Widow Tess Archer, a 55 year-old mother of three who is not willing to abandon her flower-child roots has decided she wants to be a grandmother. After all, all her lady friends are! She calls a family meeting and declares that her children need to find their perfect mates using their Grandmother’s rings. Trent Archer, NYPD, vows to avoid falling the the rings, but meets the woman of his dreams at his sister's wedding. What happens when a rural police officer matches wits with one on NYPD's finest? The result - a perfect paring.
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A Sapphire promotes harmony and loyalty – given to Trent. Trent is unhappy enough that Sommer has fallen under his mother’s spell and is marrying Nick, but now he also has to be in the wedding party along with his sister, Ali. Ali and Trent vow not to let the same thing happen to them, but he doesn’t count on meeting Vicky Talbot, Trent’s partner on the New York police force. Vicky is a streetwise cop, toughened from years on the beat. She is so sure that no guy is going to want a hardened police officer for a wife. She has set aside any plans she might have had for a family and is focusing on moving up the ranks. Vicky and Trent start out as rivals, each ready to one-up the other at every turn and sparks fly; competitive sparks and passionate sparks. When Vicky goes back to New York, Trent admits that she just might be the one he’s been looking for. He volunteers for the next “Cop Swap” and ends up on her turf determined to prove to her that not only can a tough lady cop be an asset, but she can also be a wife.
Grandmother’s Rings – Book Two
“This is all your fault!”
His sister’s words stopped Trent Archer from opening the front door to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He removed his hand from the ornate brass handle and looked down at her. She stood five steps below him, arms crossed in front of her, looking as though she was going to have to be carried inside.
“My fault?” Trent asked, putting a hand on his chest honestly surprised at the accusation. “How do you figure that?”
Ali Archer’s eyes narrowed. “Our sister is getting married to your friend.” She poked her finger at him. “Your friend, your fault,” she shot back.
Trent held up his hands in a defensive gesture. “Not mine. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mom’s.” He lowered his hands and walked down the five steps to her. “And if it’s mom’s fault, it’s your fault. You had all that time with her before she gave us each one of Grandmother’s rings with all that maternal voodoo attached.” He threw his hands up in the air and waved them as he spoke. “I want grand children and these rings will help you find your soul mate,” he mimicked. “Then like magic Somer met Nick and before any of us knew what hit us, they’re getting married.”
Ali crossed her arms over her chest. “Maybe this year for Christmas we should get mom a cauldron she can stir.”
“Not funny, Mooch.”
Ali glared at him. “Try moving beyond nicknames for a while, will you?”
“Sorry. Old habits die hard.”
“The fact remains, that since mom gave us those rings, things have changed.” She tossed her head. “Where did you put yours?”
Trent shrugged. “In my dresser some where. With my socks I think. What about you?”
“I rented a safe deposit box and stuck it in there. Behind all that steel and concrete, nothing can get out.”
“We can only hope.”
“Yeah, like your socks are going to protect you from mom’s love-voodoo.”
“It’s Ali.” She corrected, pointing at him. “Alamuchy to be exact. Named after a State Park by flower-child parents of the 70’s, remember Trenton.” Ali rolled her eyes. “And if Somer and Nick have children, I wonder if they’ll continue mom’s quirky tradition of naming their babies after the place in which they were planned.”
“Lordy, I hope not. Can you imagine if they decide to have a baby right away? Like on their honeymoon.” Trent cradled an imaginary child in his arms. “Oh, little Hawaii Daultry. Isn’t he cute?”
“Heaven forbid,” Ali agreed. “I can only imagine the nicknames.”
“I’m sure Somerville wouldn’t do that to her offspring.”
“Who knows what she’ll do. She’ll all sentimental and romantic these days.” Ali narrowed her eyes. “It’s the rings, I tell you. Stay as far away from them as you can.”
Trent nodded and did some finger pointing of his own. “Maybe you should have hidden the rings before we got to mom’s that day.”
