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No Bones About It: The Wedding

No Bones About It: The Wedding

Happy As A Pig In...Muck

Kimi often thought the definition of glorious was Vermont in autumn. She’d never seen anything in real life or in pictures that came close to rivaling the beauty of the leaves surrounding the town of Phail.

The trees on and around the piece of land holding her veterinary business and brand-new Petting Pharm made her smile every time she looked up.

Piper had been out taking a ton of pictures for the Pharm’s page on the town’s website and the colors were spectacular. Today, they would be the perfect backdrop for a day she’d never thought would happen. She’d never believed she’d trust a man enough to take this step, but she knew Garrett would never hurt her. She could trust him with her heart, her body, her soul.

Sitting on her back porch, sipping her coffee, she smiled when Addy and Nina climbed over the fence separating her property from Garrett’s. Two of her favorite people.

Nina bounced ahead of her mother then waved before she hurried away to check on the pygmy goats. Addison grinned as she arrived at the porch, garment bag in hand. “Animosh stayed with Heath over at Garrett’s so he could play with Olaf.”

That brought on another smile. Her world was full of animals and people and love. Her mom and GG would be incredibly happy for her. Especially today.

Addy sat on the chair beside her and Kimi handed her another travel mug. “Chai tea?”

Her friend smiled at her. “Thanks. How are you so calm and organized on your wedding day?”

Kimi laughed. “Because it’s a beautiful day and no one has called me in for an emergency.” She slammed her eyes shut. “And I shouldn’t have said that out loud. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.”

Addy lifted her mug of tea. “Let’s counteract it with a toast. To a beautiful day. To my wonderful friend who deserves her very own happy ending. To a future filled with love and joy.”

Kimi blinked back the tears as she clinked her mug. “I should have had you write my vows.”

Addy laughed. “I don’t even remember what I said during my own. I was so full to the brim with love, it’s all a blur and that’s probably for the best.”

Nina ran up to the porch and gestured back to the animals. “Everyone promises to be on their best behaviour, but I don’t think we can trust Snoops to keep his word.”

Very true. The donkey wasn’t likely to be impressed with people crowding into his yard.

Nina twirled. “Are you finally going to let us see your dress?”

Kimi grinned. “I think I can do that.”

With one last look around her property in its gorgeous colors, they headed inside.

Nina immediately closed the blinds on the back door and over the kitchen window.

“What are you up to, Nina?”

The teen grinned. “Nothing. Just making sure you don’t get an early peek at your groom. They say it’s bad luck.”

The girl would be horrified to know that Garrett hadn’t been gone all that long. After making slow, aching love that morning, they’d prepared the house and yard for the day.

Addy held up the garment bag. “How about we get dressed too? Then we can see what Kimi needs help with.”

The two went into her guest room and she headed into her room. Their room. While Garrett’s house was larger, they spent almost all of their time here at the cottage. If they decided to grow their family one day, they’d likely move into that space, but for now, the cozy home she’d bought when she’d first settled in Phail was perfect.

Just like this day was going to be.

Chomping At The Bit

Garrett straightened his bolo tie and put on his new Stetson. It wasn’t every day a man married the woman he loved, so it was going to be with a brand new hat.

When he came down the stairs, Marcus and Heath were already in the kitchen. The back door opened and the others joined them. Levi, Sean, and Troy.

His team. Their team.

Emotion swamped him. He was already full because he was about to officially declare to the world that Kimi was his and that he was hers. Now, this reminder of how much more he had. How lucky he was. These five men had been his whole world for several years. They’d all had each other’s back and had survived some hellish situations.

Troy reached into the fridge and pulled out a jug of Scooby’s Sweet Porter while Marcus set out six glasses. When they were filled, their team leader lifted his. “This is the first time we’ve all been together for one of these weddings.”

Troy grinned. “Because Scooby here was such a waffler about coming to Vermont.”

He had to laugh because that was completely true. He’d been the last to arrive in town, the last to cave into Troy’s attempts to pull them all together.

He lifted his glass. “Thanks for not giving up on me.”

Marcus slapped his back as the entire group chorused one word. “Never.”

Troy lifted his glass. “Here’s to Scooby. Shaggy would be happy for you. We all miss her, but Shaggy’s Place is going to keep her spirit alive.”

