Caught Between an Oops and a Hard Body
Stephanie Goodwin has never met a prince who didn’t turn out to be a frog, but she’s never allowed her personal feelings about men and relationships to interfere with her job as a wedding planner. Instead, she focuses on giving her clients their dream wedding, a magical day to get them through the trials and tribulations of the years ahead—before everything turns to dust.
Hotshot divorce lawyer, Stone Kincaid, has an aversion to marriage. His experience has taught him that wedding vows only lead to a broken heart that never really heals and an empty bank account. But when he returns to his family’s Serendipity Island estate to stop his irresponsible sister’s wedding, he encounters the wedding planner from hell—the gorgeous, sexy woman he met and bedded a month ago.
Can a woman with a history of picking the wrong kind of guy find a forever kind of love with a man who fears commitment almost as much as she does?
This story includes a marriage-phobic wedding planner, a hunky divorce lawyer whose attitude toward family—and wedded bliss—is about to change, one really big OOPS, afternoon naughtiness, peanut butter cookies, messy family relationships, and a battle-of-the-sexes secondary romance.
Complete Character List:
- Stephanie Goodwin: Our heroine, a marriage-phobic wedding planner who’s faced with one really big OOPS.
- Stone Kincaid: Our hero, a hunky divorce lawyer whose attitude toward family—and wedded bliss—are about to change.
- Grace Kincaid: Stone’s mom and hostess of the popular Eternally Yours show, spouts marriage advice, but she’s harboring a huge secret that could ruin her reputation and her show.
- Jim Kincaid: Stone’s dad, recently retired and addicted to golf instead of his wife, he’s got a secret of his own that could destroy his manhood.
- Liz Kincaid: Stone’s 23 year old sister, spoiled, irresponsible, flighty, and about to get married.
- Roger Gordon: 25 year old lead singer of the rock band Crazy Heart, will do anything for his almost-wife, including tolerating her family.
- Mariam Kincaid-Jones: Stone’s sister, recently divorced and still recovering from her husband’s betrayal, has a 6 month old toddler.
- Jim Jr: Mariam’s six month old toddler, named after his grandpa Jim.
- Kevin Donahue: Stone’s best friend and college roommate, he goes on secret government assignments is secretly in love with a certain somebody.
- Mandy Goodwin: Stephanie’s younger sister and the heroine from The Valentine Grinch.
- Dane Weatherby: Serendipity’s new newspaper editor, recently engaged to Mandy Goodwin.
- Dora Goodwin: Stephanie and Mandy’s mom, lover of all things wedding, a wanna-be grandma.
- Tom Goodwin: Stephanie and Mandy’s dad, and Dora’s very patient—and very sneaky—husband.
- Wanda: Stone’s assistant.
- Dr. Harry Strom: Serendipity’s medical doctor.
- Sandy Strom: Harry’s wife.
- Ned Strom: Harry’s twin brother and co-owner of island’s only insurance business.
- Nancy Strom: Ned’s wife and much annoyed business partner.
- Dr. Andy Johnson: Serendipity’s dentist.
- Leta Johnson: Andy’s wife who greets him every night at the door with a drink in her hand, supper on the table, wearing nothing more than an apron and her birthday suit.
Extras & Tidbits: Want to get the inside scoop on this story? Then check out the blog posts below.
Ever since the release of book three in the Caught Between series (Caught Between a Rock and a Hunka Man), I’ve wanted to change out the series covers to better differentiate the books from my Rocky Mountain series. After all, the Caught Between series is all fun and...read more
Looking for the perfect beach read? Then I highly recommend 🙂 the newest release in the Caught Between series! Stephanie Goodwin has never met a prince who didn’t turn out to be a frog, but she’s never allowed her personal feelings about men and relationships to...read more
Stone carries this picture of Stephanie and their firstborn son in his wallet and on his iPhone. Have you read Caught Between an Oops and a Hard Body yet? If so, then you’ll know who was in the picture with Stephanie the very first time he clicked off a shot of her…and what it led him to realize.
After the birth of her first child, Stephanie Goodwin-Kincaid expanded her wedding planning business by opening a bridal shop in downtown Serendipity. The exclusive and much in demand shop, A Bride To Remember, caters to the local islanders and tourists alike.
Recently, when rumors of a well known, but yet unnamed, celebrity toured the shop and ordered a one-of-a-kind wedding dress, the shop was featured on Entertainment Tonight show.
