Home > The Wedding Date Disaster

The Wedding Date Disaster
Author: Avery Flynn

 Chapter One

Hadley Donavan was going to murder her best friend’s evil twin brother.

Okay, not really murder, but there wasn’t a jury who would convict her if she did. The man was just that awful. Too full of himself. Too obviously hot. Too rich. Too everything that gave the city’s most eligible billionaire bachelor Will Holt an ego the size of Toledo and a hard-on for purposefully ruining Hadley’s day every time he spotted her.

Well, not today, Satan.

Tonight was too important for his stupid games. For the past two years, she’d worked her tail off at Kittsen & Sons Charitable Advisors just to get a chance to guide a minor client as they positioned their charitable foundation for the next level. Now, all of that overtime at the office, missed brunches with friends, and sleepless nights staring at the ceiling and wondering what she’d missed had come to fruition with tonight’s event. There was no way she was going to let Will mess it up.

Her gaze narrowed on his too-wide shoulders as he walked into the Harbor City Grand Hotel ballroom like he owned the place. Well, he did, but that was completely beside the point. He may have snuck past security—or more likely gotten in with a quick hey-do-you-know-who-I-am—but he was not on the guest list and he was not staying. Period.

The half-a-size-too-small shoes she’d borrowed from her roommate pinched her toes as she hustled around the people on the crowded dance floor, but by the time she made it across, her prey had disappeared.

Standing off to the side of the stage, she ground her teeth as she scanned the crowd for Mr. Obnoxious.

Seriously, how hard could it be to spot the one man at a black-tie fundraiser in jeans and a hoodie like a Silicon billionaire instead of the Harbor City trust-fund baby he was? Pretty damn hard, considering everywhere she looked, it was tuxes and ball gowns. She sighed. He was here somewhere, and she would find him and kick him out on his billionaire ass, mark her words.

Keeping her eyes peeled for the evil twin, E.T. for short, Hadley checked in on the support staff who really made tonight work. The waiters, bartenders, cooks, security, registration attendants, and more were the engine that made any fundraiser go. As a charitable-giving consultant, she pulled all the pieces together for a fundraising event, but at the actual event it was a great support staff who made it all come together. Sadly, it wasn’t until she’d finished her rounds before she spotted him again, by the coat check this time and looking over the crowd as if he were searching for a gazelle to separate from the pack.

Gotcha.

The safety pins on her size-too-big-but-it-was-on-sale-seventy-five-percent-off-so-she’d-make-it-work dress from ten seasons ago poked her in the ribs (because if it was too big everywhere else, it was definitely ginormous around her basically nonexistent boobs), but she ignored the pain as she fast-walked-without-looking-it across the ballroom because she had a bigger prick to deal with.

Will Holt.

Her bestie—and in a twist of fate that showed just how much of a sense of humor God had, Will’s identical twin brother, Web—was not here.

That meant Will was here for her. Well, not for her, more like to torment her on the biggest night of her career, the one that would make or break her chances of promotion to bigger accounts, and thus really making a difference in the world.

Advancing on him like a guided missile, Hadley glued an almost-friendly smile on her face and girded herself for battle.

“What are you doing here?” she hiss-whispered as soon as they were shoulder to shoulder on the edge of the dance floor.

He snagged a mini bruschetta from a passing waiter. “Enjoying the hors d’oeuvres and charming company, obviously.”

Oh yeah, she believed that about as much as she believed her outrageous Harbor City rent was going to pay for itself. “You weren’t invited.”

“Yet here I am.” He popped the bruschetta into his mouth and picked up two champagne flutes from the tray of another passing waiter, keeping one for himself and handing her the other. “Just like you and last week’s rugby game.”

She accepted the glass, suppressing the shiver of distaste when their fingers brushed—that was the only explanation for the way her heartbeat kicked up at the slight touch—and took a calm and dignified sip of the high-priced bubbly. It wasn’t like she could throw the drink in his face, considering they were both faking being nice in a room full of some of the biggest philanthropists and gossips in Harbor City. A word here or there from any of them could devastate her reputation and ability to—eventually—start her own charitable-giving consulting firm. He knew it. She knew it. They were both playing their parts while seething on the inside.

