Read A Beaumont Christmas Wedding Online

Authors: Sarah M. Anderson

A Beaumont Christmas Wedding

Naughty
and
Nice…

Public relations whiz Matthew Beaumont won’t let scandal ruin his brother’s Christmas wedding. Yet scandal is Whitney Maddox’s middle name. He grudgingly allows the outrageous child star turned horse trainer to stay in the wedding party…as long as she behaves herself. But soon he’s the one misbehaving with this irresistible maid of honor.

Determined to shed her troubled past, Whitney traded parties—and men—for a quiet life years ago. But one tumble into Matthew’s strong arms has her thinking a hot night with the best man might be the perfect holiday gift…a gift that could last forever.

This was what Whitney wanted—to feel normal.

To be normal. To be able to walk into a room and not be concerned with what people thought they knew about her. Instead, Phillip had taken her at face value and made her feel welcome.

And he had a brother who was coming to dinner?

What did Matthew Beaumont look like? More to the point, what did he act like? Brothers could like a lot of the same things, right?

What if Matthew Beaumont looked at her like his brother did, without caring about her past?

What if he talked to her about horses instead of headlines?

What if— What if he wasn't involved with anyone?

Whitney didn't hook up. That part of her life was dead and buried. But…a little Christmas romance between the maid of honor and the best man wouldn't be such a bad thing, would it?

It could even be fun.

* * *

A Beaumont Christmas Wedding
is part of The Beaumont Heirs trilogy: One Colorado family, limitless scandal!

* * *

If you're on Twitter, tell us what you think of Harlequin Desire!
#harlequindesire

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to Colorado! The Beaumont Heirs are one of Denver’s oldest, most preeminent families. The Beaumont Heirs are the children of Hardwick Beaumont, the third generation to run the Beaumont Brewery. The Beaumont Brewery is world famous for the team of Percherons that pulls the Beaumont wagon in commercials and parades.

Although he’s been dead for almost a decade, Hardwick’s womanizing ways—the four marriages and divorces, the ten children and uncounted illegitimate children—are still leaving ripples in the Beaumont family.

Matthew Beaumont is the third-oldest Beaumont Heir. But he wasn’t always a Beaumont—not until his mother married his father when he was five. He was ignored by his father and overshadowed by his other siblings, so he tried his best to fit in. Somehow, Matthew became the one who “fixes” the scandals all the other Beaumonts leave in their wake.

Now Matthew is planning Jo and Phillip’s wedding—it’s the public relations event of the year! It’s going perfectly, right up until a former child star named Whitney Maddox blows all of Matthew’s perfectly laid plans apart. Will the maid of honor be a public relations nightmare and ruin the Beaumont Christmas Wedding? Will Matthew allow Whitney to get him off message?

A Beaumont Christmas Wedding
is a sensual story about accepting your past and embracing the future. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it! For more information about the other Beaumont Heirs, be sure to stop by
www.sarahmanderson.com
!

Sarah

A BEAUMONT CHRISTMAS WEDDING

Sarah M. Anderson

Books by Sarah M. Anderson

Harlequin Desire

A Man of His Word
#2130
A Man of Privilege
#2171
A Man of Distinction
#2184
A Real Cowboy
#2211
*Straddling the Line
#2232
*Bringing Home the Bachelor
#2254
*Expecting a Bolton Baby
#2267
What a Rancher Wants
#2282
‡Not the Boss’s Baby
#2328
‡Tempted by a Cowboy
#2333
‡A Beaumont Christmas Wedding
#2338

*The Bolton Brothers
‡The Beaumont Heirs

Other titles by this author available in ebook format.

SARAH M. ANDERSON

Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out West on the Great Plains. With a lifelong love of horses and two history teachers for parents, she had plenty of encouragement to learn everything she could about the tribes of the Great Plains.

When she started writing, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and to see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.

Sarah’s book
A Man of Privilege
won the 2012 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Harlequin Desire.

When not helping out at her son’s school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well tolerated by her wonderful husband. Readers can find out more about Sarah’s love of cowboys and Indians at
www.sarahmanderson.com
.

To Fiona Marsden, Kelli Bruns and Jenn Hoopes—three of the nicest Twitter friends around.
Thanks, ladies! You guys rock!

