Prologue: Part 1
Aria’s fashionable high heels clicked on the wood as she crossed the porch and headed down the steps. She’d been told by her friend, Dove, that the steps had been completely replaced. They had apparently been horribly old and unsteady before her friend moved into the place. They did look nice now... if one could overlook the fact that they were attached to a country house in the middle of Nowhere, Colorado.
She walked carefully across the dirt driveway and over to the house next door. It was a good distance away, though close enough for the houses to see each other. The walk between them would’ve been easier if it was paved.
Aria really wasn’t fond of this whole country thing. She was only here because Dove was getting married. Tomorrow was the big day and Aria, being her nearest and dearest friend, had the honor of being, well, her maid of honor. Aria was thrilled. She loved Dove like a sister and she’d been doing everything she could to help it be the best wedding it could possibly be. It warmed her heart that Dove made things work with the man she fell so madly in love with.
It was only bittersweet because it meant Dove moved away from New York City. Over half a year now had passed since she left, and the city didn’t feel the same without her. Aria missed her friend. She came out for the wedding early just to spend the extra time together.
If only Dove had talked her man into coming to the city, instead of Dove moving out here to Heart’s Peak. It still amazed her that her friend had decided to actually come live on a horse farm. She kept secretly hoping Dove would come to her senses and move back to the city.
Aria hadn’t been bothering her about moving back, though. This was a happy time for happy conversations! And Aria, taking her maid of honor duties seriously, had insisted on taking care of the wedding preparations. Dove offered to come with her, but Aria assured her it wasn’t necessary. ‘Stay home and relax before your big day', she had told her.
She walked to the neighboring house now with a list of chores saved on her cell phone. It was bright and early in the morning. The air was fresh, and the grass was still wet with morning dew. She could’ve enlisted the help of the other two bridesmaids. They were staying at a hotel in town, along with the rest of Dove’s friends and family who flew in for the wedding. But there would be some lifting involved, so Aria instead was invoking the help of the best man. He conveniently lived next door to Dove and Burley.
She made her way up his porch and knocked on his door.
The man who answered the door was tall, with a lean muscular build. The muscles down his arms and across the top of his chest were on display in the loose tank he was wearing. He had a mop of dirty blond hair, that looked disheveled, and a short beard that looked nice even if it was a bit overdue for a trim. His face brightened with a gorgeous grin as he laid eyes on her.
Ugh, the boy was hott.
“Hey. What brings you to my doorstep?” He spoke to her casually, as if they were already friends. Aria had only met him once. Dove and Burley had been eager to introduce them to each other, with her being Dove’s best friend and him being Burley’s.
“Hi,” she smiled back at him. “I actually need your help. It’s Luke, right?”
“Luka,” he corrected.
Aria felt mortified for the briefest of seconds, and it must’ve shown on her face, because then Luka laughed and shrugged his shoulders as if to say it was no big deal.
“Right. Sorry. I knew that,” said Aria quickly.
“Ah, it’s an honest mistake. And you’re Arie, aren’t ya?” Luka grinned at her with a teasing gleam in his eye. She couldn’t help but notice the color of his eyes were stormy blue. She had always been a sucker for a man with blue eyes.
“It’s Aria,” she corrected him, a hand going to her hip. “But I think you already know that.”
“I do know. I’m just givin’ you a hard time, man,” Luka chuckled, before running his hand through his messy hair. Aria’s eyes followed his arm, taking in the taut way his bicep flexed with the motion. Did the temperature suddenly go up?
“So what was it ya needed help with?”
A fresh wave of embarrassment washed over her. Girl, it’s not like you’ve never seen a hott guy before!
“Oh, right,” she said, in a quick attempt to brush off the sudden rush of hormones. “I need you to run some errands with me. We’ve got so much to do before the wedding tomorrow.”
“We do, huh?” he asked, dropping his arm from his hair. He held that grin on his face, and he would have appeared casual except she noticed the change in his tone. He sounded almost sexual. He did, right? Or was she just imagining things?
“Yes, we do. I don’t have a car, and I don’t know where anything is in this dinky town. Dove said you’d help me. You are the best man, after all,” she said, lifting her chin and looking at him with an air of arrogance and confidence. She didn’t come over here to drool over him. She had a job she needed to do.
“Well I can’t be callin’ Dove a liar, can I? Besides, how can I say no to such a beautiful woman?” he said, and this time she knew for sure she wasn’t imagining things. He was flirting with her!
“No, you can’t,” she replied quickly, without thinking, her lips curving into a grin. She locked eyes with him for a moment, then glanced away. This boy was trouble with a capital T! Ugh.
Looking back to him, she gave him a look over. He wasn’t dressed to go out. That loose tank was matched with a pair of dark grey pajama pants. If she looked hard enough she could see... No! “I’ll leave you to get dressed. The sooner we get going, the better.”
“Wait a minute,” said Luka. “You didn’t tell me what kind of errands we gotta do.”
“Oh, right. Let’s see...” She pulled her phone from her purse that hung over her shoulder. Bringing up the list on the screen, she said, “We need to get the chairs from the church and take them up to the lake. We need to get all the flowers today from the florist. The cake and reception desserts from the bakery. And we need to go by the bridal shop, to pick up Dove’s veil because it wasn’t ready when we got the dresses the other day.”
Luka puckered his mouth and let out a long whistle. “You’re weren’t jokin’. That is a lot.”
“It is, so the quicker you get ready, the quicker we can get going,” she replied. He stared at her a moment, and she met his eyes with a determined look. She nodded her head, and lifted her hand, doing a twirling motion with her finger and pointing behind him. A silent way of telling him to get a move on.
“You’re kinda bossy, ain’tcha?” he said with a scoff.
She let out a huff of a sigh and rolled her eyes. “Just get dressed and meet me at Dove’s.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll be over in a few,” he finally agreed with a laugh.
She watched him turn back inside the house, and her eyes drifted towards his butt in those thin pants, but she caught herself and looked away. She walked down the steps of his porch and carefully tread across the dirt towards Dove’s house. When she was a good distance away, she let out a heavy breath. She didn’t know what had gotten into her. She normally wasn’t this desperate!
Maybe it was the wedding. Yeah, she could blame it all on the wedding. A love bug was in the air, and she was getting caught by it. That was all.
She just needed to pull herself together and focus on the task. She had always been a perfectionist. She liked getting things done, and she liked them to be done correctly. Doing this for Dove today was important to her, and she wasn’t going to let some rough country boy with blue eyes and muscles get in the way of that.