Zephyr Donovan knew the sacred rule. Never date a student. With the demons in his past, all he wanted was a fresh start. He wasn’t looking for trouble. But trouble tasted so damn good.
There are reasons for the rules…
Malia Adams had a complicated life. Well, actually it was pretty simple. Survive. Stay off the streets by any means necessary. And that was a nightly struggle. She didn’t have time to get involved with anyone.
Especially not the one person she can’t have.
All he needs to do is stay away. All she needs to do is forget him. Too bad that was all easier said than done.
USA Today Bestselling Author, NANA MALONE’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters. Waiting for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana, meantime works out her drama, passion, and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is.The books in her series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists as well as the iTunes Breakout Books list and most notably the USA Today Bestseller list.
Until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find Nana working hard on additional books for her series as well as other fun, sassy romances for characters that won’t leave her alone. And if she’s not working or hiding in the closet reading, she’s acting out scenes for her husband, daughter, and puppy in sunny San Diego.
So I’ve done it for the second time in a row. I know. But I just couldn’t help it this year. What’s surprising is what IS NOT on the list. I didn’t read a lot of romantic suspense (at least for the blog) and only 3 books made the list. A lot rom-com’s made the list. I needed to laugh this year and I did…a lot! Some New Adult books made it, too. Some debut authors, new to me authors and personal favorites. Another surprise is that a paranormal didn’t make the list at all.
I don’t want to get preachy this year but I’m not sure what is going to happen. I’ll still be blogging and reviewing. But I probably won’t be reviewing as much as I did. Working as a substitute teacher is a full-time job for me now. I work pretty much every day now and I love it. Baseball season for Thad and Brian is going to start next month and let’s not forget that we are going on a 7-day cruise during our Spring Break. We can.not.wait either. Cozumel, Jamacia, and the Grand Caymans here we come. If you can believe this, it will be our first family vacation EVER. No family, no friends. Just the 3 of us.
I did accomplish some things that most bloggers already knew how to do. I’m old and a bit slow when it comes to being on trend. This blog will be 10 years old in October and I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve done, the authors that have been on and the friendships that I have made just blogging. That said, here goes to what I’ve learned:
Goodreads – I was challenged last year in Monica Murphy’s group to sign up for the Reading Challenge. I signed up to read only 50 books and ended up reading 87 books. This year my goal is 75 books.
Hashtags – Still learning this but I’m getting more retweets because of them. And followers.
Instagram/Pinterest – Still learning but I’m doing some Instagram only posts. It’s been fun and interesting all at the same time.
Learning to say no to me. One of the hardest things a blogger/reviewer can learn. I’m not Wonder Woman and I have a life outside of the publishing world. I intend to keep it that way.
No matter what I say or do, I’ll never be an author’s assistant, work for a publisher, or make a buck writing. Yes, after too many “no’s”, being laughed at and then told no way in hell, I decided to just forget about it.
In reference to #5, this is also why I won’t be blogging as much as I have in the past. I feel like, at times, that my blog is just a joke to some. To me, it’s not. You try to do this for almost 10 years. Sure, I don’t have a posse of reviewers, authors beating down my door, networking at conventions/conferences but I think I do alright.
Its okay to review a book and post to Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and NOT the blog. I’ve been doing that a lot lately and I love it. No pressure to post to the blog because of scheduling.
Here are my top 20 books for 2017 in no particular order.