One

M
atthew Beaumont looked at his email in amazement. The sharks were circling. He’d known they would be, but still, the sheer volume of messages clamoring for more information was impressive. There were emails from
TMZ, Perez Hilton
and PageSix.com, all sent in the past twenty minutes.

They all wanted the same thing. Who on earth was Jo Spears, the lucky woman who was marrying into the Beaumont family and fortune? And why had playboy Phillip Beaumont, Matthew’s brother, chosen her—a woman no one had ever heard of before—when he could have had his pick of supermodels and Hollywood starlets?

Matthew rubbed his temples. The truth was actually quite boring—Jo Spears was a horse trainer who’d spent the past ten years training some of the most expensive horses in the world. There wasn’t much there that would satisfy the gossip sites.

But if the press dug deeper and made the connection between Jo Spears, horse trainer, and Joanna Spears, they might dig up the news reports about a drunk-driving accident a decade ago in which Joanna was the passenger—and the driver died. They might turn up a lot of people who’d partied with Joanna.

They might turn this wedding into a circus.

His email pinged.
Vanity Fair
had gotten back to him. He scanned the email. Excellent. They would send a photographer if he invited their reporter as a guest.

Matthew knew the only way to keep this Beaumont wedding—planned for Christmas Eve—from becoming a circus was to control the message. He had to fight fire with fire and if that meant embedding the press into the wedding itself, then so be it.

Yes, it was great that Phillip was getting married. For the first time in his life, Matthew was hopeful his brother was going to be all right. But for Matthew, this wedding meant so much more than just the bonds of holy matrimony for his closest brother.

This wedding was the PR opportunity of a lifetime. Matthew had to show the world that the Beaumont family wasn’t falling apart or flaming out.

God knew there’d been enough rumors to that effect after Chadwick Beaumont had sold the Beaumont Brewery and married his secretary, which had been about the same time that Phillip had very publically fallen off the wagon and wound up in rehab. And that didn’t even include what his stepmothers and half siblings were doing.

It had been common knowledge that the Beaumonts, once the preeminent family of Denver, had fallen so far down that they’d never get back up.

To hell with common knowledge.

This was Matthew’s chance to prove himself—not just in the eyes of the press but in his family’s eyes, too. He’d show them once and for all that he wasn’t the illegitimate child who was too little, too late a Beaumont. He was one of them, and this was his chance to erase the unfortunate circumstances of his birth from everyone’s mind.

A perfectly orchestrated wedding and reception would show the world that instead of crumbling, the Beaumonts were stronger than ever. And it was up to Matthew, the former vice president of Public Relations for the Beaumont Brewery and the current chief marketing officer of Percheron Drafts Beer, to make that happen.

Building buzz was what Matthew did best. He was the only one in the family who had the media contacts and the PR savvy to pull this off.

Control the press, control the world—that’s how a Beaumont handles it.

Hardwick Beaumont’s words came back to him. When Matthew had managed yet another scandal, his father had said that to him. It’d been one of the few times Hardwick had ever complimented his forgotten third son. One of the few times Hardwick had ever made Matthew feel as if he
was
a Beaumont, not the bastard he’d once been.

Controlling the press was something that Matthew had gotten exceptionally good at. And he wasn’t about to drop the ball now. This wedding would prove not only that the Beaumonts still had a place in this world but that Matthew had a place in the family.

He could save the Beaumont reputation. He could save the Beaumonts. And in doing so, he could redeem himself.

He’d hired the best wedding planner in Denver. They’d booked the chapel on the Colorado Heights University campus and had invited two hundred guests to the wedding. The reception would be at the Mile High Station, with dinner for six hundred, and a team of Percherons would pull the happy couple in either a carriage or a sleigh, weather depending. They had the menu set, the cake ordered, the favors ready and the photographer on standby. Matthew had his family—all four of his father’s ex-wives and all nine of his half brothers and sisters—promising to be on their best behavior.

The only thing he didn’t have under his control was the bride and her maid of honor, a woman named Whitney Maddox.

Jo had said that Whitney was a horse breeder who lived a quiet life in California, so Matthew didn’t anticipate too much trouble from her. She was coming two weeks before the wedding and staying at the farm with Jo and Phillip. That way she could do all the maid-of-honor things—dress fittings and bachelorette parties, the lot of it. All of which had been preplanned by Matthew and the wedding planner, of course. There was no room for error.

