CHAPTER 1 - My Cupid Holidate
She needs a fake holidate to a wedding on Valentine’s Day. He remembers her and isn’t pretending about anything. Can fake love turn into real love?
I just found out my best friend is getting married.
In six days. On an island. On Valentine’s Day!
But that’s not even the craziest part.
My ex is the best man. And he’s bringing his new, younger girlfriend. The one he dumped me for.
I need a hot, hunky date to pretend to be my boyfriend.
Rex has the body of a Greek God, acts like he’s madly in love with me, plus he can’t keep his hands off of me.
It’s the trifecta of love, but then I discover he’s the man I shot down a year ago, wait what?
I can’t be falling for my fake Cupid Holidate, can I?
I may have pushed things with the knife-wielding drunk too far.
Being an EMT was my dream job, but it definitely had its moments.
Forced to take time off, a friend offers up a solution to fill my days, and incredibly, my nights.
Spending a long weekend on an island pretending to be the woman of my dream’s boyfriend? When can I leave?!
But, I don’t find out until I arrive on the private plane. She had no idea it would be me.
Heather is unexpected, hard to keep my hands off of, and it’s a good thing I packed all the things to make this Valentine’s Day the best one ever.
Because what she doesn’t know is I won’t be pretending.
The romance and twinkle of Valentine's Day leads twelve passionate women to take a chance on a man who will make their Valentine wish come true. These blind date holidates are filled with roses and chocolates and are as unique as the valentines hidden in their mailbox. You won’t want to miss out on these heartwarming, instalove stories, perfect for celebrating all the feels this Valentine's Day. Go on a date with your next book boyfriend!
No cheating. No cliffhangers. Always a happily ever after.
“I’m sorry. Can you repeat that? What do you mean you’re getting married? On Valentine’s Day?” I nearly drop my cell as Tamara, my bestie, makes her announcement.
“Heather, isn’t it perfect? And the best part…wait for it… We’re doing it in Aruba!” Her declaration triggers one of the worst memories of my life. My own canceled destination wedding.
No. No, it is definitely not perfect. In fact, she has clearly lost her mind.
Ten months ago, it was supposed to me wearing a white-ish wedding gown on an exotic island with my closest friends and family as I said yes to Mr. Right. But he turned into Mr. Wrong two weeks before the wedding after announcing he was in love with someone else.
And now Tamara is going to marry Stefan? I mean, she just met him less than six weeks ago.
Oh, this isn’t fair.
No, that sounds too spiteful.
I’m happy for them. Truly, honestly happy, but maybe jealous too. It was supposed to be me. I should be married and pregnant by now.
Two dreams crushed by my ex-fiancé.
I half listen to Tam gushing over her plans while my last failed relationship runs on a loop in my brain. All I think is that I, Heather Campbell, am going to die an old maid. All my friends are finding their happily-ever-afters, having babies while my future is looking more and more like that of a grumpy cat lady.
And then this past summer the unbelievable happened. Sam, my older brother, told us he’d fallen in love with Evie Nolan, when as far I knew neither one could stand to be in the same room as the other. Even now, our mom is making lists of baby names, her dream of becoming a grandma one step closer.
It doesn’t help that Evie is on board with that idea, and Sam too, for that matter. They’re planning a late spring wedding, but have dropped hints they’re actively trying to get pregnant. And now this.
How can I tell Tamara, my best friend since middle school, that I can’t be her maid of honor? She always has my back, even bringing me ice cream after every one of my breakups. Plus, the two bottles of wine after my break-up with Ben, the cheater.
Sinking into a hard, straight-back chair, I slowly bang my head against the wall, trying my best not to lose my shit as Tamara keeps talking.
“Didn’t you say your supervisor wants you to use your vacation time? Well, now you have the perfect reason. If you’re worried about the cost, don’t. Stefan is paying for everyone. He says it’s my wedding gift.” Pulling the cell from my ear as Tamara lets out a squeal, I come to terms with the inevitable—there is no way out of this.
Looking back to when I’d met Ben, I’d just turned thirty-four soon after the pandemic started. He’d taken a job at Harmony General as an anesthesiologist where I’m an ER nurse. Handsome and funny, in the beginning he made me feel sexy, telling me he loved my curves. But I realize now it was nothing but a façade.
Connecting pretty quickly, end-of-times drama and all that, we took things slow. He understood my wanting to keep things under wraps. Knowing that my mother couldn’t wait to see my brother and I happily married, I wanted to be sure before adding that pressure.
And then, after I was sure, he cheated on me.
Sighing, I rub my forehead. Well, at least Tamara and Stefan didn’t pick St. Lucia. Because I don’t think I’d be able to handle it if they were getting married where I was supposed to begin the rest of my life.
With someone who said he loved me.
And now I’m going to be her maid of honor instead of the other way round. Yeah, I’m a maid alright. Still half listening to her, I almost miss her mentioning my ex’s name. Sucking in a lungful of air, I see black dots blurring my vision. So not good. Get a grip, Heather.
Blowing out a long breath, I screech. “Hold it. What did you say about Ben?” No, no, no. This is not happening.
