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Her Accidental Husband

By:Ashlee Mallory

Chapter One

What the heck is he doing here?

Payton Vaughn looked away from the familiar face with the chiseled jaw and lips that seemed to always be drawn into a frown—especially around her—and outside to the tarmac behind him where the plane was preparing for boarding. There was no chance that the best man boarding this particular flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Puerto Vallarta was a coincidence. Had he been on the earlier flight from Salt Lake as well?

Undoubtedly, her best friend had something to do with this. Didn’t think her maid of honor could make it to Mexico in one piece without a designated babysitter. Good thing Payton loved Kate like a sister or she’d be dead meat by the end of the night, whether it was Kate’s wedding weekend or not.

Cruz Sorensen, of all people, as her chaperone?

The song from Psycho’s shower scene erupted from Payton’s cell phone on the seat beside her. She closed her eyes.

The possibility of letting it go to voicemail came and was quickly dismissed. If she didn’t answer, her mother would call airport security and then the National Guard to put out a world-wide alert that her daughter was missing. Emily Vaughn hadn’t taken Payton’s plan to fly off to Mexico for a weekend by herself very well, and Payton had made the mistake of giving her mother a copy of her flight itinerary to ease her mind.

So she knew boarding didn’t begin for another ten minutes.

Payton tried not to sigh as she answered her phone. “Hello, Mother.”

“I only want you to know that I just hung up with the florist as you weren’t here to take the call but, please, don’t worry yourself. I’ll take care of everything,” her mother said in the martyred voice with a slight Southern twang Payton knew well. “Even if you’ll be thousands of miles away gallivanting around Mexico because your friend didn’t have the tact and graciousness to plan her impromptu wedding after yours. Despite the fact that yours has been scheduled for months.”

Payton let the words roll over her as she watched Cruz Sorensen click away on the keyboard, engrossed in the screen. He was pretty hard to miss. Shiny raven-black hair clipped short and neat, never a hair out of place. A dark countenance adding to that mysterious, sexy allure, thanks to his half-Mexican heritage on his mother’s side, something she had learned from Kate. And those dark brown eyes that, even though they weren’t looking her way, she knew captured his intelligence and wariness.

Even in a simple black button down shirt and jeans, Cruz Sorensen emitted an aura of intelligence and passion and, most of all, ambition. From what Kate had told her, it was this same ambition that had brought his family’s construction business from obscurity to recent fame in the skyrocketing Utah construction realm.

Too bad he was a certified ass-hat.

“Thanks, Mother. But you should let Camille handle all that. After all, she is the wedding planner. That’s what we’re paying her for.”

“Please. Camille, pretty girl that she is, wouldn’t know a dessert fork from a salad fork if the fate of the free world depended on it. The finer details of this event, I’m afraid, will be left to me. We wouldn’t want to show our governor, state senators, or any of the other guests anything less than the best.”

Yes, there was that. Lord. Payton couldn’t wait for this whole event to be over with. But as the only Vaughn offspring, her mother wouldn’t let her wedding happen without a grand and high-profile ceremony. She was just relieved she’d talked her mother down from an eight hundred-person guest list to a mere four hundred.

Payton glanced over to the row of seats against the window again. Cruz had paused long enough at the keyboard to look up and…there. She met his gaze.#p#分页标题#e#

A-ha. He couldn’t continue to pretend he didn’t know she was there. She raised her fingers and waved to him, which only earned her a scowl before he dropped his eyes back to his keyboard.

“You know I won’t be gone that long,” Payton continued. “The ceremony is Saturday evening, with a special post-wedding brunch on Sunday. I’ll be on a flight back Monday morning.” The short weekend was especially a relief now that Brad, her fiancé, had to bail on going with her because of a last-minute business meeting. Somehow, the prospect of spending a long weekend alone in the luxurious Presidential Suite sounded a lot less romantic.

“Just be sure to drink only bottled water and hold the ice in every drink you order—remember what happened to poor Danielle Edwards on her honeymoon. And wear your hat and sunblock every minute you’re there. With only a few more weeks before your big day you wouldn’t want to be all splotchy and freckled in your wedding photos like you were in your senior high school picture.” She sighed. “It’s too bad Brad couldn’t make it. I don’t like the idea of you gallivanting around Mexico alone.”

This time Payton did roll her eyes. “I’ll hardly be gallivanting, Mother. This flight is direct to Mexico, and I’ll take a cab to the hotel. But if you’re so disappointed, you’re free to call Brad and share your dissatisfaction with him.” Payton couldn’t hide the frustration from her voice. She didn’t know why it surprised her when Brad bailed on her; he’d become so good at it as of late. She’d hoped this weekend would be a chance for them to reconnect, to remember why they were going through this elaborate planning in the first place—or her mother’s elaborate planning, anyhow. Not going to happen now.

“Payton Vaughn,” her mother chastised, “you know better than to get angry at poor Bradley. He’s done nothing but show you over the years how much he adores you. If something called him away, then you can be certain he had a very good reason. Honestly, he’s only trying to provide for you and the wonderful life you’ll have together. A few sacrifices here and there will all be worth it. Just remember that gorgeous mountain villa he’s building for you outside Jackson Ho

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