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The (Not So) Perfect Fiancé

The (Not So) Perfect Fiancé

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Home renovation has never been so complicated...or so romantic. And since when does it involve a fake fiancé?

Callie Wright has it all. The perfect guy, the perfect new job, the perfect house. Until her groom-to-be deserts her. Now she's still got the house, but the perfect fiancé? Well, he's gone and left her right before they're supposed to star in One Step at a Time, the hit home renovation reality show. The show that surprises newlyweds with their dream home has chosen Callie's house as their new fixer-upper, and when they find out that Callie's fiancé just stood her up? Well, apparently her heartbreak makes for good TV.

Faced with that sort of national humiliation, is it any wonder when Callie takes the show's hottie star up on his offer to take over the role of fiancé? She's not quite sure what's in it for him, but what does it matter? He's only a placeholder until her ex comes to his senses...right? So then, why does playing make believe feel so real? And why does he keep kissing her even when the cameras are off?

Main Tropes

  • Forced Proximity
  • Fake Dating
  • HGTV Star

Intro Into Chapter 1

The line at Angela’s Bakery was so long that even after ten minutes of waiting, Callie had only made it to the back of the store. At least she wasn’t in the line that stretched down the block, right?

She craned her neck to watch the bakers behind the counter rushing back and forth as they filled orders for the hungry weekend crowd.

Maybe she should have waited until Monday to do this. 

Even as she thought it, Callie started edging backward toward the door, a rush of adrenaline making her want to sprint out the exit and back to her car.

Gritting her teeth in determination, Callie forced her feet to stay exactly where they were. It had taken all her willpower to come here this morning, and there was no telling how much longer she’d allow herself to procrastinate if she didn’t get it done today.

Canceling her wedding cake order was the last step in disassembling her upcoming wedding, and her dread over performing this simple task had grown completely out of proportion. 

She bit her lip as she tilted her head again to see around the tall couple before her to the counter at the front of the bakery. The petite redhead who owned the shop was grinning at a customer as she rang her up. Only a few more minutes and then it would be her turn. She could do this. She could totally do this.

Her insides twisted in her belly and she drew in a quick inhale.

Nope. She couldn’t do it. 

Maybe if she had some moral support. She should have taken her brother Ethan up on his offer to do this task for her before he left Friar Hollow. Out of all her older brothers, Ethan was the most reliable about things like this. While Keith had taken her out for long runs to keep her mind off Brent’s desertion two months before their wedding, and Ryan had cooked so much food that she’d gained five pounds in a week, and Trevor had railed loudly and often about what he would do when he saw Brent again…it was Keith who dove in and helped with the logistics of canceling a wedding.

But now they were all gone. Her brothers had spaced out their visits over the last four weeks so that their baby sister wouldn’t have to face her new, sudden singlehood alone, but they couldn’t stay with her forever. They each had lives of their own back in Massachusetts, where she’d been born and raised.


Her head shot up at the sound of her name coming from the front of the shop. Callie took a step to the side and spotted Angela waving at her with wide, expectant eyes. When she stepped out from behind the counter and waved for her to come over, Callie left the line with another wave of anxiety. 

This was it. There was no turning back now. Once this was done, the wedding was officially off. Sure, the venue had already been canceled, and the guests had been told, but after this there would be nothing left of the plans she’d painstakingly organized. Nothing left of the perfect wedding she’d dreamt of for nearly a year. 

“Callie,” Angela said with a welcoming smile as she approached. “Are you here to discuss the cake? I had a few ideas about the layers that I—”

“No,” Callie interrupted quickly. A little too quickly judging by Angela’s wide eyes.

“Er, I mean, I was hoping to talk to you, but not about…that.” The amount of cake tiers was so far from her list of concerns these days, it would have been funny if she could summon up a laugh. Was it only four weeks ago that she’d thought choosing the perfect flavor of cake had been so very important?

Angela studied her for a long moment and then gestured toward a small table in the corner where a guy with slicked back hair and a fancy suit was sitting in front of a laptop. “Why don’t you have a seat?” Angela said.

The guy in question looked up as they approached and the smile he gave Angela made Callie’s chest ache. She wished she could say that overwhelming emotion was joy for her kinda-sorta new friend. She and Angela hadn’t exactly become BFFs talking about wedding cakes, but considering Callie had only moved to town a few months ago and didn’t know many people, her bar for friends was low. Thanks to her many trips to the post office to return early wedding presents from well-intentioned friends and family, her list of local friends now included Tamara, the postal worker, Angela, and Grace Roberts, the woman she’d hired to tailor her vintage wedding dress.

