Make Me Smile
Make Me Smile
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Grayson and Hazel aren’t just rivals. They were destined to hate each other since the day they were born.
Grayson Daly couldn’t wait to break free of high school and prove his worth to his overly critical father, plus show his arch-rival Hazel how little he needed her. Ten years later, he’s well into earning seven figures and enjoying his status as one of New York’s most-desired bachelors. But when his beloved Grammy Ethel passes, leaving him one of her Bayshore homes, he hurries back to sell it. However, there’s only one realtor in town...
Hazel Matheson has the picture-perfect small-town life. She’s the queen realtor in Bayshore, with a Pinterest-worthy home and wardrobe to match. If she could just find the handsome powerhouse soul mate of her dreams, life would be complete. But when her rival-turned-lover-turned-enemy Grayson Daly waltzes back into town, his ego bigger than a skyscraper and needing a favor, she has a new project—making sure she doesn’t give him what he wants.
Grayson’s plan is an easy sell of the house and a speedy return to his beloved big city. Hazel’s plan is to stay the hell away from Grayson and get on with her manhunt. But the harder they fight, the brighter the sparks, until neither one can decide if surrendering to love counts as winning or losing. Maybe, just this once, they can both come out on top.
I never imagined I’d be a graceful bride.
I stained my wedding dress the second I tried it on. Connor even accidentally saw it in my camera roll. And worst yet? Our parents would rather attend our wedding via Zoom than spend an entire evening rubbing elbows with their arch nemesis.
Three years into our HEA and things just keep getting better, except for this one little nagging area of our life. I want our marriage to form a truce between the Dalys and Cabanas, but with us living so far away from Bayshore, all we’ve been able to accomplish is a resentful stalemate.
But now that Connor and I are back in Bayshore for our extended wedding-and-beyond home-cation, our to-do list includes not just finalizing floral arrangements, but also getting our Moms and Dads to bury the hatchet.
Cocktail parties with ex-best friends? Check. Fishing trips with two frosty fathers? Agonizing check.
Connor and I are determined to forge a new future for our parents, no matter how much we grimace through it.
But on my wedding day, there’s no doubt about it.
This man—and this life we’ve built—will do nothing but make me smile.
This is the final feel-good novella in the Bayshore series! One-click now to see how the Daly and Cabana clan finally lay to rest their decades-long feud...
Make Me Smile Look Inside
Make Me Smile Look Inside
“Good god, woman.” Connor lets out an exaggerated groan as he hoists my wheeled luggage out of the trunk of the ride share. He acts like it weighs a million pounds, but I know it doesn’t. It probably weighs fifty-five, if I know my luggage-packing habits.
But the groan doesn’t fool me. He enjoys it. I can see it in the smile tugging at the corner of his lips as he lowers the lid of the trunk.
“I thought you were used to me packing fifty books per trip by now,” I tell him sweetly as the ride share driver peers at us through the rear-view mirror.
“This is our, what, sixth trip together to Bayshore? Your biceps should know what to expect.”
“Oh, trust me,” Connor says with a grin as he taps the back of the car. The driver nods and pulls away, leaving us lost in each other’s gaze in front of Door 3 at the San Diego Airport Departures area. “My biceps are ready for this suitcase and everything else that’s waiting for us.”
“Up to and including all the shower sex,” he says in a low voice, his hot breath brushing my ear lobe. A shiver goes down my spine, and I erupt into giggles as he nips at my earlobe. A car honks behind us—we’ve been canoodling on the road for long enough.
Connor sweeps his arm around my waist and guides us onto the sidewalk, tugging our luggage behind us.
“I just would like to make it known,” I go on as we head for the sliding doors of the airport entrance, “that my books are not the only reason my luggage is heavy this time.”
“Sunny-kins, your luggage could weigh three hundred pounds and I’d gladly lift it, and pay the overweight fee,” he says.
“Awww.” A big grin breaks out on my face, one that I’m incapable of controlling. My cheeks are hurting in no time. “See? That’s why I’m marrying you. Because you say sweet shit like that.”
He laughs, keeping his arm around my waist as we stride into the gleaming airport. We’ve taken this trip back home enough times as a couple now to have the route down—the most recent time just last month, for London and Dom’s wedding. But this time, it’s different. Because we’re entering as boyfriend and girlfriend, but we’ll be returning to this airport as Mr. and Mrs. Daly.
And I could not be more excited.
“Hopefully that’s not the only reason you’re marrying me,” he says with a sidelong glance.
“That, and your biceps. And the fact that you allow me to remain the undisputed ping-pong champion of the relationship, despite the clear threat to your masculinity.”
He breaks into laughter as we roll up to the check-in desk. There’s not much of a crowd today, for some reason, so we’re waited on almost instantly. When the airline clerk asks for my name, I’m still thinking about the fact that I’ll be returning to this airport a married woman.
“Kinsley Connor,” I blurt, and then pause. “I mean, Kinsley Daly. I’m—” A sigh escapes me as Connor hides his laughter behind his closed fist. “Let me try this again. Kinsley Cabana. We have the two o’clock flight to Cleveland.”
The clerk lifts a brow, which I take as an invitation to continue supplying information.
“We’re getting married,” I tell her. “In just under a week.”
“Congratulations,” she says, sending me a genuine smile.
To Connor, she says, “And you must be the Connor Daly on this reservation. I need your IDs please.”
She prints our boarding passes while Connor and I share conspiratorial smiles. When it comes time for the luggage, his hits the mark, and I’m over by five pounds. Nailed it. He passes over the credit card wordlessly, and I just lace my fingers through his.
