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Perfect Alignment (Thorne and Dash #3)
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Thorne proposed to Riley. Riley accepted.
Thorne thought that was that. They’d take a nice trip, get married, and spend a week luxuriating in a five-star hotel with occasional excursions to fabulous restaurants.
Riley imagined a traditional wedding with all the trappings. With all their friends and family. At Christmas.
Thorne concedes reluctantly, and a flurry of wedding planning ensues. At the same time, Thorne is wrestling with a recalcitrant client, and Riley and his business partner, Susan, are consumed with renovations and planning for the opening of their bakery. Stress on top of stress makes both Riley and Thorne doubt their relationship, and a major misunderstanding nearly silences the wedding bells.
By the time they reach their happily ever after, they’re both going to deserve all the romance they’ve been dreaming of.
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The bell over the bakery—or soon to be bakery—door rang. Riley had placed it there after being startled one too many times when he thought he was alone.
“Hello,” Marc called out.
“Come on back, I’m looking at floor samples.”
When Riley’s best friend, Marc, entered the kitchen, he immediately pointed at the black-and-white checkerboard tile sample. “That one.”
That was the one Riley had been leaning toward. It was exactly the floor a cozy old-fashioned bakery should have, but he’d wondered if that made it too cliché.
Marc looked up from the samples and narrowed his eyes. “You’re overthinking it.”
“Are you psychic now?”
“Apparently not. Something serious is up with you, but I can’t quite figure it out.”
Something was. By unspoken agreement, Riley and Thorne had kept their engagement secret for the weeks since they returned from their amazing week at the lake—sailing, cuddling, fucking, realizing they were one hundred percent meant for each other. It was as if their engagement was so precious a thing they hadn’t been ready to share it. Maybe it was time to let Marc in on it.
As if knowing how to lead him to spill the secret, Marc said, “And what’s with the Spiderman ring? I thought you were more of an Iron Man guy.”
“Can you keep a secret?” Riley lowered his voice despite no one else being in the bakery.
Marc gave him a look of mock offense.
“Fine. I know you can.” He took a big breath. “Thorne and I are engaged.”
“Whaaat? That’s amazing.”
Marc pulled Riley into a hug.
“Wait a minute.” Marc grabbed Riley’s left hand and studied his ring. “Is this an engagement ring?” He arched a brow. “I know Thorne can do better than that.”
Riley scowled. “Do not laugh at my ring.” But he couldn’t pretend to be serious for long. He and Marc ended up in a laughing fit that lasted several minutes. Finally Riley calmed himself enough to give Marc the full story of Thorne getting up before dawn and attempting to buy a ring for him in a resort village by the lake, as if that were possible.
“So this is what he came up with?”
“Yes. He intended to replace it once we got back to Atlanta, but I told him I loved this one and didn’t need anything else.”
“And he listened to you?”
Marc’s expression of disbelief was priceless.
“Probably not, but he hasn’t tried to take this one from me yet.”
“So do you have a date?” Marc asked.
“No, we haven’t talked specifics, but I want you to stand up with me. You will, right?”
Marc grinned. “I’d kick your ass if you asked someone else.”
“Thank you. If it weren’t for you, I—”
“You and Thorne would’ve found a way without me. I’m sure of it. You’re perfect for each other.”
“Maybe, but you made it easier.”
“Did you know he was going to propose? Did he give you a hint or anything?”
“No, it was a complete surprise. I think it was even a surprise to him. I think he just decided to do it when he woke up that day.”
Marc laughed. “Of course he did. He wouldn’t have had the patience to wait once he decided it.”
“No, patience is one of the few things Thorne lacks.”
This set off another laughing fit.
When he was composed again, Riley said, “I want to get married close to Christmas.”
Marc gave a wistful smile. “That’s absolutely perfect. That’s when you and Thorne really got together.”
“And while he might not admit it easily, Thorne adores Christmas.”
“Oh, I can just see it. It will be perfect.”
“Yes, it will.”
Thorne perused the cases in the high-end jewelry store. He’d already selected simple gold bands for the wedding rings he and Riley would exchange. Wedding rings. They were getting married, truly, legally married. It was almost more than he could take in, despite having been the one to propose a few weeks ago.
He wanted those rings for them to exchange at the ceremony, but he needed something for now. Riley had insisted on continuing to wear the Spiderman ring Thorne had gotten from a grocery store vending machine in a moment of frantic must-propose-right-now weakness. Riley swore he loved the little circle of plastic, but…
“Have you considered a bracelet?” the salesperson who’d been helping him asked.
“I’m Julia.” She held out her hand for Thorne to shake. Thorne had been a customer there for years, but he’d never met her, so she must be a new hire. “I noticed that as you look at other rings you seem uncertain. You could always go with a different piece of jewelry. It doesn’t have to be a ring, right?”
“An engagement bracelet?” Thorne wasn’t sure.
“Does your fiancé wear rings?”
“No.” Riley rarely wore any jewelry at all.
“So why limit yourself. What do you think he would like best?”
Thorne considered the question. Riley would have to take off a ring when he was baking. But a bracelet would be easier to wear. “I think a bracelet is a great idea.”