“Um, Stefan asked him to be a groomsman?” Tamara’s answer comes out soft and full of apology. Knowing how I’d feel about this, she probably saved this bombshell till the end of our conversation.
“Uh, uh. No way. Tamara, I can’t. There’s no way I’m flying thousands of miles, wearing a bridesmaid dress, standing on a beach at sunrise, and having to see my lying, cheating ex. No effing way.” My voice rises to a near shout. I pace around the thankfully empty break room, silently cursing the relationship gods.
And the absolute worst part? Tamara and Stefan chose Valentine’s Day to get married. The day I’d met Ben two years ago.
A sniff comes over the line and I know I went too far. “But you said you were over him. Can’t you do this for me, Heather? I can’t get married and not have you there. How could I have known they play golf together when I met Stefan? I’ll make sure you two won’t have to be in the same space any longer than absolutely necessary, I promise!”
An empty promise. I know it and so does she. It isn’t like Tam is getting married locally or in a large city where there are lots of flights to choose from should I want to make a quick escape. She’s getting married on a fricking island that probably only has one hotel. Seeing Ben only when “absolutely necessary,” yeah, right.
“Please think about it, k? I know it’s last minute. One of Stefan’s friends has a private plane and oh, please. You just have to be there. Pleeease.”
That last please gets to me. She knows I can’t handle seeing anyone in my life unhappy.
“Hold on,” she said. “What if you have a date? Ben will.” Tamara whispers so low I almost don’t catch it. Almost.
Hammer, mic, then my stomach—drop.
Pushing down the fear of seeing Ben with the woman he chose over me, I wrack my brain trying to come up with someone I know who can be my date and who can take off to a foreign country in less than a week.
Sighing, I know there is no way out of this without hurting her and that is something I would never knowingly do. “I’ll go. Of course, I’ll be there, Tam. Don’t worry about me finding someone to bring. I’ll figure it out.” I end the call, Tamara crying her thanks.
The alarm on my watch goes off. Time to get back to work, so I toss my uneaten lunch into the trash can on my way out the door, before quickly sending a text to my supervisor letting her know I’ll be using some of my vacation time after all.
Now in the changing room, I switch into a clean set of scrubs.
“Hey, why so glum?” Miranda, a fellow nurse and friend, asks.
“I need a date. Like yesterday. Tamara and Stefan are getting married.”
“That’s great! And I’m sure you’ll have a date by the time they get married, no problem.”
Ever the optimist, Miranda’s assurance settles me for the moment. Working the same shifts, we quickly became friends when we discovered that my mom and her brother were co-workers, of a sort. My mom is the executive assistant to the owner of the Idaho Outlaws, a team in the United States Baseball League, and her brother, Maverick, is one of their star pitchers. It really is a small world, or so it seems in Pineville.
“Yeah, it’s a problem. The wedding’s in six days. On Valentine’s Day. In Aruba.” Standing from the bench, I say, “And my ex is a groomsman.”
The look on her face makes me laugh. It helps me shake off the weight of what I’m up against. For now.
“Are you sure there’s no one you know who could help you out and pretend to be your boyfriend?” Snapping her fingers and grinning, she says, “Oh, wait. I’ve got the perfect guy.”
My head spins from how quick her brain works.
“He’s smoking hot. Makes Ben look like a six, maybe a five. Oh, please let me set you up?”
“Ugh, I don’t have much choice. Not if Ben and his girlfriend will be there.”
“Ouch. You definitely need someone on your arm. Okay, so you need a guy who can drop everything and who has a passport. I’m pretty sure he’s got that.” Miranda mumbles the last part of her sentence.
Should I worry? Do I have a choice?
“Right now, I don’t care who he is. But if you could find someone who looks like a Greek god, can carry a conversation, and is willing to pretend he’s madly in love with me you’ll have my undying devotion. And I’ll owe you big time.” And since I was listing off things I want from a non-existent fantasy man, I add, “Also, the ability to give me multiple orgasms wouldn’t hurt either. Gawd, I miss having regular sex.”
Miranda chuckles. “You and me both. It’s been a while since I’ve been with a guy who had that particular talent. Or who even wants to try.”
“I hear that.” Yeah, it would be nice to find a guy who cares more about my pleasure than his. Turning to go into the room where we scrub up before surgery, I hear Miranda calling me back.
“So, Heather, is that a yes?”
“As long as it’s not one of your brothers’ teammates. Not interested.”
“Ditto. Can you imagine if I dated a pro baseball player? Mav would make my life a living hell. No, I wouldn’t do that to you. Who I’m thinking of works for the county. I’m positive, well, almost, he’s still single. And I know he has a passport because I’ve heard him talk about Cancun. Give me a day or two to work it out and if he’s not free—”
“Then I’ll have to bring one of my cousins, if only to flirt with Ben’s girlfriend and make his life miserable. Hey, that might be a better plan—”
Stopping me, Miranda holds up her hand. “Nope, you deserve a hot guy who can’t keep his hands off you, even if it's pretend. And who knows, it may just turn into something real, and you’ll get those multiple orgasms.”
I nod. I don’t want to burst her hope bubble, or mine.
But who knows, maybe one thing out of this mess will go my way.