“Crashing Into Love” is an exclusive short story written by Darynda Jones, Kerrigan Byrne, Jayci Lee, Donna Grant, and Helena Hunting during our live episode of “Once Upon a Happily Ever After”! Rewatch the event here.
New hairstyle. New outfit. How bad can this be? Riley took in a deep breath. Her parents, always meddlesome, had set her up. But she was ready this time. The last time had ended up with spaghetti in her date’s lap, but surely today would go better.
She was empowered. She had this. This was the first day of the rest of her previously hot mess of a life. Sure her love life had suffered, but this was a new day.
She took her coffee from the street vendor. Just a little liquid courage before heading into the restaurant. Unfortunately, she turned and crashed face-first into a brick wall.
Blisteringly hot liquid stained her new blouse, but even that didn’t dampen her spirits. Mostly because the brick wall was wearing black. The dark elixir matched his Italian suit perfectly. It was a sign of good things to come.
She shook hot coffee off her hands, stepped back, and looked up into the eyes of Oliver, the only person on Earth who could skyrocket her insecurities.
“What are you doing here?”
“On Fifth Avenue?”
“On Earth. I was hoping you’d left.”
“Tell me your mother isn’t Joyce,” he begged with an eye roll that might have sprained his socket.
Riley wanted to cry because her mom, Joyce McTavish, had the kind of friends only Golden Girls dreamed of in Barb. And it was patently impossible that Barb could have spawned a douche weasel like Oliver Wells.
Sure, he was the size of a brick house with eyes the color of the baltic sea. And sure, his forearms were as thick as most biceps.
He’d featured in many of her silent fantasies as a teen.
But then he’d opened his mouth…
And his mouth was open now, which meant he was going to say something awful.
Riley’s eyes fixed on a spot behind him. Lucas. Her ex. Right there. About to see her with her white blouse splashed with hot coffee.
She stopped Oliver’s infuriating mouth the only way she could think of.
With her own.
As soon as her mouth met his, she remembered his mouth was open. Her tongue, with a mind of its own, gently prodded his. He should shove her away disgusted, but with a sound like huh he deepened the kiss and she melted against him. The brick wall had turned into a sandy beach warmed by the sun.
Riley suddenly came to her senses and stepped away from Oliver, breathing like she had run a marathon.
“Thank you for lending me your lips. I had good reason.”
“Would you care to share it?”
She was mortified, so she spun on her heels. Then realizing she was facing the opposite direction of the restaurant, she did another about face. Not embarrassing at all.
She stomped off, leaving Oliver standing in the middle of the street with an unreadable expression on his face. Riley went into the restaurant and headed straight for the restroom to try to somehow salvage her blouse. But one of the servers had the idea to head straight for the tables. She saw it happening in slow motion, but she couldn’t stop it.
The bowls and glasses shattered, and she slipped on some liquid and fell towards the shard scattered floor. She would’ve been a bloodied mess if a pair of strong arms didn’t catch her. Oliver.
“You alright?” he asked, looking deep into her eyes.
Riley didn’t like being so clumsy, especially around someone like Oliver. Why, why, why did it have to be him? Although, if she were honest, if someone had to save her, being in his strong arms was a pretty good thing.
She stared into his blue eyes remembering their kiss. It had been a diversion, but now, she found she wanted to taste his lips again.
“Riley?” he asked, a frown forming.
She blinked. “What?”
“Are you alright?”
Right. He had asked that. “Yeah. I’m good.”
“Really? Because you’re acting…not well.”
It was her turn to frown. Although, he was right. She was a hot mess, and there was no way to stop any of it.
He straightened, taking her with him. “I’m glad I caught you.”
“Me, too,” she whispered, her gaze going to his lips.
Damn. She really wanted to kiss him again. She rose up on her tiptoes and started to put her mouth on his.
Then, behind her someone said, “Your highness. We weren’t expecting you today.”
Riley blinked. Highness. Did she hear that right? She pulled back to see Oliver’s frown deepen as his lips twisted in frustration.
“Highness?” The thought in Riley’s head popped out of her mouth.
Oliver grimaced and glanced around, likely because her voice was higher and louder than it should be in a packed restaurant with so many people staring. There was also the issue of the shattered glass at their feet and the servers still standing around watching them.
“Yeah,” Oliver said with an awkward shrug, while still holding Riley around the waist. “I hope that isn’t going to be a problem.”
It was Riley’s turn to frown. They were frowning mirrors of each other. “A problem?”
Oliver moved her away from the broken glass and the spilled wine that Riley suddenly felt she could really use a glass or seven of right now.
When they were both free of danger, Oliver set her on her feet and dropped to one knee.
Riley was confused, especially when he pulled his key ring out of his pocket.
“Dammit,” he muttered and rummaged around in his Mary Poppins deep pocket and pulled out a small velvet box and flipped it open revealing a rock the size of her head. “Will you marry me?”