Unexpectedly His(60)

By: Maggie Kelley

Marianne had been a quiet, lonely kid, her head full of computer code and numbers, but no statistical equation could explain the joy she felt tonight surrounded by a wide circle of friends and family. She smiled over at Nick, happier than she’d thought possible. “Ready, Mr. Wright.”

Nick nodded and, across the makeshift room, the band announced the departure of the bride and groom, bursting into their version of Coldplay’s “A Sky Full of Stars.” As the music filled the night air, Nick pulled her into a swift, passionate kiss before grabbing her hand to race through the gathering crowd of friends and family.

Confetti rained down on them, and she turned to blow her parents a kiss. A lump in her throat, she lifted her Marilyn-inspired, satin Vera Wang gown to climb into the Alfa Romeo and her ruby red heels sparkled in the moonlight. As the happy cheers continued from the edges of the tent, Marianne settled into the car beside her husband. Her husband. How she loved the sound of those words.

Nick chuckled at the handwritten sign, anchored to the back of the car, Smart Cupid Approved. Eyes filling, he turned to give his sister one last wave before settling into the driver’s seat. “Think we should break the speed limit?” he asked. “Just this once?”

Marianne smiled over at him. “If it means starting the honeymoon sooner…”

Nick waggled his eyebrows, revved the convertible’s engine, and took off down the pebbled driveway toward Ocean Avenue. Marianne looked up at the star-studded sky, but she didn’t have one wish. Behind them, a collection of tin cans clanked against the road, and a dozen heart-shaped balloons reached toward the heavens, as they raced toward what Marianne knew would be life’s greatest adventure—love.

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Once upon a time, in a faraway land called the ‘Burgh, a hapless author got lucky. No, not that kind of lucky—rather, she was fortunate enough to connect with a talented editor whose cool is unsurpassed. And so, my endless thanks to Vanessa Mitchell, fab editor and awesome chick. Your ideas and encouragement spur my imagination, and your patient feedback keeps me on track when I’d veer off course. I thank my lucky stars for you.

Big thanks also to Elley Arden, and fellow Entangled authors, Robin Bielman and Samanthe Beck for diving into the first draft of this story with big hearts. Unexpectedly His is better because of you. I only aspire to one day rise to the level of your crazy talents.

A special thank you to Kyle of mantelligence.com for allowing me to freely quote his masculine wisdom and for being my go-to source for all things manly. You are adored.

It’s funny, but one of my favorite aspects of the first two Smart Cupid books is the friendship between Marianne and Jane. I love how they support and challenge and encourage and frustrate, but ultimately love, one another. Melissa Smith-Beckner, my BFF of thirty-seven years, thank you—for the inspiration, for everything. And finally, to Micah, my first and oldest bestie, my longtime supporter, I love you.

Lastly, thank you to my husband and two little boys for still recognizing me when I stumble up from the basement, unshowered and bleary-eyed and looking for pizza. There’s no one I love more in the world.

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