Vi Hart sat in Emmy’s apartment above Moose Prints waiting for the rest of the women to get there. “Time isn’t moving fast enough, Emmy.”
Emmy laughed even her phone beeped. “Your entourage is starting to arrive. I’ll go open the door.” Entourage made Vi laugh. She was a small-town girl at heart and a cop. Not a princess. Even if she kind of felt like one today.
Emmy returned with Nia Alexander who carried a bag containing a dress. Vi’s dress. Specially designed and made for today by Nia.
Nia grinned and leaned in to give Vi a one-armed hug. “It’s absolutely perfect. The final alterations are done and you’re going to be a stunning bride.”
Bride. The word was a little overwhelming. She and Luca were getting married. Today.
Joy bounced through her veins and she hugged Nia hard. “Thank you for creating it. It’s more perfect than anything I ever imagined.”
Nia hugged her back. “It was fun. I love being able to fit a dress to a woman’s personality. This one is totally you. Luca’s going to lose his mind.”
That made Vi laugh. “I can’t wait. I wish time would hurry up.”
Emmy grinned. “Your wish is my command. Your mom just texted she’s here. That means it’s time to get ready.”
Vi didn’t think of herself as a particularly feminine woman. She didn’t wear lace and frilly things. She was happiest in sneakers and doing something active.
But for the next hour, she reveled in all things female. The four of them sipped at champagne and ate chocolate covered strawberries and tiny pastries sent along by Darby Banks. They laughed and played with makeup and hair styles. Then it was time to slip on the gorgeous dress Nia had created.
She and Luca had planned a casual, fun wedding out at the Caboose. She hadn’t wanted a gown, Luca hadn’t wanted a tuxedo.
Nia’s creation fit I perfectly with their vision. The white strapless bodice fit without being too tight to breathe. Layers of gauzy white material floated out from the waist down to her knees. The skirt danced whenever she moved. Nia had sewn in some tiny beads that sparkled when they caught the light and Vi had never felt prettier.
Vi walked out from Emmy’s bedroom into the living space and her mother’s gasp was everything she’d hoped for. “Oh, honey. It’s perfect. You’re absolutely beautiful and that dress is perfection. But you’re barefoot. Tell me you’re not getting married barefoot. Where are your shoes?”
Laughing, Vi shook her head. Even when her mom was thrilled, she was always looking for more. Vi didn’t have a clue what her mom would think about the shoes she’d chosen, but she thought they were perfect.
Emmy brought over the shoebox with a twinkle in her eye. Kami Rogers and Rayce LaChance had helped them find the perfect company to create her custom-made shoes. The four of them were the only ones who knew about them and she’d had such a difficult time keeping them a secret from Luca.
Now, it was time.
Emmy pulled off the top of the box with a flourish and handed the box to Vi. She grinned at the absolute perfection inside.
The white sneakers were covered in delicate lace and a few tiny sparkles that matched the ones in her dress. The laces were sparkly as well, making them pretty and fun.
Vi slipped them on and tied them up. Still her mom hadn’t said a word. Nia clapped her hands as Vi stood up. “Those are spectacular, Vi. I love them.”
Vi finally looked at her mom’s face, hoping she wasn’t disappointed that Vi had gone her own way.
But Greta’s smile was huge and genuine. Happy tears shone in her eyes. “Not even a little what I expected, which makes them absolutely perfect for you. You look beautiful. Now, let’s get you married.”
Luca paced the room they’d snagged at the Bloo Moose Caboose. Jaz LaChance had spearheaded the restoration of the old train station. Now it served as a community centre with rooms being used for everything from book clubs to painting classes. And weddings.
He checked the time again, making the other guys in the room laugh. Scott looked up from where he’d been straightening his dress uniform. “It’s only been a minute since he checked last time. We should have made a pool.”
Nathan grinned. “If we’d made it a drinking game, we’d have all passed out half an hour ago.”
Luca blew out a breath. They were totally right. “We should have set the wedding for nine in the morning. The wait is killing me.”