Once our luggage has disappeared down the conveyor belt, we’re free to go through security. Connor and I walk hand-in-hand as though the welcome hall of the San Diego airport is as romantic as the Crystal Pier during a spectacular sunset. And hell, it sort of is. When this blond hunk is at my side, he turns everyday into a romantic adventure. Even three years into our relationship, we’ve only gotten a foot into the honeymoon phase.
“So, you really think Jaric and the crew will be able to handle us being gone for a month?”
Connor is voicing the near-constant fear that we’ve been discussing for weeks. This is the first time we’ve ever truly stepped away from our brainchild, barring the one- or two-week visits to Bayshore each summer. But this time, we’re not just taking a vacay. We’re getting married, then going off the grid for a two-stop honeymoon in Aruba and the Dominican Republic, and then returning to Bayshore for one last family visit. And though we swore to be mostly unavailable for the duration of our wedding weekend and the honeymoon itself, we both know we’ll be checking work emails daily.
“I think they will do an excellent job of handling any small fires that pop up,” I tell him, which is the same mantra I’ve been using on myself for weeks now. “If there’s anything big, we’re always a phone call away.”
“You’re right.” He squeezes my hand.
“And we need the time off,” I remind him, even though I’m just as worried about things falling apart while we’re gone. “We’ve been working like crazy to grow the business the past few years. Well, it’s grown, and we need to celebrate.”
“And we are going to fucking celebrate.” He kisses my forehead as we approach security. The carry-on luggage checks go quickly, and soon we’re strolling through Terminal 1 on our way to Gate 8.
“Speaking of which…” I dig my phone out from my purse, which is another so-ugly-it’s-cute thrift find I picked up last month: a pink leather bag with parrots sewn into the side.
“Hazel was supposed to send me the itinerary for this week.”
“The itinerary?” Connor asks.
I swat his arm. “The pre-wedding itinerary! I told you about this.”
“We’re having a rehearsal on Friday…” he begins.
“Hazel mentioned that we could have a series of events leading up to the rehearsal for incoming guests and, well, the families in general.” I swipe through screens, heading for our email thread. Hazel is my unofficial wedding planner, a role she volunteered for now that she and Grayson are happily married. Besides, I think she could see the fear in my eyes when we talked about wedding planning details a couple years back. She’s the only one I would trust with managing such an important event. Hazel knows best—in realty and happily-ever-afters.
“Ummm,” Connor begins, which tells me he did not hear me that evening I told him all about Hazel’s plan for pre-wedding activities.
I sigh. “You and your selective hearing.” I pull up the thread, finding a new email waiting for me. “Oh! She’s just written back to confirm…” I scan the details quickly, my steps slowing until I’m stopped completely. Connor looks back at me.
“Nothing, it’s just…” I re-read her email, making sure I’m seeing correctly. Connor guides me off to the side of the thoroughfare. “We had been planning a series of activities, and I’m not gonna lie, I kinda told her to go warm fuzzy family on the planning.”
“And, well, she did exactly as she was told. But now that I’m seeing it…” I scan the list of events. Tuesday: cocktail party at our rental house for both families. Wednesday: fishing trip for fathers of the bride and groom. Thursday: final dress fitting. Friday: pedicures with the mothers, followed by rehearsal.
“Maybe this is too much,” I say, shoving my phone into his hand so he could see the email. Hazel ended the email with an earnest question: Are you sure this looks okay?
No. I’m not sure of any of it now. This itinerary, which seemed so good in theory, is now poised to bring our parents together nearly every day in a seven-day period. Our parents, who barely tolerate the offspring of their rivals. Our parents, who were once best friends but have been blistering enemies for three decades.
Connor grimaces while he reads the email. “It looks fun.”
“Then why does it look like you’re getting a colonoscopy as you read it?”
He frowns, handing the phone back to me. “And this was your idea?”
“Yes! I want this to be the best wedding of our lives. Because it’s our wedding. And, I don’t know, I thought maybe we could finally start a new chapter with our families. Part of me thinks our parents have just been secretly hoping for the past three years that we’d end things and go our separate ways. Now we’re getting married. I want this shit to be done with.”
“I do too,” Connor admits, placing his hand on my waist. “I think they’re capable of it.”
“They are. They’ve gone too long festering in this weird mountain of grudges,” I go on, remembering the motivation I had when I asked Hazel to build the itinerary in the first place. “I’m sick of having to enter their caves like some sort of timid spelunker.”
Connor furrows his brow. “They have caves…?”
“I want us all to live in harmony on the mountainside,” I clarify. “They’ve spent thirty years cowering in their dark recesses of outrage and animosity. I’m sick of needing a headlamp to visit them.”
“Ahh, yeah, the caves,” Connor says. “We’re gonna spelunk them into some goddamn family happiness.”
“Right,” I say, encouraged by his reaction. One of many reasons that I love this man: he at least pretends that my metaphors make sense to him. “Is that so bad? These activities are completely normal for any regular set of parents. I don’t want to keep walking on eggshells when it comes to this. I’m the damn bride—aren’t I supposed to call the shots?”
“You call all the shots,” Connor affirms, “with or without headlamps.”
I laugh, burying my face in his chest. “Thank you for that. So is it insane if we go ahead with this itinerary?”
“Not insane,” he tells me, kissing the top of my head. “Dangerous, maybe. But what’s the worst that could happen? This is our wedding, and we deserve to celebrate it as we choose.”
I smile up at him, because he’s right. What is the worst that can happen?
It’s time to formally put this shit behind our collective families in the name of love…beginning Tuesday.
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