Sneak Peek: Chapter 1, Marry Me Forever

We're getting close to the next Starry Hills book release! And to give you a taste, I'm sharing Chapter One with you. I'll include preorder links at the end, just in case you need them. This chapter doesn't include suggestions made by my proofreaders yet, so excuse any typos. Enjoy! <3

Chapter One

Nolan

I never thought I’d propose marriage at a children’s birthday party. And yet, as I scanned the room looking for my potential bride, I was going to do just that.

Oh, not in front of everyone. Because my proposal wasn’t to a woman I loved and longed to spend my life with. No, it was all part of a plan. One that would hopefully get my ex-girlfriend to finally move on and stop telling the world we were engaged.

And considering Wendy Webster and I were both movie stars, it wasn’t exactly a private spat I could solve easily. After months of my ex sending her fans to harass me and ask when we were finally going to tie the knot, I’d had enough.

If only I could find the woman I wanted to make my deal with, then maybe I could finally enjoy my niece and nephew’s birthday party.

I was just about to ask my sister, Abby, where her friends were when the person I was looking for entered the room—Katie Evans.

She was short and curvy, with pale skin and long auburn hair. While her jeans and dark green sweater were nice enough, it was her smile that made her stand out. Well, her smile and the ever-present gleam of mischief in her blue eyes.

Katie made a beeline for my eleven-year-old nephew, Wyatt Wolfe. After she whispered something into his ear, the usually shy, reticent boy hugged her. Curious, I walked over and stood next to Wyatt’s dad and my oldest brother, West, who asked, “How did you do it, Katie? I thought no one wanted to play soccer around here.”

Katie grinned and patted Wyatt’s shoulder. “Oh, it wasn’t that hard. I know everyone lives or dies by little league in Starry Hills, but after asking around, I discovered a lot of kids want to try playing soccer too. You can thank Rafe Mendoza for that.”

I noticed West’s girlfriend, Emmy Mendoza—Rafe’s younger sister—tense. West wrapped an arm around her and murmured something in her ear. And when Emmy smiled up at him, jealousy rushed through me.

I envied him not only finding someone who loved him but also the fact that Emmy was close with my brother. West had left when I was in high school and had only recently returned to town. To say our relationship was strained was an understatement.

Katie’s voice snapped me out of my head. “And guess who offered to sponsor your new soccer team, Wyatt?”

I frowned and tried to catch Katie’s eye to remind her of our agreement to keep it secret, but she ignored me.

She gestured toward me. “Your Uncle Nolan!”

Wyatt smiled at me. “Did you really, Uncle Nolan?”

“Er, yes. I started a production company and thought they could use the publicity.”

Wyatt shook his head. “I don’t think that’s the reason you did it, though.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I’m eleven, not five. I know you’re really famous, Uncle Nolan. You did it for me.” Wyatt hugged me, and I patted his back as he added, “Thank you.”

Over the past eleven years, I had only seen Wyatt and his twin sister a handful of times—both because of my busy schedule and West living far away. But I promised myself that I’d try to get to know Wyatt better from now on. His sister, Avery, too.

I ruffled his hair. “No problem. Just save me a seat at your games, and I’ll try to go when I can.”

Wyatt released me. “Of course, Uncle Nolan. And now I need to tell my friends. They won’t believe it.” He looked at his dad. “Can I go now?”

West nodded. “Go on, then.”

“And I’m going to rub it in Avery’s face, too!”

Before West could say a word, his son dashed off to find his friends.

Katie caught my eye and smiled. “See? I told you it’d be the best birthday gift ever.”

This is the woman you need to make a deal with.

I should ask Katie to chat for a minute. I could even use my team sponsorship as an excuse.

But as my heart pounded and palms sweated, I knew I needed a little more time to prepare. Being outgoing and spontaneous wasn’t my thing. 

“Yes, it was a good idea,” I replied.

After nodding at my brother and his girlfriend, I quickly walked over to my aunt.

Aunt Lori was short, with dark hair liberally streaked with gray, and dark brown eyes that could see into your soul. Or so my siblings and I always said growing up.

She took one look at me and clicked her tongue. “Why are you nervous?”

I looked around the room until I found Katie laughing with Abby, Emmy, and their other friend, Amber King. “Just some work stuff.”

“Hmm. I think you’re lying.”

I resisted smiling. Because Aunt Lori always knew when I was lying. It’d been a hell of a thing to deal with growing up.

Aunt Lori sighed. “It’s that witch again, isn’t it?”

Since evading her question would only draw more attention to me—and I didn’t want her to guess what else I was keeping from her—I shrugged and answered, “Yes.”

“I get why she wants you, lad. I do. You’re successful, attractive, and sweet. And no, don’t try to say you aren’t. Your tall height and rugged jaw won’t ever fool me. But why does that woman want to all but bully you into marrying her? Wouldn’t that be disastrous? It’s clear as day you don’t love her.”

My aunt had married the love of her life young—my Uncle Tim—and had lost him young too, when he died during the Gulf War. She took marriage very seriously.

I sighed. “You know that, and I know that. But Wendy cares more about outward appearances and status than actual feelings and relationships.”

“And since you’re the most in-demand movie hero at the moment, she sees you as a trophy.”

I grunted. “There are plenty of other male lead roles she could pursue, ones who would want to share the spotlight with her.”

She replied, “Hmph. You’re the most beloved by the public, and you know it.”

I shrugged. I’d learned long ago that fame and fortune could be a double-edged sword.

Aunt Lori patted my arm. “Have I told you lately how proud I am of you, Nolan? And not just me, but your siblings as well. Your parents probably would’ve plastered your movie posters all over the walls, uncaring that it didn’t tie into the winery, if they were still with us.”

Not wanting to go down memory lane—their deaths had fractured my family in so many ways—I changed the subject. “I’ll be here for Thanksgiving.”

She narrowed her eyes at the sudden shift but then shrugged. “I knew you’d come.”

“Oh, really? Even though I told you I’d be in South America shooting an action adventure film?”

“Even then. Because you’ve never missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas, and I doubt you’d start now.”

It’d been a near thing a few times. But despite how busy I was, I was determined to have two days a year to myself. Two days where I wasn’t the world-famous Nolan Drake and could simply be the small-town boy Nolan Wolfe.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed Katie exit to the back porch. This was it—my chance to pitch my proposal.

“I see someone I need to catch up with, Aunt Lori. I’ll find you later, before I leave, okay?”

“You’d better. If I don’t get my goodbye hug, I’ll get spicy with my emojis again.”

I groaned dramatically, simply because I knew it’d make my aunt smile. “Not the overheated one. Or the peach. Just stop. Please.”

She patted my arm. “Then make sure you say goodbye to me, and you’ll be spared.”

I placed a hand over my heart and bowed my head, as if I were some knight of old. “As my lady wishes.”

Aunt Lori snorted. “Go on with you, then. Use that charm on someone who isn’t related to you and can appreciate it better.”

After winking at my aunt, I slowly made my way to the back door and slipped outside. Katie stood by herself, near an open fire pit, and stared up at the darkened sky.

The moonlight caressed her face, softening her features a little. Her expression was pensive, as if silently asking the moon about some life-changing decision.

Stop it. You’re just delaying things. Get on with it.

So I walked up to Katie Evans, the woman I planned to ask to fake marry me, and hoped she’d say yes.

Curious about how Katie reacts? Marry Me Forever releases March 14th in ebook, paperback, and in Kindle Unlimited. If you want to preorder your copy, click your link below:

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