Cassie Anderson, bridesmaid extraordinaire, is tired of attending her friend’s weddings either solo, or with her best friend, Thad. Finding a real date is simply too much work. Especially when she sees an old acquaintance from high school, Dan, at her friend Shelley’s wedding. After the spark shared between them, Dan has become the object of her affection. Too bad he has a nasty habit of having a date on his arm at every turn. Stealing another woman’s date is against the rules, but if she could just catch him at an event alone…well, that would be fair game! Unfortunately, timing is everything, and she and Dan seem to have the worst. Always the bridesmaid, walking away with nothing more than a dreadful dress, Cassie is committed to changing her luck and getting her man.
Dan daydreamed about Cassie Anderson through most of his high school classes. She barely knew he was alive – but that didn’t stop him from wanting her for all those years. Unfortunately, her return to his life comes at the worst time possible. As he tries to put his life back together, he keeps an eye on her, hoping to find her single at the right time. A time when it all hurts a bit less. A time when he can offer her all of the love she deserves. After three weddings of happenstance meetings, Dan finds himself to be a little more ready for everything that is Cassie. Putting himself out there, he can only hope she is everything he thinks she might be — his forever girl.
Thad never expected to find anyone who meant more to him than his best friend, Cassie. She was the one woman he loved enough not to sleep with. He was a player, but an honest one. Unfortunately, not everyone felt that balanced out his love ’em and leave ’em ways. He just didn’t see a need to settle down — yet. Then, he met Brianna, who made him think about the future — a future with her — which was a new experience for Thad. Brianna is also a new kind of woman and convincing her that they have a future might just be the challenge of his life.
Brianna works through men like she works through her closet — seasonally. Any other way has always been trouble. When she meets Thad, she is thrilled. Not only does he intrigue and excite her, but he is just like her — noncommittal. He sets her on fire with his smooth talk and honest approach to dating. Even without being physical beyond a kiss, the thought of him makes her entire body hum. Except, Thad has gone and gotten attached to her in a way neither of them expected; attached in a way she simply cannot allow. Unfortunately, he won’t allow their relationship to become physical until she surrenders her heart to him, which is a battle she isn’t sure she can win. The longer it lasts, the less sure she becomes of wanting it to.
Thad went to work on wooing Brianna from another angle — his charm. He stopped by a nursery between her house and his and picked up her favorite flowers, hydrangeas. She told him once that any man could bring roses, all men brought roses, but a smart man brought a woman a hydrangea. Brianna said hydrangeas meant devotion and a woman couldn’t want anything more from a man. When she said that, Thad had put it in his memory bank for a desperate time and now was then.
He didn’t call ahead, knowing she would tell him not to come over. He was going to take his chances. She parked in the garage, but there was another car in the driveway, which gave him some pause, but not enough to turn around and leave. Instead, he parked, got out of the car, and knocked on the door with zeal, planting his most beguiling smile on his face before the door even opened. When it did, the smile went away with a quickness.
“Hi, can I help you?” A very well dressed, tall, and somewhat good-looking guy said once he swung open the door. Thad gulped, forced himself to get composed and put a less flirtatious smile on his face to answer.
“Hey, man. Yeah, um, can you get Brianna for me?”
“Who should I say is asking for her,” he questioned.
“Thad. Her boyfriend.”
“Oh, right, come on in then.”
The guy waved Thad in, as if he belonged here.
“And who are you?” Thad asked, trying to remain cool and collected.
“Stuart.” Thad wasn’t sure whether it was good or bad that he didn’t elaborate. “She is upstairs changing her shoes. We were on our way…out.”
“Well, I won’t keep her too long.” Thad didn’t wait for a response; he just bounded up the stairs to get his woman back.
He walked into her room and she was bent over, her butt in the air, in her closet. Her very full closet.
“How are we ever going to share a closet?” Thad asked.
Brianna screamed and jumped into the air. “Holy shit, Thad! You scared me. What are you doing here?” She turned around with a less than thrilled look on her face.
Thad moved closer. “I didn’t mean to scare you, babe. I only came to bring you these.” He held out the hydrangeas, hoping they might melt a little bit of the frost he felt coming from her body. It didn’t work.
“Hydrangeas, huh? Now, why would you bring me these?”
“Because they are beautiful, they smell nice, and I wanted to send a message.”
Brianna grabbed the flowers and smelled them, hiding any emotion she may be feeling behind a stone face. He thought he caught her lips curving up just a little, but not for long.
“What message is that exactly?” she asked.
Her tone still had a bite to it, but he was hopeful. He knew she loved him, he just had to get her out of their way — get her to stop being afraid.
“I want you to know that I am going to prove my devotion to you. My promise is that by the time these flowers are finished being pretty; I will have proven to you that you are my whole heart, my future, and the only woman I have ever been in love with.”
“Please don’t.” He stepped even closer, touching her cheek with his right palm. “Let me finish before you talk yourself out of really listening to me, okay?”
She nodded, an acquiesce that gave him hope.
“I understand I am partly to blame, I accept that responsibility and I will make the needed corrections to my way of thinking. I also think we need to be honest that some of this is driven by fear. Loving you is the easiest thing I have ever done. It’s effortless, but it also scares the shit out of me. It must scare you, too, but here’s the thing: there is nothing we can do about it. We are in love and if we walk away, it will hurt like hell. I can promise you that. If we stay, if we let it happen, I will do everything in my power never to hurt you again, and when life hurts, I will do everything I can to take away that pain. I will protect you, cherish you, and comfort you for all my life and beyond, if I do it well enough. So,tonight, take these flowers. Think about what I have said and be brave — I know you can be — and fall with me. I want to spend my life with you, but let’s start with a date on Saturday.”
“You know I think Valentine’s Day is a joke, Thad.”
“I didn’t ask you to be my Valentine, I just asked you to be my date.”
“I don’t know…I—”
“Don’t answer me now, just think about it. And if your answer is yes, meet me at the Art Gallery on Main Street at seven.”
“That’s a little risky, don’t you think? What if you end up sitting there, alone, without a date?” Now, she was smiling, but it was evil and scary — somewhat hot, as well.
“I have faith. I have devotion.” He gestured toward the flowers.
“Good luck with that,” she said. “Now, I really need to change my shoes and get going.”
“Have I ever told you how sexy you are when you are trying to be mean?”
“Goodnight, Thad,” she sighed, turning back toward the closet, dismissing him.
This time, he saw a full smile on her face as she turned.
“Have a nice evening, my sweet Brianna. I look forward to our date. Try to let Stuart down easy. He looks sensitive.”
Thad turned and walked out of the room, bouncing down the steps, light as a feather in love. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, Stuart was sitting on the couch, flipping through a ladies magazine.
“It’s amazing the things those articles tell women about men, isn’t it?” Thad commented.
“Yeah, who knew we were this selfish and self-centered?” Stuart chuckled.
“I think you mean, who wanted them to know.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right about that.” Stuart put the magazine down on the table.
“Well, you have a great night. Sorry about walking in and causing a delay. I am certain she will be down any minute.”
“Oh, yeah, man. No problem.”
Thad stuck his hand out to shake and Stuart did the same. “Thanks again, see ya around.”
Stuart nodded and when the shake was sufficiently shook, Thad let go of his hand, turned around, and whistled his way out of the house. He caught a glimpse of Brianna at the top of her stairs on his way out of the door; she was obviously hiding and eaves dropping. He hoped she appreciated his kindness to her date. It was the last time he would be so kind to another man trying to get his woman. She was that, even if she was fighting it at the moment. Now, he had plans to finalize.