Read Never the Bride Online

Authors: Rene Gutteridge

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Inspirational

Never the Bride

Praise for
Never the Bride

“Hope, humor, and happiness—to me, those are the attributes of good a book.
Never the Bride
is more than that—it’s terrific!”

—L
OUISE
DU
ART
, comedic impressionist, TV host, and author of
Couples Who Pray

“Never the Bride
is a love story with a kick! Not just funny, this book is rollicking, with a heroine who can change her own tires, guide her own free-spirited sister, and keep an outlook on life that caused more than one fit of giggles. This is the kind of book I want to read again, simply because it is so rich with meaning and so intelligently written; I want to make sure I’ve caught every nuance.”

—H
ANNAH
A
LEXANDER
, author of
A Killing Frost
and the Hideaway series

“Never the Bride
is a powerful and thought-provoking story with just the right touch of humor. At times I laughed out loud, and at other times I wiped away my tears.
Never the Bride
is a treasure of a novel and a must-read!”

—C
ARRIE
T
URANSKY
, author of
Along Came Love
and
Kiss the Bride

“Engrossing as they are entertaining, the authors hit it out of the park with this delightful romantic romp, striking at the heart of a woman’s deepest desire: to be known and loved for herself. Side-splittingly funny and devastatingly raw in turns. Having devoured McKay’s inspired screenplay first, followed by this fabulously faithful novel, I can hardly wait for the movie!”

—S
USAN
R
OHRER
producer, writer, and director

“Never the Bride
teaches us all powerful lessons about God’s plan, control, and the peace that comes with surrender.”

—J
IM
S
TOVALL
, author of
The Ultimate Gift

“Delightful, delightful, delightful is
Never the Bride.
Rene Gutteridge knows how to take a plot and give it an unexpected, soul-searching, humorous wow of a twist.”

—L
YN
C
OTE
, author of
The Desires of Her Heart

“Never the Bride
is a delightful book. Jessie is a wise-cracking, sarcastic gal I’d love to take to lunch. This book had me in stitches as I laughed with Jessie, in tears as I felt her pain and desperation. If you’re looking for a book that’s more than a romance, this is the book. This novel will speak to the heart of every woman who’s ever sought the perfect man, by pointing her to the perfect romance.”

—C
ARA
C. P
UTMAN
, author of
Canteen Dreams
and
Sandhill Dreams

“Never the Bride
is a pure delight! It’s fun, refreshing, and witty, yet also profoundly insightful about God and His amazing love for us. I’ll be recommending this one to my family and friends!”

—M
ARLO
S
CHALESKY
, author of
If’
Tomorrow Never Comes
and
Beyond the Night

“For all those wannabe brides out there,
Never the Bride
is a refreshing look at how quickly we can sell ourselves short, while reminding us, in a witty and yet profound way, that there is a wannabe Groom who has always been there. Every belly laugh and every tear inspired by this book will hopefully cause each wannabe bride to realize she already is one.”

—D
ENISE
H
ILDRETH
, author of the Savannah series and
Flies on the Butter

“I devoured every single page.
Never the Bride
is the best romantic comedy written in years! A page turner from page one.”

—V
ICTORYA
R
OGERS
, love coach, host of Man To
Keep.com
, and author of
Finding a Man Worth Keeping

“Never the Bride
is a ticklish tale of one slightly neurotic woman’s quest to find Mr. Right that leads to an unexpected encounter. Delightfully memorable, wonderfully thought provoking!”

—T
AMARA
L
EIGH
, award-winning author of
Splitting Harriet
and
Leaving Carolina

By Rene Gutteridge
Boo
Boo Who
Boo Hiss
Boo Humbug
Scoop
Snitch
Skid
My Life as a Doormat

By Cheryl McKay
Never the Bride
(screenplay)
The Ultimate Gift
film (screenplay)
Gigi: God’s Little Princess
DVD (screenplay)
Wild & Wacky Totally True Bible Stories series (cowritten with
Frank Peretti)

Books by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge
The Ultimate Gift
film novelization

For those who fear the
surrender of their
purple pens

one

You don’t know me yet, so there is no reason you should care that I’m stuck on a highway with a blowout. But maybe we can relate to each other. Maybe you can understand that when I say “Everything goes my way” I’m being sarcastic. Not that I’m usually dependent on such a primitive form of communication. I’m actually not very cynical at all. I’m more of a glass-half-full-of-vitamin-infused-water person. Sometimes I even believe that if I dream something, or at least journal it, it will happen. But today, at eight forty-five in the morning, as the sun bakes me like a cod against the blacktop of the Pacific Coast Highway, I’m feeling a bit sarcastic.

It’s February but hotter than normal, which means a long, hot California summer is ahead—the kind that seems to bring out the beauty in blondes and the sweat glands in brunettes. I am a brunette. Not at all troubled by it. I don’t even have my hair highlighted. I own
my brunetteness and always have, even when Sun-In was all the rage. And it can’t be overstated that chlorine doesn’t turn my medium chestnut hair green. Actually it’s the copper, not the chlorine, that turns hair green—but that’s a useless trivia fact I try to save for speed dating.

