To Have and to Hold (The Wedding Belles #1) - Lauren Layne Page 0,1

to the precise editing and proofreading, you guys are absolutely responsible for turning a writing dream into a beautiful book.

I also need to say a huge public thank-you to my dear friend, Kristi Yanta, for her exceptional beta-reading services. Nobody knows my writing and understands my vision for each book quite like Kristi, and I’m so lucky to have her stick by my side through multiple publishers and multiple series, ensuring that each LL story is the best it can be.

And finally, to my “behind the scenes” crew: my amazing assistant, Lisa; my Twitter guru, Kristina; and my daily (online) writing companions, Jessica Lemmon and Rachel Van Dyken—you guys make my job easier and more fun.

Chapter One

HOLD ON. BACK UP. Back all the way up. What do you mean you’re getting married?”

It was eleven p.m. on a Wednesday, and Seth Tyler was exactly where he always was these days: behind his expansive mahogany desk at the Tyler Hotel Group, suit jacket slung over the back of his ergonomic chair, tie begging to be undone, impeccably pressed white shirt cuffed at the wrists.

He raked a hand through his thick light brown hair in frustration and fixed his younger sister with his best no-nonsense glare, an approximation—like everything else he seemed to do lately—of his deceased father.

When Seth’s father dropped dead of a heart attack eight months ago, Seth had thought the hardest part about his father’s passing—other than the mourning, of course—would be taking over the family company.

Sure, Seth had been groomed for the role. He’d wanted the president and CEO title. He’d always wanted it.

Eventually.

But not yet, for God’s sake.

Seth had no problem admitting that he was a perfectionist, and he’d been bound and determined to take over the family company his way. The right way.

And the right way, as Seth had determined it, was spending at least a year shadowing each of the senior-level Tyler Hotel Group executives. Seth had wanted to learn every possible detail, every in and out of the business, before even thinking about taking over the reins of the Fortune 500 company.

But his father’s heart had had other plans. Mainly, up and quitting during a routine round of golf. And so, quietly, per his father’s wishes, Seth had become CEO two years ahead of schedule.

Not a day passed that Seth didn’t wish his father were still with him, but in truth, taking his place at the head of the boardroom table had been easier than Seth had anticipated. The investors hadn’t freaked out. The executive team hadn’t left in mass exodus. Even Hank’s longtime assistant, Etta, had stuck around, seemingly content to call Seth boss even as she busted his balls about not eating enough vegetables, getting enough sleep, or getting his hair cut.

But if taking over the family company was easier than Seth had expected, there was one ramification of Hank Tyler’s death that Seth hadn’t been in the least prepared for:

A wedding.

Maya Tyler inhaled a long, patient breath, as though preparing to deal with a difficult child. “Well see, marriage, Seth, is when two people fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives—”

“Yes, I’m aware of how marriage works,” Seth interrupted. Although, not as aware as he’d like, as it turned out. He wouldn’t be getting any firsthand knowledge of how marriage worked anytime soon.

Maya bit her lip. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to remind you of Nadia.”

Seth glanced down at his desk to avoid his sister’s too-perceptive gaze. She wasn’t wrong. He’d gotten to the point where he could go most days without thinking of his ex, but he hadn’t yet figured out how to think about marriage without hearing the incredulous laugh she’d let out when he’d gone on one knee and showed Nadia the ring he’d spent months picking out.

“Can we not?” he said curtly.

“Don’t get pissed. It’s a wedding. You’re supposed to be happy.”

“I’m not pissed; I’m just surprised.”

That was an understatement. Seth had not seen this coming, and for a man who exercised precision in all things, he couldn’t say he was enjoying the shock value of Maya’s announcement. Especially not on the heels of his father’s death. A death that everyone but Seth had seen coming, because Seth had been the lone outsider on the knowledge that was his father’s longtime heart condition.

Apparently, Hank had considered his only son a control freak—had known that Seth would have stopped at nothing to try to halt death in its tracks.

His father had been, well, right.