Sneak Peek: Can't Keep a Bad Bride Down by Miranda Parker

Can't Keep a Bad Bride Down
by Miranda Parker

(Angel Crawford Series) 


"A fast-paced, thrilling read." —Electa Rome Parks, author of The Stalker Chronicles

Bail recovery agent Angel Crawford isn't sure which is tougher—fighting crime, letting go of the skeletons in her past, or planning for her wedding. Either way, she's dealt with her share of surprises. But just when she least expects it, she gets the shock of her life. . .

It's been months since Angel and Pastor Justus Too-Hot-To-Be-Holy Morgan announced their engagement. Yet Angel's barely begun wedding planning. It's not that she's having doubts. She just wants to make sure the past doesn't interfere with their future. For Angel, that means clearing up a kiss-tastrophe with U.S. Marshal Maxim West and facing off with her ex-fiancé's assassin. Angel wants to share her plans with Justus, but before she can do it, a new complication arrives. . .

Praise For Miranda Parker
"I had such a good time reading this novel! I was in the story, watching and sipping on a mocktail."
—Pat G'Orge-Walker, Essence® bestselling author, on Can't Keep a Bad Bride Down

"Parker combines murder, romance, and church scandals amid plenty of suggestive sexuality."
—Publishers Weekly on A Good Excuse to Be Bad

"A surprise around every corner. . ..The combination of juicy mystery and the drama of a mega-church is an unbeatable one that makes this novel a real page-turner."
—RT Book Reviews on A Good Excuse to Be Bad

Chapter One

Saturday, 9:00 PM
Tybee Island Wedding Chapel, Tybee Island, Georgia 

While at Lana Turner’s wedding reception, after the most handsome man in my universe placed the prettiest ring ever seen on my finger, I decided to do something very uncharacteristic of me. I squealed in the octave of a high school cheerleader and said, “Yes.”

Justus Morgan lifted me off the floor with his strong arms and then kissed me so sweetly, I almost forgot that the U.S. marshal I had recently kissed was also in the chapel and could very well ruin all this yummy goodness. Although the manhunt was over and I had killed our man, not everything had been resolved. There was still a leak in the marshal’s office. But now was not the time to be in bail recovery agent Evangeline Crawford mode.

Now we were on Tybee Island for Lana’s wedding at a chapel appropriately called “Tybee Island Wedding Chapel.” The chapel looked like something you’d see in a Nicholas Sparks movie. It was nestled between magnolias, oak trees, and other Georgian greenery only seen in this part of the state. The chapel was white, and tonight every post and window was decorated with a deep purple satin ribbon, white lace, and a single magnolia stem. Inside the chapel a lavender color-wash illuminated every dahlia, hydrangea, and mini calla lily and rose centerpiece with just enough sparkle to melt a cold heart. It was elegant, romantic, simple, and breathtaking. I almost felt blessed to be there.

To perform my bridesmaid’s duties, I looked like my Southern belle identical twin, the evangelist Ava: caramel skin accented with a rose blush, feline-shaped eyes done up nice, but instead of a sophisticated coif, I sported a pixie haircut. I was a bridesmaid by default (long  story) and my younger sister/housemate Whitney was Lana’s maid of honor. Mom had been here earlier with my seven-year-old daughter,  Bella, but without my not-so-new, yet-absent-lots-lately stepfather. By the end of the ceremony, Bella had been tired, so my mother had taken her back to the cottage. Ava, was back home in Atlanta, more than likely secretly dating my only client, Big Tiger Jones of BT Trusted Bail Bonds. A lot of foolery was going on between them, but none of their issues were as messy as the one lurking in my periphery.

Marshal Maxim West stood inside the chancel of the chapel between the black baby grand piano and the all-male jazz singer quartet. He didn’t stand out to the wedding party, because he wore a black tuxedo and matching bow-tie, which was similar to the quartet’s uniform. But to me he looked out of place and more handsome than the last time I’d seen him. Although I didn’t know him well, save for a stolen kiss, I knew enough to know that dressing like a penguin was not the marshal/my teacher’s thing. He was the black-Stetson-hat-blue-jean-cowboy-boots-wearing type. Tonight he looked like a jilted boyfriend, lurking in the shadows.

Justus, my new fiancé, placed me back onto the floor, but I didn’t want to come down. It was safer in his arms, because we were immediately mobbed by well-wishers once he let me go.

“You’ve made me the happiest man in this room tonight—except the groom,” he said. I heard a round of applause from everyone watching except Maxim. He hadn’t moved. He didn’t clap. I gulped. Justus lifted my chin up with his hands and surveyed my eyes. “Is everything okay?”

My new fiancé shouldn’t have done that. I wasn’t any good when he looked me in the eye and in that way. Justus was so handsome, the kind of handsome that girls like me only saw in movies or in men’s health magazines. He had this golden brown–colored skin that glowed when he was happy and blazed when he was angry. His bright smile teased my lips. His lips were perfect for smooches and long kisses, and his sultry deep voice calmed me when I had the urge to do something stupid. He had long lashes that made it incredibly hard for me to think about God when he closed his eyes to pray.

Justus prayed often. He was my pastor, and until today that fact didn’t bother me at all. The only thing that bothered me was now walking toward us. I had to set things straight with Maxim and assure him that what happened after I shot Biloxi “The Knocker” James was a mistake.