Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
More Info: Goodreads
Joshua Wilson, an up-and-coming movie star, is turned off by the idea of marriage. His Oscar-winning smile and breakout role in the summer’s hottest romantic comedy bring in enough attention to satisfy Joshua’s cravings for the spotlight – not to mention the never-ending supply of willing women.
Joey Mitchell is down in the dumps after finding out that her fiancé cheated on her with her best friend, and is living at home with her parents until she can get back on her feet. Without Joey’s knowledge, her overbearing and neurotic mother submits an application for her to appear on the reality show, Married Blind. When the producers surprise her with the news that they have cast her, Joey wants nothing to do with the show but agrees to participate because, at this point in her life, she really has nothing to lose.
Lights, camera, action… Welcome to another season of Married Blind. Contestants are about to take the plunge, but only one couple will come out of the house winners!
Cover Design: Okay Creations
I hear a few gasps and can only assume that I’m approaching where I need to be. My father hasn’t let go yet, and for that I’m thankful. He’s keeping me steady on my feet and somewhat calm, even though thoughts of hanging my mother by her pedicured toenails are filtering through my mind. If she thinks I’m going to share my winnings with her, she’s off her rocker.
Winnings? How can I even think about winning? I’m not going to be able to pretend to be okay with this for three months. And what if he likes me? What if he finds me attractive and tries to kiss me? Then what? Ninety days of purgatory that’s what. I’m so not ready to live in a house with five people I don’t know all while trying to compete for Best Betty Crocker.
The announcer clears his throat and gets the audience cheering. Behind my blindfold, I’m rolling my eyes and glaring simultaneously at my groom. I know he’s standing in front of me; I can smell him. If anything, his cologne smells good, but it’s probably something his production assistant told him to wear.
Is he nervous like I am? Is he sweating from standing under these heat lamps? Are his parents here, too? What made him so desperate that he had to come on national television to find a bride? That’s the answer I want to know, but will never ask for fear of what he might say.
Neither of us should be doing this and yet here we are. I could run. I could slip off my blindfold and run without looking back. But what if he’s my soul mate and I don’t know it?
What damage could three months do?
My father places my hands into those of my groom and while I should cringe, I don’t. My fingertips, hands, wrists, arms and everywhere else tingle. I feel warm, but not from the lights. It’s a different kind of heat. My tummy flutters. My heart pounds furiously in my chest, drowning out the audience, the music blaring overhead, and the crackle of the microphone. It’s all too soon when the music stops and I’m quickly reminded that this is just a show. I shouldn’t be excited.
“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to compete with in good faith, from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, or until three months has expired?”
Um … what? What’s his name? Don’t I get to know his name at least?
“What do you say?” the announcer’s voice bellows through the microphone. I can hear mumbling from the crowd as they wait with bated breath on what I’m going to say. Do people actually come on this show and say no?
“We need your answer.”
I bite my lower lip and nod. If he can make me feel the way he did when he held my hand, maybe three months won’t be so bad. “Yes,” I squeak out, my voice barely audible.
“She said yes,” the announcer roars, and the applause is deafening. I can’t help but smile even though I’m dying on the inside.
My groom’s voice is almost as quiet as mine, making me feel somewhat better that he’s just as nervous. I sigh in relief when he says yes. The crowd cheers again and the announcer pronounces us man and wife.
Here it comes. I sense my groom moving closer, and I hold my head high. His hand fumbles on my neck until he rests it gently on my cheek. The crowd is hushed and everyone is waiting for the moment that seals us. His lips brush softly against mine, and he pulls back before I feel his wet lips press against mine again, this time fully. If not for his hand, I’d be crumbling to the ground. My knees start to buckle. My palms, already damp from earlier, are sweating profusely. My heart has stopped beating, but I can hear his. This is a first kiss for the records, and the only thing missing is his face.
The announcer clears his throat and my groom steps back, much to the delight of the viewers. “This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” the announcer says. I read from the rules that the groom’s blindfold comes off first. There’s a collective gasp, followed by a series of ‘oh my God’s’ and ‘that lucky bitch’. Gee thanks, audience members. I can safely assume my groom is cute. Great, perfect. I have a cute husband who can turn my insides to goo when he holds my hand. Hopefully he’s not planning on winning many competitions that require physical touching because I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it.
Someone comes up from behind me and starts to untie my blindfold. I keep my eyes closed. I want to see him fully when I open my eyes. I open them slowly, but keep them focused on the ground. Slowly, I take in what he’s wearing—black patent leather shoes, with black tuxedo pants. His hand rests at his side, and I see the glint of a wedding band and quickly look down at my own hand. Was I so lost in my rambling thoughts that I don’t remember him slipping a ring on my finger, or me giving him one?
I remind myself that this marriage is not real.
“I’ll get you a bigger one,” a familiar voice says.
My head moves up quickly, and I’m caught in the dark, smoldering eyes that I’ve studied for hours on end. I swallow hard and say, “Holy shit,” before the darkness takes over, and I crumble to the ground in a heap.
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