He was surrounded by his friends and the men from Vi’s family. Her dad Erik and her three brothers who’d alternated between threatening him if he ever hurt their baby sister and welcoming him to the family. He’d known them all for years and they were good guys.
Despite it being a casual wedding, Ryan and Dave also wore their dress uniforms. Vi had been a part of their team for years and he knew it was a sign of respect for her.
His own suit was new but it wasn’t a tux. Was Vi going to regret not going fully formal for their day? Would she look back at the pictures Lil was snapping everywhere and wish for something different? He didn’t care about any of it. He just wanted her to be happy.
Erik’s phone beeped and he smiled when he read the text. “They’re here and we’re all set.” He walked over and pulled Luca into a hug. “I couldn’t ask for a better man for my baby girl. I’m glad you’ll finally be an official part of the family.”
Luca hugged him back and swallowed hard against the emotion. He’d lost his own family years before. While he’d always considered Vi his family and his best friend, they were going to make it official. And he couldn’t be happier.
They all moved to the main room while Erik and Vi’s oldest brother Jens moved to the hallway where the women waited. Scott led the way to the front where he would officiate the ceremony.
The room was filled with friends and he was greeted with smiles and hugs as he made his way to stand by Scott. Ryan stood beside him while Dave moved to stand on Vi’s side. With Scott as the officiant, her entire team was part of the ceremony.
In only moments, soft music filled the room and the door at the back opened. Vi’s oldest brother Jens escorted Greta down the aisle. Instead of taking her seat immediately, Greta moved to Luca and reached up to place a loud, smacking kiss on his cheek. “Thank you for being the exact right man for Vi. Your parents would be so proud of the wonderful man you’ve become.”
His cheeks flushed at her words and he hugged her back hard before she took her seat.
Emmy walked down the aisle next, her smile full of joy. She hugged Luca hard when she reached the front. “Try not to drool on your sexy suit when you see her.”
Luca laughed as he hugged her back, thankful for her comment to lighten the emotions building in his chest.
Then Erik and Vi walked in.
Luca knew he was in love. Knew he’d found the perfect person to share his life with. He knew he would spend decades making sure she was safe and happy. He knew she was not only gorgeous on the outside but that her gigantic heart was the most beautiful part of her.
What he hadn’t known was that the sight of her walking down the aisle toward him with an enormous smile trained on him would make his own heart swell to bursting. He knew how the Grinch had felt when his heart grew to three times its size.
Vi was absolutely stunning. Her toned body was showcased to perfection in a happy white dress that swung while she walked. When his eyes drifted down to the legs he loved, he spotted her shoes. Her perfectly suited white lacy sneakers.
He was laughing when she arrived and he grabbed her and swung her in a circle then he kissed the breath out of her. “You’re perfect. Completely and totally perfect.”
Erik thumped him on the back, reminding him they had an entire crowd watching. And laughing. He shook Erik’s hand but didn’t release Vi.
Scott was grinning widely when they turned his way. “One of these days I might actually get to officiate a wedding where the groom waits for me to tell him he can kiss his bride.”
Which of course meant Luca had to kiss her again.
If Vi hadn’t been wearing sneakers, she figured she’d have sprained her ankle or broken a heel by now. She couldn’t contain the joy and they hadn’t even started the ceremony. She was all but bouncing in her shoes. Which Luca appreciated exactly as she’d known he would.
His eyes and face had been filled with such emotion as she’d walked with her dad toward him. She’d wondered if her own emotions were going to spill out in happy tears. Then he’d seen her shoes and grinned. That had helped her suck up the tears and when he’d spun her around and kissed her, she knew she’d be able to settle.
She was surrounded by everyone she loved. Her family, her work family, and all their friends. Luca didn’t have anyone left in his birth family, but he’d built a family of his own in this town.
Scott addressed them and the crowd. “It’s another happy day here in Bloo Moose where we get to witness Luca and Vi formalize their future together. They’ve been friends since high school and they’ve always made a great team. It only took Greta a couple of years to get them to realize it.”