Ethan’s Daughter by Rachel Brimble. I know, she makes my list every year but this book is bittersweet. It’s the second to last book of her excellent Templeton Cove series. And yes, I have read book #8 and I cried a bit. I can’t believe the series is over but I know that my English Rose won’t leave me hanging when it comes to her books. But I will however still be in the corner trying to process it all. (Contemporary, Harlequin, romance, series, sensual)
Claimed by the Cyborg (Cy-Ops #5) by Cara Bristol. As I said in my review, why are you NOT reading this series? It has alpha men, strong heroines, just enough sexy times and action/adventure. Ms. Bristol doesn’t dumb down the sci-fi to her readers and the plots are relatable. (Romance, series, spicy, action/adventure, Sci-Fi)
OH Henry (OHellNo series #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. I will admit that New Adult is finally growing on me. The books that I have read last year are relatable, funny as hell, sexy and the characters just make sense. I’ve told yall a million times. My teens and 20’s were a blast. Maybe too much of a blast but my life isn’t angsty like most books in this genre. Ms. Pamfiloff just nails it with this series. I can’t wait to see what she has in store with book 3. (Contemporary, New Adult, series, romance, funny, spicy)
Why the Earl is After the Girl (Ways of Love #1) by Tabetha Waite. Debut author. Took a chance. Glad that I did. Loved this book. I have read the second book in the series and waiting impatiently for the 3rd one. You really need to check her out. (Historical, romance, series, debut author, sensual)
Mr. Dirty (a London Billionaire standalone) by Nana Malone. Ms. Malone is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me. She writes funny, sexy as hell, fast-paced books about characters that you really care about. Plus, there is depth to the story and characters. (Contemporary, romance, spicy, series)
His Baby Dilemma (Indian Shores novel) by Catherine Lanigan. This is one author to watch out for. She writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and I just can’t get enough of her writing. Her characters come to life for me and this book, in particular, is her best yet. Yes, its sweet but trust me, you don’t miss the sexy times. (Contemporary, romance, Harlequin, series, sweet)
Nudes (Exposed #1) by Sarah Robinson. Her book Not A Hero made my list last year and she didn’t disappoint me again. Brilliant writing, engaging characters, and a plot that is on topic. (Contemporary, series, romance, spicy)
Girl Crush by Stephie Walls. This book. It was my favorite rom-com of the year. I never laughed so hard at someone trying to bat for the same team because men just suck. This one has stayed with me for a long time. (Contemporary, romance, romantic comedy, spicy)
Force & Enforce (The Force Duet) by Minx Malone and Nana Malone. The only romantic suspense book to make the list this year. I just so love this writing duo. The Shameless duet was superb and my review of Deep is Monday. Even though the books are duets, it centers around a security agency and the guys are just too hot, dirty talking, take no prisoners alphas. Of course, the women are kick ass, too. (Romantic Suspense, series, spicy)
His Fake Alien Fiancee (Out of this World #2) by Patricia Eimer. I challenged myself to read some sci-fi last year and let me tell I’m glad that I read this one. It’s relatable, it happens on earth and our heroine is just flat out funnier than hell. It read more like a rom-com but the sci-fi is there in spades. If you are looking for a hilarious sci-fi romance, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed. I will tell you that I haven’t picked up the other books in the series. I know, I suck. (Sci-Fi, Romance, series, spicy, comedy)
Christmas at Cade Ranch (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1) by Karen Rock. Another Harlequin Heartwarming by one of my all-time favorite authors. Ms. Rock never disappoints and this series is no different. And yes, I’ve read the second book in the series. This series deals with real issues that most people face every day. Plus, it has cowboys. (Harlequin, contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
Ruck Me (a Dublin Rugby romance #2) by Rebecca Norinne. A new author to me and it’s a New Adult. OH.MY.GOSH. Ireland, the accent, Rugby. I was a goner before I even read a page. This one deals with more real-life issues that people at this age experience and she doesn’t gloss over it. It could be considered over angsty but I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t stop reading. I’ve read the first book in the series and it was just as good. Now I need #3. Did I mention Ireland? Pubs? Rugby? (Contemporary, romance, New Adult, series, spicy)
Leather Pants (Happy Pants Cafe #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. *swoon* This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and I’m glad. Ms. Mimi doesn’t disappoint with her contemporaries and this series is perfection. You will definitely fall in love with Mr. Leather Pants. (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
Forever (a Friends Novel #3) by Monica Murphy. #CuddlewithTuttle This series has all the feels of what a Young Adult novel should be. Angsty, a swoon-worthy hero and heroine, the friends that you want to slap and I really felt like I was back in high school. Ms. Murphy just nails it with this book. She must have snuck into a high school and took notes, like Cameron Crowe because a lot of what she wrote, I experience as a substitute teacher at our high school. (Contemporary, romance, series, Young Adult)
The Billionaire in Her Bed by Regina Kyle. An Indulgence title that didn’t disappoint. In fact, I kinda wish it were longer. Ms. Kyle writes about a topic that is so newsworthy, relatable and being able to find the family that you were looking for. Yes, these book is about rich people or the fact that come from money but she writes it in such a way, that money isn’t the issue. This was my first book from Ms. Kyle and won’t be my last. (Contemporary, spicy, romance)
Meadow Shores series books 1-4 by Eva Charles. Why are you NOT reading this series? It’s about grown-ups. Yes, real grown-ups and how they relate to their jobs, their families and ultimately, their love partner. One book sticks out to me and that’s Petite Madeleine. Drew and Cassie’s story is a second chance romance that just hits all the buttons for me. But of course, all the books hit the button but this one…it just stuck. Oh and Ms. Charles is redoing the covers. (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
Reckless Need (Hearts Temptation novel) by Scarlett Scott. A spicy, well written historical that I just couldn’t put down. This one dealt with a submissive man and a woman that just might be what he needs. Yes, they are married, but their secrets almost consume them. I loved the interaction between the other couples, too. (Historical, spicy, series, romance, BDSM elements)
In Walked Trouble (Under Covers @3) by Christina Elle. Run. Don’t walk to get this book. Ms. Elle will surprise you with your dialogue, humor, action, pacing, and characters that you will become invested in that you will laugh and at times cry for them. Perfection in my book. And it’s only her SECOND BOOK. And the grandmas. Too much. (Romantic Suspense, comedy, military, series, spicy)
Blame it on the Bet (a Whiskey Sisters novel) by L.E. Rico. Hennesey, Bailey, Walker, and Jamieson walked into a bar. Oh wait, they own the bar and seriously, those are their names. This book has all the feels for me. It’s character driven, the priest is hilarious, there are cats in costumes and Hennessey and Bryan are just too loveable but stubborn to ignore. I can’t wait to find out about the other sisters. (Contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
Undercover Attraction (the O’Malley’s #5) by Katee Robert. *thud* This series. Mafia and I don’t read mafia romances. But there is something about the O’Malley’s that I just can’t get enough of at this point. This is a must-read for anyone that loves action-packed, hard loving, dirty talking men and the women that somewhat tame them. And the covers are totally lickable. Just saying. (Romantic Suspense, spicy as hell, series)
So there you have it. I read more than 20 books but those are my top picks for last year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings me to read.