For his (forced) retirement present to himself, Jim Kincaid built a 9 hole golf course in his backyard, much to the annoyance of his better half, Grace Kincaid. There he golfs with his best friends, twins Harry and Ned Strom, and Andy Johnson, who all know his rules of the golf course.
CAUGHT BETWEEN AN OOPS AND A HARD BODY
On an early spring morning in Seattle, a month after his great-uncle’s wedding, Stone Kincaid’s inner office intercom buzzed, and the disembodied voice of his legal assistant, Wanda, came through the device.
“Your mother called. She said your dad is at it again. I suggested he might be bored, but Grace reminded me that golf season on Serendipity Island runs year round. What more could the man possibly want?”
“Peace and quiet?” Stone scrawled his name on the document in front of him, then leaned back on his chair as his assistant walked into his office. “How much trouble can he get into down there?”
“I asked her that precise question.”
When she didn’t continue, he raised one eyebrow and finally prompted, “And?”
“She said keeping your father in line is your job.”
“Yeah, right. Nobody keeps my father in line,” he snorted and returned his attention to the file in front of him, pretty certain that being a divorce lawyer—not a babysitter—was his primary occupation. Although occasionally, he conceded, the two were eerily similar. “What about Mariam or Liz?”
“Exactly my question. She said your baby sister is far too sensitive to shoulder that kind of responsibility. And Mariam? Well, Mariam has her own problems right now.” Wanda laid a single sheet of paper down in front of him and indicated the line at the bottom of the page. With a brief look to confirm the contents of the letter, he scrawled his name across the bottom. “By the way, Bill Tremaine called. He wishes to retain your services. It seems he’s met someone.”
“Again?” he muttered with disgust. Despite Stone’s aversion for the institution of marriage, even he knew where to draw the line. “How many is this?”
“Wife number five.”
“Bill’s an idiot.”
“Mmmmmm,” she hummed. “Would you like me to pass on your sentiments?”
“Just book him in for an appointment as soon as you can. Let’s see if I can talk some sense into him this time. He’s not getting any younger, you know.”
“But his wives sure are. And with every new wife, his bank account diminishes, just like his hairline.” Wanda scooped the documents off his desk, stuffed them into the file folder in the crook of her arm, and jotted a note on her steno pad. “Did you watch your mother’s show today?”
He glanced up at the dark screen that sat in the corner of his office. “You’re kidding, right?”
“I never kid about marriage.” She gave him one of her steely-eyed looks. “The Eternally Yours show is an institution. If you watched it, you might actually learn something about what makes the female species tick.”
“Maybe I don’t want to know what makes them tick,” he said as he slouched back in his chair.
She shook her head, a disgusted expression creasing lines on her forehead and at the sides of her mouth. “You’re as bad as Bill. The only difference between the two of you is that at least you have the common sense to refrain from giving wedding rings to every woman you want to get into the sack.”
Sarcasm. Coming from the queen of sarcasm. He ignored it and with a resigned sigh, prodded her. “Was there something else or are you hanging around to make my life miserable?”
Lifting her chin and thrusting her nose into the air, Wanda headed toward the door. “Reminding you about your family is one of the few joys in my life.”
“And forgetting I have a family is one of the few joys in my life.” Stone watched as Wanda clicked the device at her hip to answer the main phone line.
“It’s your baby sister.” She switched the call over to his phone, then returned to his desk and riffled through the stacks of paper in his inbox.
Stone snatched up the receiver. “Hey Liz, what’s—”
“It’s Mother,” his twenty-three-year-old sister wailed into the phone. “I need you at home today or I swear, Stone, I’ll kill her and bury her on the ninth green of Dad’s golf course.”
Home. Stone’s grip on the receiver tightened. His parents were no doubt at it again. Although what his sister was doing home in the middle of the week was a puzzle. “Liz, settle down. Take a deep breath and tell me what’s wrong.”
“She wants me to cancel my wedding. My wedding. How can she even suggest this? Less than a week before the wedding, and she wants me to call the caterers and flower shops and cancel everything.”
Lucky you, he thought, and then her words sunk in. He frowned up at his assistant. “What wedding?”
A breath of total frustration whooshed through the phone. “I’m getting married on Friday. Didn’t you get my email?”
“What email?” He watched Wanda pull out a single piece of paper from his inbox and set it on the desk in front of him. A big red sticky note was attached to the page with the word URGENT scrawled in his assistant’s handwriting.
You are cordially invited…
He tried to get his mind around the fact that it still wasn’t too late for his sister to escape a destiny worse than death. “Maybe this is fate’s way of saving you from a bad mistake.”
Stone heard Liz’s feral hiss through the phone line. “Screw fate. Fate was when Roger blew into my life.”
