Then He Happened
Publication date: May 6th, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Jason is a cynical rich playboy.
He doesn’t take life seriously,
He doesn’t believe in settling down.
Eileen’s thirtieth birthday is almost here.
But as always she’s her parent’s afterthought.
Her family is too busy planning a shotgun wedding for her older sister—and she has to help.
It’s just another year where she’s overlooked.
But the best man is smoking hot and actually notices her and makes her feel special.
Jason doesn’t believe in commitment, but Eileen intrigues him.
She’s not the kind of girl he usually hooks up with.
She doesn’t even fall for his charm.
He’s made it his task to convince her that he’s not the shallow man she thinks he is.
But can Jason give up his playboy lifestyle to become what Eileen needs?
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It’s a perfect day to take one last trip to Steamboat before the season closes.
But where am I?
Racing from Boulder to Colorado Springs to look at a wedding venue for my cousin. Marek fucking owes me.
When I heard they would extend the ski season this year, I was so excited. But how well that worked out. Saturdays are supposed to be fun days.
I don’t ask for much. I just need a place, a plan, a beautiful companion, and a bottle of liquor. See? Straight forward, nice and easy. That keeps me satiated for an entire weekend. It really doesn’t take much to keep me happy and satisfied.
What’s abso-fucking-lutely not satisfying, is touring the grounds of the Broadmoor to scout the perfect place for a shotgun wedding.
“So what’s wrong with Vegas again?” I suggest, half joking.
Eileen shrugs. “Nothing. It’s a great town, really weird. Lots of movies take place there. I don’t know why people hate on it so much.”
“But for a shotgun wedding or maybe eloping?” I clarify. “My assistant can make the reservations. I’ll get a plane. We’ll be there before six. There are plenty of venues. We could probably pick one on the spot.”
She laughs. Like seriously laughs for about a minute like I just said the funniest, most amazing joke in the history of jokes.
When she finally sobers up, she asks with that curious voice, “Did you run that idea by Charlie already?”
I rub the back of my neck sheepishly. “No.”
“Well if you do, I want to be right there. I’ll have my camera ready.”
I shoot her an unimpressed frown. “I’m not joking.”
“Me neither.” She shakes her head, laughing once again. “She’ll try to kill you right on the spot. That’s worth taping.”
“Oh come on, it’s a great idea,” I insist.
“You’re talking about my sister,” she says, waving her journal in my face. “She thinks the only wedding worth having is a wedding that’s as glamorous as a royal affair.”
“We could make Vegas glamorous,” I grumble.
“Mom wouldn’t like it either. What about the guests? Would you fly all of them, pay for the accommodations and their expenses?”
Well, I can’t argue with that. I shrug. She smiles and looks back at the horizon.
“I think either here or the Mountain View Terrace,” I say because I’m done exploring the grounds.
“What do you think?”
She hums. “I think the Mountain View Terrace would be perfect at sunset. Especially if we take this place up on that discount for doing Friday instead of Saturday.”
That sounds reasonable. “Okay, but will her royal obnoxiousness, Princess Charlie agree to that?”
Eileen snorts. “As long as it looks amazing on her Instagram account, I’m sure she’ll agree to that.”
She seems so sure of herself. But with all the bullshit we’ve been through and all the crap her sister’s put her through, I don’t want us to fuck this up.
“But is this the place?” I ask earnestly.
She looks around for a bit. Her eyes comb over every inch of this place so meticulously.
“What do you think?” I ask while she studies the landscape and compares it with the pictures.
She stands on the middle of the gazebo looks left right and then toward the mountains.
“Does it make you want to say I do?” she asks curiously.
I shake my head. “There’s nothing that would make me stand up in front of a bunch of people and say I do.” Again, I don’t say.
“So a smaller setting?” She doesn’t even look at me as she talks. She’s admiring the mountain view. “This isn’t too big. They said up to a hundred and thirty guests. We don’t have to invite everyone to the ceremony. We’ll take whatever they have for the reception.”
It’s still too many people, I think.
She turns back to me, as if reading my fucking mind. “You’re being weirdly quiet. Still deciding about your ideal wedding?”
Instead of responding, I ask a question of my own. “Does this place make you want to tie your life to another person?”
She squints, craning her neck to look up at me. For a few beats she remains quiet.
“I don’t know if this is the place,” she says. “First I’d need the right guy. I’m not getting married to just anyone.”
“So you’re still looking for him?”
She turns to look at me and flashes this smile she has on her face so fucking much. There’s such tenderness in those eyes. That face just soothes me.
“I’m too busy to get a haircut let alone date someone who isn’t worth my time. But you know, I wouldn’t marry someone just because I got pregnant.”
“Like your sister,” I say what she’s trying to avoid.
“I look at her and Marek and I’m just not feeling it” she says, taking the scene in one more time before walking toward me. “Wouldn’t you want to organize the most important day of your life?”
“I think they’re busy trying to score a house,” I say.
“When I find a guy worth shit, I don’t want to be worried about a wedding or where we’re going to live.”
The air is thin here. It goes well with the crisp afternoon air. Eileen is cool, but calloused when it comes to love. Wonder if it’s a family trait and she’s just a gold digger.
So I prod a little. “What if he can only afford a studio, doesn’t have a car or can afford to pay for the wedding of your dreams?”
“Maybe that’s why 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce,” she says. “People get married all the time for all the wrong reasons. You do it because you’ve come to realize that someone cares enough to see your bullshit and love you anyway. If you’re too concerned about her looks, her job…where she lives…you’re wasting your time.”
She sighs. “I don’t think that many weddings are about love. They’re a convoluted status symbol. If you want it so badly, just elope.”
My eyebrows shoot up. Well fuck, I wasn’t expecting that. “What if you can afford the wedding?”
She gives me an impish smile. “Then, I’ll think about inviting a few people and do something small. Ten, fifteen people from each side of the family. You seem like the kind of guy that would let her do everything pay for it. You like to please people.”
“And why the fuck would I do that?”
“Middle child, we have the tendency to make everyone happy, right?”
“Maybe I would help her organize it.” I let my gaze wander around, anywhere but her direction. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
That last statement doesn’t sit well. We don’t know each other, and she just assumes—not that she’s wrong about it.
“Come on,” she says inviting me to stand right by the gazebo. “Let’s try this out.”
“Duh, we need to test drive this place.” She extends her hand wiggling her fingers as she calls me to her. “What do you think?”
I take her hand. It’s warm. Her grip soft yet firm. She feels so familiar. I don’t know what it is that I’m waiting for as I stand right in front of her. She squeezes my hand, kinda like she’s saying, “chill the fuck out.”
Reluctantly, I take a deep breath. This place smells like pine with hints of hazelnut and cherry? Warm and bright, just like her. Her eyes stare at me curiously. Then, she nudges me to stare at the horizon again.
“Could you?” she whispers with a chuckle. “Doesn’t it make you want to fall stupidly in love?”
The sky goes on forever. Just like her laugh.
I swallow thickly, terrified of how she made my heart beat fast.
“Yeah,” I mumble, holding her tight because I don’t want to fall.
Claudia is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Colorado, working for a small IT. She has three children and manages a chaotic household of two confused dogs, and a wonderful husband who shares her love of all things geek. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.