If you are looking for me on Amazon, my reviewer name is Brian’s Mom. I know, not original but it works. On Goodreads, it is Harlie Williams.
BCL is a Contemporary New Adult Romance that tells Kassandra’s story.
Kassie is a single, independent woman that finds herself questioning her lifestyle after all of her best friend get married and settle down.
Even if she’s the only unmarried girl in the pack she isn’t single anymore. Now that all her friends are married and all the wedding planning is over, she has a chance to concentrate in her relationship with Josh. Or so she thought, since her friends keep visiting her with a major life changing crisis.
Helping her friends plan their wedding was no problem─dealing with unexpected personal situations is a whole other thing.
You can read how she helps Laura and Marisol to plan their weddings.
Kassandra’s last single friend got married in the summer. But even if she’s the only unmarried girl in the pack she isn’t single anymore. Now that all her friends are married and all the wedding planning is over, she has a chance to concentrate in her relationship with Josh. Or so she thought until Marisol visits her with a major life.changing crisis. Helping her friends plan their wedding was no problem─dealing with an unexpected pregnancy is a whole other thing.
Kassandra is unable to decide the best way to help Marisol, specially when her relationship with Josh starts reaching an amount of commitment that she wasn’t expecting. Both girls will have to remember the past in order to move their relationships forward.
Kassandra is a single, independent woman who prides herself on her own success. Now her life seems complete when Josh─a thoughtful, handsome, and the worst kind of charmer─leaves his womanizing days behind and can’t seem to stay away from her. Kassandra keeps wondering if their single days are really over and they’re ready for a monogamous and committed relationship.
Marisol is a married woman with the perfect life─A wonderful husband and a beautiful son. Life gets even better when her little boy is finally ready for school and Sol can go back to work.
Destiny is full of surprises for both girls, and sometimes the plans that you have aren’t the ones in the path before you.
Join Kassandra and Marisol as they remember how they planned Sol’s wedding while they solve together the difficulties in the present.
About the Author
K.T. Castle loves reading, writing, and painting. She’s on a quest to find the words, forms, and colors to materialize the worlds and people of her imagination. She loves reading Paranormal, New Adult, and Contemporary Romance. She never saw herself as an incurable romantic, but lately, that’s what she finds herself musing about. Love is found everywhere, regardless of whether it comes from a nice person or an ass—mundane or even vampire.
When she’s not busy with work, in front of a computer placing many thoughts in order, she makes her best to be creative or relax with a good TV series and snacks. Some of her favorite characters are Jon Snow, Daenerys, Barney Stinson, Saint, Rome Archer, Rush, Gretchen McKay, and Cinderella.
Kassandra is a single, independent woman who prides herself on her own success. But when she’s asked by her best friend Laura to be the Maid of Honor in her wedding, Kassandra finds herself questioning her lifestyle. Helping Laura plan the wedding is no problem—she’s done it before for all their other friends. The first time was a blast, the second super fun, but doing it without receiving any help from the rest of the girls gets old really fast.
The whole event kicks off with the worst kind of surprise when Kassandra discovers who her friend’s fiancé really is, and she’s torn between supporting Laura’s future happiness and hiding the deeply buried, intimate past she shares with the groom-to-be. Struggling to be the bigger person and do all the hard work on her own, Kassandra finds surprising comfort in Josh, the best man in the wedding and someone she’s been avoiding for years. He’s charming, thoughtful, handsome, and the worst kind of womanizer, but she just can’t seem to stay away. All the while, Kassandra can’t help wondering if the wedding could be any more cliché—until she finds unexpected ways to change things up a bit.