“No,” Stone said in what he hoped was a reasonable tone. “Fate was when your ninth grade english teacher told you to become a journalist. Fate was when you landed the news job at CNN.” He shook his head. “Who’s Roger?”
“Roger is my fiancee, the man I’m going to marry on Friday.” Liz blew an angry breath through the phone. “Roger and I planned to elope to Vegas. No fuss. No hassle. No family. Just the camera crew.”
“Roger wants to put the wedding up on You Tube for publicity.”
“Publicity?” Okay, now he was starting to sound like a parrot. “What does this guy do?”
“He’s a musician. If you got your head out of that office once in a while, you’d know what was going on in the rest of the world.” Another hiss sounded. “This is Mother’s way of wielding control. First, she talked me into having the wedding at the estate. I thought, great. Beautiful setting, no fuss, nothing elaborate. I should’ve known she had a hidden agenda.” She sucked in a breath of air and continued. “Now, suddenly she thinks it’s wrong that we get married at all?”
Empathy kicked in and he frowned. “She’s just thinking of what’s best for you.”
“Yeah, right. You don’t believe that any more than I do. All mother cares about is herself and her stupid show and her stupid viewers. Roger embarrasses her, that’s the bottom line.” Lizzie let loose with a growl, then lowered her voice and continued. “What am I supposed to tell him? He’s arriving tomorrow, expecting to get married at the end of the week. He’ll be so upset to find out that everything he’s done this past month has been for nothing.”
Stone covered the mouthpiece with one hand and glared up at his assistant. “Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?”
Wanda smirked back at him. “Because you ignore your family.”
Liz’s wail carried through the ear piece, making Stone hold the receiver away from his ear.
“Stone, please. I need you at my side to support me. Now that she’s got this crazy idea in her head, you know she won’t let go of it. I need a buffer between us or she’ll win. By the end of the week, Roger and I will be going our separate ways.”
Silence filtered through the line and Stone had the irresistible urge to tell his baby sister to run like the wind. Because wedding vows only lead to a broken heart that never healed and an empty bank account. His sister, whether or not she’d agree, would be far better off with his mother’s new plan.
Her voice came through the phone again, soft and pleading. “Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Of course I do.” He motioned for Wanda’s attention. “Just for the record, I don’t give family discounts.”
“What?” Pause. “Oh, never mind. Forget I called you. I’ll just tell Roger that my favorite brother has tossed us to the big bad wolf.”
“I’m your only brother.” He rubbed the back of his neck. Frustration leaked into his voice. “Okay, forget about how I feel about marriage. You know Mom makes me crazy, Liz.”
“Stone, she makes everyone crazy.” A sob sounded over the telephone line. “Please. I can’t deal with her myself.”
“Darn it, Liz, don’t you cry.”
“I’m not.” She sniffled, blew her nose. “I just want to marry Roger and spend the rest of my life making him happy.”
He heard a click, blinked at his assistant, then realized that Wanda was eavesdropping on their conversation. More fodder for the gossip mill. Who cared? It wasn’t his life, just another major moment in the lives of his crazy family. He covered the mouthpiece. “Find out everything you can about some musician named Roger.”
The screen in the corner of his office clicked on and his assistant connected to the internet.
On the other end of the phone, Liz was still talking. “Do you know what Mother told me? She said, screw Roger. Literally. Forget about marriage and babies. Have sex with him, then move on to the next man.”
An image popped onto the screen and Stone sat forward to get a better look. Standing beside his sister was a familiar busty blond. “She has a point, Liz. No commitment. No headaches. Just fun for both sides.”
Fun, like he’d had a month ago with an unforgettable sex goddess who right this very moment was staring back at him from the screen. What was she doing with his sister?
Liz hissed into the phone. “I should’ve known that the king of divorce would be on her side.”
Stone stared at the image of the woman he’d met at his great uncle’s wedding and recalled the way she’d looked naked on the hotel room bed, hair splayed on the pillow, reaching for him.
All they’d exchanged were first names…and one night of great sex and companionship.
And when he woke the next morning, she was gone.
A part of him had been relieved there would be no awkward goodbyes.
Another part of him—the one that occasionally wondered if there might be one special woman somewhere out in the mass of people he passed on his way into the office everyday—had stared at the indentation left on her pillow and wondered, what if she was the one?
He squashed the wave of desire that hit him square in the gut. Now wasn’t the time to recall how she’d come apart in his arms or to remember her tight warmth as she took all of him inside of her. The woman might have been great in the sack, but she was looking for a ring around her finger and a permanent man in her life, just like every other woman he knew.