The wedding had to be perfect. What mattered was showing the world that the Beaumonts were still a family. A
successful
family.

What mattered was Matthew proving that he was a legitimate Beaumont.

He opened a clean document and began to write his press release as if his livelihood depended on it.

Because it did.

* * *

Whitney pulled up in front of the building that looked as if it was three different houses stuck together. She would not be nervous about this—not about the two weeks away from her horses, about staying in a stranger’s house for said two weeks or about the press that went with being in a Beaumont Christmas wedding. Especially that.

Of course, she knew who Phillip Beaumont was—didn’t everyone? He was the handsome face of Beaumont Brewery—or had been, right up until his family had sold out. And Jo Spears was a dear friend—practically the best friend Whitney had. The only friend, really. Jo knew all about Whitney’s past and just didn’t care. And in exchange for that unconditional friendship, the least Whitney could do was suck it up and be Jo’s maid of honor.

In the high-society wedding of the year. With hundreds of guests. And photographers. And the press. And...

Jo came out to greet her.

“You haven’t changed a bit!” Whitney called as she shut her door. She shivered. December in Denver was an entirely different beast from December in California. “Except you’re not wearing your hat!”

“I didn’t wear the hat when we watched movies in your house, did I?” Jo wore a wide smile as she gave Whitney a brief hug. “How was the drive?”

“Long,” Whitney admitted. “That’s why I didn’t bring anyone with me. I thought about bringing the horses, but it’s just too cold up here for them to be in a trailer that long, and none of my dogs do well in the car.”

She’d desperately wanted to bring Fifi, her retired greyhound, or Gater, the little mutt that was pug and...something. Those two were her indoor dogs, the ones that curled up next to her on the couch or on her lap and kept her company. But Fifi did not travel well and Gater didn’t like to leave Fifi.

Animals didn’t care who you were. They never read the headlines. It didn’t matter to them if you’d accidentally flashed the paparazzi when you were nineteen or how many times you’d been arrested for driving while intoxicated. All that mattered to animals was that you fed them and rubbed their ears.

Besides, Whitney was on vacation. A vacation with a wedding in it, but still. She was going to see the sights in Denver and get her nails done and all sorts of fun things. It didn’t seem fair to bring the dogs only to leave them in a bedroom most of the time.

Jo nodded as Whitney got her bags out of the truck. “Who’s watching them?”

“Donald—you remember him, right? From the next ranch over?”

“The crusty old fart who doesn’t watch TV?”

Jo and Whitney shared a look. In that moment, Whitney was glad she’d come. Jo understood her as no one else did.

Everyone else in the world thought Donald was borderline insane—a holdover hippie from the 1960s who’d done too much acid back in the day. He lived off the grid, talked about animals as if they were his brothers and discussed Mother Earth as if she were coming to dinner next week.

But that meant Donald wasn’t tuned in to pop culture. Which also meant he didn’t know who Whitney was—who she’d been. Donald just thought Whitney was the neighbor who really should install more solar panels on her barn roof. And if she had to occasionally listen to a lecture on composting toilets, well, that was a trade-off she was willing to make.

She was going to miss her animals, but knowing Donald, he was probably sitting on the ground in the paddock, telling her horses bedtime stories.

Besides, being part of her best friend’s wedding was an opportunity even she couldn’t pass up. “What’s this I hear about you and Phillip Beaumont?”

Jo smiled. “Come on,” she said, grabbing one of Whitney’s bags. “Dinner will be in about an hour. I’ll get you caught up.”

She led Whitney inside. The whole house was festooned—there was no other word for it—with red bows and pine boughs. A massive tree, blinking with red-and-white lights, the biggest star Whitney had ever seen perched on top, stood in a bay window. The whole place had such a rustic Christmas charm that Whitney felt herself grinning. This would be a perfect way to spend Christmas, instead of watching
It’s a Wonderful Life
on the couch at home.

A small brown animal with extremely long ears clomped up to her and sniffed. “Well, hello again, Betty,” Whitney said as she crouched down onto her heels. “You remember me? You spent a few months sitting on my couch last winter.”

The miniature donkey sniffed Whitney’s hair and brayed before rubbing her head into Whitney’s hands.

