Spotlight: Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen
Addison Murphy is the funny friend, the girl you grab a beer with—the girl voted most likely to start her own sweatshirt line. And now that one of her best guy friends is getting married, she’ll add “groomsman” to that list, too. She’ll get through this wedding if it’s the last thing she does. Just don’t ask her to dive for any bouquet.
When Tucker Crawford returns to his small hometown, he expects to see the same old people, feel comfort in the same old things. He certainly doesn’t expect to see the nice pair of bare legs sticking out from under the hood of a broken-down car. Certainly doesn’t expect to feel his heart beat faster when he realizes they belong to one of his best friends.
If he convinces Addie to give him a chance, they could be electric…or their break-up could split their tight-knit group in two.
Hiding the way he feels from the guys through bachelor parties, cake tastings, and rehearsals is one thing. But just as Tucker realizes that Addie truly could be the perfect woman for him—he was just too stupid to realize it—now she’s leaving to follow her own dreams. He’s going to need to do a lot of compromising if he’s going to convince her to take a shot at forever with him—on her terms this time.
Tucker cut across the town square, glancing around for the familiar blond ponytail. He’d put in a solid three days on the boat, and as he’d been forcing his stiff muscles to power through this afternoon, it felt like his arms were a hair from giving out. Now they were in the limp noodle range. Addie had teased him about being out of shape after sitting behind a desk for so long, and while his gym sessions had kept him fit, he was feeling the burn. There was just something different about manual labor, gym or not.
He’d been wanting an excuse to stop while telling himself he couldn’t start his own business and make it successful by taking half a day off partway through the week when his phone had rung.
“So, you know how you’re a bum now?” Addie had asked the second he’d picked up.
Glad for a legitimate reason to take a break, he’d dropped his tools and leaned against the wall of the shed. “Really? A bum?”
Her laugh had carried over the line and made him smile. “It’s my day off, but Lexi roped me into helping her plan the wedding—”
“She asked you to help with wedding stuff?” It was too funny, picturing her picking out dresses and flowers—hell, he bet if any guy tried to buy her flowers she’d hurl them at his head while yelling something like How dare you treat me like a girl!
“Okay, Mr. Incredulous, I had the same reaction, but apparently, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi, I’m someone’s only hope. And it’d help me not be so bored if you came along for the ride.”
Damn, how could he resist such a solid Star Wars reference? Not that he wouldn’t make her work a little harder for it. “What’s in it for me?”
She made an offended noise. “You get to hang out with yours truly, and we might actually get a chance to catch up without being interrupted every five minutes—well, since we’ll be in town, that’s not entirely true, but you get what I’m sayin’. Plus, we can give the rumor mill a push and scare all the older people that we’re together again and most likely plannin’ shenanigans. They’ll bar up the windows, bring their pies in off the sills.”
“So we’re bears?”
She growled, the weakest-sounding bear ever, then snort-laughed. “Pretend I didn’t do that.”
“Not sure I can unhear it.” He’d glanced down at himself, thinking he could use a shower. You know, for shenanigans reasons. Not because he cared about being sweaty and covered in sawdust in front of Addie. He’d told her he’d meet her in thirty, and he even wore the beat-up Saints hat she loathed to keep himself in line. Maybe that would also keep her in line, which was a moot point, because she didn’t seem to be having any trouble.
The shops lining the streets appeared very much the same. A few had new paint and new names, but not much had changed. Not much ever did here, and after years of too much change, too much traffic, and too many people, he took a moment to enjoy the slower pace and nostalgic timelessness.
Then the blond ponytail came into view. She’d paired a simple T-shirt with frayed, cut-off shorts that displayed a whole lot of leg, and he quickly jerked his gaze back to the unchanged buildings.
Now if he could only keep his feelings for one of his best friends from changing, that’d be great. Apparently it was going to take extra effort. “How do you feel about the fact that I’m only here because I had literally nothing else to do?” he joked as she approached.
“Relieved,” she said, without a hint of teasing. “I thought maybe Nonna Lucia would wanna help, but she informed me she has a social life, and then added that I needed to get one, too.”
“Real subtle, your grandma.”
“Right?” Addie pulled a folded paper out of the back pocket of the shorts that he absolutely wasn’t looking at. “Okay, so first up, I need to figure out how many strings of lights and yards of tulle we need to decorate the gazebo.” She looked from the list to the gazebo and then back to the list. “I’m assuming yards means tulle is a fabric?”
He shrugged. “Sounds right to me,” he said, although he was totally out of his league, a feeling he could see reflected in Addie’s expression.
Cindi Madsen is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.