I’m squatting next to my flat tire, examining the small rip. Holding my hair back and off my neck with one hand, I stand and look up and down the road, hoping to appear mildly distressed. Inside, I’ll admit it, I’m feeling moderately hysterical. My boss flips out when I’m late. It wouldn’t matter if my appendix burst, he doesn’t want to hear excuses. I wish he were the kind of guy who would just turn red in the face and yell, like Clark Kent’s newspaper boss. But no. He likes to lecture as if he’s an intellectual, except he’s weird and redundant and cliché, so it’s painful and boring.

A few cars zoom by, and I suddenly realize this could be my moment. Part of me says not to be ridiculous, because this kind of thing happens only on shows with a ZIP code or county name in the title. But still, you can’t help wondering, hoping, that maybe this is the moment when your life will change. When you meet your soul mate.

Like I said, I enjoy my glass/life half full.

Even as an optimist, I see no harm in being a little aggressive to achieve my goals. So with my free hand, I do a little wave, throw a little smile, and attempt to lock eyes with people going fifty miles an hour.

And then I see him. He’s in a red convertible, the top down, the black sunglasses shiny and tight against his tan skin. He’s wearing pink silk the way only a man with a good, measured amount of confidence can. At least that’s the way I see it from where I’m standing.

As he gets closer, his head turns and he notices me. I do a little wave, flirtatious with a slight hint of unintentional taxi hailing. I decide to smile widely, because he is going fast and I might look blurry. He smiles back. My hand falls to my side. I step back, lean against my car, and try to make my conservative business suit seem flattering. There’s nothing I can do about my upper lip sweating except hope my sweat-proof department-store makeup is holding up its end of the bargain better than my blowout-proof tire did.

He seems to be slowing down.

Live in the moment, I instruct myself. Don’t think about what I should say or what I could say. Just let it roll, Jessie, let it roll. Don’t overthink it.

This thought repeats itself when the convertible zooms by. I think he actually accelerated.

So.

My makeup is failing, along with whatever charm I thought I had. I just can’t imagine what kind of guy wouldn’t stop and help a woman. Maybe I’d have more hits if I were elderly.

I do what I have to do. What I know
how
to do. I change my own stupid tire. Yes, I can, and have been able to since I was eighteen. I can also change my own oil but don’t because then I appear capable of taking care of myself. And I’m really not. Practically, yes, I can take care of myself. I make decent money. I drive myself home from root canals. I open cans without a can opener. I’m able to survive for three days in the forest without food or water, and I never lost sleep over
Y2K
.

But I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about being taken care of in an emotional way. Maybe it’s a genetic problem. I
don’t know. Somehow I became a hopeless romantic. A friend tried the exorcism equivalent of purging me of this demon when she made me watch
The War of the Roses
two times in a row, all under the guise of a girls’ night, complete with popcorn and fuzzy slippers.

That didn’t cure me.

I want to be married. I hate being alone.

I lift the blown-out tire and throw it in my trunk, slamming it closed. My skin looks like condensation off a plastic cup. I can’t believe nobody has stopped. Not even a creepy guy. I stand there trying to breathe, trying to get ahold of my anger. I’m going to be late, I’m going to be sweaty, and I’m on the side of a highway alone.

“You need some help?”

I whirl around because I realize that I’ve just been hoping that even a creepy guy would stop, and since my world works in a way that only my negative thoughts seem to come to pass, you can see why the glass-half-full is so important.

The morning sun blinds me, and all I see is a silhouette. The voice is deep, kind of mature.

“Well, I
did need
some help,” I say, fully aware that acting cute is not going to undo the sweat rings that have actually burst through three layers of fabric, so I don’t bother. I dramatically gesture to my car and try a smile. “But as you can see, I don’t now.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yes. But thank you very much,” I
say, for stopping after I’m completely finished.
I trudge back to my car and start the air conditioner. Glancing back in my rearview mirror, I study the silhouette. He sort of has the same shape as the guy in my dream last night. My nightmare.
It was actually a dream after my nightmare, where you feel awake but you’re not. It wasn’t the nocturnal version of
Chainsaw Massacre
, but it did involve taffeta.

He doesn’t wave. He doesn’t move. He just stands there, exactly like the guy in my dream. It’s very déjà vu-like and I lock my doors. I put my blinker on, pull onto the highway, and leave him behind, driving below the speed limit on my flimsy spare tire all the way to work.

I work at Coston Real Estate. We’re squeezed between a wireless store and a Pizza Hut. We stand out a little because of our two huge dark wood doors, ten feet tall and adorned with silver handles.

I push open one of the doors and walk in. Mine is the front desk. It’s tall, almost Berlin Wall-like. People have to peer over it to see me, and I look very small on the other side. When I’m sitting, I can barely see over the top of it.

I walk toward the break room, past nine square cubicles, all tan and otherwise colorless. Even the carpet is tan. On my left are the real offices with walls.

Nicole, inside her cubicle, sees me. “What happened to you?”

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