A Perfect Bride For Christmas

Scrooge had it right. Bah, humbug!

Christmas sucked long and hard.

Lights twinkled on the tree, reflecting off the windows of the darkened office. The smell of holiday spices wafted from the potpourri dish on Zoe

Hillman’s desk, filling the room with false cheer. It was Christmas Eve, and not even the large, make that huge, bonus check lifted her spirits.

“Bah, humbug.” She sniffed, wiped her tears for the umpteenth time before she checked her

resignation letter to Cox, Zuckerman, Howe & Stanford. No matter that her heart was shattered, her life over, it wouldn’t do for her last act as Alex King’s personal assistant to be sloppy and

unprofessional.

She reached into the candy dish on her desk,

absentmindedly unwrapped one of the truffles, and popped it in her mouth. The chocolate melted in a creamy, dark lushness designed to put a Band-Aid on her broken heart, but tonight her drug of choice didn’t work. Candy wrappers littered the floor, along with half a box of used tissues. The clock on her computer read 7 p.m. Alex would be married and on his way to Las Vegas by now. Bianca Freemont

would be his bride. Zoe’s brain whipped up an X-rated vision of the wedding night, and she grabbed another tissue to wipe her red nose and puffy eyes.

Her breath hitched, and she hit the SEND key

before she could change her mind.

God, she was so stupid.

A Perfect Bride

for Christmas

The Three Kings, Book I

by

Dyann Love Barr

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any

resemblance to actual persons living or dead,

business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

A Perfect Bride for Christmas: The Three

Kings, Book I

COPYRIGHT  2010 by Dyann Love Barr

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without

written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Angela Anderson

The Wild Rose Press

PO Box 706

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0706

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2010

Print ISBN 1-60154-858-3

Published in the United States of America

Dedication

To my mother, Violet Love.

This book should've been hers all along.

Thanks Mom.

And to Claire Ashgrove and Alicia Dean

for all the craziness.

A shout out to Shannon K. Butcher,

and most of all to my husband, Dennis.

Chapter One

December 2005, Kansas City

Scrooge had it right. Bah, humbug! Christmas

sucked long and hard.

Lights twinkled on the tree, reflecting off the windows of the darkened office. The smell of holiday spices wafted from the potpourri dish on Zoe

Hillman’s desk, filling the room with false cheer. It was Christmas Eve, and not even the large, make that huge, bonus check lifted her spirits.

“Bah, humbug.” She sniffed, wiped her tears for the umpteenth time before she checked her

resignation letter to Cox, Zuckerman, Howe & Stanford. No matter that her heart was shattered, her life over, it wouldn’t do for her last act as Alex King’s personal assistant to be sloppy and

unprofessional.

She reached into the candy dish on her desk,

absentmindedly unwrapped one of the truffles, and popped it in her mouth. The chocolate melted in a creamy, dark lushness designed to put a Band-Aid on her broken heart, but tonight her drug of choice didn’t work. Candy wrappers littered the floor, along with half a box of used tissues. The clock on her computer read 7 p.m. Alex would be married and on his way to Las Vegas by now. Bianca Freemont

would be his bride. Zoe’s brain whipped up an X-rated vision of the wedding night. She grabbed

another tissue to wipe her red nose and puffy eyes.

Her breath hitched, and she hit the SEND key

1

Dyann Love Barr

before she could change her mind.

God, she was so stupid.

She’d been in love with Alex from the first day he walked through the door of the law firm. He

winked at her as he passed her desk. How could she not fall for all that dark hair, startlingly blue eyes, and a smile designed to charm the panties off any woman under the age seventy?

Not that Alex ever tried with her.

Another wrapper and tissue hit the floor.

Alex relied on her. She organized his office, his life—hell, she even organized his house when he complained he never could find his socks. Zoe

became his best friend, his confidant. She sent flowers to his women, found a housekeeper to keep him from living in bachelor squalor. She did

everything a wife did for a man, except share his bed. The hours they spent working together, alone at night in the office, were the gems in her pathetic life.

He’d drop by her apartment after his Sunday jogs with Lamar’s donuts. They’d discuss various cases, the news and sometimes watch a DVD. She had him to herself for those few brief hours. But nothing she did could get him to see her as a woman, a woman who’d walk over hot coals if it meant he would say he loved her.

Instead, he told everyone she was his right

hand, and sometimes his left. His pal. Zoe blinked tears out of her eyes and turned off her computer.

Over the last three years, he’d risen in the firm from a new hire to junior partner. Everyone loved him.

The man could do no wrong.

Except marry the right woman.

Bianca Freemont was cold, calculating, and just plain mean. Alex’s life didn’t have room for both Bianca and Zoe. He couldn’t see they were like cats in a bag. Hissing and snarling at each other. But 2

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

Alex saw Bianca as the perfect wife for an attorney going places. So did the partners.

Zoe sniffed and reached for another truffle. She suffered in silence, despising herself for being the stereotypical secretary-falling-in-love-with-her-boss like the plots of many of the romance novels she devoured, along with six thousand calories a day. So, here she sat with a hundred and fifty extra pounds of requited love.

