Noah Parks is the ridiculously gorgeous, motorcycle-riding, cage-match-fighting equivalent of kryptonite for Lindsay Harper. And she's going to need every last ounce of her strength now that she's the legal guardian of her brother's five orphaned children. For the sake of her new family, it's time to give up her carefree single ways. Stop being the cool aunt and become a parent. And fight this crazy attraction to Noah. Sure, there's a side of him she can't help falling for…the one who volunteers as a firefighter and helps at-risk youth. The irresistibly kind and caring side. But she is a nurse, after all. She can't love an MMA fighter, a man she regularly has to scan for physical trauma… Can she?
10 years earlier...not that Lindsay Harper remembers
WHEN LINDSAY TOOK the microphone from Ben Walker, her brother’s best man, there was a collective groan throughout the Brookhollow community center, which was elegantly decorated for the event. The wedding guests had already sat through the slightly slurred speech the maid of honor had delivered moments before, filled with embarrassing stories about her kid brother. “Excuse me...” she said into the microphone, tapping it. “Is this thing on?” She laughed as she held the microphone too close to her lips.
“Lindsay, everyone loved your speech...now it’s my turn,” the best man said.
But she moved the microphone out of his reach and took several steps toward the head table, tripping over the dangling cord as she went in her four-inch heels.
Nathan’s smile had faded and his new wife’s was forced. “When my brother told me he was going to propose to Ra...Rachel—” she winked at her “—I was jealous.” Leave it to Lindsay to make her brother’s special day about her in some way. It wasn’t enough that she’d shortened the maid-of-honor dress to way above the knee—and whether or not she was wearing underwear was still a debate among the table of single men in the corner of the room—or that she’d been ten minutes late to the ceremony and was now questionably sober at that early hour. Unfortunately it didn’t seem as if there was any stopping the train wreck about to happen. “I mean, he is two years younger than me,” she continued. “Aren’t I supposed to get married first? After all, I am older.”
Yes, she’d mentioned that.
“Lindsay, I think we need to move this along,” said Jim Bishop, the master of ceremony, reaching for the microphone.
“Stop it,” she said, smacking his hand away. She moved closer to the head table. “But then it all made sense—why this we...wedding was ha...happening so quickly.”
Rachel’s eyes widened and Nathan shot his new bride a questioning look.
Lindsay turned and pointed at Rachel. “I mean, Rachel wanted to look skinny in her wedding photos...and a baby bump sure wouldn’t have worked in that dress, would it, Rach?” She smiled at her new sister-in-law.
Nathan’s mouth gaped.
Both the groom and the bride’s mothers turned to glare at each other. Clearly neither had known.
Rachel slumped in her chair, her cheeks glowing.
“You’re pregnant?” Nathan asked her.
Rachel couldn’t look up at her husband. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the community center as everyone strained to hear what she would say. “I was going to tell you later tonight...and everyone else at a later time, but...yes, I am,” she said, her voice barely a whisper. She twisted her napkin in her fingers.
“Are you serious?” he asked, cupping his wife’s face. The two sat there, frozen, staring into each other’s eyes.
All the wedding guests leaned in, trying to decipher the moment.
And then Nathan kissed her, whispered something in her ear, and the pair burst into laughter. The room erupted into applause as congratulations rang out and more champagne was opened in celebration. The couple shared another kiss and the mothers-in-law hugged, despite it being no secret they weren’t fond of each other, and then went to hug the bride.
Lindsay leaned across the table to join the group hug, but her mother blocked her, so she stood, looking bored and annoyed. Damage done and no longer in the spotlight, she brought the microphone to her lips again, though no one was really paying attention anymore. “You’re welcome,” she said, raising her wineglass to the couple before passing out in a heap on the floor—and settling the bet in the corner.