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The Runaway Bride : Love Inspired Historical Series
The only husband Lorelei Wilkins ever wanted was Sean O'Brien, but she's wasted too much time waiting for him to love her back. When another man proposes, she accepts--until she stands at the altar...and realizes she can't marry without love. Bolting out of town toward a fresh start, she never suspected her parents would send Sheriff O'Brien to bring her home!
After an innocent mistake leaves Lorelei and her reluctant rescuer with compromised reputations, marriage is their only option. But first they must triumph over suspicious locals, shady characters, an inconvenient groom and the bride's own stubborn heart. Will it take putting their lives on the line for Sean and Lorelei to realize that only love can conquer all?
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from The Runaway Bride by Noelle Marchand
Lorelei Wilkins, will you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health: forsaking all others, keeping only unto him so long as you both shall live?"
Lorelei's eyes widened as she stared silently at Reverend Sparks. Did he have any idea how formidable those words sounded? If she was making a mistake, it would be irreversible. Yet, he stood there waiting. Waiting--just like the man beside her who'd gone through the trouble of slicking back his hair, shining his boots and donning a fancy shirt. She glanced at her groom. Lawson Williams swallowed nervously.
"I.." Her gaze slipped to Lawson's best man. Sean O'Brien's green eyes watched her carefully. He was probably wondering if she was going to prove that his suspicion about her had been right all along. Hadn't he secretly warned Lawson not to court her? Some secret.
She'd heard the words he hadn't intended for her ears two years ago, and they reverberated in her thoughts even now.
"You 're making a mistake. Lorelei isn't the kind of girl you can count on. She's always been flighty and insincere. If you aren't careful, you 'll end up with a broken heart."
She turned back to Reverend Sparks. "Will you repeat the second question?"
Nervous laughter spread through the church behind her, but she listened carefully as he repeated. "Will you love--"
He continued, but that one word was all she needed to hear. Would she love Lawson, as a wife should love her husband, for as long as the two of them lived? She couldn't do this to herself, and she certainly couldn't do it to Lawson...because the answer was no.
Shaking her head, she took a halting step backward. Gasps tore through the air as she lifted her white skirt and ran down the aisle she'd just marched up. The doors of the church burst open with a bang, and light flooded the sanctuary as she tripped quickly down the stairs onto the lawn. Gasping in quick hard breaths, she only escaped a few feet before she heard footsteps behind her.
"Lorelei!" a strident voice called.
She ignored it. Pressing the back of her hand to her lips, she felt the lump of her engagement ring. A hand caught her arm. "Lorelei?"
She swung around to face her intended. "I can't. I can't do this. I'm so sorry, Lawson."
His handsome face noticeably paled. "What do you mean you can't do this? We're getting married today. Right now."
She swallowed. "It isn't right."
"What are you talking about?" Painful silence lingered in the air until he stepped toward her. "I thought you loved me."
"I do love you, Lawson, but not in the way a woman should love the man she's going to marry. I wish that I did," she said sorrowfully, then tilted her head to survey him carefully. "Do you love me like that, Lawson? Can you honestly tell me that you do?"
He turned away from her and dragged his fingers through his hair before he met her gaze again. His answer was halting, almost inaudible. "No."
She pulled in a deep breath and tugged the ring from her finger. "Then this shouldn't belong to me."
His eyes filled with resignation as he took it from her. He allowed her a curt nod before he walked back toward the church where his best man waited on the steps. Her gaze caught only briefly on that figure before she turned away.
She'd barely made it to Main Street when her delicate white boots began to pinch her feet. She allowed herself a grimace as she leaned against the wall of Maddie's Cafe and rustled through the satin overlay and layers of tulle to reach her shoes.
"If you wait here, I can get the buggy and drive you home."
Her heart stilled at the sound of Sean's voice. She gritted her teeth. "No, thank you. I'll walk."
"Now, Lorelei--" His deep voice drawled.
Her blue eyes lifted to meet his suspiciously. "Why are you here?"
"Lawson asked me to see you home."
Frowning, she rooted around for the other shoe. "I don't need anyone to see me home."
He lifted an imperious brow, and she barely kept from rolling her eyes. She knew what that meant. Sean was Lawson's best friend. If Lawson asked him to see her home, then Sean would see her home out of respect for his friend's wishes even if he couldn't stand her. No doubt he saw it as his duty, and if that was the case Sheriff Sean O'Brien would never back down.
"Fine," she bit out. "We'll walk." She handed him her boots a little too forcefully, then lifted her skirts out of the dust as she crossed Main Street. It lacked its usual bustle since most of the town was still at the church waiting for word about her wedding. Still, there were plenty of folks around to gape at her, so she darted into the alleyway behind the post office to hide from their curious eyes. She ignored her companion as she led him through the alleyways to the residential area of town. Finally, Lorelei stopped on the stairs of her family's porch and faced Sean to murmur, "Thank you for walking me home."
He frowned and crossed his arms as he surveyed her. "I think you're making a mistake."