Taggart's BrideShe became pregnant by one brother, and married the other. Now her first love is back — who will Jolie choose?
Seven years ago Drew Taggart married the young and pregnant Jolie Stewart when his brother had abandoned her. But now Darian Taggart is back in town and the two brothers are competing for the same woman. Who will Jolie choose?
by Allison Leigh
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"Mom? Who’s that man?"
Jolie transferred the last sack of groceries from the cart to the trunk of her car. "What man?"
She followed Evan’s pointing finger and felt her stomach drop through the snow-dusted earth beneath her boots. She wanted to turn tail and hustle Evan back inside the grocery but it was already too late. He’d spotted her, flashed a smile and headed straight in her direction.
Nothing to be concerned about?
Darian Taggart was as different from his older half-brother, Drew, as spring was from fall. At 22 he’d been all bronzed skin, chestnut hair, and vivid blue eyes. At 29, he was...even more so.
Jolie swallowed down a jolt of nausea and nudged Evan toward the car. "Get inside the car, sweetheart. The wind is getting really cold."
"But who’s the man waving at us?"
"Nobody." She practically frog-jumped him toward the passenger door and yanked it open. "Come on, kiddo. In you go. I don’t want your cold coming back again." She pointed at the package sitting on the middle of the seat that her best friend, Hope Leoni Clay, had given her earlier that day. "You can open that now, if you like. It’s a new video game from Hope." Hope’s husband, Tristan Clay, among other things also designed video games. His new company, CeeVid, had just opened an office right in Weaver. "I think she said it’s the one that will be released next year."
Thankfully, Evan dove for the package with fiendish glee. He loved getting an advance crack at the games that had become exceedingly popular. Not that Jolie was surprised. Everything Tristan Clay touched seemed to turn to gold. What Jolie liked most about Tristan, though, was his ability to make Hope happier than she’d ever been in her life.
She pushed the car door shut just as she heard the scrape of a boot behind her. Bracing herself, she turned and came face-to-face with Darian’s blinding white smile.
"I would recognize those blond curls of yours anywhere," he said cheerfully, and before Jolie could guess his intentions, he’d put his hands on her hips and lifted her right off the ground to swing her in a half circle.
Pure shock held her silent for a long moment. Then she grabbed for his shoulders. "Put me down!"
He laughed and set her on her feet, but her relief was short-lived when he leaned over and kissed her full on the lips. "You’re as sweet as ripe peaches, Jolie Stewart. Just the way I remember you."
Jolie couldn’t have said a word to save her soul.
"Well? Don’t you have a smile for an old friend?"
"Old friend?" She parroted.
He grinned, as seemingly oblivious to her discomfort at the arms he still had looped loosely around her as he was to the snowflakes that had begun to fall. "Well, Jolie girl, we did have some good times, didn’t we?" His gaze flicked toward the car. "But you’re probably an old married lady by now, if the looks of that boy is anything to go by. So who’s the lucky guy?"
"I am," a grim voice said behind them, startling them both. "And I’d appreciate it if you’d stop necking out here on the middle of Main Street."
Jolie stared, dismayed, at Drew who’d appeared out of nowhere. She was faintly aware of Darian’s arms dropping away and his astonished "You?" even as her knees went weak and her vision blurred.
It was her every nightmare come to life, she thought faintly as the world around her faded to an odd, wavy gray. "Drew," she whispered...and everything went black.
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