My apartment had an open plan. It wasn’t big—just big enough. I had it all decorated in light neutral colors, white dominating most of the space. Marisol had taken the pink piglet with her and placed it on the marble counter while we had some tea and cookies.
She was calmer after she revealed her true intentions to me, but we didn’t discuss her options much more; we both knew that this was a decision she had to make on her own.
An hour later, Josh and Micah returned. We knew they’d already had dinner, since anyone could see red thick tomato sauce smudged all over the toddler’s face. The boys had hunted some chicken soup and green salad for us girls, relieving me of my cooking duties.
After having her soup, Marisol said her farewells. Michael texted her that he was on his way home, and she wanted to be there to greet him. She took some leftover pizza and salad for Michael’s dinner. Josh helped her out with Micah, who’d fallen asleep watching cartoons in my room.
It was a surprise to see Josh so helpful with the rowdy toddler. I didn’t know he liked children, and it surprised me even more that he was actually good with them. I finished cleaning the kitchen, and Josh came back to hug me from behind. “How about I rub your shoulders before I go home?”
“That sounds wonderful,” I said as he stepped back so I could continue with my last task.
“You’re really tense, babe,” he informed me. “What had Sol so upset?” He moved away and leaned against the kitchen counter.
He crossed his arms before commenting, “I thought that would be something to be happy about. I know I’d love to knock you up.” My boyfriend said naturally, as if we’d had a conversation of the sort recently—or at all.
We’d only dated for six months, so the baby subject had never been discussed before. To be honest, I’d never in my life even thought about babies. I was about to ask Josh what exactly he meant by his comment when he distracted me with another question.
“Michael isn’t happy about her being pregnant, or what?”
“Michael doesn’t know yet,” I explained, doing my best not to show the panic I felt at his mention of us having babies. I wasn’t ready for that at all, but this was really about Sol and Michael, not us. “And, please, don’t tell him. I probably shouldn’t have told you anything.”
“Sure, that’s for them to talk about.” At least we agreed on that, but I was still stock on his revelation.
“Josh,” I asked as calmly as I could manage, trying to control the arrhythmia suddenly overtaking my body, “what exactly did you mean by the knocking-me-up comment?” I stopped wiping the microwave so I could look at him and size up his reaction.
“Nothing much,” he nonchalantly answered, his gray eyes clear with honesty. “Just a silly comment.” Then he crossed his arms over the broad chest I loved so much and gazed back at me as if he was gauging my own reaction in return.
I didn’t know if he’d meant anything by those words or if he was just trying to shake off the whole topic—maybe because of the doubtful vibes I was sending his way. I turned and walked to the sink, rinsing the cloth I used to clean the kitchen and placing it next to the wide metallic bowl. “You’d like to have a baby.” It was meant to be a question, but I expressed it as a statement.
“Sure. Why not?” Josh answered with complete honesty. “I’d like to have a baby in the future.”
I exhaled deeply. That made me feel a little better, even if he hadn’t said he wanted to have a baby with me in that future. I walked to the living room, made myself comfortable on the light couch, and took a few seconds to think clearly.
It was rational for anyone to think about having children in the future, wasn’t it?
“I didn’t even know you liked children,” I said. He joined me on the sofa and turned me around so he could massage my shoulders as he’d promised.
“I didn’t know it myself, so of course you didn’t know.” Josh cleared his throat while his hands did their magic. “I thought my nephew was the only kid I liked, and he’s older now. Playing videogames with him is the highlight of our relationship. But I’ve been spending some time with babies recently. Nat’s girl is so cute, there are no words to describe her. And Micah—he’s super fun. We had a good time together today.
“My sister got pregnant in her early twenties,” he continued, “so I was still a teenager when Elliot was born. I guess that’s why I didn’t have that much time to enjoy him. He’s twelve now—a real teen nightmare. Of course, being the cool uncle and playing Playstation with him always helps.”
“Oh.” I mean, what else could I say? I knew so little about his family. I already knew he had a sister who was a single mother, but I didn’t know his nephew was a teenager. He rarely talked about them, so I thought he wanted to keep our relationship lighter than ‘meeting-the-family’ status, and I was perfectly fine with it.
He’d mentioned to me that I should meet his sister once or twice, but there’d always been something else to do. Maybe he wasn’t that interested in me meeting his family, but I knew why I didn’t want him to meet mine. Knowing them, they’d make the situation much more formal than it should have been, and I didn’t want Josh to get the impression I was out to tie him down. Our intentions with each other were clear, but the formality and future path of our relationship was a whole other topic. I didn’t know if he was ready for something like that; I knew that at the moment, I definitely wasn’t.
