Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency)

By: Samanthe Beck

“Future son-in-law?” The gasped question preceded an attractive and vaguely familiar brunette into the bedroom. She clung to the doorknob for support and blinked back tears. “Sweet baby Jesus, my secret prayers have been answered.”

Chapter Two


Beau actually felt himself turn as white as the towel he still held to his head. “Mom…Dad,” he added as his father stepped into the room and wrapped an arm around his mom’s shoulders. His dad looked around, gave everyone a slow smile, and said, “Howdy, strangers.”

Savannah’s mother squealed—there was no other word for it—and ran forward to embrace his parents. Her father followed and clapped his dad on the shoulder. “Small world.”

Either he’d taken a much harder hit than he thought, or his loud, distracting, and ridiculously sexy neighbor hid a secret portal to the twilight zone in her bedroom.

“Cheryl and Trent Montgomery, is it really you?” Savannah’s mother asked as she hugged his mom like a long-lost sister.

“In the flesh,” his mom answered, somewhere between laughter and tears. “Laurel Smith, I’d recognize you and Bill anywhere. You two haven’t aged a day.”

The names rang a bell in the back of his mind. Years ago—before he’d started first grade—they’d lived next door to a family named Smith, but when his dad had accepted a work transfer, they’d moved to California. A blurry, early memory took shape. Sneaking through adjoining backyards, leaping out at a little blonde girl and brandishing his favorite, most lifelike rubber snake in her face. He remembered a satisfyingly terrified scream followed by an interminable time-out.

He pulled his attention away from his parents and eyed the walking temptation he’d been avoiding since she moved in. Savannah Smith. Apparently they’d been neighbors before. Maybe this detail would have come to light sooner if they’d done more than nod hello to each other, but they hadn’t, which made the engagement assumption their parents had leaped to downright laughable—except setting everyone straight and watching the joy and relief drain out of his parents’ faces wouldn’t be so funny.

“I can’t believe it,” Savannah’s mom went on. “What brings you here?”

“We jumped on the chance to return to our roots and live closer to Beau,” his father said. “We moved back to Magnolia Grove earlier this month, but between work, the move, and”—he gave his wife a squeeze—“a couple other challenges, we’ve been inexcusably slow about looking up old friends.”

Other challenges. His father had a gift for understatement.

Savannah’s mom waved a hand. “Your old friends understand completely. But what are you doing here, in Savannah’s apartment?”

“We saw the open door and thought this was Beau’s apartment,” his mom explained, and then continued in a quavering voice. “When we accepted his invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, we had no clue about the surprise in store for us. Beau and Savannah…engaged.” She blinked, sniffled, and lost the new battle with her tears. “I can’t even tell you what this news means to us. Especially just now.”

Shit. Shit… Fuck it. In the half second it took to string three curses together, he made up his mind. It might be the stupidest decision he’d ever come to, but he owed his parents a happy, worry-free Christmas—at least free of worry about him. Their families thought they were engaged, and he intended to let them keep right on thinking it until after the holidays.

Sinclair elbowed Savannah. “Now I understand why you were so freaking secretive about M. Well-played, you two, orchestrating a surprise reunion         and an engagement announcement in one Thanksgiving dinner.”

Savannah’s attention swung from her sister to him, silently asking which one of them should correct the picture.

As discreetly as possible, he shook his head.

Her lips thinned. Clearly, she didn’t take the hint. “We didn’t plan any of this—”

Fuck discreet. He cleared his throat to drown her out and slumped against her pillow. “Sorry to interrupt the reunion        , but unless everyone in this room has a twin standing next to them, I think the ER might be a good call after all.”

Beau’s words activated everyone. His father stepped forward to help his son to his feet. Her mother grabbed Mrs. Montgomery’s hand. “I’ll drive. Cheryl, you navigate. Savannah, ride in the back with Beau and keep an eye on him.”

Her father took Beau’s other side. “We’ll follow in our car,” he added as the dads walked Beau to the door.

Savannah couldn’t seem to shift herself into gear, and remained parked in the middle of her bedroom. “Wait. I have dinner in the oven. Give me a second to—”

“I’ll stay behind and take care of it,” Sinclair said while she snagged Savannah’s paint-splotched silver evening clutch and matching heels from under the bed and handed them to her. Then she whispered, “You could have told me. I know how to keep a secret.”

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