“How was I supposed to know she was going to pull them out and curse us with them?” Ali asked in her own defense.
“Because you’re the baby of the family, and historically the younger child is always closest to the mother.”
“Well I had no idea that grandma put some hex on the rings, or that you were going to leave our sister alone with some guy who would sweep her off her feet and have her registering at Macy’s for wedding gifts before we could stop it.”
Trent’s jaw tightened. “I was working at the time Somer met Nick.”
“If that’s what you call driving around in a police cruiser all day waiting for someone to run a red light.”
“Mooch, that’s not all I do and you know it.”
“Stop calling me that.” Ali waved her hands in front of her face. “Never mind.” She looked at her watch. “It isn’t bad enough that we got roped into being in the wedding party, but now we’re late.”
“So then stop yammering and let’s get in there.”
Ali began to walk up the church steps and then stopped. She turned to her brother. “Wait. We’re not going in there until we make a pact.”
Trent’s brows furrowed. “What kind of pact?”
Ali held up her hand and made a fist, crooking her little finger at Trent. “No matter what, we are not going to let Grandmother’s rings get us. Deal?”
Trent smiled. “Not if I can help it.” He hooked his pinky around hers. “Deal.” With the pact firmly sealed with a pinky-promise, he gestured toward the looming church doors. “Now let’s get this rehearsal thing over with. Weddings give me the creeps.”
The wind caught the door of the church as it opened sending it crashing against the brick wall and announcing the arrival of the latecomers. Linda Wolff, until now the only partner-less bridesmaid, turned toward the sound along with the twelve other people in the vestibule. She brushed her dark hair from her eyes and looked at the couple that entered. They were bickering about something.
Somer Archer, tomorrow’s bride, left the groom’s side and hurried toward them. “Trent, Ali, you made it. Now we can start the rehearsal.”
“It’s her fault that we’re late,” Linda heard the tall, sandy haired man say. “You know Ali. She had to get in the last word before we came in here.” There was unmistakable annoyance in his tone.
Nick Daultry, the groom, walked over and clapped the man’s shoulder. “I believe you,” he said. Nick turned and motioned to Linda. “Come on over so I can do formal introductions.”
Great, Linda thought, watching Somer embrace the pair as she walked to them. Mr. Happy must be my partner.
Nick caught Linda’s elbow in his free hand. “Linda, this is Trent Archer, Somer’s brother and your partner for tomorrow. Trent, this is Linda Wolff, my partner at NYPD.”
A firm square hand caught Linda’s before she even realized it. “Sorry about the dramatic entrance. Normally that’s not my style, but the noisy one there,” he turned his head toward Ali, “is our younger sister, Ali. She doesn’t like the bridesmaid dress and complained about it all the way over here.”
“What don’t you like about it?” Somer asked, clearly concerned. “I thought we all agreed on the style.” Somer moved Ali away from them and engaged her in heated conversation. Soon the rest of the bridesmaids gathered around them.
“I better see if I can help,” Nick said moving away and leaving Trent and Linda alone.
“So I guess we’re walking down the aisle tomorrow,” Nick said. He covered the top of Linda’s hand with his other and smiled.
“Seems so,” Linda replied, returning his smile. “Nick’s told me a little about you. You’re a cop, too.”
Trent was nothing like she’s expected from what Nick did say. Trent was taller than she thought, better built. Somehow the name Trent Archer had conjured up a more casual, preppy, college campus police picture than the street-toughened city cops she was used to associating with. Instead Trent was a toned and tapered six-foot with a head of hair the color of a field of wheat and eyes the color of dark chocolate. His handshake was firm, hard and commanding. Maybe being in this wedding wouldn’t be a total waste of a few vacation days after all.
“Nick did tell me that his partner was the better looking one, and now I see that it’s true,” Trent said.
When his eyes flickered down to her mouth, then back up, Linda suddenly realized how warm and personal the extended handshake had become. She gently eased her hand away and stepped back.
“So do you like the dress?” Trent asked, gesturing to the circle of women still intently engaged in discussion.
