By: Lexy Timms & Sierra Rose

Chapter 1

I was born and raised in New York City. Every day, I’m amazed by the breathtaking landscape and awe-inspiring skyline. The Big Apple is, truly, a city that never sleeps. Bright lights, honking taxicabs, and noise are present twenty-four/seven, but somehow, in the midst of all that hustle and bustle and crowded chaos, I found my soulmate. Gazing down at my glittering diamond engagement ring, I couldn’t stop smiling.

Jake Connors lived in the Bronx, the son of a housekeeper who worked for a multimillionaire business tycoon. His mother’s boss used his personal connections and whipped out his checkbook to help Jake enroll at the same elite private school where I was a student. Jake was smart, but he still had T-R-O-U-B-L-E written all over him. In school, he was reprimanded numerous times and even suspended twice. If it wasn’t for his benefactor’s connections, he would have been thrown out right on his naughty butt.

Bad boys are irresistible (as any private school girl, teacher’s pet, or preacher’s daughter will tell you), so of course it wasn’t long before Jake and I fell madly in love against my parents’ wishes, and the rest is history.

At the ripe old age of twenty, I was about to begin my life as Mrs. Jake Connors. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and excitement and nerves washed through me like a tidal wave. Matchbox Twenty’s “Overjoyed” played softly in the background, one of the songs on the playlist I’d put together just for that morning. I loved the way the beading from my wedding gown sparkled under the bright lights of the church.

I pulled the lace material down over my shoulders and turned to gaze at Nadia, my best friend since childhood. Her long blonde hair was twisted and woven into an elegant and elaborate up-do, and her sapphire-blue silk dress and matching heels was a stunning ensemble.

A tear rolled down her face as she adjusted my veil and diamond tiara. “There. You look perfect, just like Cinderella,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I know I promised I wouldn’t cry, but I’m so happy that your fairytale is finally coming true.”

I gushed with emotion. “I’ve dreamt about this moment my entire life.”

Her brown eyes gleamed. “I know. You’re gonna be Mrs. Ashly Connors!” she squealed, clapping her perfectly manicured hands together.

I couldn’t stop grinning. “I’ve never loved anyone the way I love Jake.”

“And you’re putting all those doubters to rest.”

“I know. Everyone swore we’d never make it, yet here we are, about to walk down the aisle!” Tears welled up, and I started fanning my face. “This is the happiest day of my life.”

She reached for a tissue. “Don’t cry. You’ll ruin your makeup that I spent so long trying to get just right.”

“I-I can’t help it,” I said, sniffling and in a trembling voice. “I’ve never ever been this happy and excited.”

“This is just the beginning,” Nadia said. “You two are going to have a fabulous life together.”

I smiled. “We are, aren’t we?”

“Definitely!” she said, squeezing my hands in reassurance.

Grinning, my cousin walked in with a dozen red roses. “Looks like somebody sent the bride flowers.”

I lit up. “They’re beautiful,” I said, taking the bouquet to read the card.

“Well? Who sent them?” Nadia asked curiously.

I shot her the widest grin. “Who else? They’re from Jake. The card says he’s dreamt of this day forever, and that he can’t wait for our lives to begin together as husband and wife.”

“Aw!” Nadia said. “That’s so sweet.”

A tear rolled down my cheek. “Is he here yet? I have to go thank him.”

“No way, young lady!” Nadia scolded. “As your maid of honor, it is my duty to make sure he doesn’t see you before the ceremony. It’s bad luck, and we can’t have that.”

“Then have him come to the door, and I’ll open it just a crack.”

“He’s not here yet,” my cousin informed me.

“What!?” My jaw dropped. “He was supposed to be here an hour ago. I just assumed he was with all the groomsmen, because the photographer said he was heading that way to get some pictures. Where do you think—”

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