A Wedding in Maine

A McCullagh Inn Story


By Jen McLaughlin

Foreword by James Patterson

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$3.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 3, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The McCullagh Inn is now open for weddings.

Jeremy Holland is exactly what Chelsea O’Kane wants in a man. After he proposes, she’s ecstatic to host their wedding at the inn they built together. But it isn’t long before the secrets from Chelsea’s past refuse to stay buried, and they could ruin everything….

BookShots Flames

Original romances presented by James Patterson

Novels you can devour in a few hours

Impossible to stop reading



When I first had the idea for BookShots, I knew that I wanted to include romantic stories. The whole point of BookShots is to give people lightning-fast reads that completely capture them for just a couple of hours in their day—so publishing romance felt right.

I have a lot of respect for romance authors. I took a stab at the genre when I wrote Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. While I was happy with the results, I learned that the process of writing a romance novel required hard work and dedication.

That’s why I wanted to pair up with the best romance authors for BookShots. I work with writers who know how to draw emotions out of their characters, all while catapulting their plots forward.

When I worked with Jen McLaughlin on The McCullagh Inn in Maine, I knew I wanted her to keep writing stories about Chelsea and Jeremy’s life together. Because I’m married to my wonderful wife, Sue, I know the best moments in a relationship can come after a couple falls in love. In this book, you’ll see Chelsea and Jeremy plan for the next big step…until someone tries to stop them.

James Patterson

Chapter 1

Our newest guests had just finished signing the guest book when I walked down the front staircase. Outside, the bitter cold December night whipped snow and freezing winds against the inn, making it creak and groan, but, inside, we were safe and toasty. Jeremy took a small suitcase from the daughter—a little girl who was six years old and wearing a puffy winter coat—and looked impossibly manly with his new pink accessory. She watched him with wide eyes, clearly enamored of his easy charm.

I couldn’t blame the kid. Jeremy was a bona fide hero. My hero.

This inn, the McCullagh Inn, had been my sanctuary when I had been on the run from an infamous drug cartel a little over a year ago. It was an inheritance from my aunt and had been the perfect place to lie low while men were gunning for me. When Jeremy, a DEA agent at the time, learned I was in trouble, he came riding to my rescue.

Jeremy watched the family go upstairs. He waited for them to reach the top and then leaned in, his mouth a breath away from my ear. “You look absolutely stunning in that top…but I can’t wait to take it off you.”

My stomach tightened at the unspoken promise that deepened his voice. My man knew how to turn on the heat. I rested a hand on his hard biceps. “In that case…meet me in the back in five minutes?”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said, giving me a look that was hot enough to melt my panties off in the middle of an arctic snowstorm. “To the left, Mr. and Mrs. Walter. I’m right behind you.”

I smiled and waved at them as they rounded the corner, and Jeremy shot me one last heated stare before he was gone. Shivering, I wrapped my arms around myself and rubbed the goose bumps away. The Walters were our only arrivals today, so after Jeremy got them settled, it would be time for us to kick back, relax, grab a glass of wine, and just be…well, normal.

Normal was a magical feeling.

After being raised by a father who ran a crime circle in our small town, and then unknowingly marrying a man owned by the cartel…well, normal wasn’t something I had a lot of experience with, but I was willing to learn. And Jeremy was a great tutor.

Smiling, I started my nightly rounds. We were pretty isolated out here in Hudson, with the nearest stores about a twenty-minute drive away. Behind our inn, there was a cliff that overlooked the beach and there was a forest on either side, so you would only know where we were located if you were looking for us. But despite the rural setting, I always made sure all the doors were locked, and all the windows were latched. What can I say? Life had been quiet lately, but old habits die hard. O’Kanes didn’t let their guards down just because things were good. If anything, that makes us more cautious.

We protected what was ours.

Walking past the stairs that led to the guest bedrooms—completely redone by yours truly—I checked the front door. Both its walls and the picture window in the living room were new, since they had to be replaced after the drive-by shooting. Like I said, I now had a strong appreciation for normal.

I covered my mouth as I yawned, moving silently upstairs and down the hallway between the guest rooms, checking the vacant rooms to make sure the windows were closed, lights were out, part of my nightly routine that gave me a few minutes to myself. The inn was doing great. Since the grand opening in March, we had numerous bookings. It was mainly couples on romantic getaways, but the occasional family stayed here as a stop on their road trips, or for a quick run of cross-country skiing. Jeremy and I were discussing the addition of excursions or classes for the upcoming spring, but the Maine winter would hang on for another couple of months, so for now that’s all it was. Talk.