“I still don’t get it, though.” Josh completely changed the subject and therefore my train of thought. “Why is her pregnancy a problem?”
“Marisol hasn’t worked since Micah was born,” I explained. “She’s the best financial manager I’ve ever met. Sol’s great at her job, banks were always throwing money at her to work for them, but most of all, she really enjoyed working with numbers. She was really truly happy. Not that she isn’t right now,” I clarified. “She’s completely in love with Michael and Micah. I don’t think she’d have it any other way. But she was happy to go back to work, to feel fulfilled in her professional life. Now that Micah’s in preschool, she accepted a proposal from a bank she used to work for. Marisol’s super happy getting her chance to work with all those numbers. And she feels that a new baby will change it all. Somehow, she thinks that Michael and her family will pressure her into staying at home with the baby. She’s terrified of that.”
“That’s why she was so upset.” Josh seemed to really understand Marisol’s situation—seemed completely sympathetic. “But there must be other options,” he added. “Besides, a new baby should be a source of joy in any family. I love how children light up a place.”
OMG. I had never expected something like this from a man like Josh. A man I saw with so many different women, I once considered him a womanizer. A man who worked in the fashion world at a modeling agency, scouting models at bars and pubs. A man who kept telling me he was so in love with me. And now he mentioned babies and how wonderful they are.
It was too much for me right then.
“Whether they’re planned or not, having a baby is a big deal. People should be happy about it,” Josh continued, voicing his opinions in a parallel universe I never thought existed.
Yep, too much. I needed to stop this conversation.
“I’m sure,” I said, trying to stop any more ‘how wonderful are babies’ comments. “You know what, Josh? I’m really tired.” I stood and ran from his loving ministrations. “This whole thing with Sol completely drained all my energy and I have an early day tomorrow. Do you mind if I go to bed now?”
“Oh, sure, gorgeous,” he said. “I completely understand.” Josh walked to the door and I followed him closely. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.” The way he said goodbye sometimes made my body physically reluctant to let him go. His kisses completely melted me, and he knew just how to ignite my body so I couldn’t do anything but want him. Tonight, though, I felt like being alone, and I really needed him to go.
“Will you meet me tomorrow at my place?” he asked as his mouth left a trail of kisses down my neck. “Or should I come back here?” His hands had already unbuttoned my shirt, exposing one of my breasts, and his skilled fingers played with my nipples.
“You’re the devil,” I said, pushing him against the door. He dropped his hands and gave one his most deliciously impish smiles. “Stay away from me.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know,” I answered.
“I love you, baby,” he said.
I kissed him lightly and closed the door behind him as he left. It might have been silly, but at that moment, I was really thankful that I was on the pill.
It didn’t take long for all the guests to be seated around the table.
Fortunately, it was a really pleasant evening. The food was wonderful—guacamole, rajas, carnitas, frijoles, and a bunch of other guisados that were completely delicious and complimented perfectly the soft corn tortillas Marisol had made early in the morning.
Most of the conversation seemed to focus on me. I didn’t know if it was because they were really interested about my life in Boston, my Master’s degree, or simply because we wanted to avoid the big pink elephant in the room—Sol and Michael’s first dinner at her parents’.
I didn’t mind being the buffer for that conversation, although I was sure Marisol would have to answer a million questions about her relationship and Michael’s intentions soon enough. You didn’t get to invite your boyfriend to meet your Mexican family if you weren’t expecting to go through that.
“That’s really interesting, Kassandra,” Mr. Fuentes said. “You opening your own business and helping everyone write their processes and plans.” Marisol’s father’s accent wasn’t that noticeable—not like her mother’s. I guess it was because Mr. Fuentes worked out in the city while Sol’s mom stayed at home and spent time with the family. “But I’m more interested to hear about the ‘gringo’ Sol brought to dinner tonight.” He was really direct; he probably got frustrated that all the conversation was about me and not about anyone else.
“Pa, I told you,” Marisol said. “He’s a financial manager, just like me.”
“Let him talk, Sol. It isn’t as if I was speaking to him in Spanish,” Mr. Fuentes said.
“Marisol’s right, Mr. Fuentes,” Michael said. “I work as a financial manager in the same bank as she does, only in a different branch.”
“So you don’t work together?” Mr. Fuentes asked Michael again.
“Not really,” Michael explained. “I was lucky enough to meet her at the Christmas party the company had for everyone.”
