The Best Man by Kristan Higgins - Romance>Contemporary
Sometimes the best man is the one you least expect...
Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she's ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family's vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there's some great scenery there....
Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief--and best friend of her former fiancé. There's a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it's not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she's having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.
Faith Holland put down her binoculars, picked up her clipboard and checked off a box on her list. Lives alone. Clint had said he did, and the background check showed only his name on the rental agreement, but a person couldn't be too careful. She took a pull of Red Bull and tapped her fingers against the steering wheel of her roommate's car.
Once upon a time, a scenario like this would've seemed ridiculous. But given her romantic history, a little footwork was simply smart. Footwork saved time, embarrassment, anger and heartbreak. Say, for example, the man was gay, which had happened not just with Jeremy, but with Rafael Santos and Fred Beeker, as well. To his credit, Rafe hadn't known Faith thought they were dating; he'd thought they were just hanging out. Later that month, determined to keep trying, Faith had rather awkwardly hit on Fred, who lived down the street from her and Liza, only to have him recoil in horror and gently explain that he liked boys, too. (Incidentally, she'd fixed him up with Rafael, and the two had been together ever since, so at least there was a happily ever after for someone.)
Gay wasn't the only problem. Brandon, whom she'd met at a party, had seemed so promising, right until their second date, when his phone rang. "Gotta take this, it's my dealer," he'd said blithely. When Faith had asked for clarification--he couldn't mean drug dealer, could he?--he'd replied sure, what did she think he meant? He'd seemed confused when Faith left in a huff.
The binocs were old school, yes. But had she used binoculars with Rafe, she would've seen his gorgeous silk window treatments and six-foot framed poster of Barbra Streisand. Had she staked out Brandon, she might've seen him meeting unsavory people in cars after they'd flashed their headlights.
She'd attempted to date two other guys since moving to San Francisco. One didn't believe in bathing--again, something she might've learned by stalking. The other guy stood her up.
Hence the stakeout.
Faith sighed and rubbed her eyes. If this didn't work out, Clint would be her last foray for a while, because she really was getting worn out here. Late nights, the eye strain associated with binocular use, a stomachache from too much caffeine... It was tiring.
But Clint might be worth it. Straight, employed, no history of arrest, no DUIs, that rarest of species in S.F. Maybe this would make a cute story at their wedding. She could almost imagine Clint saying, "Little did I know that at that very minute, Faith was parked in front of my house, chugging Red Bull and bending the law...."
She'd met Clint on the job--she'd been hired to design a small public park in the Presidio; Clint owned a landscaping company. They'd worked together just fine; he was on time, and his people were fast and meticulous. Also, Clint had taken a shine to Blue, Faith's Golden retriever, and what's more appealing than a guy who gets down on his knees and lets your dog lick his face? Blue seemed to like him (but then again, Blue tended to like any living creature, the type of dog who'd leg-hump a serial killer). The park had been dedicated two weeks ago, and right after the ceremony, Clint had asked her out. She'd said yes, then gone home and begun her work. Good old Google showed no mention of a wife (or husband). There was a record of a marriage between a Clinton Bundt of Owens, Nebraska, but that was ten years ago, and her Clint Bundt a) seemed too young to have been married for ten years; and b) was from Seattle. His Facebook page was for work only. While he did mention some social things ("Went to Oma's on 19th Street; great...