Crazy for the Best Man
by Ashlee Mallory
Crazy in Love #2
Publication Date: November 2017, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Sweet Romance
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As an entertainment reporter, Anna Blake strives to be the first to get the scoop on the city’s hottest celebrity gossip. But when the competition outs her as the long-lost sister of the bride in what’s been heralded as the wedding of the year, Anna’s forced to go undercover as a bridesmaid to find the scoop that just might save her job.
Best man Nick St. Claire hasn’t forgotten that Anna almost cost him his first election ten years ago. When she appears as a less-than-enthusiastic bridesmaid right before he’s set to announce his senate candidacy, he’s more than suspicious. To ensure the wedding—and his campaign announcement—goes off without a hitch, Nick makes a bargain with Anna: be the model maid of honor, and he’ll give her access to an exclusive story that’s sure to save her job.
But in between dance lessons, bridal showers, and football game fun, these longtime enemies might discover there’s something bigger to fight than each other, something a lot like…love.
“One wedding bell. Two wedding bells. Three wedding bells,” Janie hollered, singing the countdown she’d mandated for today’s game.
Nick sized up the competition on team “pink”—or so the bedazzled tee shirts its members wore so identified, thanks to Janie’s skills with a glue gun. Chris, Josh, Trish, and Anna glared fiercely at him and the blue team as Janie counted. Nick just hoped that Jake and Megan would stop with the flirting and focus on what was happening on the field.
He meant to win this thing.
That was the defense’s cue to charge the other team and the lucky person who might be carrying the ball. In this case, it was Chris, which meant an all-out fight to tag the professional football player, who thought he couldn’t lose. Nick sprinted after the guy who, although fast, had been too cocky and miscalculated how close Nick was to overtaking him.
Or so Nick thought until the moment Chris tossed the ball directly to Anna, who was just outside the end zone. In two seconds, she crossed the line, making the touchdown.
Winded, Nick paused to catch his breath, unable to miss Chris charging Anna and picking her up in a roar of excitement. To Nick’s surprise, instead of ordering the hulk to put her down, she laughed out loud, her head falling back as if she was actually enjoying the moment. For reasons Nick couldn’t identify, the action pissed him off.
He gritted his teeth as Chris slid Anna down his side and back to the ground, the blonde smiling and pushing at his shoulder flirtatiously. When did she learn to turn up the charm like that? It was almost like…like she was enjoying the attention.
Ignoring the couple, he joined his team’s huddle, where, with only five minutes left, a winning strategy was the priority. “All right. Remember, get in T formation and do whatever you have to to stop Chris from getting through. Jake? Megan? Be ready.”
They lined up again, Dax ready to count down and put the ball into play. It was hard to miss the shine of excitement that flashed across Anna’s face as she stared directly at him.
Nick immediately had his defenses up. But the ball was in play in the next second and he didn’t have time to think about it as Dax threw it to Jake, their decoy, and Nick raced to get into position. As planned, Jake handed the ball off to Megan and, just when the heat was on her, she stopped, took aim, and threw it back in Nick’s direction.
Taking a few steps back, Nick moved toward the ball, which was still in the air, reaching his hands out to snatch it and—
A smaller, lithe figure jumped up in front of him, snagging the catch and cradling the ball in her arms as she continued her arch backwards until she slammed full force against him, knocking the air—and his center of gravity—out of him. Nick landed on his back, a throbbing pain in his jaw becoming more pronounced from where her head had slammed on their landing.
Wait. Their landing…?
Yep. Anna Blake was now splayed across him, her arm tangled under him and her soft breasts pressed directly against his right shoulder, her other arm clinging to the ball.
Her head bobbed up, and her eyes widened in surprise.
Grapefruit. That was what she smelled like. Vanilla and grapefruit. Fresh and sharp but also sweet and…succulent. Kind of like her.
He blinked. What the hell was wrong with him? That had to be the stupidest thing that had ever crossed his mind. He must have hit his head harder on impact than he thought.
Nick gazed up, aware that the group had gathered around them. Anna must have become aware of them, too, as she rolled off him and onto the ground.
“You two okay?” Janie asked.
“I’m fine. Just trying to salvage my pride,” Anna said, still lying on the ground.
“Nick?” Dax asked.
Nick sat up, rubbing his jaw. “Me, too. Just had the wind knocked out of me is all.”
Chris reached his hand out to Anna and pulled her up in one motion. “That a girl! Looks like you need to take a page from this beautiful woman’s play list, St. Claire. She just successfully intercepted the ball.”
Now that any concerns of real injury were dismissed, a cheer went up among Janie’s team. It was hard to miss the smile of satisfaction on Anna’s face as she glanced back at him.
He nodded his head in acknowledgment, willing to give credit where it was due.
She’d outmaneuvered him. He could own that.
But he’d be damn sure not to let it happen again.