“Since Christmas then?” I could see Mr. Fuentes doing the math. It was now the middle of fall, so they’d been dating almost a year before Marisol brought Michael home to meet her parents. I didn’t want to be in Sol’s shoes when everyone left.
“Yes, sir,” Michael said.
“And you haven’t brought him home until today, Solecito?” The head of the family turned to his daughter. ‘Solecito’ was the pet name he used for Marisol, specifically when he was spoiling her not when he was questioning her so seriously.
“No, Pa.” Marisol smiled gently. “I’ve been really busy lately, and so has Michael. I didn’t find the right time to bring him home. I thought….”
“Tina, it’s his first time home, right?” Now he questioned Sol’s mother.
“Si, Manuel. Es la primera vez,” Mama Tina answered Mr. Fuentes question. “¿Qué tanto misterio?”
“I was just wondering why the gringo didn’t show his face before,” Mr. Fuentes explained. “What exactly are his intentions with my little Sol?” His question didn’t seem to be aimed at anyone in particular until he looked at the other side of the table and met Michael’s eyes. “What exactly are your intentions with Marisol?”
“The best, sir,” Michael answered.
I had to give the guy some credit—he wasn’t budging at all. He looked Mr. Fuentes right in the eye and faced him with everything he had. I could see Clay look at him with awe and respect. It wasn’t an easy task to stand up to Mr. Fuentes.
“Define best,” the protective father said.
“I adore her. I intend to care for her in every way, to love and protect her. To treat her as she deserves.” Apparently, Michael’s words weren’t convincing; Mr. Fuentes huffed under his breath. “I also intend to marry her…if she’s willing to take me.”
That about made everyone stop breathing for a second there.
“What?” Marisol said. Apparently they hadn’t had that conversation yet.
“This probably isn’t the best moment, Sol,” Michael said apologetically. “But since your father brought it up, I couldn’t stop myself.” He stood from his seat and walked the small distance to reach Marisol. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while now.” He extended his hand and helped my friend stand up next to her chair. “And we haven’t even talked about it at all. But we’re perfect together. You’re perfect.” He reached for a small velvet box inside the pocket of his trousers. “I’ve been carrying this around for a couple days now. Looking for the best moment to reach for it and offer it to you.” Michael kneeled before her.
Everyone had stopped eating to watch this surprise proposal; some even stood up in order to get a better look at the event.
“Why not here, with your family and friends as witnesses to how much I love you and how I want nothing more than to have you in my life forever? Marisol Fuentes, will you marry me? Would you make me the luckiest man alive?”
Marisol was completely speechless. Her right hand covered her mouth and tears pooled in her eyes.
“¡Contéstale, niña!” Mama Tina shouted, just as excited as the rest of us to hear her daughter’s answer.
My friend was only able to nod yes. Michael took that as answer enough and placed the ring on her delicate hand.
We all clapped and cheered when Michael stood and held Sol in the most tender hug. I knew she was usually shy, but I guessed happiness was all the encouragement she needed to kiss Michael in front of her parents.
“Congratulations!” Natalie said.
“You’re going to get married!” I added in excitement.
“He’s got some balls to propose in front of Mr. Fuentes,” Clay said at some point.
“I thought I was going to be next,” Laura commented.
“I can’t believe my Sol is getting married,” Mama Tina said.
“Pinches gringos. They have to do everything backwards,” Mr. Fuentes scoffed under his breath.
“This has been an entertaining night,” Julian pitched in.
We all took turns in congratulating the newly engaged couple. And I doubted I was the only one to wonder what exactly Marisol’s dad meant by his comment. We were all about to learn how Mexicans liked their weddings.
Mexican Wedding Checklist
☑ Meet the parents
⊠ Ask for her hand in marriage
☑ Propose to the bride
“Kass, what’s going on?” I heard Josh’s drowsy voice from somewhere behind me.
I couldn’t even turn around to give him a decent answer before I started hurling again.
“Shit, Kass.” He was next to me in a second, holding me from behind and making sure to get my hair out of the way.
Pink vomit covered the inside of my white porcelain toilet, and all I could think about was how much this would upset my grandmother.
I’d woken up what felt like ages ago. My stomach was completely upset, and I knew vomiting was inevitable. Unfortunately for me, my babushka was sleeping tranquilly next to me. I didn’t have it in my heart to wake her up—not just to tell her how sick I felt. Not with the noises I knew would be coming from my bathroom. I’d eventually wake her up, only for her to find me turning my stomach inside-out. I decided I had to leave my room and go to the guest restroom on the farthest side of my living room.
During my very long walk there, I accomplished the herculean feat of not throwing up on my wooden floor or creamy carpet. I didn’t even notice Josh sleeping on the couch; he could’ve helped me get there sooner. Then again, my intentions while almost crawling my way across my apartment were to not disturb my grandma’s sleep, which in a way included not disturbing anyone else’s.