Of course, Grace hadn’t taken the cancelation of her order terribly well so she supposed her roster of friends was once more down to two. One of whom was gesturing for her to sit across from her at the crowded table before wiping flour dusted hands on her apron. “What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Well, um…” Callie tried to swallow but her throat had gone dry. Her gaze flickered between the petite baker and the suave-looking gentleman. 

Angela followed her look with a laugh. “Oh, don’t mind him,” she said nodding toward the man in question. “This is my boyfriend, Griffin—he has a tendency to turn my bakery into his own personal office.”

He shrugged, his expression unapologetic. “What can I say? The view here is so much better than at my actual office.” The smoldering look that followed made Callie’s insides twist again, although this time her jealousy was tempered with amusement. 

Angela and her boyfriend were ridiculously adorable. At first sight they seemed to be total opposites—Angela’s curly hair was piled up on top of her head haphazardly and her flowy, floral dress was covered with a well-used apron. Meanwhile, everything about Griffin screamed corporate yuppie. Well, everything except for that silly grin he wore whenever he looked at his girlfriend.

Callie smothered a grin of her own as she watched Angela tilt her head to the side with pursed lips. “Is it the view you love so much…or the free samples?”

He feigned indignation. “I’m an excellent taste tester, you’ve told me so yourself.”

Angela laughed as she lightly patted his cheek. “You are,” she said reassuringly. “What would I ever do without you?”

He caught her hand and kissed her palm, making Angela blush as she turned back to Callie. “Seriously, don’t mind him. This is still my office more than it is his.” She cast him a funny sidelong look. “Even though it might not look like it.”

Callie laughed, as did Griffin, but then they were both looking at her, waiting for her to speak. 

“Uh, well, you see, the thing is…” Spit it out, already. 

Angela’s brows drew together with concern and she reached over the table to place her hand over Callie’s. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” she said quickly. “No. Er, that is…” She let out a long, exasperated exhale. “The wedding is off.”

Griffin’s eyes widened and Angela sat back in her seat with a thud. “Oh, gosh, I’m so sorry,” she said after a moment of silence that felt like an eternity.

Callie shifted, toying with the edge of her baseball cap out of habit. “Yeah, well…me too.” She hoped her self-deprecating laugh didn’t sound as pathetic as she feared.

Looking down at her faded jeans, she wondered just how much she was supposed to share with these near strangers. “My fiancé just needs some time, you see,” she started. 

“Well, we have a full refund policy,” Angela said, her tone cheerful as ever. “So you have nothing to worry about there.”

Callie lifted her head with a smile of gratitude. “Thank you. Really…” She started to shift, ready to get to her feet. Her relief at having completed this task was a pleasant change from the other, far less enjoyable emotions she’d been wallowing in lately. Or, at least, trying not to wallow in. Sometimes trying not to wallow felt even worse than the wallowing itself. Trying to focus on the positive and remain optimistic could be exhausting. But then again, like her dad used to say—faith wasn’t for the fainthearted. 

Now she understood what he’d meant by that. Some days it felt like giving up on Brent altogether would be easier than being the only one left who believed that he would come back. That they would fix this.

“Wait, don’t run off so quickly,” Angela said, stopping her before she’d fully come to her feet.

Callie hovered half in and half out of her seat. 

“Stay,” Griffin insisted. “Have some lunch with us.”

Angela nodded so enthusiastically Callie couldn’t bring herself to outright refuse. “Oh, I don’t know.” She looked around at the crowded room. “It seems like you’ve got your hands full.”

Angela waved away the protest. “My crew is handling it.” Her lips curved up in a smile so friendly and genuine it made Callie smile in return. It seemed like the first honest smile in a month and for a second her cheek muscles felt awkward and strained. But that feeling passed quickly and soon she was smiling back at the other woman and feeling more like herself than she had in far too long. “Okay,” she said. “If you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“Oh please,” Griffin said, already shifting a stack of files to another chair so she had more space at the table. “Our best friends are away on their honeymoon and we are desperate for someone to socialize with.”

Callie bit back a laugh at that. Their friends might have been out of town, but she’d been in Friar Hollow long enough to know that Angela was beloved. When she’d asked around for local catering companies and bakeries for her wedding, she’d heard nothing but rave reviews about Angela, and not just because of her famous cakes. The young woman was clearly adored, and if she wanted to socialize she didn’t need the new teacher in town to keep her company.

Angela made a few hand gestures to one of the younger girls behind the counter before turning back to Griffin and Callie. “I hope you don’t mind sampling our new sandwiches.”

Griffin gave an exaggerated groan of delight that made both women laugh. “I suppose I could handle a sandwich or two.”

To Callie’s relief, her two new friends not only led the conversation, they also didn’t even go near the awkward topic of her canceled wedding. Instead, Callie listened with delight as they bickered and laughed, and ensured that she was thoroughly caught up on any small town gossip she might have missed.

Which was pretty much all of it. 

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