When lifetime friendship mixes with romance, things can get weird...
Barnes & Noble.com
A Previous Engagement on Amazon
Tessa Monroe may not be able to operate a toaster oven safely, but she sure knows how to create and execute a marketing plan. Christian Douglas, her best friend since eating paste was in vogue, is a wedding photographer as romantic as his craft, engaged to a woman he believes is the one.
Suddenly, Christian's fiancée dumps him because she senses he’s in love with someone else—someone he “proposed to” on the third grade playground, someone who grew up without plans for romance, marriage, or a family thanks to her high powered career.
Love each other? Not as anything more than friends, think both Christian and Tessa. But when a new “perfect” woman and the ultimate job opportunity threaten to drive the friends apart for good, Christian and Tessa must finally confront their true feelings for each other. Their lives have led them to very different destinations; can love bridge the gap between them?
They stopped in front of the swing set, where Tess wiped off the seat farthest from the windows and sat down. There, she knew she was less likely to be spotted by the principal and busted for breaking out of recess. Christian took a deep breath, steadied himself, and knelt on one knee in front of her—the way he’d seen it in a movie. He cleared his throat to speak but stopped at Tess’s puzzled look. “What are you doing?”
“I have to tell you something,” he said, starting to lose his courage. He watched the rain pattering down around her jacket, taking strength from the steady sound of it.
“Do we really need to be outside for this? It’s pouring.”
“It’s more romantic that way, Tessie. Don’t you ever watch any movies? They always do stuff like this in the rain.”
“Stuff like what?” She couldn’t help but ask, but his pleading look stopped her from demanding an answer. More curious than suspicious, Tess decided to let him continue.
“Tessa Elizabeth Monroe,” he began grandly. She giggled at her full name, something that sounded silly on his lips. Her laugh brought a smile to his face, loosening him up. “Okay. Tessie…”
“Tessie Monroe, I think you are really cool and sometimes really funny...especially your knock-knock jokes. And you’re nice. Sometimes you even share your lunch with me when my dad packs me bologna sandwiches. We’ve been friends for basically forever and hopefully, we won’t have a big fight one day and stop being friends. I think you have a pretty smile and really nice hair…”
“Come on.” Tess’s freckly cheeks flushed.
“I know we’re only nine…”
She sighed, hating to admit it. “Eight. I’m still eight.”
“Whatever.” His concentration broken, Christian looked up at her. “Can you just let me finish this please? It’s cold out here.” She nodded, shivering right along with him. “I know we’re young—better?—and that we have a long time until we’re old enough. But if no one else comes along, Tessie Monroe, will you marry me…eventually?”
His eyes searched her face expectantly. She blinked a few times, not sure what to do.
“It’s your line,” he urged.
“What do I say?”
“Answer the question. Will you marry me someday? Oh, wait! Don’t answer yet. I almost forgot!” He rustled through his jacket pockets. “A-ha! Here.” Christian proudly slid a sticky, linty Ring Pop onto Tess’s left ring finger, then beamed up at her.
“Eww! What happened to it?”
“Buster stole it from my pocket when I took him for a walk last night,” his tone fell with his smile. “Sorry.”
“S’okay,” she shrugged, admiring the melted cherry mess from several angles. “Now I say yes, right?”
He nodded, waiting patiently.
“I wasn’t ready. Ask me again,” she instructed.
“The whole thing?”
“No, just the part with the question.”
“Oh, okay.” He resumed his pose on one knee and took her hand in his again. “Tessie Monroe, will you be my wife someday?”
“Um…yes. Now what?”
“Now you’re my fiancée.”
“Cool! What’s a fancy?”
“Fee-ahhn-say.” He hesitated. “I’m not really sure. I think it’s what you call each other when you are planning a wedding… or something. Like practicing to be married. My dad says it’s French.”
“Can you have three fiancées?” He shook his head. “Then let’s keep it a secret, okay? I don’t think we can call each other that in front on Kendra… she might feel left out.”
Christian nodded, grinning. As he started to stand up again, Tess placed a hand on his shoulder. They smiled at each other, fiancées and co-secret-keepers.
“Hey, Christian? Thanks for saying all those nice things about me. I like you a lot too.” She blushed again, but kept going. “It’s nice to know I have such a good friend.”
She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. He blushed a little bit too.
“I’ll always be your best friend, Tessie. No matter what.”