Her Accidental Husband(2)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Too bad he was a certified ass-hat.

“Thanks, Mother. But you should let Camille handle all that. After all, she is the wedding planner. That’s what we’re paying her for.”

“Please. Camille, pretty girl that she is, wouldn’t know a dessert fork from a salad fork if the fate of the free world depended on it. The finer details of this event, I’m afraid, will be left to me. We wouldn’t want to show our governor, state senators, or any of the other guests anything less than the best.”

Yes, there was that. Lord. Payton couldn’t wait for this whole event to be over with. But as the only Vaughn offspring, her mother wouldn’t let her wedding happen without a grand and high-profile ceremony. She was just relieved she’d talked her mother down from an eight hundred-person guest list to a mere four hundred.

Payton glanced over to the row of seats against the window again. Cruz had paused long enough at the keyboard to look up and…there. She met his gaze.

A-ha. He couldn’t continue to pretend he didn’t know she was there. She raised her fingers and waved to him, which only earned her a scowl before he dropped his eyes back to his keyboard.

“You know I won’t be gone that long,” Payton continued. “The ceremony is Saturday evening, with a special post-wedding brunch on Sunday. I’ll be on a flight back Monday morning.” The short weekend was especially a relief now that Brad, her fiancé, had to bail on going with her because of a last-minute business meeting. Somehow, the prospect of spending a long weekend alone in the luxurious Presidential Suite sounded a lot less romantic.

“Just be sure to drink only bottled water and hold the ice in every drink you order—remember what happened to poor Danielle Edwards on her honeymoon. And wear your hat and sunblock every minute you’re there. With only a few more weeks before your big day you wouldn’t want to be all splotchy and freckled in your wedding photos like you were in your senior high school picture.” She sighed. “It’s too bad Brad couldn’t make it. I don’t like the idea of you gallivanting around Mexico alone.”

This time Payton did roll her eyes. “I’ll hardly be gallivanting, Mother. This flight is direct to Mexico, and I’ll take a cab to the hotel. But if you’re so disappointed, you’re free to call Brad and share your dissatisfaction with him.” Payton couldn’t hide the frustration from her voice. She didn’t know why it surprised her when Brad bailed on her; he’d become so good at it as of late. She’d hoped this weekend would be a chance for them to reconnect, to remember why they were going through this elaborate planning in the first place—or her mother’s elaborate planning, anyhow. Not going to happen now.

“Payton Vaughn,” her mother chastised, “you know better than to get angry at poor Bradley. He’s done nothing but show you over the years how much he adores you. If something called him away, then you can be certain he had a very good reason. Honestly, he’s only trying to provide for you and the wonderful life you’ll have together. A few sacrifices here and there will all be worth it. Just remember that gorgeous mountain villa he’s building for you outside Jackson Hole.”

Which was true. Payton had known Brad since his family moved to Salt Lake when she was in junior high. At twelve, she’d had little interest in the flashy seventeen-year-old who thought he was a gift to all woman kind. He’d gone off to college, and she hadn’t given him a second thought until he’d returned two years ago for his parent’s anniversary. Still arrogant and certain of his appeal, Payton had been immune to his charms initially. But his perseverance eventually paid off and three months later she relented and went on a date with him, discovering that underneath that shiny surface was someone who could make her laugh with his insight and wit. Plus, there was the fact that he knew what it was like living with overbearing parents who had your future planned since conception. His proposal a year later made sense.

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