“You don’t sound that excited about it.”
“It’s a dress for one day. When I get married, if I get married, I’d let my attendants wear jeans and a tee-shirt if they wanted to.”
Trent laughed. “There is no way that would happen here. I think our mom’s been planning this wedding since Somer was six. It’s all the bells and whistles for this brouhaha. Our mother is a bit quirky; wait until you meet her. I’ll just bet that she has some surprises in store for Somer tomorrow, too.” He crooked his finger and motioned Linda closer to him. “Stay close,” he said lowering his voice to a whisper. “If she unleashes the doves tomorrow, we’ll duck under the choir loft so they don’t leave any surprises on us.”
“Thanks, I will. And I’m glad you made it here tonight. I was about to have to walk through the procedure with one of the altar boys,” Linda said. She glanced over at the circle of women still apparently discussing the dress situation. “I forgot that Somer had a younger sister. From the way you two were sparring when you first came in, I thought Ali was your wife.”
Trent’s laugh came out in a rush of air. “Never. I mean Ali’s cute and everything I suppose, but no way would I ever marry a she-devil like that. We Archer’s are legendary in our bickering. Archer women more so. Nick’s going to have his hands full with Somer.”
“So you don’t like a woman with an opinion then?”
Trent’s eyes narrowed. “Well, your name certainly does fit you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You pounced on that comment quick enough. Like a wolf on prey.”
Momentarily speechless, Linda watched Trent’s gaze follow the blush that she felt inch its way across her cheeks. When his gaze caught her eyes again, he winked, and she felt heat build on her skin. Annoyed with her reaction to him, she flicked her gaze down to his Adam’s apple and then away from him entirely until she could think of something sensible to say. When Nick’s shrill whistle sliced through the vestibule and echoed in the church beyond, announcing to everyone that it was time to begin, she was never more grateful for the moment.
Father Spencer, church pastor, urged everyone to take a seat so he could fill them in on the service. .
“Sorry about the wolf comment,” Nick said, sliding into the pew next to Linda.
“It’s okay,” she returned. “Just get your foot out of your mouth before someone notices.” She gave him a ‘gotcha’ wink and turned to listen to the directions.
Nick felt his grin widen in response. He liked this woman, he decided. She had a little fire in her. He leaned back and tried to get as comfortable as possible on the hard wooden seat. In doing so, his knees sprawled wide, one of them a scant inch away from Linda’s. He straightened, turned slightly and hung his wrist on the pew behind her. She glanced at his arm and then at him. Check, he thought, equating his move to strategy in a game of chess. He settled into the pew and waited. It was her move.
For the next few minutes, she remained perfectly still as Father Spencer outlined the rituals of the wedding ceremony. Each time she shifted, Nick mirrored her move. They were playing cat and mouse, and he knew she knew it. Fifteen minutes of moves and countermoves later, there came a rescuing rustle of sheet music and a few testing notes from the organ in the choir loft, putting a end to the silent battle they were fighting for the time being.
“The organist is ready,” Father Spencer announced.
A hammering of footsteps echoed as everyone got up from their seats in the pews. Father Spencer directed each person into position with the precision of a bandleader, while everyone waited for instructions and cues. Nick and Somer had elected to have the attendants walk down the aisle as pairs, so they lined up in the aisle as couples.
“You were doing that on purpose,” Linda whispered to Trent.
“Doing what?” Nick asked, clearly feigning ignorance.
“You didn’t have to sit so close with your arm behind me. I’m your partner, not your girlfriend.” She answered
“Don’t want one,” Nick replied casually.
“Which? Partner or girlfriend?”
“At this point, neither,” he replied, another grin growing on his lips.
Linda was about to hurl a snappy comeback when Father Spencer appeared right next to them. “We’re walking, we’re walking,” he prompted. Linda had no recourse but to take the elbow Nick had presented to her and walk with him to the front of the church.
