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Borrowing Alex

Love in the Pacific Northwest, Book 2

Blue Orchard Books
September 30th, 2013 ~ Updated June 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9880884-1-2 E-Book
ISBN: 978-0-9880884-3-6 Trade Paperback

This good girl is going bad...

Nikki St. James wants to get married more than anything. But what’s she to do when her fiancé spends his days sucking up to her rich father instead of helping with the simple task of, oh, setting a date? Why, fake a fling with the best man, of course!

Nikki is the first to admit that ambushing Alex Hart and whisking him off to secluded Lake Eden is a tad desperate. But maybe pretending she’s hot for the handsome history professor will kickstart the attention of her future groom. Besides, a sojourn at a lakeside cabin is exactly what uptight Alex needs. Not that Nikki cares what he needs or how sexy he is...

Alex is not onboard with Nikki’s plan. Sure, he’d love a break from his quest to achieve tenure at warp speed but getting kidnapped by a crazy blonde hardly tops his to-do list. If what he’s heard is true and Nikki is perfectly happy with her “open” engagement to his former college roommate, why bother getting married?

Quickly, he realizes Nikki isn’t a wild party girl. She’s cute, sweet—and faithful. Against his common sense, he’s falling for her. Should he spill the beans about her rat fiancé? Or will he ruin his own chance for a happy ending?

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Reviews

"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.

 

Accolades

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

 

Excerpt

Nikki St. James was no criminal. Merely desperate.

And desperate times called for desperate measures.

In her cramped hiding place behind the giant rhododendron bush, Nikki pushed a cluster of white blossoms out of her face. The shingles siding the old Seattle house scratched her spine through her cotton turtleneck. Matching rhododendron-green yoga pants and black combat 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 pulled a pantyhose mask down over her face. The snug nylon yanked her curls, but it couldn’t be helped. The beige mesh screening her vision squashed a blond lock into one eye. Her breath whistled in through her nostrils, and 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, she reminded herself. Or something like that.

Spitting pantyhose lint off her lips, she 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—which meant she must too.

But none of that mattered now. 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 cord to Karin. “Tie his hands and then double up with the duct tape,” she instructed. She reached for the black pillowcase and child’s toy space gun. 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 the guy—?”

“I can’t explain. He’ll think I’m nuts. He’s not the type to agree to help me. He needs to feel like he has no choice.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes, I do.” Nikki had been acquainted with Alex Hart, her fiancé’s former college roommate and intended best man, for over two years. They’d met at the country club engagement party her parents had hosted soon after Royce Carmichael proposed. And acquainted was definitely the operative word. Nikki didn’t know Alex well enough to saunter over to the intelligent history professor’s office and casually ask his cooperation in her last-ditch effort to kickstart Royce into agreeing on a wedding date. As busy professionals, the men rarely socialized. Nikki knew about Alex, but she could count on the fingers of one hand the occasions during which she’d spoken to the guy.

Royce had expounded upon the situation once. Between his demanding 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 had time to nurture their relationship. Nikki couldn’t fathom sharing a similar fate with Karin. Each twenty-five, they might be six years younger than Royce and his pal, but they valued friendship. Nikki 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. Frankly, that’s the point.” Nikki’s nose itched beneath the stretched nylon. She scratched her squished nostril, and her three-carat engagement ring glittered in the shadows of the massive 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. “And it was you who suggested I make Royce jealous by pretending I’m attracted to another man. 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 nylon 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—not just any friend, but his best man—proves how intolerable our situation has become. Karin, I can’t stand this forever-a-fiancée waiting. With Royce dragging his heels about 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 leaves, and a cluster of nearby blossoms riffled softly. She scanned the parking area several yards behind the house. Empty. She looked back at Karin. “If Royce still wants to marry me, it’s time he stepped up. If he loves me, he’ll take this fake booty call with Alex as serious indication 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, and she blinked them away. She needed to stay positive. Royce was busy—that was all. Too harried to notice the flying tendency of time. Well, after the surprise she’d organized 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 waiting for him on her kitchen table. Not an easily dismissed text or phone call, but a good, old-fashioned, strike-terror-deep-into-his-heart-of-losing-her note.

The puttering of a car in the alley announced Alex’s arrival. Holding her breath, Nikki peeked through the bush leaves. A vintage 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.

Excellent, he hadn’t noticed her van sitting in the alley. Or, if he had, he hadn’t questioned the presence of the old vehicle. Parking along the backstreet multiple times over the last week had worked.

She wanted him unprepared and completely unsuspecting.

“He’s here,” she whispered to Karin. “So stop with the debating. It’s too late to jam out.” Her heart jack-hammered against her ribs. She tightened her grip on the toy space gun. “Get ready to jump him.”

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