Dani Dipietro has always considered herself an ugly duckling in a family of swans. She's the bridesmaid her friends count on, but never the woman any man wants for his bride. So she plays the funny girl and guards her emotions, and her secrets, closely.
When Zach Morrison was dumped at his wedding, Dani was there to help him through the humiliation. A year later they meet again and once more Zach needs her help. To fend off the unwanted attentions of his former fiancé, he asks Dani to pretend to be his girlfriend. They play their roles a little too well, and make believe turns into reality. But their relationship comes crashing down around them when Zach's trust issues cause him to accuse Dani of cheating. Telling the truth means Dani will betray a friend, something she will never do. But keeping her secrets means she may be destined to remain a bridesmaid forever.
The door swung open, and for a moment Dani could only stare. Zach Morrison stood holding the door and looking even more handsome then he had a year ago. She'd learned from Fiona that he'd be here, that they'd be paired together in the wedding party. But even though he'd had a starring role in her fantasies for the last year, she hadn't expected her insides to go all mushy at the sight of him.
Finally, she remembered her manners and held out her hand. "It's nice to see you again, Zach."
He took her hand and held it tightly. "It's nice to see you, too. In fact, I'm really glad you're here."
Her mouth went instantly dry. "You are?"
"Yeah." He squeezed her fingers, the look on his face intense. "I know we don’t know each other well, but I have a favor I need to ask you. A really big favor."
"Okay." She couldn't imagine what kind of favor he'd want from her. "Why don't I come inside and you can tell me about it."
He looked furtively over his shoulder. "I haven't forgotten your kindness when I saw you last. My mother told me how considerate you were to her and Camp as well. Thank you."
"You're welcome. But I really didn't do anything." Her heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it.
"It meant a lot to me. Listen, there's not much time. I wanted to ask you--"
"Zach! Who's at the door?"
Dani started. She knew that voice. Chantal.
Zach visibly shuddered at the demanding tone in his ex-fiancé’s voice. His blue eyes implored her.
"Please, play along with me. I'll make it worth your while."
"Daniella, help me, please!" he whispered.
How could she say no to a handsome man asking for her help?
Before she could articulate a question, he pulled her into his arms, his mouth descending on hers. Dani was too shocked to object. For a full ten seconds she remained rigid and unyielding. Then she relaxed slightly, sighing at the sweet sensation of his lips touching hers. Her hands seemed to move on their own accord, first exploring his muscular chest, then winding around his neck. Her body trembled as it molded itself against his.
"Dani? Is that you?"
Chantal's voice doused the pleasant awareness. She stepped back with a jolt, shocked that she'd been so intimate with someone she hardly knew. She cringed. And in front of an audience, too.
Zach put his arm around her waist, pulling her against him and kissing her cheek. "Just follow my lead. Please," he whispered urgently in her ear. Dani looked up into his eyes and saw his desperation. Without thinking, she gave an imperceptible nod. He grinned and turned to face Chantal.
"I was just saying hello to Daniella."
Chantal looked her up and down. "Since when do you say hello to Dani by sticking your tongue down her throat?"