You’ll Be Mine

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Along with their parents,

Patrick Murphy & Lincoln and Molly Abbott,

Cameron Murphy and Will Abbott

invite you to attend their wedding

on Saturday, October 24, at 2 P.M.

at their home in Butler, Vermont.

Reception to follow immediately.

 

Chapter 1

Two days before her wedding to Will Abbott, Cameron Murphy shut off her laptop at exactly one forty-five in the afternoon and left it in the office she shared with her fiancé. She wouldn’t need the computer for two weeks. The next time she returned to the office, he’d be her husband and they’d be back from their honeymoon.

Filled with giddy excitement, Cameron turned off the office light and closed the door behind her. Will was already gone for the day, running last-minute wedding errands while she finished up at work.

Their office manager, Mary, stood up and came around her desk to give Cameron a hug. “Enjoy every minute of this special time,” she said, nearly reducing Cameron to tears.

“Thank you so much, Mary. I’ll see you tomorrow night, right?” She was one of a few special friends invited to join the family for the rehearsal dinner Will’s parents were throwing at the big red barn where Will and his siblings had been raised.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“I’ll see you then.”

Cameron skipped down the stairs and into the store where she was greeted with more hugs and good wishes from the employees. While no one would mistake her little old nuptials for the royal wedding, it sort of had that feel to it. In Butler, Vermont, the Abbotts were royalty. With a family of ten children and businesses that employed numerous members of the local community, an Abbott wedding was big news.

She accepted a hug, a kiss, best wishes and a cider doughnut from Dottie, who ran the doughnut counter. After talking wedding plans with Dottie and the other ladies for a couple of minutes, Cameron took her doughnut to the store’s front porch to enjoy it in relative peace. With only two days to go, she was no longer worried about fitting into her dress, so she took a seat on one of the rockers and ate her treat in guilt-free heaven.

She’d no sooner begun to relax than who should appear on a leisurely stroll down Elm Street but her very own stalker, Fred the Moose. Cameron sank deeper into the rocker, hoping Fred wouldn’t notice her. In all her years of living in New York City and after scores of first dates, she’d never had an actual stalker—until she came to Vermont and slammed her MINI Cooper into Fred, the Butler town moose. Since then he’d taken such a keen interest in her that Will’s dad, Lincoln, had recently concluded that Fred had a crush on her.

Fantastic. A moose with a crush. With her dad due at two, and Patrick Murphy always on time, the last thing she needed was yet another mooseastrophy. Fortunately, Fred didn’t see her sitting on the porch and continued on his merry way, leaving Cameron to breathe easier about Fred but not about her dad’s impending arrival.

The thought of her billionaire businessman father in tiny Butler had provoked more nerves than anything else about the upcoming weekend. Marrying Will? No worries at all. Getting through the wedding? Who cared if it all went wrong? At the end of the day, she’d be married to Will. That was all that mattered. But bringing Patrick here to this place she now called home?

Cameron drew in a deep breath and blew it out. She hoped he wouldn’t do or say something to make her feel less at home here, because she loved everything about Butler and her life with Will in Vermont. She’d experienced mud season—along with a late-season blast of snow—spring, summer and now the glorious autumn, which was, without a doubt, her favorite season so far.

How could she adequately describe the russet glow of the trees, the vivid blue skies, the bright sunny days and the chilly autumn nights spent snuggled up with Will in front of the woodstove? The apples, pumpkins, chrysanthemums, corn husks tied to porch rails, hay bales and cider. She loved it all, but she especially loved the scent of wood smoke in the air.

Cameron couldn’t have asked for a better time of year to pitch a tent in their enormous yard and throw a great big party. All her favorite autumn touches would be incorporated into the wedding, and she couldn’t wait to see it all come together on Saturday. At Will’s suggestion, they’d hired a wedding planner to see to the myriad details because they were both so busy at work.

At first, Cameron had balked at the idea of hiring a stranger to plan the most important day of her life, but Regan had won her over at their first meeting and had quickly become essential to her. No way could Cameron have focused on the website she was building for the store and planned a wedding at the same time.

She glanced at her watch. Three minutes until two. Patrick would be here any second, probably in the town car he used to get around the city. Under no circumstances could she picture her dad driving himself six hours north to Vermont. Not when there were deals to be struck and money to be made. Time, he always said, was money.

He’d shocked the hell out of her when he told her he wanted to come up on Thursday so he could spend some time with her and Will before the madness began in earnest. Her dad would be sleeping in their loft tonight, and Will had already put her on notice that he would not have sex with her while her dad was in the house. She couldn’t wait to break his resolve.

The thought of how she planned to accomplish that had her in giggles that died on her lips at the familiar thump, thump, thump sound that suddenly invaded the peaceful afternoon.

No way. No freaking way. He did not!

