Exclusive Excerpt: Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery
Today we have the pleasure of bringing you an Exclusive Excerpt from Susan Mallery's Daughters of the Bride. We hope you enjoy this peek between the covers.
With Joy, Love and a Little Trepidation, Courtney, Sienna and Rachel Invite You to the Most Emotional Wedding of the Year… Their Mother's
~ The Misfit ~
As the awkward one, Courtney Watson may not be as together as her sisters, but she excels at one thing—keeping secrets, including her white-hot affair with a sexy music producer. Planning Mom's wedding exposes her startling hidden life, changing her family's view of her—and how she views herself—forever.
~ The Free Spirit ~
When Sienna's boyfriend proposes—in front of her mom and sisters, for crying out loud—he takes her by surprise. She already has two broken engagements under her belt. Should she say "I do" even if she's not sure she does?
~ The Cynic ~
Rachel thought love would last forever…right up until her divorce. As Mom's wedding day draws near and her ex begs for a second chance, she's forced to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about why her marriage failed, and decide if she'll let pride stand in the way of her own happily-ever-after.
Sienna handed over a wrench to the man stretched out under her kitchen sink. “You could just call a plumber.”
“I know how to replace a garbage disposal.”
“So you say. But if it explodes, it will take me with it.”
“That would be a loss for all of us.”
Jimmy, her landlord, friend since grade school, and ex-fiancé, turned so he could see her. “I mean that. The loss part.”
“You’d better. I don’t want to be sliced into little pieces by an exploding garbage disposal.”
“No one does.”
She sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor of her rented duplex. The small, two-bedroom place suited her. It was clean, pretty and had a yard. Jimmy was the best kind of landlord—he mowed the lawn, did repairs quickly and had the carpets cleaned at least twice a year. In return, she paid her rent on time and did her best to be a good tenant.
Theirs was a relationship that worked.
“How’s business?” she asked.
“Good. I have a couple new listings. Three houses closing this month.”
“Who would have thought?”
Jimmy chuckled. “That I would turn out respectable? Stranger things have happened.”
“I’m not so sure.”
Back in high school, Jimmy had been more interested in surfing than studies. He’d drifted through school. Still, he’d been funny and kind, with a sexy attitude that had captured her schoolgirl heart. They’d dated all through senior year. When she’d left to go to UC Santa Barbara, he’d followed. While she’d attended classes, he’d surfed and worked odd jobs. Sometime during her freshman year, they’d gotten engaged. That had lasted nearly a year. Their breakup hadn’t been dramatic, just the realization that they were too young and they wanted different things. He’d gone home and she’d stayed in college. But they’d remained friends. She liked knowing that Jimmy was in her life.
She glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearly five-thirty. She still had time.
“Hot date?” Jimmy asked.
“Ouch. Does he know about your lack of enthusiasm?”
“Not really. It’s that David guy, right?”
“I take it he’s not the one.”
“No. He’s very nice and we have fun.”
She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know. We have a lot in common. He’s smart, well-educated. We vote the same.”
Jimmy snorted. “You vote the same? Seriously? That’s your criteria now?”
“Of course not. It’s just…”
Jimmy slid out from under the sink. “Stand back. I’m about to test this thing.” He pointed to the far side of the kitchen. “Go stand there. I’ll put my body between you and the explosion.”
“Talk about a gentleman,” she teased. “There are so few of you left these days.”
“Most of us have died in garbage disposal accidents.”
She scrambled to her feet and walked to the other end of the kitchen. Jimmy turned on the water and flipped the switch. The steady hum of the garbage disposal filled the room.
“Impressive,” she told him when he turned it off. “Very impressive.”
“I’ve got game, I’ll admit it.” He washed his hands, then dried them with a towel. “So why do you see him? It’s not like you need a boyfriend.”
Ugh. They were back to David. She leaned against the counter. “I don’t know. I like him, I guess.”
He raised his dark eyebrows. “You guess?”
“He’s very solid and stable. That’s nice.”
“Unlike your surfing ex-fiancé?”
“You’re plenty stable now.”
“I’m practically staid.”
She took in the dark, shaggy hair, the three days’ worth of beard, the earrings and the tattoos on his arm. “Jimmy, people will call you many things, but staid isn’t one of them.”
“You say the sweetest things. So what’s up with David? Why don’t you dump him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should.” She frowned. “It’s so strange. I love my job. Seriously—it’s the best. And I like living in Los Lobos. I have a really good life.”
“But there’s something I can’t put my finger on.” A restlessness, she thought. The sense of missing something important.
“Are you upset about your mom?” he asked. “About her getting married?”
“God no. She’s been a widow twenty-four years. If anyone deserves to move on, it’s her. Neil’s a great guy. We all like him.”
“Just checking. Weddings do funny things to people.”
“I promise, there will be no drama with my mother’s wedding. She’s a mature, responsible woman marrying a great guy.”
“I got an invitation to the engagement party.”
The thought of Jimmy being there made her smile. “Good. Are you going?”
“I thought it would be fun. You and David will be there, right?”
“We will.” She found herself wanting to ask if he was bringing a date but then realized she didn’t want to know. Which wasn’t fair. Of course she wanted Jimmy to be happy. He was a great guy.
“Why aren’t you engaged or married?” she asked.
He pressed a hand to his chest. “You spoiled me for other women.”
That made her laugh. “Right. You were so broken after our engagement that you took up with the one person I dislike more than anyone.”
“You are referring to the fair Erika?”
“You know I am.”
“But she’s lovely.”
“She’s mean and if I recall correctly, she dumped you.”
