Stealing the Groom

By: Sonya Weiss

She wiped the perspiration away from her eyes and settled her plump form more securely on the in-need-of-rain ground. “May is too hot a month to sit around outside and play I Spy.”

“Who said anything about love? Our grandparents and his have been friends forever. You know how Chad and I were always thrown together at the holidays and vacations our families shared. We’re friends, Ann, and as his friend, I’m simply worried about his future if he marries that barracuda.”

She’d told Chad as much, except she’d left off the barracuda part.

He’d thanked her for watching out for him, and then assured her that his heart wasn’t on the line because his upcoming marriage was simply a business arrangement.

She’d been too stunned to reply.

Business arrangement? Amelia had wanted to pursue the conversation, but his fiancée had called him on his cell phone at the exact moment to whine about ruining a pair of shoes.

Amelia had heard the woman’s nasal voice before Chad switched off the speaker.

Oh, the horror of a pair of ruined shoes, Amelia scoffed inwardly. Claire was the most materialistic woman she’d ever known. The woman could smell money the way trained police dogs could sniff out contraband.

A fat bumblebee hovered around Amelia’s head and she shifted her weight, ignoring the droning buzz as she kept her gaze focused on the limousine.

Though it was a very small wedding with only family and a few friends—unlike the event-of-the-decade reception she was sure Claire would have preferred—she needed the parking lot completely cleared before she could act. The fewer witnesses, the better. She knew Chad’s family was already at the church, so Chad should be alone.

“Seriously, you’ve gone overboard this time.” Ann waved her hand to ward off a bevy of gnats and lifted her shoulder-length brown hair away from her neck with a sigh of frustration. “This is probably the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.”

“I haven’t done anything yet.”

“The yet is what worries me,” Ann muttered, letting her hair fall back into place. “How I let myself get talked into tagging along on this fiasco I’ll never know.”

“Whatever. You know you secretly love the drama. Plus someone will need to tell everyone Chad has run off with me—after we’re safely away from here, of course.”

“If you say so.” Ann pulled at the thick material of her blue jeans. “I should’ve put on a pair of shorts.”

“Shh,” Amelia said, “I need to pay attention.”

So far, there was no sign Chad was attempting to exit the limousine. Maybe he was having second thoughts. Amelia’s hopes crept upward. She wouldn’t have to resort to such drastic measures if Chad would pull a disappearing act on his own.

Then she could enjoy the rest of her long-awaited vacation secure in the knowledge that her best friend was safe from the clutches of yet another woman hungry for his wealth. Amelia frowned. At least until the next gold digger surfaced.

There was always someone waiting in the wings to try to take advantage of him. Women flocked to him because of his good looks and then stuck around once they realized his net worth.

The driver’s side door opened, the black paint glinting in the sun. Chad’s aging chauffeur lumbered from the car and headed toward the back intending to open the door for Chad.

Leaving the car running.

Amelia’s heart pounded.

Now or never.

Amelia made her move. “Don’t forget to call and let the woman Grandpa hired to care for the cabin know that I’m on the way,” she said over her shoulder as she leaped into action.

Amelia ran down the sloping incline and headed for the car as if it was the last piece of cream cheese red velvet brownie left on a tray at Great American Cookies.

Skidding to a stop by the driver’s door, she yanked on the handle and slid behind the wheel. The keys dangled in the ignition, a sure sign she was doing the right thing.

Astonished, the chauffeur moved his hand away from the rear door and took a hasty step back.

After hitting the button to engage the locks, Amelia put the car in gear and pressed the gas pedal. The tires squealed and she cringed as she made her escape from the church parking lot.

So much for sneaking away unnoticed.

She turned right and made a beeline down Main Street. The powerful car bumped over the rarely used railroad tracks and flew past the flower shop with its striped green-and-white awnings and the bookstore advertising a sale.

Even though it wasn’t quite noon, Frankly Eating, the hot dog diner made famous by a mention on America’s Best Eats, already had customers lined up out front.

Behind her, she heard an abrupt, muffled exclamation and a body tumbled sideways. A couple of seconds later, there was a knock on the large black privacy window.

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