If this was what she thought it was, she’d have no choice but to kill him. Warily, she got up from her chair and ventured down the stairs to look up at the sky just as her father’s big, black Sikorsky helicopter came swooping in on tiny Butler, bringing cars and people to a halt on Elm Street.

One woman let out an ear-piercing scream and dove for some nearby bushes.

Equal parts amused and aggravated, Cameron took off jogging toward the town common, the one space nearby where the bird could land unencumbered. As she went, she realized she should’ve expected him to make an entrance. Didn’t he always?

Nolan and Skeeter were outside the garage looking up when she went by.

“What the hell was that?” asked Nolan, who would be her brother-in-law after the wedding. He was married to Will’s sister Hannah, who’d become Cameron’s close friend since she had moved to Butler.

“Just my dad coming to town.”

“Jumping Jehoshaphat!” Skeeter said. “Thought it was the end of the world.”

“Nope, just Patrick Murphy coming to what he considers the end of the earth. Gotta run. See you later.”

“Bye, Cam,” Nolan said.

“I assume that’s with you,” Lucas Abbott said, gesturing toward the town common with his thumb, as Cameron trotted past his woodworking barn.

“You’d be correct.”

“That thing is righteous. Does he give rides?”

“I’ll be sure to ask him.”

“Nice.”

Cameron sort of hated that everyone in town would know her pedigree after her father’s auspicious arrival. Maybe they already knew. In fact, they probably did. The Butler gossip grapevine was nothing short of astonishing. If the people in town knew who she was, or who her father was, no one made a thing of it. After this, they probably would, which saddened her. She loved her low-key, under-the-radar life in Butler and wouldn’t change a thing about it.

But she also loved her dad, and after thirty years as his daughter, she should certainly be accustomed to the grandiose way he did things. She got to the field just as he was emerging from the gigantic black bird with the gold PME lettering on the side: Patrick Murphy Enterprises. Those initials were as familiar to Cameron as her own because they’d always been part of her life.

Hoping to regain her breath and her composure, she came to a stop about twenty yards from the landing site and waited for him to come to her—by himself. That was interesting, as she’d expected his girlfriend-slash-housekeeper Lena to be with him.

With her hands on her hips, Cameron watched him exchange a few words with the pilot before shaking his hand, grabbing a suitcase and garment bag as well as his ever-present messenger bag, which he slung over his shoulder. Wait until he experienced Butler Wi-Fi, or the lack thereof.

He was tall with dark blond hair, piercing blue eyes and a smile on his handsome face, and as he walked to Cameron, her heart softened toward him, as it always did, no matter how outrageous he might be.

She took the garment bag from him and lifted her cheek to receive his kiss. “Always gotta make an entrance, don’t you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“The bird, Dad. You scared the hell out of everyone. They thought we were being attacked.”

He looked completely baffled. “I told you I’d be here at two.”

“I was watching for a car, not a chopper.”

Recoiling from the very idea, he said, “I didn’t have six hours to sit in traffic on the Taconic. As it is, my ass is numb after ninety minutes in the chopper.”

“We do have airports in Vermont, you know.”

“We checked on that. Closest one that could take the Lear is in Burlington, which is more than two hours from here. Time—”

“Is money,” she said with a sigh. “I know.”

“Besides, you’re taking the Lear to Fiji, and for the record, I’d like to point out it wasn’t my idea to move you out to the bumfuck of nowhere.”

Cameron laughed at his colorful wording. “This is not the bumfuck of nowhere. This,” she said, with a dramatic sweep of her arm, “is the lovely, magnificent town of Butler, Vermont.”

“It’s as charming as I recall from the last time I was here for Linc’s wedding.”

“Are you being sarcastic?”

“Me? Sarcastic?”

“I thought Lena was coming with you.”

“Yeah, about that . . . We’ve kind of cooled it.”

“Is she still working for you?” Cameron had spoken to her recently and hadn’t heard that she was no longer in Patrick’s employ.

“Oh, yeah. It’s all good.”

Cameron was certainly used to the way women came and went in her father’s life. She’d learned not to get attached to any of them. They didn’t stick around long enough to make it worth her while. “Well, it’s great to see you and to have you here. I know it’s not what you’re used to, but I think you’ll enjoy it.”

He stopped walking and turned to her. “You’re here. That’s all I need to enjoy myself, honey.”

Cameron let the garment bag flop over her arm so she could hug him. “Thank you so much for coming, Dad.”

He wrapped his arms around her. “Happy to be anywhere you are.”

They stashed Patrick’s bags in Cameron’s black SUV. “Where’d you get this beast?”

“Will insisted I trade the MINI for something built for Vermont winters. I don’t love it, but as I haven’t survived a winter here yet, I’ll take his word for it.”

“So this is the store, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Show me around.”

“You really want to see it?”

“I really do.”