They laughed right along with everyone else. While they’d never admitted to her Mom that her matchmaking plans had worked, it appeared everyone knew it anyway.
When it was her turn to say her vows, Vi took a deep breath. “Luca. The luckiest day of my life was when I sat beside you in that computer class in high school. You’ve been my best friend for years and you’ll be my best friend for decades to come. I love you with everything I am.”
Her throat was full of love, so she took a deep breath before she continued. “I love your kindness and your quiet strength. You take care of everyone around you. Even the focus of your job is to help others find ways to improve their lives. You’re the best man I know and I promise to love you and cherish you forever.”
Luca’s hands squeezed hers and she saw his jaw clench showing he was struggling to keep it together right along with her.
He smiled at her. “I was a lonely, grieving kid when I came to Bloo Moose. You brought me out of my shell and out into the real world again. You’re an incredible woman and I still can’t believe we get to be more than best friends. Every day, you take care of the people of this town. You’re brave enough to keep the wacky tourists in line and help out bears in need.”
Everyone chuckled at that.
“I love you more than I ever thought possible. I wasn’t sure my heart was capable of functioning when I moved here. Now, with you at my side, I know it’s not only functional, it’s complete. You make me a better man and I love you so much. I promise to love you and cherish you forever.”
And that was all Vi could take. She bounced up on her toes and flung her arms around Luca’s neck while she kissed him with everything inside her.
Scott’s sighed dramatically and then raised his voice to pronounce them husband and wife. Neither of them broke the kiss because their first married kiss was going to set the tone for the rest of their lives. And this one was spectacular.
Luca watched his bride and her mom take on Megs Carter and Antonio Fortini in a game of cornhole. They’d spread a bunch of games around the yard of the Caboose and everyone was having fun. Rayce and Claude had built giant-sized versions of other games as well. Connect Four, Yahtzee, Jenga, and more. They were stored in the Caboose and available for anyone to use when they used the space.
Music played over speakers and some people were dancing. Luca wanted to drag Vi into his arms, but figured he should probably wait until the game was over.
Dave appeared beside him, holding a glass of lemonade. He’d given his team the day and following morning off and had taken on the duties by himself.
Luca raised his own glass in acknowledgement. “Here’s hoping for a quiet day for you.”
Dave clinked his glass. “So far, so good. It probably helps that most of the town is here.”
Luca laughed. “No kidding.” They’d decided on a come-and-go reception that was open to anyone who wanted to show up. And it was amazing. It had been a long time since Luca had felt surrounded by family, but he did today. And he figured he always would. This town had a habit of taking in lost and broken souls and helping them belong.
Megs threw both of her bean bags directly through the hole and squealed in victory. Everyone around the group cheered as well, including Vi and her mom who had just lost the game.
Laughing, Vi made her way over to where he and Dave stood. She kissed Luca lightly before turning to her boss. “Thanks again for taking on the extra shifts. We’ll make it up to you.”
Dave rolled his eyes. “Nothing to make up. It’s my pleasure. Now that I’ve got a line on a couple of people who might be the right fit for our town, we might not be as short-handed for too long.”
“Are you going to tell us anything about them, yet?”
Luca knew the chief had been playing his cards close to his flak jacket. He wanted to recruit people who loved small town life and were willing to build a life here. Not an easy task when so many preferred life in the bigger cities.
Dave grinned. “Not a chance. And certainly not on your wedding day. I’ve got a couple of video chats set up next week. I’ll let you all know more then. Now, why don’t you two go dance?”
Exactly what he wanted to do. Once again, Dave proved he was an incredibly observant man.
The dance floor was another creation by Rayce and Claude. It was a portable hardwood floor built in interconnecting sections. It let the ladies dance without worrying about breaking their shoes or their ankles dancing in the grass. Although Vi didn’t have to worry about that in her awesome sneakers.
He pulled her into his arms and leaned down to kiss her shoulder. The dress highlighted her toned arms to perfection. “You’re gorgeous.”
She smiled up at him. “So are you.”