His arm pulled her hand against his ribs when they took slow steps forward being careful not to catch up with the attendants who were in front of them. As her hand rested on the sleeve of his jacket, she felt the warmth of his skin through the fabric, making her much too aware of how solid he felt.
A pleasant scent rose as they walked and drifted through her senses, a scent she couldn’t identify. Something pure not perfumed. One of those natural soaps, maybe. It was nice. Very nice.
And to her surprise he moved with a relaxed poise as he walked. Not the swagger she expected from him, but more like he was strolling in time to the music.
“How am I doing?” he suddenly whispered.
She turned her head. “Not bad. Can you dance, too?”
Trent winced. “Hardly.”
“Seems like you could.”
“Let’s see if you still think so after the first dance we have.”
They reached the altar rail and followed the instructions given to them at the back of the church, separating and taking their places just across the aisle from each other. Nick came out from the vestibule and Ali, the maid of honor, and the best man soon joined him at the altar.
Turning to face the back, Linda watched as Somer began the long walk with her mother. Though her father would probably be watching from his place in the heavens, Mrs. Archer would be the one to give Somer’s hand to Nick.
Just before Somer reached the altar, Linda glanced across at Trent and found his eyes resting steadily on her as if they had been there for some time. He smiled briefly and then looked away and the rest of the instructions began. As Father Spencer spoke about what came next and the Nuptial Mass, she studied her partner more carefully.
He was casually dressed, like most of the men in the wedding party. His jeans looked new and fit snugly across lean hips. Beneath a lightweight jacket he wore a white button-down shirt. He stood with feet widespread, both hands slipped into his rear pockets. The stance pulled his open jacket aside hinting at a broad chest and flat stomach.
Father Spencer gestured and Trent's head swiveled to follow the pointing finger. His profile was striking, and Linda wondered why she thought that. At first glance she thought he had the kind of face that would look twenty when he was fifty, but from this angle she could see a combination of features that were both strong and memorable. The golden lights in the old church gilded his sandy hair, which was cut regulation short but still somehow seemed to invite her touch.
Maybe it was just the moment that made her sweep his bearing and linger a bit longer than necessary on his chest. Or maybe she had given him a twice-over because he seemed different from the men she normally associated with. The rough and tumble, hard-drive New York cops who rarely gave her another look.
He turned and caught her looking at him. “I knew you liked me,” he mouthed. Before she could refute it by looking away, he pointed to Father Spencer and, with an added point for emphasis, suggested by body language that she listen to him.
But instead of being angry, Linda found herself caught up in the expression on his face. The half-smile he flashed her transformed it into such a picture of charm, that she wondered why he didn’t want a girlfriend at this time. Did he get his heart broken recently? Maybe more than once? And while she was gawking, she couldn’t help but notice that even from a distance, she could see the most beautiful eyelashes she had ever seem on a man. Dark and thick, they managed to cast a shadow on his cheeks when his lids lowered as he smiled.
She lowered her head and dug the toe of her shoe into the thick carpet. What on earth was she doing thinking about him like that?
Just then Father Spencer’s voice rose, “And that will be the cue for the recessional.”
The organ boomed and she and Trent met in the center of the aisle. She took his elbow willingly this time and walked to the back of the church.
They ran through the ceremony one more time before the wedding party and guests clustered in the back of the church getting directions to the rehearsal dinner.
“Did you drive here?” Trent asked her suddenly.
“Too bad. I thought we could ride over to the restaurant together.” He opened the exterior church door and instinctively put a hand to the small of her back to allow her first out. They walked that way down the steps. “If you get there before I do, save me a seat,” he said.
She stood there, looking at him, thinking she shouldn’t encourage him with a reply, yet answering. “And if you get there first, save a seat for me.”
“Deal,” he said, waiting until she was in the driver’s seat of her car before jogging off toward his.
A warning siren went off inside her head. Don’t be thinking this is anything more than a wedding set-up. Sunday you’re going back to the city and you’re never going to see him again. Remember that. Let well enough alone.