sweating right now.”
The others looked at Ruby with varying degrees of concern.
She turned back to the mirror, shifting to the side to study the profile view. It was such a beautiful dress. Satin with a sheer layer over it, fitted across the bodice and down over the curve of her hips with a slight fan in the skirt. “It fit me perfectly when I bought it,” she wailed. It had made her feel exactly like a princess. Now she felt like a hog ready for spring.
How could she have gained that much weight in three weeks?
Elsie knelt on the floor in front of her and gathered one of the seams in her hand, inspecting it closely. “Oh, I can fix this,” she murmured. “It’ll be nothing for me to take it out a bit. There’s plenty of room in the seams.”
“Thanks, Elsie.” She patted the older woman’s hand. “But that doesn’t fix the problem. I don’t understand how I could’ve outgrown a dress in three weeks.” Sure she was a baker at the ranch, but she never sampled more than one of everything. Of course, all of the stress lately had fooled her into believing she was hungry most of the time. But she still watched what she ate…
“Don’t worry about it,” Paige said, falling back to a leather chaise like she was spent. “That last month before my wedding, I stress-ate everything in sight.”
“But you didn’t have to have your dress altered days before,” she pointed out.
“No, but the dress didn’t stay on long, I’ll tell you that much.” Paige laughed, elbowing Avery.
“Can we not hear the story about what you and my brother did in the limo again?” Julia begged. “Please?”
Paige grinned at her sister-in-law. “I’m just trying to make the point that the dress doesn’t matter all that much.” She stood and threw an arm around Ruby. “Sawyer loves you.”
“I know.” But she still wanted to be beautiful for him…
“Oh!” Avery popped up and jogged to the dresser. “I have the perfect thing!” She dug through the top drawer and snatched out some nude-colored elasticy thing. “Spanx!”
She tossed it to Ruby.
A laugh tumbled out. She’d heard about these things but didn’t realize they actually existed. Holding it up, she inspected the contraption. “Is this supposed to fit around my arm?” she asked. Actually, it might be too tight for her arm…
“No one wants to wear those things.” Julia snatched the Spanx out of her hand and tossed it aside. “Maybe you’re just bloated. Are you PMSing?”
“Not that I know of.” She slumped to the bed, suddenly feeling like she could sleep for a year. “My period is all over the place. No idea when it’ll hit next.”
“Oh my God.” Avery clapped a hand over her mouth. “When’s the last time you had your period?”
“Oh…well…” Her mind jogged back through the months. When nothing turned up, her thoughts evolved to a frantic sprint. “I’m not sure.” She didn’t like the way everyone’s eyes grew rounder and rounder. They all knew well and good she’d likely never have children. “It’s never been regular. I have endometriosis,” she reminded them.
“That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to get pregnant, right?” Julia asked.
Her ribs cranked tight. “I…don’t know.” She’d always tried not to think about it—to let that possibility remain in her heart. Over the years, she’d scrubbed out all of that hope.
She couldn’t be pregnant. She just couldn’t be.
“Have you and Sawyer done the deed?” Julia demanded to know. Seeing as how she’d seen the woman only a couple of times in the last six months, they hadn’t had the sex discussion.
“Excuse me?” Heat boiled inside, rising to her face.
“You know, have you made love, had a quickie in the shower, taken a roll in the hay?”
Yes. To all of those. But Elsie—Sawyer’s aunt—was sitting right there!
“Of course they’ve had sex,” Paige answered for her. “This isn’t 1950.”
Elsie chuckled. “Oh, please. As if we weren’t having sex in the fifties. You girls talk like I’m a prude!”
Ruby fanned herself. “No, it’s just weird for me to discuss how many times your nephew and I have made love.” Not to mentio. . .
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