He laughed and twirled her in a spin then leaned down to whisper in her ear. “The shoes are my favorite. I’m going to strip you out of that dress slowly and kiss every last inch, but I think the shoes stay on.”
He felt the shivers cover her skin and knew she was all in with that idea even before she grinned at him.
A clinking of glasses brought his attention back to the crowd around them. Nathan and Scott were holding up glasses and tapping them with spoons to get everyone’s attention. A beaming Emmy stood beside them with Ryan’s arm around her.
Of course, the tradition for the clinking was for him to kiss his bride. More than willing to accommodate their friends, he dipped Vi and kissed her thoroughly.
When they stood back up, her blush had extended to cover not only her face, but all of her skin above her dress. Later tonight, he’d kiss wherever it extended from there.
Scott called out to the crowd. “Thanks again to everyone for helping our happy couple celebrate their day. We have a little something for them from Officer Mooris who wasn’t able to make the party.”
Because Officer Mooris was the life-sized Moose station that stood outside the police station.
Malek Alexander, Nia’s son, piped up. “I bet he was too nervous to come because he hasn’t met ‘Boose yet.”
That had everyone laughing. Malek had named the building the Bloo Moose Caboose. He’d also named the moose statue that had appeared one morning, probably courtesy of Jaz LaChance. The new statue sported an oversized pair of striped overalls and matching ball cap with the name ‘Boose on the front.
Nathan grinned at Malek. “That’s exactly right.” He tossed the wrapped parcel he held to the boy. “How about you give the newlyweds the gift?”
Malek ran it up to Vi with a grin. “Congratulations.”
Vi raised her eyebrows at her friends. “Is this safe to open?”
Scott grinned. “Most of it. There’s one bit for you to open later.”
Vi’s skin flushed even deeper this time and Luca couldn’t wait to find out what the second package contained.
Vi blew out a deep breath and then ripped open the paper. She must have been a whirlwind on Christmas mornings. Inside there were two t-shirts. She passed one to him and kept the other one.
She shook hers out and held it up. On the front a cartoon figure of Deputy Mooris saluted them with a grin. Emmy’s work of course. The caption read Just Married. When Vi turned it around to show the crowd, they realized there was writing on the back. Mrs. Deputy.
Luca found the same print on the front of his shirt. On the back his said. Mrs. Deputy’s Groom.
He’d already shucked his suit jacket, so he slipped the shirt over his head. Vi pulled hers over her dress to the cheers of the crowd.
Only in Bloo Moose.
Vi was giddy with joy and love. It had been an amazing day but she was now tired and ready for some alone time with her husband.
As if she’d conjured him, Luca appeared at her side, still wearing the shirt Emmy had made for him. Her trademark blue brought out Luca’s eyes and made them even darker. Sexier.
Those eyes flared. “Whatever you’re thinking, I agree. Want to ditch the party?”
“I really do.”
He leaned down and kissed her nose. “Me too. Do we make an announcement or sneak out?”
Sneaking out sounded perfect. “Follow my lead.” She took his hand and led him to the near-empty dance floor and then they waltzed their way to the far side.
After a few moments, no one seemed to paying them any attention so she whispered. “Now.”
Luca took her hand and they ducked into the trees surrounding the area. Giggling, they snuck through the bush to the parking lot.
Where they found the entire crowd waiting for them.
Dave stood beside their car, arms crossed over his chest and a huge grin on his face. “We’re going to have to work on your evasive techniques, Deputy.” Then he tossed her a small package. “Officer Mooris sends his regards.”
Luca opened her door for her and helped her inside, with the package on her lap. Then he jogged around to his side and they drove off to cheers from the crowd. Instead of driving back to their end of town, Luca turned north on the main road. “Where are we going?”
He grinned at her. “I booked us Darby’s best room for the weekend. We need to put off a honeymoon until Dave gets those new people hired, but I thought we could do with a weekend. I packed you a bag, but if I forgot anything, it’s not that far.”
Her heart filled again and she squeezed his thigh. “You’re the best, Luca.”
