Hitched

By: Carol Higgins Clark

Acknowledgments





I would like to express my gratitude to the following people who helped get Regan Reilly to the altar!

My editor, Roz Lippel, who’s been there since Regan first laid eyes on Jack “No Relation” Reilly.

My agent, Esther Newberg.

My publicist, Lisl Cade.

Associate Director of Copyediting Gypsy da Silva, copy editor Anthony Newfield, proofreaders Barbara Raynor and Jonah Tully.

Art director John Fulbrook III, jacket designer Jason Heuer, photographers Jethro Soudant and Glenn Jussen.

My mother, Mary Higgins Clark, my family, and friends.

My readers who have accompanied Regan along the way, as she went from Ms. Reilly to Mrs. Reilly.

Thank you one and all!





For Roz Lippel

and

Lisl Cade

—my editor and my publicist—

My good friends

With love and thanks!





Saturday, April 2nd





1





Regan Reilly descended the staircase from the second floor of her parents’ home in Summit, New Jersey, as she had on countless Saturday mornings in the thirty-one years of her life. As usual, she was headed for the kitchen where her mother would be putting out breakfast. But this Saturday was different.

It was her last Saturday as a single.

Regan’s hand lightly brushed the banister as she reached the bottom step and turned toward the living room. The presents from her bridal shower, held the night before, were neatly stacked in the corner—everything from the latest and greatest cappuccino machine that Regan was sure she’d never be able to figure out, to a clock radio that blared “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” when the alarm went off. The set of gleaming kitchen knives had intrigued Regan the most. A private investigator, she had examined them closely. The only other present that could have been considered a deadly weapon was the cookbook, her father, Luke, had remarked.

Luke and Regan’s fiancé, Jack “No Relation” Reilly, had escaped to a restaurant in town, and then returned to join the women for an after-dinner drink. All the obligatory oohing and aahing over the household goods and lingerie were mercifully over. Jack’s mother, sisters, and aunts were at the shower as well as many of Regan’s old family friends. It had been a lively party.

Regan had flown in two days before from Los Angeles where she had her own PI agency. There was now one week left to finalize all the arrangements before she went from Ms. Reilly to Mrs. Reilly. Today she was heading into New York City with her mother, Nora, and her best friend, Kit, to pick up her wedding gown.

Getting married is a lot of work, Regan had thought more than once since she’d gotten engaged six months ago. It was easy to see why women turned into Bridezillas. But all the hassle was worth it. Jack was what she had waited for all her life and they both wanted to celebrate with their friends and family by having a large, festive wedding.

After years of enduring dates with losers, weirdos, and, worst of all, cheapskates, Regan often felt that she would never meet her soul mate. It took her father getting kidnapped for her to find Jack. He was the head of the Major Case Squad in New York City and had worked day and night to get Luke back. In the process, he and Regan had fallen in love.

At the large butcher block table in the kitchen, Nora and Kit were sipping coffee and munching on blueberry muffins.

“Good morning,” Regan said cheerily. “Kit, I can’t believe you’re up. We don’t have to head into the city for another fifteen minutes.”

“I was sleepless thinking about seeing you in your wedding gown today,” Kit said in her usual droll tone. “I never thought the day would arrive. I never thought my day would arrive. Yours did. Mine, I’m sure, never will.”

Regan laughed as Nora cooed sympathetically. “Of course it will.”

“Mom, don’t worry about Kit,” Regan said as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “Kit, we’ll get through everything that this next week entails, get me married off, and then I’m sure we’ll be planning your wedding before…before uh…”

“Before what?” Kit asked as she spread butter on her muffin. “Before the cows come home?”

“Way before that,” Regan answered with a wave of her hand. “Life can change in an instant. I still have a week before I walk down the aisle. Who knows what could happen before then?”

Nora jumped up, an alarmed expression on her face. “Don’t even think like that, Regan. Everything is going to be wonderful. Now let’s finish our coffee, get in the car, and drive into the city to pick up the gorgeous dress you will wear one week from today. I must say I’m glad it’ll be the last time we have to deal with those crazy designers and that drafty loft they have the nerve to call a bridal salon.”

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