Kimi’s name for the new animal therapy business was perfect.

Sean lifted his glass. “To Scooby and Kimi. Keep her happy. I hear she’s good with a rifle.”

That made him laugh. Kimi had pulled that rifle on him when they’d first met, but she’d never shoot a living creature. Well, unless they were hurting other living creatures. Then all bets would be off. But he’d always bet on Kimi.

Levi grinned. “To Scooby. Always knew you’d figure it out. Glad you figured it out here.”

That was a lot of words for the often quiet Henry, and they hit Garrett right in the heart.

Heath grinned. “To Scooby. Thanks for keeping Nina occupied with all of your animals and plans. We’re all so damn proud of the work you’re doing.”

Garrett swallowed hard.

Marcus lifted his glass. “To you, Garrett. To Kimi. And to all the good the pair of you have already done and are going to do in the future. It’s an honor to know you.”

That one got him and it took him a couple of swallows to contain. No one smirked, no one shuffled. They simply waited.

Finally, he managed to speak. “To Shaggy, the best dog a man could have.”

Olaf barked, making everyone grin. Garrett turned to his new shadow. “It’s okay, Olaf. There can be more than one best dog.”

Content, the pit bull yawned and settled back into his sunbeam.

Garrett turned back to his friends and lifted his glass again. “To best friends. To teamwork and teammates. To our futures full of fabulous beer. Thanks for always being there.”

Another hard swallow. “And to Kimi. My present and my future.”

They all lifted their glasses. “To Scooby and Kimi.”

A Horse Of A Different Color

Kimi was ready. She and Garrett had smudged the houses and the grounds as dawn had risen. Her GG had believed in the power of smudging to cleanse and to bring good fortune. Kimi had always followed the tradition and Garrett had been all in with her.

When she moved into the living room, she found Addy dressed in a beautiful dark gold dress. Nina’s was a vibrant deep red. “You’re both gorgeous. You’re going to match the trees in the photos. I love the dresses.”

Addy smiled. “Yours is beautiful. So delicate.”

“It was my GG’s. My mom didn’t get a chance to wear it, but they would like that I am. I’m just glad it fit.”

The dress was simple. White with a soft, gauzy skirt. White beads and soft fringes provided the decoration. She’d always loved the dress and the stories that went with it. “GG made it by hand.”

Addy grinned. “Then she’s right here with you both in spirit and in reality. I bet she’d be so proud of what you’ve done with your business. And I think she’d like Garrett.”

Kimi laughed. “You’re right on both counts. She’s always with me in so many ways, but this dress is a special one. And she’d love Garrett. She could be an outrageous flirt when she trusted a man and she’d love that Stetson of his. She might have given me a run for my money with him.”

Addy laughed. “Not a chance. That man’s eyes and heart have no room for anyone else. He’s always looked at you as if you make everything better simply by existing.”

Kimi grinned. “You sure you don’t have a minute to write my vows?”

Addy laughed and held up her phone. “Nope. Heath says they’re ready for you. I’ll slip out after you’re up front.”

Kimi nodded, knowing Addy’s preference to avoid the spotlight. She smiled at Nina. “You ready to lead the way?”

Nina grinned. “Absolutely.” She picked up the basket that was filled with wildflowers and petals from Isla’s gardens.

Addy opened the door and Nina stepped onto the porch. Outside, the hum of conversation eased and music started up.

Nina walked out, ready to spread her joy and her smile right along with the flowers.

Kimi squeezed Addy’s hand and took the bouquet she handed her and then stepped out herself. Her flowers matched the foliage around her and she loved the look. She also loved that they gave her something to hold onto as she moved forward. She wasn’t nervous, but she was excited and holding the flowers would help her focus so she didn’t jog to the front.

They’d set up the area between the paddocks as the setting for the ceremony, so she had a bit of a walk and she wouldn’t see Garrett for the first part of it.

It only took her a few steps before she realized exactly why Nina had closed the curtains. It wasn’t only so Kimi wouldn’t see her groom, it was so she wouldn’t see the animals and ruin the girl’s surprise.

Because only Nina could be the inspiration behind this.