He dragged his gaze from the gorgeous blond on the screen and, as Wanda began to cycle through screen shots and images of his sister goofing off, being silly and irresponsible and young as she dated and discarded men like they were a commodity that grew on trees, he turned his back on the TV. “Liz, you’re only twenty-three. What’s the rush? If this Roger fellow loves you, he’ll wait.”
“I’ve seen the way women look at him. I want to be married, Stone. I want a baby. I want to make a life with Roger and have a real family. Don’t you ever think about that?” Liz sighed into the phone. “Never mind, I know how you feel. But despite that, can I count on you to help me out?”
He raked a hand through his hair and knew what he had to do even before he made the conscious decision to return home and somehow make his sister see reason. “Yes, I’ll be there. You know I’d never abandon you.”
The shrillness and panic in her voice softened to gratitude. “Thank you. You are the best brother ever.”
She thought that now, but as they said their goodbyes and Stone set the receiver back in its cradle, he knew he had only one avenue of action. Return to Serendipity Island and stop the wedding, even if Liz chose not to talk to him for the rest of his life.
He swiveled back to the TV and watched the images of his baby sister. With an eleven year difference between them, and parents who chased their careers instead of chasing their toddler, he’d spent most of his teen years playing the father figure. And now when she needed him the most, he couldn’t let her down.
An image popped up on the screen.
“Stop right there.” Stone pushed to his feet and wandered closer, ignoring the gorgeous blonde beside his sister. The man in the photo wore a red tuxedo, a pink shirt, and a purple bow tie. His long black hair curled to his waist and he wore more makeup than Stone had ever seen on anyone. “Please don’t tell me that’s the groom.”
“Roger Gordon, aka Jingles, lead singer of the rock band Crazy Heart.” Wanda checked her notes. “It appears your sister met him at a charity auction last month and they were engaged a week later.”
He frowned. “Is she knocked up?”
“Haven’t a clue. Always a possibility, I suppose.” Wanda checked her notes again, then turned her head so she could look up at him. “The other woman. If you have a type, she’s it, but I’m warning you to stay away from her.”
Stone attention returned to the blonde. “Dating advice? When was the last time you went on a date?”
“My personal life is my business.”
“While mine is a wide open book?”
“Works for me.” She clicked through to another photo of his sister and Stephanie. “Stephanie Goodwin. Wedding planner extraordinaire. Liz loves her, maybe even more than she loves Roger. So whatever you do, be nice to the wedding planner and when this is all over, your sister may still be talking to you.”
Everything in Stone screeched to a halt.
The woman he hadn’t been able to forget was gorgeous and sexy and a freaking wedding planner, a lethal combination that he instantly recognized as deadly to his bachelor status.
Gut instinct warned him it was time to disappear, maybe do something safe like climb Mount Everest. Stephanie Goodwin was the woman who for an entire night had kept him a willing prisoner in his hotel room and entertained him with her body, her wit, and her zest for life.
Stone dragged his attention back to his assistant. “Order the helicopter.”
“Already done, sir.” She handed him airline tickets that would take him from Seattle to Florida to St. Croix where he could either take the ferry to the small Caribbean island where he’d grown up, or book a helicopter for the short flight to the island. “Five minutes ago, you sent an e-mail to your mother confirming your arrival at their island estate tomorrow afternoon.”
He returned to his desk, grabbed his briefcase, and started chucking items into it, trying to be cool and nonchalant while he struggled against the image he’d attempted to block from his memory. Stephanie Goodwin, naked and flat on her back beneath him.
Could they continue their sexual relationship without any complications like love and marriage?
He huffed out a sigh. Wedding planner? No way.
And yet, as the memory of making love to Stephanie flooded his body, he thought, if the sex could be that hot every single night of his life, it might make up for a miserable marriage—
No, what was he thinking? Marriage was for fools.
“It’ll be on board the helicopter when you leave.”
He finally stopped and looked at her. This woman who ran his professional life without so much as a blip in her expression. She was a mystery to him while his life was an open book. “Pack your bags, Wanda. I need you to come with me.”
She backed up a step and crossed her fingers in front of her chest. “Deal with your family yourself.”
With a sour look in his direction, she pulled open the door, exited the room, and left Stone alone to contemplate his family. At this moment, he was sure of only three things.
That he’d rather book a trip anywhere but home.
That marriage was for never.
And that when he encountered the wedding planner, he was going to avoid her like the plague.
If he didn’t screw up and kiss her first.