How lame. All she got for her efforts for years of devotion was a stuffy head, runny nose, and puffy eyes to go with a broken heart.

A surge of anger replaced the hurt.

Let Alex find out who really watched over him,

cared for him, loved him. He wouldn’t be able to function without her. Bianca wouldn’t know where his socks were, but then again, there’d be no need for socks on the honeymoon.

She had to strike out on her own, find a new life that didn’t center on a man she could never have.

Zoe opened the drawer of her desk where she

stashed her purse, grabbed up another tissue to stem the tears washing over her cheeks. The clutter on the floor by her chair made her stop. Her bulk made it impossible to bend down and pick up the evidence of her emotional tsunami. Zoe let out a sigh as she got on her hands and knees. Voices on the other side of the door stopped her cold. Zoe’s hand smothered her squeak of surprise. Everyone had left for the Christmas holiday. She’d thought she was

alone in the office, maybe even the building.

The cleaners had already come and gone. Her

heart stammered in her chest, her breath came in short pants. Part of her breathing problem came from the effort of getting to the floor in the first place, but she didn’t want to be caught alone by some burglar…or worse. She couldn’t get to her feet and run, not with bad knees and ankles. She scooted 3

Dyann Love Barr

under the cubby of her large antique desk, hoping the small enclosure would provide an adequate

hiding space. Zoe held her breath.

The door of Alex’s office burst open. Tommy

Dunne’s voice slurred. “Why the hell do you want the tickets to Vegas if the bitch dumped you at the altar?”

Relief washed over her. No rapist, just an

asshole. What had he said? Dumped at the altar?

Alex hadn’t married Bianca?

“Because, my friend, I’m getting married

tonight.” Alex sounded as drunk as his best man.

“You’re full of crap, and booze. Who are you

going to get to marry you?” He paused. “At seven in the evening?”

“I’ll marry the first single woman I see, “Alex snorted. “I’ll bet you a thousand dollars, no make that five thousand I can get someone to do it.”

“I still say you’re full of crap, but it’s a bet.”

“Just watch me. Bianca isn’t the only one who

can make a point. I’m getting married on Christmas Eve, so screw her. Family tradition and all that. Got to get married on Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad got married on Christmas Eve, and they have a perfect marriage.” Anger wove through his voice. “Bianca overreacted. A pretty girl smiles at me, I smile back.

I wasn’t flirting with her bridesmaid. Damn it, I’m not going to walk on eggshells just because I smile at a woman. I like women, I can’t help it. It’s my nature.”

“I noticed.”

“S’not my fault she backed me up against the

wall and tried to kiss me.”

“Not your fault at all.”

“S’truth.”

“Right.” Tommy Dunne’s voice held a touch of

disbelief.

“Honestagod,” Alex slurred his words together.

4

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

Zoe leaned back against her desk, hoping they

would go into Alex’s office so she could make a hasty and quiet escape. No such luck.

“Where are the tickets?”

“Zoe’s desk.”

Oh, dear God, don’t let them come over here
. She stuffed her hand into her mouth. The tickets were in Alex’s desk; she’d put them there this morning and specifically told him they were in the upper left drawer. How could he have forgotten?
Oh yeah, she
was talking about Alex.
If it didn’t involve jurisprudence, Alex was an organizational disaster waiting to happen.

She heard one of them come closer.

“Know s’it’s here somewhere.” Alex shuffled

things around on her desk.

“S’not here. Wait, wait, s’it’s in my office.”

She held her breath until little spirals of color and black dots danced in front of her eyes. Zoe squeezed her eyes shut, but it didn’t stop her

internal light show.

“Zoe?”

Busted. She let out the breath with a whoosh.

“Yes?”

Alex came around the desk and perched his fine

butt on the edge. Tommy couldn’t resist following Alex.

“Whatcha doing, Zoe Pie?” Tommy smirked.

Zoe ground her teeth. She disliked Tommy as

much as she loved Alex. How could he have such a stupid and offensive friend? Being rich shouldn’t give him a license to be an asshole. In his mind, however, it did.

Tommy came up with the vile nickname. Alex

told her he liked it but hadn’t known the real reason behind it. The nasty barb resulted when Tommy

once found her face-first in a large piece of French Silk pie. Sending flowers to Alex’s flavor of the 5

Dyann Love Barr

month always took its toll.

“Leaving.” She threw the trash into the waste

can and picked up her purse. Her position made it hard to look dignified, but she managed to stand.

Her hands brushed down over her loose brown

slacks. “For good.”

Alex jumped to his feet and wobbled. “Whoa,

head rush.” He steadied himself by using Zoe’s

shoulder. His hand sent little shivers of delight through Zoe’s body, the tingling sensation landing square between her legs. She closed her eyes, trying to resist the pull Alex had on her. Maybe she should seek professional help. That’s it, she planned to thumb through the Yellow Pages as soon as she got home.

“Wait, wait, what do you mean?” Alex frowned.

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