All of their animals stood in the paddocks and all of them were dressed for the day with accessories in shades that matched the trees surrounding them. Deep golds and oranges. Brilliant greens and burgundies. Like the dresses Nina and her mom wore and the flowers Kimi carried.

Onigis and Kitty had their manes and tails braided and ribboned. Oscar and Grover, along with new arrivals Elmo and Cookie, wore dapper bowties. Snoops too, although he was attempting to eat his. As she neared him, the donkey gave her the stink eye and brayed his annoyance at the need to dress up making her laugh.

Popcorn wore a tiara while the rest of the goats sported bows and ties. Cats and bunnies wore ribbons and bells. Even the pigs were dressed up.

By the time she turned the corner to where the arbor stood decorated with matching colors and flowers, she was laughing and completely full of joy.

Her eyes latched onto Garrett’s and that joy simply burst into sparkles bouncing throughout her bloodstream.

Her sexy cowboy wore a new Stetson along with one of those cowboy ties. New jeans, a bright white shirt, and a black jacket completed the outfit. He could be the cover for any groom’s magazine. And he was all hers.

His gaze never left hers as she moved past all of their friends and up to where he stood by the arbor. Unable to help herself she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. He caught her and lifted her up then took over the kiss, making her melt.

When he set her back on her feet, she realized the crowd was cheering. Laughing, she let her hands slip from his neck. Garrett immediately took them in hers. “Let’s get married.”

Straight From The Horse's Mouth

Garrett kept his gaze on Kimi as Marcus talked to them and to the audience. Arrow had become an officiant before and it meant everything to Garrett that he was willing to do this today. Troy was also an officiant, but Marcus was doing the honors today.

“Some marriages combine two people in marriage. Today, we’re joining two people and an entire menagerie that includes dogs, cats, horses, ponies, goats, rabbits, pigs, and a donkey.”

Nina stage whispered. “Don’t forget the chickens.”

Marcus grinned. “And chickens. And probably a few more we don’t know about. Garrett and Kimi, you’ve created a haven for animals and the people who love them. It’s a pleasure to officiate at your wedding today. Kimi, would you like to say your vows first?”

Kimi nodded. She hadn’t taken her eyes off of Garrett, but now, the intensity of her gaze deepened. “Garrett, when you first arrived here, I worried that you would disrupt my endeavors to save Astro and his buddies. You did disrupt my plans, but in the very best way. When you jumped in my truck that night, you were determined to have my back, no matter the cost to your heart.”

He squeezed her hands, knowing she fully understood where he’d been emotionally at that time.

She smiled at him with the whole world shining in her eyes. “I knew I was definitely falling for you that night. You’re an amazing man, Garrett. Full of love and compassion and so many great plans for the future. Following the traditions of my elders and their elders before them, I proclaim to our friends and family that I choose you. I choose to be your wife, I choose you for my husband. I choose a life with you that will be filled with sparkling moments and challenging ones and ordinary ones. I think those are going to be my favorites.”

His heart swelled at her words and he lifted her hands to his lips.

She took a deep breath. “I love you Garrett. I promise to love and support you for the rest of our lives and I look forward to the life we’re going to share.”

Garrett took his own breath. “I love you so much, Kimi. After losing Shaggy I was sure my heart would never be healed enough to love anyone. Then you showed up with your rifle, your determination, and your love for every creature on earth. My heart didn’t stand a chance.”

She laughed at that.

“I’d like to echo your words. I proclaim to our friends and family that I choose you. I choose to be your husband, I choose you for my wife. I choose to spend my life with you and I’ll work my ass off to make that life full of love and joy. You deserve it all, Kimi and I’m honored to be the one you’ve chosen to go through life with.”

He cupped her gorgeous face in his hands. “I love you.” Then he sealed his words with a kiss as Snoops brayed in the background. This time he even sounded happy.

Marcus laughed. “I pronounce you husband and wife and leaders of your every-growing menagerie. Keep kissing your bride, Scooby.”

Party Animals

Kimi wasn’t sure her cheeks had ever ached from smiling before, but they ached now. She was married to a man she adored and surrounded by friends she loved and their animals in the amazing place they’d build.