Making my way back downstairs, I made a mental note to tell Holly we had a last minute booking for the Blue Room. Jeremy and I had discovered that neither of us liked cleaning, and that we liked cleaning up after other people even less, so we hired Holly immediately. Her teenage brother, Henry, worked for us after school and during weekends as a bellboy/apprentice handyman. He and Holly were our only actual employees. Otherwise, we’d just call the odd cab when our guests needed transportation.

The inn was hushed when the antique grandfather clock in the living room ticked closer to ten. The living quarters I shared with Jeremy were off the kitchen, so we could grab drinks and food without traipsing through the whole inn. During renovations, Jeremy had the idea to combine two of the smaller rooms together, so we also had one larger room that functioned as a private living/dining room. It gave us plenty of privacy, especially at night when we needed it most.

But the inn was home, and generally, I preferred being out in the open with the guests.

I pushed open the staff-only door that led to the kitchen, noticing that the light was on in our living room. “Jeremy? You in there?”

No answer. Weird.

Shrugging off my sweater, I tossed it on the counter and locked the door behind me. Originally, Jeremy and I had planned to do a more traditional kitchen with white cabinets and granite countertops, but in the end, we went with a restaurant-style kitchen with gleaming stainless steel and professional gadgets. It turns out, I’m quite the cook. It was surprising to learn I could make damn good food from scratch, considering that, while growing up, I mainly ate food that came out of boxes.

Opening the door that separated our living quarters from the kitchen, I sniffed. “You in here? Hey, do I smell General Tso? I hope so. I need some—” I froze mid-sentence—mid-step. Death grip on the knob. Eyes wide. Heart pounding in my chest. Palms sweating. “What the hell are you doing?”

Chapter 2

Jeremy watched Chelsea pale. She looked like she was about to turn and run, and he’d expected nothing less. Chelsea and change weren’t exactly the best of friends, which was why he was trying to keep this moment as low-key as possible. Still, after all the shit they’d dealt with to get where they were now, there was no doubt in his mind that this was the right move for them to make.

It was time to make this thing between them official.

Chelsea subtly turned her head from side to side, and he knew she was mapping out her most efficient exit strategy. When she got scared, her fight-or-flight instinct kicked in.

His Chelsea? Yeah. She was a runner.

But he wasn’t going to let her disappear. It was time to move on to the next chapter of their lives. The happily ever after part.

“Don’t go. Give me a chance to talk before you react.”

She was holding the doorknob so tightly her knuckles were white, but she wasn’t making a break for it. He called that a win, thank you very damn much. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m on one knee with a tiny little box in my hand, and it just happens to have a diamond ring in it. Don’t read too much into it.” He ran his hand through his hair, giving her his most charming and reassuring smile. “I’m just a guy, kneeling on the floor, who wants the woman he loves to spend the rest of her life with him. No big deal.”

She choked on a laugh. “Not at all.”

That laugh was a good starting point. “Originally, I had a big, romantic proposal in mind. Like, something in a fancy restaurant in Bangor. Maybe with a string quartet, or an opera singer, or something else ridiculously romantic. You’re the best damn thing that ever happened to me, and you deserve the biggest and best of everything in the world, Chels.”

She instinctively shuddered at the idea of an elaborate proposal, and he smiled, because he loved the unapologetic realist beneath those sweetest blue eyes of hers. She looked like an angel, but was tougher than steel. “Jeremy—”

“But I know you hate big, romantic gestures because you tell me they’re too clichéd and a waste of time and money. So I settled on the most unromantic thing I could think of—proposing to you over cheap take-out Chinese food, in our home, after a long day at work, while wearing an old T-shirt and a ripped pair of jeans.”

She tilted her head, still not letting go of the doorknob, still looking unconvinced of this whole thing. “I like cheap Chinese food. And your ripped jeans.”

“I know.” Jeremy wiggled the ring box, drawing her gaze to it again. She looked so damn beautiful, standing there, almost in a full panic. “Also, I like you. A lot.”