“Are you done?” Josh asked as soon as he saw that my heaving stopped for a few minutes.
“I hope so.”
“Stay here,” he said. As if I could move anywhere else. He returned quickly, accompanied by a warm, humid cloth and a glass of fresh water.
I couldn’t express my gratitude enough.
Josh sat on the floor next to me. “Why didn’t you let me know you were this sick?” he asked.
I could understand his confusion. If he was ill, I would expect him to tell me so I could help take care of him. It would have made a lot more sense if I’d used my own bathroom. “I didn’t want bahba to know I was sick,” I confessed. “And I totally forgot that you spent the night.”
He grunted his disapproval and demanded, “Are you ready to go back to bed?”
“Not really.” That only made him grunt again. “I’d rather go with you to the couch, if that’s okay.”
“Totally fine.” While his words were a bit cold and cutting, his touch felt warm and caring. Josh carried me back to the couch with him. I rested in his lap for a little while and relaxed back to sleep.
What felt like seconds later, I felt movement underneath me. I opened my eyes and stirred a bit before I heard Josh’s soft whisper. “I think your grandma woke up. I just want to put my pants back on.”
I mumbled an okay and sat up straight. If my grandmother was coming out of my bedroom any minute, I needed to look as healthy and awake as possible.
A few moments later, Josh had managed to clean up the living room—and possibly the restroom—place some tea in the pot, and get ready for the day. I imagined he and my grandma had to leave sometime soon. I guessed I could fend for myself. I was almost sure the worst was over.
“Good morning,” Babushka said as she came out of my bedroom looking well-rested.
“Good morning,” Josh and I answered almost simultaneously.
“Glad to see you’re doing better, Kassandra.” After all that vomiting, I’d probably lost some weight, too. “It was good to stay with you and help you recover.”
“Would you like some tea, Babushka?” Josh asked the old lady.
She approached the teapot and said, “It’s only chamomile tea, but I guess it’ll do. Do you need me to fix some breakfast before I go?”
“I took the liberty of boiling some eggs for Kassandra as soon as she’s ready for them.” Eggs were probably the last thing I wanted to eat at the moment. “A friend of mine will be here any minute with sour bread from the bakery in case either one of you want some.” Bread sounded more appealing—or saltines. I thought I had some in one of my cabinets.
“Eggs for me. Kassandra, do you want some?” my grandmother asked.
“Tea is fine, thank you.”
“Good. If you get hungry, Josh has managed to prepare a half-decent breakfast,” she said. “I guess that since you’re sick, there isn’t much else that might be good for you.” Grandma fixed her egg with some mayonnaise and paprika. Their interaction was a nice distraction from how horrible I felt. Somehow, I’d managed to convince my grandmother I was doing much better, and she concentrated her attention on my boyfriend. Her gaze constantly followed his movements, probably contemplating the ease with which he moved around my place. Josh’s eyes constantly returned to me, searching my face, his composure oddly rigid. But it wasn’t because he felt uncomfortable under my grandma’s eye; he kept looking at me, as if he wanted to ask some question—that was, when babushka wasn’t talking to him.
“Josh, can I cook something for you?” she asked.
“I’m doing fine with my coffee, Babushka. Thank you.”
It didn’t take her long to finish her light breakfast and comment, “It seems there’s nothing much for me to do. I better call a cab so I can get back to your dzed.”
“I would offer to take you, but I’d rather stay with Kass for the rest of the morning,” Josh said. “But I’m sure my friend Mindy will be happy to take you home. She’s the one bringing us the bread.”
“Oh, nonsense. I wouldn’t want to impose,” the stubborn old lady answered.
“Really, babushka, please. It will make Kass and me feel better,” Josh explained, “Besides, Mindy loves driving and today she’s driving my car. You would be doing her a favor.”
“Well, if it’s a favor for this girl, then I accept.”
Josh stepped into the hall outside my apartment, probably to call Mindy and inform her of the new task she’d been given. Not so long ago, I’d been really jealous of this Mindy character. She was one of the most beautiful twiggy blonds I’d ever met, and during Laura’s wedding preparations, I’d noticed that she was always hanging around Josh. He later explained that she was actually his PA. I felt a little embarrassed after learning about their relationship, although I still kept my eyes open in case she decided to make a move on her boss.
My grandmother approached me. I hadn’t moved from the couch since Josh had helped me there. “He’s a good man,” she said. “Your Dzyedooshka should meet him. Soon.” She patted my leg and kissed my cheek. “Bring Josh home soon.”
