The fourth standalone in Devney Perry’s Runaway series is out this week and it’s the kind of heartwarming, emotionally-charged story we’ve come to expect from this author. The surprise pregnancy trope is my catnip, so this book had my undivided attention from the get-go, but it’s Perry’s crisp, evocative writing that steals the show as always. It’s the story of two people who, at first, don’t like one another very much, but a single night of stripped inhibitions leads to both their lives suddenly changing forever. And I happen to have a little excerpt for you!
“You hate me,” Brody said.
When I turned to face him, his green eyes were waiting.
Brody’s eyes were the first thing I’d noticed about him years ago. They were disarming. They were almost too bright to be real. The green was a spiral of shades from lime to hunter. It was all held together by a ring of sable around the iris. They always reminded me of a patch of creeping Jenny snaking its way through moss on a summer day.
“Yes, I do.” I hated Brody. I’d been hating him for years. “But I love Clara more than I hate you. Apparently, this wedding is important. And if I didn’t go, she would have.”
He blew out a deep breath, facing forward. “It is. Important.”
“Then let’s go.”
He shoved the car in gear and roared down the asphalt, racing for the gate, like if he didn’t get us off his property this instant, he’d change his mind.
I held my breath, fighting the urge to let my knees bounce. I’d seen plenty of weddings at The Gallaway. I often worked with florists in the area to tie the exterior flowers into centerpieces for the event. But this was different. I wasn’t going to stay in my tennis shoes and tee, lurking in the dark corners and appreciating the show from a distance.
Tonight, I was a guest. I’d never been to a wedding as a guest. When I’d admitted that truth to Clara, she’d told me not to tell Brody.
No problem there. I doubted we’d share a lot of conversation.
I was arm candy, not entertainment.
The drive to the Welcome airport was uneventful. Silent. Though the air-conditioning was cranked, the heat won the battle. It seeped off Brody’s large frame as tension radiated from his shoulders.
When he pulled into the airport, I expected him to park in the parking lot and lead me through the small terminal. Silly me. Brody was no mortal man. He drove straight for the runway. With the planes.
He parked beside a jet that gleamed silver and white under the Arizona sun. Its windows sparkled like those diamonds he had on his cuffs.
I’d never owned a diamond. Hell, I’d never even touched a diamond.
An attendant opened my door and extended a hand to help me from the car.
“Thanks,” I breathed and steadied my feet.
The wealth was staggering. Maybe I’d gotten in a bit over my head because—no freaking way—there was a carpet leading to the plane. Gray, not red, but a freaking carpet nonetheless.
“Madam.” The attendant bowed. He actually bowed.
He was older, likely in his fifties, with white streaked liberally through his blond hair. He carried a halo of sophistication, and even though his blue eyes were kind and welcoming, he knew I wasn’t here by my own free will.
My sweet, sweet sister was going to owe me big-time.
I opened my mouth to tell him the bow wasn’t necessary—I wasn’t the queen—but he bowed again, this time to Brody.
“Sir. We’re ready.”
“Thank you, Ron.” Brody tossed the man his keys, then strode toward the plane, taking the stairs without a backward glance my way.
“Oh, you’re such a jackass,” I muttered under my breath, glowering at Brody’s shoulders. Then I hiked up my gown’s billowing skirt and hurried to catch up. Stiletto heels were not my specialty and I teetered on the last step before emerging inside the airplane’s cabin.
Leather and citrus filled my nose. Cool air rushed over my skin.
The plane was nothing but golden light and cream finish. Every surface was polished, every comfort ready at your fingertips. This plane cost more than my entire life. It wasn’t the cold, modern style of Brody’s home.
This was . . . lush.
No wonder Clara hadn’t hesitated to tag along on a tropical vacation.
I’d always thought Mark Gallaway was the richest man I’d ever met. Clearly, I’d underestimated Brody. His house was enormous and state-of-the-art, but this was grand. This was affluence passed down from generation to generation. And the plane seemed more indicative of his wealth than his home or his car.
Had Brody been downplaying his money? That seemed so . . . unlike him. He’d always seemed like the type to flaunt his millions. He did flaunt his millions. Except maybe he’d been holding back.
Maybe millions were actually billions.
Brody was in a chair, sipping a glass of water with a lemon wedge, as his fingers flew across the screen of his phone. Probably texting Clara to tell her this was a horrible idea. I was going to do the same as soon as I pulled my phone from my black clutch.
“Madam.” Another attendant appeared at my back, bowing again. This one was younger than Ron and his bow not quite as graceful or practiced.
“Aria. Not madam.”
“Aria,” he corrected with another bow. “May I get you a refreshment?”
Before I caught him in another bow, I walked down the aisle and took the seat across from Brody’s. “Who’s Heather?”
“My ex-fiancée.” His attention stayed focused on the phone.
“Ahh. And she’ll be at the wedding.”
“Yes,” he said flatly. “She’s the bride.”
“Oh,” I murmured as the attendant appeared with my water glass balanced perfectly on a black tray. I took it, cringed at yet another bow—please, stop bowing—and waited until he’d disappeared behind a curtain toward the cockpit. “Tell me what I’m getting into here.”
Brody scowled but tucked his phone into the jacket pocket of his tux. “My ex-fiancée, Heather, is marrying my brother, Alastair.”
“Did she become his fiancée before or after she was no longer yours?”
“Before. During. Neither will admit they’d been fucking before the one time I caught them in the act, but I know Alastair and he’s never been one to abstain.”
“Alastair.” My nose scrunched. “And I thought Broderick was pretentious.”
“They are family names.”
“Shocking.” The word dripped with sarcasm.
That type of retort would normally incense Brody. It should have antagonized him into some verbal sparring. At the very least, that blatant censure should have earned me a glare and a jaw tic.
Instead . . . nothing. His gaze was unfocused as he stared ahead, like he’d missed my comment entirely. Brody’s fingers tapped on his knee.
Was he nervous? The signs were subtle, so much so that most would probably miss them. But I knew Brody. He always fought for the last word. Always.
Like he always fought back.