A smile played at her lips, and she tugged on a piece of her long hair and rolled her eyes in that sarcastically adorable way she always did. “Yeah, I guess you’re all right, too.” Her eyes widened slightly after they focused on the black box in his hand. “Is that…I saw a picture once…is it…?”

“Your mother’s ring?” He glanced down. It was a princess cut diamond, and the band had tiny little diamonds all around it. It sparkled in the light from their bedroom chandelier in a way that was stunning and majestic. Most importantly, it meant something special to Chelsea, and he’d do anything to make her eyes sparkle, too. “Yes. I went to ten different pawn shops in Maine trying to find it. Paul told me your dad hocked it a while back, but wasn’t sure when or where.” Well. At least that was what Paul had said after Jeremy badgered him for information. They weren’t exactly the best of friends. “I knew I only had a shot in hell finding it, but luckily, it never sold, and I found it in Bangor at a pawn shop of questionable legality.”

“Sounds like Dad’s type of place.” Chelsea finally released the knob, her body relaxing with the movement. This was the moment of truth. Jeremy held his breath, waiting to see if she’d retreat or come closer. “You did all of that for me?”

“I’d do anything for you.” He resisted the urge to groan when she took a step toward him, then stopped. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re destined to spend the rest of our lives together. I’ve lived a life without you for too damn long and I have no intention of ever going back. You’ve made me the happiest man alive, and I believe everything we’ve been through led us to this moment. Let me spend the rest of my life making you as happy as you’ve made me. Marry me, Chels.”

“That wasn’t a question,” she said, taking another step toward him.

Damn right it wasn’t a question. He had spent way too many years as her friend, utterly blind to the fact that they loved each other. It wasn’t until she left town, disappearing without a trace, that he’d realized the truth. Once they reconnected, once he had her back in his arms, he knew he was never going to let her go. That was never going to change.

“I’m not asking,” Jeremy said. It may not have been a question, but he felt like his entire life hung on her answer. Even the inn itself seemed to hold its breath with him, waiting. “I love you. Marry me, Chels.”

She crossed the room, stopping in front of him. He was eye-level with her stomach, so he tipped his head back to meet her gaze. She looked so damn gorgeous, standing there, with that quizzical look, as her fear had seemed to fade into bemusement. She pushed her hair back off her face and the chipped nail polish on her fingernails danced in cheerful spurts of lilac against her pale skin. Then she smiled. “If it’s not a question, am I still supposed to answer?”

In the DEA, Jeremy had learned to read the slightest nuance in body language and could decipher the meaning behind the smallest facial tic. With Chelsea, though, he didn’t need any of those tricks. There was no one in the world he knew better. Looking at her now, seeing the look in her eyes, the way she held her lips together, he knew.

“Yeah.” His heart pounded so hard and fast it echoed in his head. His pulse surged into the danger zone. “Go ahead.”

“Okay. How’s this for an answer?” She dropped to her knees, cupped his face, and smiled, her eyes watering in a rare display of sentimentality. “I love you. I loved you before I understood what love was, and I will love you until the day I die. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, in this inn, building a future together. You and me, always.”

He smiled, curling a hand behind the nape of her neck, under all that soft brown hair he loved so damn much. Every dream he had suddenly came true and a million more burst into being as she smiled at him, adoration written on her face. Lowering his head, he stopped just short of kissing her. “So, to make sure I understand, that’s a yes?”

She nodded once. “That’s a hell yes.”

Letting out a small laugh, he melded his mouth to hers, sealing her response with a kiss. Chelsea was his, and he was hers, and nothing would ever change that.

Not even the devil himself.

Chapter 3

The second his lips touched mine, I knew that he was in complete and utter control, and I had absolutely no problem with that. I was fiercely independent to the point of obtuse stubbornness, but when it came to Jeremy and his possessive touches that roamed all over my body, I willingly gave myself over to him every time. I wasn’t a romantic. I was a cynic, especially since the last Prince Charming I found turned out to be pure evil. But being with Jeremy made me believe that happy endings did exist. With Jeremy, if you tried to be a good person, good things would happen to you. Good things like Jeremy fricking Holland.


On Sale
Jan 3, 2017
Page Count
160 pages

Jen McLaughlin

About the Author

Jen McLaughlin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestseller lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency. She loves hearing from her fans and you can visit her on the web at JenMcLaughlin.com.

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