"I can't believe you're honestly marrying that twit."
"I have to. Marriage the only way to get what I want from her. I asked you
to be my best man because I trust you to keep your mouth shut."
Jamie's Thompsons hands tightened around her bouquet as she recognized
the voices of her fiancé, Jack Drysdale and his best man, Ryan Taft. The underlying sneer
in Jacks tone chilled her to the bone in spite of the oppressive heat in the small
She moved closer to the open window behind the pastors desk. Dressing in
the pastors study had been her idea and shes held her ground even though Jack
had urged her to wear her gown to the church, claiming he didnt want to wait one
minute longer than necessary to marry her.
Ryan groaned. "Im almost sorry I agreed to this charade. I know what
you want, but I still don't think marrying her is the way to get it."
"You're wrong, Ryan. Jamie's property is worth whatever it takes. I'm
building a casino in Hartland come hell or high water, but shes reluctant to sell it
to the corporation."
"How will marrying her change that?"
"Jamie wants to be a mother more than she wants that garage. I plan to use
that as leverage to convince her to sell."
Jamies bouquet dropped to the floor as she covered her mouth to stifle an
"And you think that will work?" Ryan asked.
Jack cleared his throat. "I hope so. My only other option is to let the
Casino Reinvestment Development Authority condemn the land so I can buy it. I know
theyd find in my favor, but I hate to involve them because I'll lose months of
decent construction weather while they consider my request."
Jamie clenched her fists. "Thats not all youd lose, you
creep," she whispered as she moved closer to the open window.
"Lost time isnt the only reason I hate to drag the CRDA into this.
The whole damn town thinks of the world of Jamie. Hartland isn't Atlantic City. Most of my
work force will consist of the local citizens. I don't need animosity right off the
"I still can't believe she agreed to marry you. How did you convince her?
Didn't she object to your, ah, line of work?"
Jack's mocking laugh filled the study. "She thinks I'm just a real-estate
broker for the corporation, not the actual owner. No one knows about my other connections.
I've managed to keep the whole town in the dark."
Jamie's knees buckled as she fought a wave of dizziness as the room swirled
around her. Her tongue burned from the bile rising in her throat. She gripped the window
sash until her knuckles turned white, then kicked her bouquet across the polished floor as
fury replaced shock.
"You may think you fooled the whole town, Jack Drysdale, but I've got news
for you," she whispered. She jerked her train into both arms and ran out of the study
and down the short hall toward the back door of the church.
The thought of Jack seeing her flight increased her pace as she rounded the
side of the building and raced across the front yard to the waiting limousine. She opened
the back door and dragged her bulky dress into the car, choking back a sob as she
collapsed against the seat.
The drivers eyes asked a million questions as he turned to stare at her,
but she didn't have time to explain.
"Quick, get me out of here."
"Its customary to wait for the groom."
A quick glance through the rear window revealed an empty church