He smiled as he pulled into the parking lot. “If I’m not, you’re stuck with me anyway, Mrs. Hart-Russo.”
When he turned off the car, she reached over to pull him into a kiss. “I love the sound of that, Mr. Deputy.”
He broke off the kiss. “I need you alone in a room before we take that any further. I dropped the bags off earlier and I’ve got the key. Wait there.”
Luca jogged around the car and then opened her door. When she started to stand, he shook his head and lifted her into his arms.
She kissed his neck. “Nice. You worry about the logistics. I’m going to be busy kissing my husband.”
He choked out a sound and flew up the stairs to the B&B then up the stairs and down the hallway to a room. Once they were inside, he kicked it shut behind them and leaned back. “Finally.”
She had his shirt undone beneath the t-shirt and she slid her hands onto his skin. “Hurry. Let’s hurry.”
“I want to taste every inch of my wife.”
His sexy growl had her shivering as desire flowed through her veins. She reached behind him to throw the deadbolt on the door. Luca took two steps and tossed her into the middle of the bed. She was laughing when she realized the bed was covered in rose petals.
Darby was a true romantic and Vi knew she’d appreciate it later. Now, she just wanted to appreciate Luca. Quickly.
He reached behind his head and yanked the t-shirt off in a move that always turned her on. Then he slid off his dress shirt leaving her with a fabulous view of his abs and chest. “More, Luca.”
Grinning he shucked the rest of his clothes in record time, then he covered her on the bed. Their kiss was frantic and his hands reached beneath her skirt and into her panties.
She nearly orgasmed when his fingers slid inside. They both groaned and she managed to whisper. “More.”
His head dropped onto her shoulder and his breathing was harsh. “I planned to go slow, to have you melting.”
His fingers moved again and she managed a laugh. “Any more melted and I’d be a puddle. We’ve been waiting all day, Luca. We can go slow next time.”
He kissed her and kept his hand moving. “True. We have lots and lots of next times to look forward to.”
He played with her clit and in moments she was skyrocketing through an orgasm that left her shattered and breathless and ready for more. So much more.
Just as she was coming to earth again, Luca slipped inside her. He held himself completely still until she opened her eyes to look at him.
“I love you, Vi. I’m going to love you forever.”
Her eyes filled with tears but she smiled. “I love you too, Luca. Forever. Always. I’m so glad we found each other.”
His eyes misted and he kissed her until he filled her body and her soul. The only thing she could say was his name as he took them both over the edge.
Vi lifted her foot to admire her sneaker. It really was perfect.
Luca lifted his head from where he lay on her belly. “I seriously love the shoes.”
They’d finally managed to get her naked except for the shoes and after three orgasms she wasn’t sure she’d ever leave the bed again. “We may have to move in. I’m not sure I’m ever going to want to leave.”
“I’m sure Darby won’t mind. You want some water?”
When she agreed, he kissed her then stood from the bed. He grabbed her dress and moved to a chair to set it over the top. Watching him move around the room while naked was pure pleasure and she felt her body unbelievably start to rev again.
He returned from the bathroom with a glass of water in his hand, but stopped on the way to pick something from the floor. The other package from her team.
He passed it to her. “You think it’s safe to open?”
She laughed and ripped open the package to find a square box. She pushed aside the tissue paper and just stared.
Luca took a drink and passed her the water. “What is it? You look like you’re in shock.”
She was. She really was. Luca took the box from her and she downed the rest of the glass of water. Her entire body was flushed and hot.
Luca laughed. “Seriously? I can’t believe they did this.”
Then he picked up the pair of handcuffs from the box. Not official police cuffs, but ones covered in blue fur the same color as their t-shirts. “You think Emmy is expanding her store’s merchandise?”
She started laughing as well. “I can’t believe they did this. I’m going to kill them all.”
Luca’s grin had goosebumps popping up all over her body. “First I think we need to try these out.” He spun them on his finger and held out his other hand for her. “What do you say, Deputy? Ready for a little more fun?”
She smiled back. “With you? I’m always ready for more.”