Un-Bridaled

 

With half her immediate family having been committed -- mentally speaking -- why can't Chloe Sachs commit? After all, she's always been considered the sane one in the family. But seconds before becoming Mrs. Mark Hutchinson, Chloe leaves her handsome, successful fiancé at the altar and tears down Interstate 505 in her red Ford Frontier. Maybe it was the heat of a California June wedding. Maybe it was when a family tradition went awry before hundreds of shocked guests. Or maybe it was because she heard a voice telling her in no uncertain terms, Run! 

 

Now Chloe has no Plan B, two kooky dogs, one angry ex, and a truckload of wedding gifts to return. Taking refuge at her grandmother's, Chloe helps her renovate a  bungalow that's been in the family for years -- and unearths some surprising secrets. She also discovers that leaving her heart open may invite some very intriguing guests -- like the beguiling veterinarian she can't get off her mind. And with her family and friends' help, Chloe realizes she's truly free...to follow her heart wherever it takes her.

REVIEWS

 

“Chloe Sachs runs out on her wedding -- and ends up finding herself. A surprisingly moving, engrossing read.”
People Magazine

 

"This book is both funny and poignant"
Romantic Times Four Stars

 

"Eileen Rendahl writes with wit and warmth; her characters are like the friends you wish you had."
- Cara Lockwood, author of Dixieland Sushi 

 

"Eileen Rendahl's newest book shimmers with the poignancy of love, loss, and the knowledge that we can never escape the emotional ties of family."
- Alesia Holliday, author of Seven Ways to Lose Your Lover

 

EXCERPT

 

Chapter One

 

Chloe’s Guide for the Runaway Bride

 

Sure, you can run out of the wedding days, or even weeks, before the actual event. You can spark a nationwide manhunt (womanhunt?) and cause giant bug-eyed photos of yourself to be plastered on billboards by pretending to have been abducted. But why put everyone to that kind of trouble? Be considerate. Run out on your groom right there in front of everybody, and let someone else alert the media.

 

“It is traditional, at this point in a Jewish wedding ceremony, for the bride and groom to share a glass of wine and then smash the glass.” The rabbi smiled at Mark and me.

 

This was it. The final moment. We’d smash the glass, kiss. Then, presto finito, abracadabra, ta da! I’d be Mrs. Mark Hutchinson. My stomach flipped.

 

I looked up at Mark. He smiled back at me and gave my hand a squeeze of encouragement. I took a big deep breath. He hadn’t wanted to smash the glass. I was glad he was being nice about it now, because Mark could really cop an attitude when he had to do something he didn’t want to. I hadn’t insisted on much, but this was important to me – the smashed glass thing and being under my grandfather’s prayer shawl. I’m pretty sure I got the glass and the chuppah by agreeing to an extra half hour with the passive-aggressive photographer, having Mark’s sister Kendra (who has never warmed up to me) as a bridesmaid, and most horrified of all, by agreeing to let his mother throw me a truly excruciating bridal shower where she’d served fruit punch. I couldn’t even get drunk as a way to cope with it.

 

Mark took a sip of the wine and then handed the glass to me. I knocked it back. It’s not like Manischewitz Blackberry is a vintage you want to savor. The guests giggled and I blushed. Mark shook his head but he was still smiling, so he couldn’t have been annoyed with me. He hadn’t gotten that tight-lipped look that signaled incoming thunderstorms.

The rabbi took the glass and wrapped it in a linen napkin. “Now that the couple has shared the sweetness of the wine, they will break the glass showing that they will also share in any sorrow that comes their way.” He put the wrapped glass by Mark’s foot.

 

Mark raised his foot and brought it down hard. But instead of the resounding pop of shattering glass, there was a kind of ffttt noise as the glass shot out of the napkin and flew across the room, bounced off a wall and rolled to rest, whole and unbroken.

 

No one made a sound. Not a gasp or a peep broke the silence. Mark wasn’t smiling anymore. Not even a teeny bit. His lips had started to tighten. I was so going to pay for this, and it was going to be a lot harder than spending an afternoon with Mark’s female relatives without booze.

 

If I ran over and stomped on the glass myself, would that somehow undermine Mark’s masculinity? It wouldn’t be the first time he’d accused me of that.

 

Maybe I should wrap it back up and let him try again. Or would that somehow be patronizing?

 

The bottom of my stomach dropped like when you’re in an elevator in a really tall building. I couldn’t breathe. My heart pounded and the room swayed. The rabbi’s big shaggy eyebrows rose like caterpillars doing backbends. Clarissa, my best friend and maid of honor, mouthed “uh oh” at me. Jennifer, my half-sister and bridesmaid, hadn’t noticed yet. She was waving at her son, Troy, who sat in his father’s lap in the first row. Kendra, the bridesmaid-cicle I’d added as payment for the chuppah and the glass, smirked. To tell the truth, I’ve never exactly warmed up to her, either.

 

Then, a little voice inside my head said, “Run.”

 

I am not prone to hearing voices. I am a steady, serious person with a logical, scientific approach to life. I do not have prophetic dreams, see visions, consult Tarot cards or think the universe is trying to send me messages.

 

Yet one little voice says Run! And I picked up my skirts and ran like the devil himself was on my tail.

 

Faces blurred as I flew past them and raced down the ramp to the next floor.

 

I’d left my purse in the ladies’ room, so I ducked in and grabbed it. Footsteps and voices were coming down the ramp behind me, and visions of braying dogs filled my mind. Villagers with pitchforks and torches would be right behind them. They were getting closer!

I dashed out the door and jumped into my pickup truck. Gravel spit from under the tires as I reversed my red Frontier out of my parking space, and I sped by the Opera House as a small group of wedding guests burst out the door. A shout when up and someone pointed in my direction. I’d been spotted! Of course, I was hard to miss with my veil sailing behind me like a bizarre bridal freedom flag. I floored the truck and fishtailed through the intersection of Railroad and Main, heading for Interstate 505 south.

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