“If I recall correctly,” Jo said, setting down Whitney’s bag, “your pups didn’t particularly care for a donkey in the house.”

“Not particularly,” Whitney agreed. Fifi hadn’t minded as long as Betty stayed off her bed, but Gater had taken it as a personal insult that Whitney had allowed a hoofed animal into the house. As far as Gater was concerned, hoofed animals belonged in the barn.

She stood. Betty leaned against her legs so that Whitney could stroke her long ears.

“You’re not going to believe this,” Jo said as she moved Whitney’s other bag, “but Matthew wants her to walk down the aisle. He’s rigged up a basket so she can carry the flower petals and it’s got a pillow attached on top so she can carry the rings. The flower girl will walk beside her and throw the petals. He says it’ll be an amazing visual.”

Whitney blinked. “Wait—Matthew? I thought you were marrying Phillip?”

“She is.” A blindingly handsome man strode into the room—tall and blond and instantly recognizable. “Hello,” he said with a grin as he walked up to Whitney. He leaned forward, his eyes fastened on hers, and stuck out a hand. “I’m Phillip Beaumont.”

The
Phillip Beaumont. Having formerly been someone famous, Whitney was not prone to getting starstruck. But Phillip was looking at her so intently that for a moment, she forgot her own name.

“And you must be Whitney Maddox,” he went on, effortlessly filling the silence. “Jo’s told me about the months she spent with you last winter. She said you raise some of the most beautiful Trakehners she’s ever worked with.”

“Oh. Yes!” Whitney shook her head. Phillip was a famous horseman and her Trakehner horses were a remarkably safe subject. “Joy was mine—Pride and Joy.”

“The stallion who took gold in the World Equestrian Games?” Phillip smiled down at her and she realized he still had her hand. “I don’t have any Trakehners. Clearly that’s something I need to rectify.”

She looked at Jo, feeling helpless and more than a little guilty that Jo’s intended was making her blush. But Jo just laughed.

“Too much,” Jo said to Phillip as she looped her arm through his. “Whitney’s not used to that much charm.” She looked at Whitney. “Sorry about that. Phillip, this is Whitney. Whitney, this is Phillip.”

Whitney nodded, trying to remember the correct social interaction. “It’s a pleasure. Congratulations on getting married.”

Phillip grinned at her, but then he thankfully focused that full-wattage smile on Jo. “Thanks.”

They stared at each other for a moment, the adoration obvious. Whitney looked away.

It’d been a long time since a man had looked at her like that. And, honestly, she couldn’t be sure that Drako Evans had ever looked at her quite like that. Their short-lived engagement hadn’t been about love. It had been about pissing off their parents. And it had worked. The headlines had been spectacular. Maybe that was why those headlines still haunted her.

As she rubbed Betty’s ears, Whitney noticed the dinner table was set for four. For the first time since she’d arrived, she smelled food cooking. Lasagna and baking bread. Her stomach rumbled.

“So,” Phillip said into the silence. His piercing blue eyes turned back to her. “Matthew will be here in about forty minutes for dinner.”

Which did nothing to answer the question she’d asked Jo earlier. “Matthew is...who?”

This time, Phillip’s grin was a little less charming, a little sharper. “Matthew Beaumont. My best man and younger brother.”

Whitney blinked. “Oh?”

“He’s organizing the wedding,” Phillip went on as if that were no big deal.

“He’s convinced that this is the PR event of the year,” Jo said. “I told him I’d be happy getting married by a judge—”

“Or running off to Vegas,” Phillip added, wrapping his arm around Jo’s waist and pulling her into a tight embrace.

“But he insists this big wedding is the Beaumont way. And since I’m going to be a Beaumont now...” Jo sighed. “He’s taken control of this and turned it into a spectacle.”

Whitney stared at Jo and Phillip, unsure what to say. The Jo she knew wouldn’t let anyone steamroll her into a grandiose wedding.

“But,” Jo went on, softening into a smile that could almost be described as shy, “it’s going to be amazing. The chapel is beautiful and we’ll have a team of Percherons pulling a carriage from there to the reception. The photographer is experienced and the dress...” She got a dreamy look in her eyes. “Well, you’ll see tomorrow. We have a dress fitting at ten.”

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