"I really like romantic comedy as a genre, but it takes some really good writing to make me laugh. This book made me laugh." Fallen Angel Reviews.
"Sexual tension quickly sparks between these two characters. Talk about a hot first kiss." The Road to Romance.
"I really enjoyed Borrowing Alex, it was smart and funny without being overdone. The characters do some pretty funny things in the name of love. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book I find by Cindy Procter-King." Joyfully Reviewed.
Winner, Contemporary Romance, The Lories
Finalist, Romantic Comedy, More than Magic
"Cindy Procter-King's flair with the written word has you wiping away tears—tears of laughter. Her characters are witty, sexy, and oh-so-believable within the chaos of their lives." Mary J. Forbes, RT Books Reviewers' Choice Award Winner.
Nikki St. James was no criminal. Merely desperate.
And desperate times called for desperate measures.
In her cramped hiding place behind the massive rhododendron bush, Nikki pushed a cluster of white blossoms out of her face. The shingles siding the old Seattle house scratched her back through her turtleneck. Matching rhododendron-green yoga pants and black ankle boots completed her camouflage ensemble.
Normally, she would never wear such a dark shade of green.
Signaling her cousin, Karin Russell, to follow her lead, Nikki tugged on a makeshift pantyhose mask. Ouch, that hurts.
The tight nylon yanked her short curls, but it couldn’t be helped. The beige mesh screening her vision squashed a blond lock into one eye. Her breath whistled through her nostrils while her heart raced faster than a frightened rabbit’s.
Yep, on a scale of one to ten, Nikki estimated her current desperation level ran at an all-time 9.99 high. Nerves and excitement scrambled to catch up.
All things come to those who take action. Or something like that.
Spitting out a speck of pantyhose lint, Nikki turned to help Karin tuck her loose brown waves beneath an identical mask. The remaining length of hose dangled off Karin’s head like a mutated ponytail. Nikki’s cousin looked ridiculous.
Wait a minute. Did she?
Whatever. Time was running short. Nikki only hoped that, for Alex Hart, the element of surprise when they ambushed him catapulted “ridiculous” into the category of something more like “menacing.”
“Here,” she whispered, retrieving a coiled rope from the supplies on the ground and passing the loop to Karin. “The duct tape can wait until you tie his hands,” she instructed. She reached for the black pillowcase and child’s toy space gun purchased a few days ago. The rhododendron leaves rustled against her legs in the late-afternoon breeze of mid-May. “If we work fast enough, we’ll have him in the van in under two minutes.”
Karin winced. “Nikki, are you sure about this? Kidnapping Royce’s best man seems a bit drastic.”
“Karin, we’ve talked until I’m green in the face,” Nikki whispered. “Don’t you think I feel bad enough about...borrowing Alex already?”
“Then why not explain to him—?”
“I can’t. He’ll think I’m nuts. He’ll never agree to help me unless he feels he has no choice.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do.” Nikki had been acquainted with Alex Hart, her fiancé’s intended best man, for over two years. They’d met at the society engagement party her parents had hosted soon after Royce Carmichael had proposed.
However, “acquainted” was the operative word. Nikki didn’t know Alex well enough to saunter over to the intelligent history professor and casually ask his cooperation in her last-ditch effort to boot Royce into action. Although the two men had remained friends since rooming together as college freshmen, they rarely socialized. Nikki knew about Alex, but she could count on the fingers of one hand the occasions during which she’d actually talked to the guy.
Royce had explained the situation once. Between his busy schedule as an associate in her father’s dermatology practice and Alex’s determination to fast-track his way to tenure at prestigious Pacific University, neither man possessed the luxury to coddle their relationship.
Nikki couldn’t fathom sharing a similar fate with Karin. At twenty-five, she might be six years younger than Royce and his pal, but she valued friendship. She and Karin had been BFFs since childhood. In fact, they were closer than Nikki and her older sister—her parents’ favorite.
She puffed out a breath. “You’re right, kidnapping Alex Hart could be considered drastic. But, Karin, that’s the point.” Nikki’s nose itched beneath the stretched nylon. She scratched her squished nostril, and her huge diamond solitaire engagement ring glittered in the shadows of the giant rhododendron.
“Kidnapping—I mean, borrowing—Alex is the only way I can think of to get through to Royce. Talking has accomplished squat.” The nylon pressed her lashes into her eyes like tiny, spiky instruments of torture. Biting her lip, she glanced at her watch. According to her legwork, Alex Hart would arrive home any minute. “Besides, it was your brainwave that I make Royce jealous by pretending I’m attracted to another guy. That I might even sleep with him. If we dismiss the borrowing aspect, that’s really all I’m doing.”
Karin’s face paled beneath her pantyhose mask. “Nikki, that was a joke! I didn’t for one second believe you’d try to make Royce jealous by borrowing a guy from your wedding party.”
Nikki’s stomach knotted. “It has to be Alex,” she half-whispered. “Royce knows all my male friends, and he doesn’t feel threatened by a single one. No, pretending I’ve fallen for a friend of his—and not just any friend, but his best man—will prove how intolerable our situation has become. Karin, I can’t stand this forever-a-fiancée waiting. With Royce dragging his heels about us setting the date, I’m starting to believe there’ll never be a wedding, unless I do something about it. And Mother and Father seem to think I’m stalling.”
“I know, and that’s awful. But—”
“No buts.” Nikki parted the waxy bush leaves, and a cluster of blossoms riffled. She scanned the parking area several yards behind the house. Empty. She looked back at Karin. “If Royce still wants to marry me like he says, then it’s time for him to ante up. If he loves me, he’ll take this fake booty call I’ve engineered with Alex as serious indication that he’d better make an honest woman out of me fast.” Clutching the pillowcase, she pointed a finger skyward. “Nikki St. James is nobody’s fool.”
Okay, she had her doubts about that last statement. Maybe Royce was playing her for a fool. Maybe he no longer wanted to get married, but didn’t know how to tell her.
Tears pricked her eyes. She blinked them away. Think positive.
Royce was busy, that was all. Too harried to notice the flying tendency of time. Well, after the surprise she’d arranged for later tonight, he’d have to be thicker than the bricks in the little pig’s house not to take action.
Her hopes rode on that risk. Her future happiness depended on Royce’s reaction to the note she’d left on her kitchen table.
The puttering of a car in the alley announced Alex Hart’s arrival. Holding her breath, Nikki peeked through the bush again.
A classic Volkswagen Beetle pulled into the gravel parking area. As Alex Hart stepped out of the small yellow car, the sun filtering through the gray Seattle sky glinted off his neatly trimmed, nutmeg-brown hair.
Luckily, he hadn’t noticed her van parked in the alley. Or, at least, he hadn’t questioned the presence of the old vehicle.
Good, stashing the van down the road multiple times over the last week had worked.
She wanted him unprepared and completely unsuspecting.
“He’s here,” she whispered to Karin. “No more discussion. It’s too late to jam out.” Her heart jack-hammered against her ribs. She tightened her grip on the toy gun. “Get ready to jump him.”