Poppy: Bride of Alaska

EXTENDED EXCERPT

Poppy cast a sidelong glance up at her groom as the justice of the peace droned on about the sanctity of marriage and how it’s “forever” and other such nonsense. Well, what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. There was no doubt in her mind that she would take her new husband — the word stuck in her throat like a chicken bone — up on his offer of an annulment once his business was finished, whatever that meant.

Matthew Turner stood like a marble statue beside her, so uncomfortable that a pang of pity zipped through her. His expensive clothes and perfectly combed blond hair made him the spitting image of an upper-crust snob from a wealthy Boston family. Except for the tattered cuffs, that is. And the fact that such a handsome man was in desperate need of a wife. To go to Alaska.

None of it really made sense but, as he said on the platform earlier, she didn’t really care about the why. Despite his blatant attempt to charm her with those disturbingly long eyelashes earlier, his promise to not attempt to bed her sounded genuine to her ears — ears that had heard so many lies that it was rare for her to fall victim to them any longer. Still, Poppy didn’t give her trust lightly. No matter what he claimed, one sharp eye would stay focused on his every move, just in case.

Her pride still stung a bit, though, at how disgusted he looked at the thought of making her his wife in more than name only. Perhaps the women he courted back in Boston were fancier, but enough heads turned when she walked by for her to know that she wasn’t a hideous ogre.

Stop being vain, she chided herself. None of that mattered, except to her silly ego.

A muscle twitched in Matthew’s jaw as the justice spoke of love and forgiveness, and Poppy wondered what had happened in his life to make the man so desperate and angry. It came off him in waves, and she was almost sure he had no idea. Curiosity gnawed at her. Exactly how did a posh fellow like him fall so low as to marry a gutter rat like her?

Time would tell. Or it wouldn’t. Poppy didn’t really care. All she cared about was getting to Alaska to start her new life. It didn’t matter that she had no idea what she would do once she arrived, but she had Matthew’s promise of one month’s rent so at least she wouldn’t be left out in the cold…literally. Hopefully he would keep that promise. If he didn’t, he’d be sorry.