The guys had followed their new traditions and set up a bar made out of hay bales. More bales were stacked to serve as a buffet. There were plates of treats for the animals and instructions on how to feed them all. The pigs and the pygmy goats were the biggest hits with the guests although Nina made sure everyone spread the love around so none of the animals would feel sad or neglected.

Troy whistled to bring everyone’s attention to where he stood by the bar. “There’s been a request for dessert.” He pointed at Nina who laughed and dropped a curtsy. “Ginny made a cake for our newlyweds so if you want a peek, check it out before they slice it up.”

Garrett’s hand slipped into Kimi’s and they walked to the table. She gasped when Ginny brought out the cake. Three tiers with pillars holding up the top two tiers. Except instead of pillars, they were fence posts.

Hay bales and animals decorated the entire cake. Horses, cows, sheep, cats, and a donkey on the bottom. Chickens, goats, and pigs on the middle layer. And pit bulls on the top along with a cowboy in a Stetson and a woman in jeans and a flannel shirt.

Laughing, Kimi pulled Ginny into a hug. “This is amazing. I think it’s too perfect to eat.”

Ginny grinned. “Thanks, but don’t let it go to waste.” And she handed Kimi a knife. When everyone had a slice, Troy whistled again. “So, smash the cake in each other’s faces? Or the more traditional feed each other a bite?”

Kimi shook her head. No way was anyone smashing cake into her face. She used her fork to lift a bite to Garrett’s mouth.

“Good choice.” He took the bite. “Do you want a taste?”

His growly voice and sparkling eyes had her wary. “Don’t you dare smash that into my face.”

He laughed. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” Then he leaned down and captured her lips in a kiss and giving her a taste of chocolate at the same time.

Then he leaned to whisper in her ear. “We’ll have to take a piece with us. I have some very good ideas of what to do with that frosting.”

Her entire body lit up at that suggestion. She had a few ideas of her own. They might have made love that morning before they’d done the smudging, but it felt like forever ago. She wanted her husband all to herself.

A Sly Dog

Garrett wasn’t going to last much longer. He wanted Kimi alone and to himself. Now.

He’d made advance arrangements Kimi knew nothing about. He didn’t want anything to interrupt their wedding night. Not even the animals they loved so much.

After a ton of pictures, they’d taken the wedding attire off the animals and returned them to their proper stalls and fields for the evening. The entire group had helped and it hadn’t taken long.

Of course, the cats and the dogs continued to roam free. Astro and Star hadn’t taken long to acclimate to the land and tended to hang out with Popcorn and her brood. They mostly preferred sleeping outdoors or in the barn unlike Olaf who liked being close to his people. He preferred Garrett and Kimi, but Nina was an excellent second choice.

Deciding it was time, he strode over to where Kimi danced with Jim. The older man’s eyes sparkled when he saw Garrett and he sent Kimi into a twirl that landed her in Garrett’s arms. She laughed and reached up to kiss him. “Smooth move, Stetson. Did you guys practice that?”

“Nope. That was all on Jim.” Then he kissed her again. The heat exploded and he leaned down and lifted her up into his arms. “Time to go.”

She laughed but didn’t protest as he moved through the crowd to the hoots and hollers of the gang. Kimi called her thanks and waved, but he didn’t slow his progress. He moved straight to Heath’s SUV which was loaded with their bags. Addy had packed for Kimi sometime during the evening.

When he reached the SUV, he set her down on her feet and dug the key out of his pocket. She frowned at him. “What’s going on?”

He grinned and kissed her, then opened the door for her. “A surprise.”

She waited, but when he didn’t answer, she laughed and slid into the seat. He jogged around and got into the driver’s seat. She leaned over the console to whisper. “Why are we stealing Heath’s car?”

He kissed her. “Because it’s better for the environment and more comfortable than either of our trucks.”

Her eyes twinkled. “I have fond memories of being in my truck.”

He laughed out loud as he pulled onto the road and headed out. They’d made love for the first time in her truck and it had been memorable. But he wasn’t planning on a repeat performance in his buddy’s car.

Because he’d wanted to do the drive tonight, he’d only had a sip of champagne to toast his bride. He’d also talked her into an earlier wedding time so they could escape.

When they drove through Phail to the highway leading southwest, she turned to him. “Where are we going?”

