Bad Case of Loving You

By: Kait Nolan

A Rescue My Heart Prequel

“I hate weddings.”

Paisley Parish glanced over as a bridesmaid flopped down at the other end of the settee in a cloud of celadon skirts. The blonde slipped off painful-looking heels and began to massage her arches.

Paisley offered her a moue of sympathy. “I might hate the shoes, but I love weddings themselves. Is there anything more romantic and hopeful than two people vowing to love, honor, and cherish each other forever?” With a sigh, she glanced back at the dance floor, where Ivy and Harrison circled in their own little world.

Her companion grimaced. “I’m kind of soured on the idea after my divorce. My ex seemed to think those vows were more like suggestions than actual promises.”

Paisley lifted her glass. “Then he was a douchecanoe, and you are well rid of him.”

“He was indeed. But he effectively proved that men are more trouble than they’re worth.”

“Oh, I don’t know. After my second divorce, I figured out that men are glorious, as long as you don’t keep them past their expiration date.” She sipped her champagne and winked. “The trick is knowing when that is.”

But even as she said it, it didn’t feel as true as it used to. She was between boyfriends at the moment. In truth, it had been more than a minute since she’d sought one out. Ivy and Harrison were the second perfect pairing to challenge that particular belief.

Two months earlier, Paisley had helped her best friend, Emerson, orchestrate the perfect grand gesture for the love of her life, the world’s most perfect unicorn of a guy. Now that they were married and expecting their first child, Paisley was feeling a bit of a pinch in the region of her heart that might have been yearning. If she squinted at it from the side. Emerson and Caleb were the poster couple for It’s never too late!

It wasn’t like she hadn’t been looking for forever. She loved love. Hell, after her first one had walked away to pursue duty and honor for Uncle Sam, she’d made a career writing about it. Paisley considered it a point of pride that she hadn’t let that broken heart dim her natural optimism. But real men weren’t like the larger-than-life heroes of her novels, and she refused to settle for anything less. If that meant she had to kiss a lot of frogs…well, so be it.

She looked back at dance floor, smiling at the sight of Ivy’s head nestled against Harrison’s broad shoulder. The usually stern lines of the former Army Ranger’s face were relaxed in an expression so tender, it made Paisley’s throat ache. They gave her hope that somewhere out there was a guy who’d meet her exacting standards. If there was a tiny, tired voice whispering that she’d found and lost him years ago, she ignored it. She’d had more than half a lifetime of practice.

The blonde followed her gaze, her expression softening. “I have to admit, he and Ivy are pretty damned perfect for each other.”

“Down to the ground. I couldn’t have written them better myself.”

Brown eyes brightened with interest. “Are you one of Ivy’s writer friends?”

“Guilty.” She offered her hand. “I’m Paisley Parish.”

“Deanna James. And oh my God, I love your books! They’ve helped make up for the loss of the douchecanoe. If I could pull Max straight out of the pages of She Shed Casanova, I absolutely would.”

Paisley laughed. “He was pretty delightful in that toolbelt.”

Deanna fanned herself. “And that whole scene with The Door.” She said it with the capital letters that particular interlude deserved. “I’m pretty sure there’s nothing hotter than a guy in a toolbelt who knows how to use everything on it.”

“Oh, girl, if that’s your catnip, then you need to get yourself over to YouTube post haste to check out DIWyatt.”

“DI what?”

“DIWyatt. He’s this contractor who has his own YouTube channel where he talks about how to do different home improvement projects yourself. Can’t say that I’ve ever paid that much attention to what he’s teaching, but he is delicious in a toolbelt. Plenty of fantasy fodder.”

“I will definitely check that out.”