She took Patrick’s hand, eager to introduce him to all her new friends. “Right this way.”

He followed her up the stairs to the porch and into the Green Mountain Country Store in all its glory.

“Wow.” Patrick took a look around and glanced up at the vintage bicycle fastened to one of the wooden beams above the store. “I feel like I just stepped into an episode of Little House on the Prairie.”

“Isn’t it amazing? I’ll never forget the first time I came in here. It was like I’d been transported or something.” She looked up at him as he took in the barrels full of peanuts and iced bottles of Coke and products from a bygone era, a simpler time, hoping he’d see the magic she saw every time she came through the doors to the store. “That’s dumb, right?”

“Not at all. It’s quite something. I’m wondering, though, how in the name of hell you build a website for a place like this.”

Cameron laughed. “Slowly and painstakingly.”

“I can’t wait to see how you’ve captured it.”

She tugged on his hand. “Come meet Dottie and have a cider doughnut.”

“Oh, I don’t think—”

“You have to! Your visit won’t be complete without one.” She led him back to the doughnut counter where Dottie was pulling a fresh batch from the oven. “Perfect timing. Dottie, this is my dad, Patrick, and he’s in bad need of a doughnut.”

Dottie wiped her hands on a towel before reaching across the counter to shake Patrick’s hand. “So nice to meet you, Patrick. We’re all very big fans of your daughter.”

“As am I.”

“Can I get one of those for him?”

“Of course! Another for you, sweetie?”

“Absolutely not! I’ve got a dress to fit into on Saturday, so don’t tempt me.” To Patrick, Cameron added, “Dottie is the devil when it comes to these doughnuts.”

“Why, thank you,” Dottie said with a proud smile as she handed over a piping-hot doughnut to Patrick.

Both women watched expectantly as he took a bite.

His blue eyes lit up. “Holy Moses, that’s good.”

“Right?” Cameron said, pleased by his obvious pleasure. “I limit myself to two a week, or I wouldn’t fit through the doors around here. Come on upstairs and check out the office. See you later, Dottie.”

“Bye, Cam. Nice to meet you, Patrick.”

“You, too.”

He followed her through the store, stopping to look at various items as they went.

“That’s Hannah’s jewelry,” Cameron said of the pieces that had stopped him for a closer look. “She’s Will’s older sister, twin to Hunter, who’s the company CFO.”

“She does beautiful work.”

“I know! I’m a huge fan. I have a couple of her bracelets. Helps to have friends in high places.”

“I’m glad you’re making friends here.”

They proceeded up the stairs to the offices on the second floor. “So many friends. And now Lucy’s here a lot, too, which makes it even better.”

“Back so soon?” Mary asked when they arrived in the reception area. “I didn’t think I’d see you here again for at least two weeks.”

“I wanted you to meet my dad, Patrick.”

Mary came around her desk to shake his hand. “So nice to meet Cameron’s dad. We adore her here.”

“So I’m hearing. Nice to meet you, too.”

“This is our office.” Cameron opened the door and turned on the lights so her dad could see her workspace.

“Our office?”

“Mine and Will’s.”

“You two share an office? They didn’t give you one of your own?”

“We tried,” Mary said. “Those kids are inseparable.”

Cameron blushed and shrugged. “What she said. Besides, if I’m in another office, how am I supposed to play footsie with him during the day?”

“Ugh,” Patrick said with a grunt of laughter. “TMI. I’d go crazy sharing office space with anyone, especially such a small one.”

“Not everyone can have an acre in the sky to call their own,” Cameron said disdainfully.

He tweaked her nose. “It’s not a full acre, and I do need my elbow room.”

“You’re a spoiled, pampered brat, and we all know it.”

Mary laughed at their sparring.

“Don’t listen to her, Mary,” Patrick said with a wink, which had Mary blushing to the roots of her brown hair. “We all know who the spoiled brat is here.”

“Yeah, and it’s not me.”

“I’m afraid I have to side with your daughter, Patrick. There’s nothing spoiled about her. She works harder than all of us put together.”

“Thank you, Mary. I’ll make sure Hunter hears about your fifty percent raise.”

They left Mary laughing as they went back downstairs.

“What’s her story?” Patrick asked.

“Who, Mary?”

“Yeah. She’s adorable.”

“Dad . . . Don’t. She’s a really nice person. Leave her alone. She wouldn’t stand a chance against your brand of charm.”

“Why can’t I have a little fun while I’m in town?”

Cameron stopped on the landing and turned to him. “She’s off-limits. I mean that.”

“Don’t be so touchy, Cam.” He kissed her cheek and proceeded ahead of her into the store.

She watched him go with a growing sense of unease. She’d be watching him this weekend and keeping him far, far away from Mary—and all the other single women in Butler.

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ISBN
eBook: 978-0698165731
Print: 978-0515155389