Jimmy’s expression of amusement never wavered. “That she did. I suspect she was only trying to prove she could get me, not that she could keep me.”
“If I had an ego, I would say she went after you because I stole you from her in the first place.”
“You do have an ego and it’s well deserved. And you did steal me.” He glanced at the clock. “You have a date and I have to clean up my mess here.”
“What?” She followed his gaze. “You’re right. Thanks for reminding me.”
She walked down the tiny hall to the master bedroom. It wasn’t big, but her queen-size bed fit fine, along with the dresser she’d had since she was twelve when her mom bought all three girls new furniture. The piece wasn’t anything she would have chosen now—it was too ornate, with carving on the corners and drawer pulls in the shape of birds. But somehow it connected her to her past.
She walked into the en-suite bathroom and used a headband to hold back her short hair. After washing her face, she applied moisturizer and sunscreen, then put on makeup.
David was taking her out for Mexican food, which meant casual rather than fancy. She slipped on a white tank top and short denim skirt, then chose black suede peep-toe wedges with a little fringe at the ankle. Drop earrings and several bangles completed the outfit. She fluffed her short hair back into the spiky style she wore, then grabbed a cropped black faux leather jacket for later—when it got cool—before returning to her kitchen.
Jimmy had mopped up from his work and put everything back under the sink. He looked up from loading his toolbox and whistled. “You clean up good. I prefer you messy, but clean works.”
She laughed. “Thank you. You’re very kind.”
“Nope. Just observant. David doesn’t stand a chance. But then none of us ever did.”
Sweet words. Not true, but sweet.
Her second engagement had been to a guy named Hugh. They’d met her senior year of college. He’d been from a prominent banking family in Chicago and had been in Santa Barbara for his post-graduate school first job. Apparently, he was required to work his way up in another bank before joining the family empire.
Hugh had been charming, successful and easy to be with. They’d fallen in love almost immediately. She’d met his family over winter break at a ski resort in Vail, then had brought him home over spring break. He’d proposed at sunset on the beach.
After graduation she’d taken a job at a nonprofit in Santa Barbara and had started organizing their wedding. The plan had been to stay there for three or four years before moving to Chicago when he entered the family business.
Everything had changed when his father had had a heart attack and Hugh had gone back to take care of the company. She’d quit her job and joined him a few weeks later.
What she told everyone was that once she got to Chicago, she’d realized they weren’t as in love as she’d thought. That she didn’t like the city or being so close to his family. But the truth was different.
The truth was that his family hadn’t liked her. Apparently, they never had, especially his mother. She hadn’t fit in with their friends or their lifestyle. She wasn’t classy enough. All of which Hugh had explained within a week of her arrival. He hadn’t ended things, exactly. Instead, he’d asked for more time. And for her to change.
“You’re beautiful,” he’d told her, his voice and expression equally sincere. “That helps. But you simply don’t have the right background. With some coaching and time, you could really be the right package. I can’t make any promises, Sienna, but I want us to try and make this work.”
Not exactly the words a fiancée longs to hear. Assuming she was still his fiancée. Which he’d clarified with a slight shrug and, “Oh, and Mom thinks you should return the ring until we’re sure.”
She’d handed him the two-carat diamond ring he’d placed on her finger only three months before and had walked out. When she’d flown back to Los Lobos, she’d told everyone that Chicago, and Hugh, weren’t for her. She’d never once admitted the truth. That she hadn’t been good enough. At least not on the inside. While her outsides had passed muster, the rest of her had been lacking.
She shook her head to chase away the memories. Right then, the doorbell rang.
“Your handsome prince,” Jimmy said with a grin.
“Be nice,” she told him. “I mean it.”
“Will you spank me if I’m not?”
She opened the door. “Hi,” she said brightly.
David stepped inside, then bent down to kiss her. In the nanosecond before his mouth touched hers, she heard a loud, “Hey, David. How’s it hanging?”
David straightened. “Jimmy. What are you doing here?”
Jimmy held up his toolbox. “Changing out the garbage disposal. I’m handy that way. You two run along. I’ll lock up.”
She shook her head. “You’re done. Get out of here.”
Jimmy walked to the door and squeezed past her and David. “You’re welcome.”
David carefully closed the door behind him. “A new garbage disposal?”
“Yes. Want to check it out?” She drew in a breath. “Or are you asking if there was something else going on? David, I’ve known Jimmy my whole life. We’re friends and he’s my landlord. I have a lot of flaws, but being unfaithful isn’t one of them. If you can’t trust me, this isn’t going to work between us.”
For a second she found herself wishing he would push back. Would make a fuss. Because then… Well, she wasn’t sure what. She would break up with him? Did she want that? She honestly wasn’t sure.
He put his hands on her waist and drew her close. “You’re right. I’m sorry. There’s something about Jimmy that gets to me, but that’s my problem, not yours. Of course I trust you. Sometimes I can’t believe my luck, but I trust you.”
He kissed her. A soft, sweet kiss that should have stirred her heart, but didn’t. What was wrong with her?
“Ready for dinner?” she asked, drawing back just enough that he couldn’t kiss her again.
“I am.” He took her hand in his and smiled at her. “Come on. There’s a margarita with your name on it just a few short blocks away.”
“I can’t wait.”
A margarita sounded good. And an evening with David, well, that would be fun, too. He was a great guy. She needed to remember that. David would never tell her she wasn’t good enough. He thought she was a prize. Compared to the alternative, being a prize sounded really good to her.
Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women's lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan's books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.
Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they're an integral component to a happy life. Visit her online at www.SusanMallery.com.