Married at Midnight

By: Gerri Russell


“How did you know where to find me?” she asked with a fleeting smile. Definitely not the same one as last night.

“It was the only logical place,” he replied, searching for a way to ask what he needed to ask.

“I still can’t figure it out . . . why did we get married?” Ellie asked quietly.

“We can blame it on the tequila. Or we can spend a little time figuring out the reasons,” he replied, moving closer to her.

“You want to figure out why we got married?” she asked, not quite meeting his eyes.

“Don’t you?”

Ellie looked back at the wedding bower. It was a long minute before she spoke again, and when she did, her voice was strained. “I used to believe in happily ever after. I’m not sure I do anymore.”

Connor frowned as he sat down beside her. “You’re a wedding planner.” He remembered at least that much of their conversation last night. “Isn’t believing in such things a requirement for you?”

“I’m an event planner. I do more than weddings.” She turned back to him but didn’t meet his gaze. “Even so, I’ve planned so many weddings for other people that were exquisite—a fantasy come true for the bride and groom. Some of those couples are still together; some aren’t. It’s the ones who focused on their lives after the wedding and not on the wedding itself that made it as a couple.”

“You had a fantasy wedding,” Connor said. “It’s not every day that Elvis marries a couple.”

Ellie screwed up her face. “I’m pretty sure that happens in Vegas every day, especially in this chapel. Or do you not remember our wedding photos?”

“I remember.” He allowed silence to slip between them before he continued. “The fact is, we are married. And before we do anything to change that state, I need to ask you a favor.”

“What kind of favor?” she asked. Her eyes filled with suspicion. “What could you possibly want from me?”

“My father called me after you left the hotel. My grandmother has had a heart attack. She’s having surgery today. Even so, my father says her prognosis isn’t good. He asked me to come home quickly. In case she . . .” He couldn’t say the word.

With concern in her eyes, Ellie faced him. “I’m so sorry, Connor. I only met your grandmother a few times, but I could tell she was someone special.”

“Would you stay married to me for a little while longer?” he asked softly. He watched her face, waiting for a response. His heart beat a little faster. His palms grew damp. Time was of the essence here. He needed her to say yes.

“Stay married? To you?”

“Yes. Viola has said to me more than once that she wanted to live long enough to see me married. I can’t let her down.” He took Ellie’s hands in his own. “Will you come back to Seattle with me as my bride for my grandmother’s sake? Let’s pretend we’re happy together, at least while my grandmother recovers. Once she’s better, I’ll give you the divorce you want.” He couldn’t let his grandmother die without her at least believing he had found his one and only—like she had found his grandfather. If she recovered, he would find a way to explain what he’d done to try to keep her alive.

“Will you do it?” Connor asked.

The color faded from Ellie’s cheeks. “You want us to stay married for your grandmother’s sake?” Her eyes hardened. “It would be a lie.”

The words twisted inside him, but he pushed aside the memories that threatened. “My grandmother needs something to encourage her to fight for her life. Please, Ellie. I’m not ready to let her go just yet.”

“You really think our marriage will give her something to live for?” The glimmer of compassion in her eyes filled him with hope.

“Yes.”

Ellie pushed a lock of hair away from her face. “And when we tell her the truth? You think she’ll be better off knowing we lied to her then?”

“She’ll be alive at least. I can deal with the rest,” Connor replied.

Ellie closed her eyes, hiding her emotions from him. When she opened them a moment later, their brown depths were clear and expressionless. “I need to ask you something, Connor. Something that has nothing to do with your grandmother.”

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