Rules of Protection (Tangled in Texas)(121)

By: Alison Bliss



“Emily!” Jake shouted. “Don’t move!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked, though I knew the moment I caught the scent. “Oh God. Where is it?”

“Right beside you,” he said, getting ready to lunge at me.

“Jake, if you tackle me in this wedding dress, you’re going to marry yourself today. Besides, you could hurt the baby.”

“Shit. What do you want me to do, then?”

“It’s a watermelon snake! Get your gun and shoot the damn thing like a normal person.”

Jake grinned. “God, I love you,” he said, as he reached down into his boot, pulled out a .22 caliber handgun, and shot the snake in the head. Its body thrashed and twitched. Because Jake wasn’t about to let me chop it into pieces and set it on fire, I settled for moving away from it.

Junior walked over, grinning. “You two going to stand around shooting things, or do you want to get married?”

Jake winked at me. “Emily, you’ve got two minutes to get your ass down the aisle before I come looking for you.”

“Three would be better.”

“Two…or else,” Jake threatened as he made his way to the preacher.

I reached for Junior’s hand. “Thanks for doing this. I appreciate it.”

“Emily, it’s an honor,” he replied, lacing my arm through his as his eyes glossed over. “I didn’t get to walk my little girl down the aisle.”

Glossy-eyed, I smiled up at him. “Neither did my dad.”

Moments later, I stood with Jake, our hands linked under the open sky as the preacher united us as a couple. He spoke of love, and everyone smiled. He spoke of honor, and everyone swelled with pride. He spoke of forsaking all others, and everyone glared suspiciously at Cowboy.

When a gust of wind whipped across the pasture, it began snowing dandelion seeds, as if God had blown them just for us. Floss and I exchanged knowing glances, and I caught Jake watching me with adoring eyes.

He didn’t wait for his prompt. Jake kissed me, his mouth sweetly caressing mine. The kiss made me dizzy, but Jake steadied me with his firm hands and placed a protective hand over my stomach. He lingered at my lips, making my heart skip a beat.

“Jake, you’re supposed to wait until the preacher says ‘you may now kiss the bride.’”

“Why?” Jake whispered. “What does it matter?”

“I don’t know. I guess it’s against the rules.”

“So what,” he said shrugging and smiling lightly. “Rules are made to be broken.”

I laughed and threw my arms around his neck. “Then you’re in for a shitload of trouble!”





Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I’d like to thank my husband and kids for encouraging my passion for writing and supporting me while I pursued this dream. Thank you to my mom, dad, and my sisters, Annita and Amanda, for letting me walk through my stories out loud while dealing with my crazy. To my friends and family, who were also my very first fans: Terry, Bobbie, Shelley, Kristy, and Debbie, for believing in me and offering me moral support when I needed it most.

A big high five goes out to my fantastic critique partners: Heather, Carol, Joy, Sarah, Sam, Renee, Kelly, and the two crazy girls who make up Elizabeth Hayley. Thanks for the encouragement, the brutal editing, and challenging me to be the best writer I can be.

A special shout-out goes to Julie Abston for taking my beautiful author photo, the “chicks” at Chickswagger who welcomed me into their henhouse and took me under their wings, Samanthe Beck for being my first and most awesome Entangled friend (don’t tell the others), and my Pure Bliss Street Team for blindly supporting a debut author in every way imaginable. You guys are the best!

I’d also like to thank my rock star agent, Andrea Somberg, for taking a chance on a new author, guiding me through the crazy world of publishing, and for laughing at all my stupid jokes.

Big thanks to my editors, Theresa Cole and Gwen Hayes, who not only “got” my vision and gave me some truly amazing edits, but also offered moral support in the form of cocktail recipes. You ladies kept me sane…and grammatically correct. Thank you to Fiona Jayde and Kerri-Leigh Grady for my gorgeous cover.

As for Liz and everyone else within my Entangled Publishing family, thank you for all the unwavering support you offered a new writer. All of you were necessary components to making this book the very best it could be and making my dreams a reality. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

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