The Goodbye Bride

By: Denise Hunter

Zac crept over to the bed and touched her shoulder. “Lucy.” She didn’t stir, so he nudged her again. “Lucy, wake up.”

He felt her go still.

“Zac?” Her voice was rough with sleep.

“You okay?”


“All right. Just checking.” He turned to go.

She grabbed his hand. “Stay.”

She was killing him. He pulled his hand from hers. “I’m right next door in the office. Go back to sleep.”

Back in his office he set his alarm for nine, then lay awake, staring at the darkened ceiling, planning what he’d do. He’d start with a search for weddings in Portland. There’d be a church listed, and he’d call the pastor for contact numbers. Once he got in touch with her fiancé, he was home free. The thought made his chest feel hollow inside. But the sooner he got her back to Portland the better.

He must’ve drifted off because light was peeking through the window when his eyes opened next. The alarm was going off. He checked on Lucy, then stumbled back to the sofa and fell promptly asleep.

A pounding noise woke him. He bolted upright, his thoughts spinning. Last night came bounding back. Lucy’s call. The ER. Lucy in his guest room.

He ran a palm over his face.

The pounding started again, and Zac unfolded himself from the dinky couch and went to the back door.

Beau stood on the porch in his church clothes, giving him a black look. “Where you been? You didn’t show up at church.”

Zac turned back inside. It was too early for this. “I got in late. Didn’t get much sleep.” He headed upstairs to his apartment, dreaming of coffee, Beau on his heels.

“I’ve been texting all morning.”

“What’s the big emergency?”

“You kidding me? You take off last night with no explanation, leave the restaurant in my hands, and don’t show up for church?”

Zac entered his living room, leaving the door open, and headed straight toward his kitchenette, his coffeemaker, like a zombie. “Were there any problems?”

“Naw, there were no—Zac, what’s going on? You look like crap.”

“Can you at least let me get some coffee in me? Jeez.” He filled the machine with water and grounds and hit the Power button. He heard his brother pacing in the living room. Beau was in his oldest-brother glory.

Zac pulled out a mug, then looked over his shoulder. Beau was staring out the window that faced the harbor. “Want some?”

“No thanks.”

The thought of the research he had to do today, of Lucy sleeping downstairs, made his head throb. A quick check of his watch showed it was going on twelve thirty. After he got rid of Beau he’d check on her, then start Googling. Surely it wouldn’t take long to find her wedding information, her fiancé.

He glared at the slow trickle of coffee. Come on.

With any luck he’d figure this out and get her back to Portland before the sun set. Maybe she’d even get her memory back. Then they could all have their happy endings.

He gave a quiet humph. His mind wandered to the man Lucy had been about to pledge her life to. Poor schmuck. He had no idea what he’d gotten himself into.

Even as the thought formed, he had a gut check. He remembered the sweet Lucy, the sassy one. The one who’d turned him upside down and inside out in all the best ways. She’d been everything he’d dreamed of.

And then she left you high and dry.

The coffee machine began the blessed gurgling sound that indicated his drug of choice was ready for consumption. He filled his mug, took a sip, and started toward the living room. Maybe he could just give Beau some vague excuse and get him out of his apartment.

Zac froze on the living-room threshold as Lucy appeared in the apartment doorway. Her dark hair was all tousled and sexy, the loose T-shirt falling to mid-thigh. She offered Zac a tremulous smile just before her eyes swung to Beau’s back.

Her lips pulled higher. “Beau . . . hey there.”

Beau turned, his lips parted, his eyes widening. “Aw, no . . . No way.” His gaze flitted off Lucy, then his lips tightened and he nailed Zac with a look.

Well, shoot. Couldn’t a man have a cup of coffee in peace?

“You shouldn’t be up here,” Zac said, his voice sounding harsher than he intended.

Lucy seemed to sink in on herself as she crossed her arms. “I can’t find—”

“I’ll be down in a minute.” He should probably offer her a cup of coffee, but he couldn’t get her out of there quick enough.

Her eyes toggled between Beau and Zac. “O-okay.”

Zac shut the door behind her and took a long sip of his coffee, barely noticing the burn at the back of his throat. He felt Beau’s dark eyes on him as he settled in the recliner and tried to forget that his ex-fiancée was downstairs in his T-shirt, still in love with him.

“What. Have. You done?”

Zac looked up, his gaze glancing off his brother’s face. Not quick enough to miss the way his neck bent forward in disbelief or the shock that registered in his eyes.

“It’s not the way it looks.”

“Then what way is it?”

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