“I went to the rugby game so I could cheer on Web.” It was the same answer she’d given him a million times already. What was it with this guy that he couldn’t accept that she and his brother were besties?

“When he hasn’t even played for the last few games because his ankle was acting up? How very”—he paused, clinking his glass against hers—“friendly of you.”

She sputtered something that barely even qualified as syllables, heat smacking against her cheeks. It was their standing weekly friend date. She and Web always had brunch after. She liked watching rugby. It was interesting. That’s it. There was no other reason for her to go watch the games, definitely not the fact that Will played on the team, too.

Why does he always make me feel like I’m doing something wrong?

“You,” she said, about a million epithets for “him” running through her head, “are the worst.”

He shrugged his broad shoulders and looked totally unconcerned. “Just because I don’t fall for your country-bumpkin, sweet-as-pie con job like everyone else?” He set his untouched glass of champagne down on the nearest flat surface. “I know exactly what you’re doing with Web, and you won’t get away with it.”

Then, without even bothering to wait for her response—because why would the big jerk?—he strode off, disappearing into the coat closet that was packed full because of an unexpected summer downpour. No one wanted their black-tie finery to get drizzled on, so it was wall-to-wall raincoats and dripping umbrellas.

If he thought disappearing into there was going to stop her, he had another think coming.

Pinched toes protesting, pulse rocketing, and ire stoked to Mt. Vesuvius levels, Hadley marched in there and flung the door shut behind her. He stopped and did a slow-motion turn that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the movies—except Will was anything but hero material. He crossed his arms over his chest, the move only emphasizing his thick biceps even in a hoodie—and raised an eyebrow in question.

The unmitigated cocky gall of this guy. Ugh.

It was beyond past time for this confrontation. After nearly a year of having to deal with his bad attitude, she was more than ready to have it out.

“What. Is. Your. Problem?” She bit each word out as her stride ate up the space between them, until she was mere inches from him, finger jabbing him in his obnoxiously hard chest. She ignored the heat coming off him in waves and jabbed him in the chest again for good measure. “You have got to—”

The rest of that sentence was supposed to be “stop showing up unannounced” but he’d reached down and wrapped his warm, strong hand around hers, presumably to make her stop poking him, and the words froze in her throat as electricity zinged along her skin at the contact.

She tilted her chin upward, her lips parted in shock, and her breath caught—because Will fucking Holt suddenly looked like he wanted to kiss her until they both self-combusted.

And damn her mutinous body, at that moment she knew exactly how he felt.

The world froze for Will, shrinking down to the four walls of the tiny coat closet lit only by the dim light of a single wall sconce and Hadley Donavan. He’d meant to stop her from jabbing him again with her finger, but the second their skin connected, his entire brain short-circuited.

He didn’t like her.

Hell, he couldn’t stand her.

And yet…here he was, holding on by a thread—a worn, raggedy, barely-keeping-it-together thread that was milliseconds from snapping. The last thing in the world he should do is kiss the woman angling to take his brother for every million she could.

His muscles tense, his lungs burning from holding his breath, he stayed immobile. One breath, one blink, one brush of her body against his, and he’d give up his half of the several-billion-dollar Holt family fortune to finish what they’d start with a kiss. Then she let out a shaky sigh and used the tip of her tongue to wet her lips before looking up at him with a lust-hazy gaze as she lifted herself up on her toes, and he was a fucking goner.

In a heartbeat, he went from fighting her every step of the way to meeting her in the middle. His lips crashed down on hers as if he’d been waiting years to kiss her. He hadn’t. This was just a fluke of the moment, a crazy combination of timing and lust and frustration and all the other things building up since they’d met. It meant nothing. And he couldn’t stop.

Her hands were in his hair, cupping the back of his head and pulling him down even as she strained upward, and he deepened the kiss. Sweeping his tongue inside her mouth, tasting her, teasing a little moan from her, and she eliminated any remaining space between them. She let go of his hair and he went to take a step back, but instead of taking the space he offered, she went with him until he was standing with his back against the wall. The damp raincoats surrounded them as they kissed. Was that even the word for what this was? It was more of a breaking of the dam as they gave in to what had always been buzzing under the surface of their bickering and teasing.

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