“Mindy’s downstairs waiting for you, Babushka,” Josh announced. “Let me walk you to the car.”
We said our farewells and my grandma made me promise that I would call her that night to let her know how I was doing. I would agree to anything in that moment just to get her to leave. I could feel the dizziness and nausea coming back at me. I could do with Josh leaving, too. I was alarmingly embarrassed given he had witnessed me vomit over and over again in the night.
As soon as they left, I rushed to the bathroom inside my bedroom. Kneeling before the porcelain toilet, I heaved and heaved, leaving only water and tea. I wondered then what I could have done to deserve something like that. Where and how could I have gotten this sick?
Josh was soon with me again, hovering over me and making sure I was all right. I insisted he go home, but he wouldn’t listen. He stayed with me all day, taking care of me as if I was a baby. He fed me when I decided I was going to try and eat something. Saltines and sour bread with some butter was the only thing I could keep down. He helped me shower and put me to bed, too. Our day was spent between trips to the restroom, showering, and sleeping. We didn’t talk much. Josh had been extremely sweet by staying and taking care of me. Thankfully, my stomach’s antics had stopped at some point around noon.
Later that night, I remembered I’d promised to call my grandmother, and I shamelessly told her I felt much better. When we were finally in bed, Josh hugged me tenderly from behind. He kissed my bare shoulder and told me as I was falling asleep, “I may have managed to knock you up.”
That comment was enough to keep me awake for most of the night.
Howdy! I really liked getting to know you in The Bridesmaids Checklist. You cracked me up at times but also made me want to shake you.
You can shake me, but not too hard, lol.
I’m happy to be here and so very excited about Marisol’s Wedding first anniversary. More so, because I know Marisol’s is your favorite out of the two books.
I just have a few questions for you. If you don’t mind.
I guess the biggest question for me is why you let Laura treat you like a doormat? As you know, I don’t like her and probably never will. She might be your best friend and all but some of the crap she pulled…I would have slapped her and walked away. You are better than that!
Oh, thanks for cheering for me.
You know, you’re actually one of the first people who has pointed out that Laura can be a better friend to me, and in retrospective I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve never perceived our friendship as one in which one person exploits the other. Regardless of me justifying her actions, I know you won’t like her so I won’t even try. I just want to say that I know she’s demanding, I know she’s high maintenance and I know she can be a total bitch, but she’s also loyal and protective of her friends. She’s one of those girls that either you love, hate, or love to hate.
Josh is a dream. I know, he didn’t seem like it in the beginning but he really grew on me. What is the one thing that drew you to him, other than the sex. LOL!
Josh, God, where to begin? He’s…. he’s everything.
I would’ve never imagined I would fall for someone as deeply and hard as I fell for him. Physically, the first thing that drew me to him where his eyes, that deep steel gaze captured me immediately. His intensity. And then he smiled and completely melted me. When I met him it wasn’t in the best circumstances, he was definitely a player, and as gorgeous as he is and as attracted as I felt for him, I was done with players. Everything changed when I began interacting with him during Laura’s Wedding. He’s so charismatic, he has this dark sense of humor that always finds a way to make me smile. I was also able to see how much he cared for the people around him, always finding a way to please everyone… specially me 😉
While we are on the subject of the men in the book, Ed was a douche to you but yet, you ultimately forgave him. Why?
Edward and I have a complicated relationship. We used to date when we were younger, so having him marrying my best friend was a bucket of ice cold water. There’s a lot in our relationship that I’ll get to explain in Natalie’s Wedding, and you’ll probably get a better understanding of our story.
As to why I forgave him, I guess there’s no better answer than because I had to… not for him, certainly not for Laura, not even for Josh, but because I needed to. Whatever happened between us did a long time ago, I needed to stop clinging to the hurt I felt because of him in order to move forward. He did apologize to me, and for that I’m grateful, but there wasn’t any sense of closure because of it. That’s when I discovered it wasn’t him who would give me the peace of mind I needed. It had always been me.
One last question…are you done being the wedding planner? These girls really need to help you more.
Lol! I like planning, that’s my thing. And you’re right… I need help!! Now that everyone’s married there’s only me left. Josh and I aren’t close to something of the sort, we aren’t ready yet. At least I know I’m not. But I guess that is there’s a next wedding it would have to be ours 🙂 Now, I wonder who would be helping me if I ever decide to marry? Any bets?
Thank you so much Kass! I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the story between you and Ed. As to Laura, I just hate her. But you might not like some of my friends either. Those girls better help you when you and Josh get married. Especially Laura. Just saying. Thanks so much for coming on the blog and explaining your side of the story. Harlie
Get your copies today
Both Books will be on FREE promotion on December 20.