“Trust me?”

“Absolutely.”

He grinned. “Then enjoy the ride. It’ll be less than a couple of hours.”

Her eyes widened. “But the animals…”

“Trust me. It’s all covered.”

Her laugh filled him up. “You’re sneaky. And I bet I have a few sneaky friends who’ve been helping.”

“Your job is to relax and not worry about a thing.”

“And what’s your job?”

She could always make him laugh. “I’ve been working on it for a while, but it’s been hard to find the time. A while back, I realized I still hadn’t taken you on a date.”

She laughed. “We’re going on a date?”

He grinned. “Yep.”

“A wedding night date?”

“Yep. I figured it was time to have that fancy dinner and dancing I promised you.”

Kimi clapped her hands and laughed some more. “This is why you wanted an earlier wedding? So we could go dancing?”

He nodded. “I want tonight to be special. Memorable. Perfect.”

She reached across and squeezed his hand where he held the steering wheel. “It’s already been all of those things. You’re a pretty amazing man and I’m very glad you fell in love with me.”

That had him grinning again. “I’m very glad you fell in love with me too. We’re going to have an amazing life together.”

“We are. Starting with a wedding night first date. I think it sounds perfect.”

The Birds And The Bees

Kimi floated in Garrett’s arms to the slow and sexy jazz played by a quartet in the corner of the fancy hotel’s piano bar. The bellhop had taken their luggage up to the room and they’d come straight to the bar.

Garrett had swept her right onto the dance floor. They’d ordered champagne and sipped as they danced.

Kimi ran her fingers over his jaw and up into his hair. “I love the date.”

He grinned at her. “Yeah?”

She nodded. “Yeah. Swaying to sexy music with my sexy cowboy husband is my new favorite thing.”

His slow, hungry smile had her body tingling. His growl was for her ears only. “I’m pretty sure we can come up with a new favorite thing once we head upstairs.”

“I like the sound of that.”

Garrett twirled her off the dance floor and they headed to the elevators where he pressed the button for the top floor. Her heart melted a little more. He’d promised her a fancy date at a fancy hotel and while she wouldn’t care if they’d camped in the back field for their wedding night, this plan had definite perks.

She snuggled into his side while the elevator zipped them up. “You know how to make a girl feel special, Stetson.”

He laughed and tipped the brim of his hat. His exaggerated drawl had even more zip dancing along her skin. “Mighty glad to hear that, ma’am. You deserve to feel special every moment of every day.”

Her eyes misted as the elevator doors opened and they moved down the hall. Garrett slid the key card and opened the door. He stopped her from crossing into the room by sweeping her up into his arms. “Hold those horses, little lady. No crossing thresholds on your own.”

She laughed and looped her arms around his neck. Garrett kicked the door shut and had her throw the bolt. He  moved into away from the door and she realized they were in a suite, not a regular hotel room. “Garrett, this is gorgeous and had to cost a fortune.”

He laughed and walked through the living area until he reached the door to a balcony. “I’m not letting you go just yet, can you get the door?”

She laughed and opened the door. The balcony looked over the Hudson River and the view was spectacular. Twinkling lights from the stars and the buildings. “It’s magical.”

Garrett eased her to her feet and swayed her back into a dance. She looped her arms around his neck and tugged him down for a kiss. “Thank you.”

He grinned and kissed her back. “I know we’re not fancy people most of the time, but if there’s ever a day to dress up and be a little ridiculous, this is it. I love you so damn much, Kimi.”

Her eyes misted again. “I love you too, Garrett. With every part of me. I never expected to trust anyone enough to date, never mind get married. You’ve shown me every moment that you’re not only worthy of my trust, but my heart as well. I want it all with you. I want a little boy who struts around in cowboy boots and a mini Stetson.”

His eyes glowed in the moonlight. “And I want a little girl filled with courage and determination who will scare us to death because she will always be pushing her limits.”

Kimi laughed. “It’s going to be so much fun, even when it’s chaos.”

He nodded. “How about we get started on that first little one.”

Her heart leapt with joy. “I like the sound of that.”

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this bonus scene to the No Fail Heroes Romantic Suspense series!

 

The next book in the series, No Man Left Behind spotlights Marcus and Gracie.