"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.
2008 Chick Lit Pick Beach Read! South Jersey MOM magazine.
"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, Silhouette Special Edition.
"Nobody does it quirkier than Cindy Procter-King. Her romantic comedies will make you laugh out loud." Jamie Sobrato, Harlequin Blaze.
Nikki St. James was no criminal. Merely desperate.
And desperate times called for desperate measures.
In her cramped hiding place behind the Jolly-Green-Giant-sized 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-leaf-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, Karen Russell, to follow her lead, Nikki yanked on a makeshift pantyhose mask. She winced as the Toast Tango nylon tugged on her short curls, threatening to pull her hair out by the roots. The beige mesh screening her vision squashed a blond lock into one eye. Her breath snuffled through her nostrils like a bulldog's with a head cold, and her heart raced faster than a frightened rabbit's.
Yep, on a scale of one to ten, Nikki estimated her desperation level ran at an all-time 9.99 high. Nerves and adrenaline 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 Karen tuck her light brown hair beneath an identical mask. The remaining length of pantyhose dangled off Karen's head like a mutated ponytail. Nikki batted her own pantyhose tail off her forehead—and realized she must look every inch as ridiculous as Karen did.
She 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 loose loop to Karen. "The duct tape can wait until you tie his hands." She reached for the black pillowcase and child's toy ray 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 flat."
Karen's brown eyes widened beneath her pantyhose mask. "Nikki, are you sure about this? Kidnapping Royce's best man seems a bit drastic."
"Karen, 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 just explain to him—?"
"I can't. He'll think I'm a nutcase. He'll never agree to help me unless he feels like he has no choice."
"You don't know that."
"Sure, 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. But "acquainted" was the operative word. Nikki didn't know Alex well enough to outright ask his cooperation in her last-ditch effort to gain Royce's attention. Although the two men had remained friends since rooming together as college freshmen, they rarely socialized. Nikki knew of Alex, but she could count on the fingers of one hand—minus the thumb—the times 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 with prestigious Pacific University, neither man had the time to nurture a buddy-buddy relationship.
Nikki couldn't fathom sharing a similar fate with Karen. At twenty-five, she might be six years younger than Royce and his pal, but she knew the value of friendship. She and Karen had been tight since childhood. In fact, Nikki felt closer to Karen than she did to her older sister—her parents' favorite.
She puffed out a breath. "You're right, kidnapping Alex Hart could be considered drastic. But, Karen, that's the point." Nikki's nose itched beneath the tight nylon. She scratched her squished nostril, and her huge diamond solitaire engagement ring managed to pull off its glittery dance in the shade of the giant rhododendron.
"Kidnapping—I mean borrowing—Alex is the only way I can think of to get through to Royce. Talking to him has accomplished squat." The nylon pressed her lashes into her eyes like tiny, spiky instruments of torture. Ignoring their sting, she glanced at her watch. Her heart thumped maniacally. According to her legwork, Alex Hart would arrive home in a couple of minutes. "'Pretend you're having an affair to make him jealous,' you told me. If we dismiss the…borrowing aspect, that's really all I'm doing."
Karen's face paled beneath her pantyhose suntan. "Nikki, that was a joke. I didn't think you'd try to make Royce jealous by 'borrowing' the guy he asked to stand up for him at your wedding."
Nikki's stomach knotted. "It has to be Alex," she half-whispered. "Royce knows all my male friends are…buddies, not…not lover types. Pretending I've fallen for a friend of his—and not just any friend, but his best man--shows how intolerable our situation has become. Karen, I can't stand this forever-a-fiancée waiting! With Royce dragging his heels about us setting the date, I'm starting to believe we'll never have a wedding, unless I do something about it. And Mother and Father seem to think I'm the one who's stalling."
Nikki parted the waxy bush leaves, and a cluster of nearby blossoms riffled softly. She scanned the parking area several yards behind the house. Empty. She looked back at Karen.
"If Royce still wants to marry me like he says, then it's time for him to prove it. If he loves me, he'll take this fake near-affair I've set up with Alex as a serious indication from Cupid 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, so she had her doubts about that last statement. Recently, it had occurred to her that Royce might be playing her for a fool. Maybe he no longer wanted to get married, but didn't know how to tell her.
Tears burned her eyes, but 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 him 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 him.
The puttering of a car in the alley announced Alex Hart's arrival. Breath catching, Nikki peeked through the bush again.
A classic Volkswagen Beetle pulled into the gravel parking area. As Alex stepped out of the bright yellow car, the sun filtering through the gray-blue Seattle sky glinted off his neatly trimmed, nutmeg-brown hair.
Luckily, he hadn't noticed her van parked in the alley. Or, if he had, he'd accepted its presence.
Good, parking there several times over the last week had worked.
She wanted him unprepared and completely unsuspecting.
"He's here," she whispered, glancing at Karen. "So 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."