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The One You Love

Christine Vance's wedding day is a complete disaster. When her stepfather strikes a dog with his car trying to get her to the church on time, the veterinarian suddenly finds herself facing a serious decision: does she proceed with the wedding as her frustrated fiance Brian wishes? Or does she put off the ceremony to treat the critically injured dog? The dog belongs to Paul Toulon, her fiance's cousin. The last thing he wants is to get involved in the disaster that occurs when Christine decides she must tend to the dog first causing her groom, who she's taken for granted too many times for the sake of her career, to leave her at the altar. Despite his efforts to merely be a bystander in the situation, Paul gets swept up in Christine's quest to win back his cousin. But the more he learns about the beauty he accompanies to Maine as a reluctant travel companion, the more he decides that she is not a good match for his cousin. But she is perfect for him...

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Tina Van Zandt

     Tina Van Zandt is happily married to the one she loves and together they have two children, three cats and one very large dog. When she isn't spending time with her family, Tina enjoys writing romantic comedies and historical romances, reading romances of all types and listening to her U2 collection. 
     Visit Tina on the web at http://tinavanzandt.com.

Reviews

"This story was sweet and funny. Paul made all the right moves. So much, it leads one to wonder why such a paragon of masculinity had not been snatched up already. If you are in the mood for a light, sweet, and funny romance, The One You Love, is an enjoyable read with the scenery of Maine thrown in as a bonus."

Jenn -- Coffee Time Romance



5 Hearts

"This is a wonderful love story. The reader finds themselves urging Christine to take a look at the man in front of her and sees he's worth a hundred Brians. A totally enjoyable read and I recommend it."

Louise Riveiro-Mitchell -- The Romance Studio



4 1/2 Roses

"The One You Love by Tina Van Zandt will leave you with a feeling that all is right in the world of Christine and Paul. This is one book that grabs you from the beginning and keeps you scrolling to find out what happens next. Yes, Christine goes through the grieving process of having someone walk out on her but she also has Paul to talk too on the way to Maine about what is happening with her and what she wants. It almost takes Christine being hit with a brick to realize what she has right before her. I will be on the lookout for more stories by Ms. Van Zandt."

Pam -- A Romance Review
Excerpt


Chapter One

"IT'S GOING TO BE okay." Christine Vance tried to comfort the Collie that lay across her lap, stroking the dog's silky hair. Mud and grass stained the skirt of her wedding gown where he lay. She blew out a breath before focusing on the situation at hand.

Things weren't okay. She was late for her own wedding. Worse, her stepfather, speeding to get her to the church, had struck the dog with his car. Her mind worked frantically. She had to help the Collie. But what about her wedding? How could she explain this to Brian?

There was no time to think. Christine glanced up to see Brian running towards them, looking like a movie star in his black tuxedo. Coming to a halt before her, his dark eyebrows arched in disbelief.

Taking in her disheveled appearance, Brian frowned. "What the hell happened?"

"Brian, we had an accident." Christine pulled back the lace veil from her face. "It's my fault. We were running late—"

"Where have you been?" he asked loudly, his face coloring.

"We had an emergency at the animal hospital." Christine watched his reddening face and added, "A Golden Retriever pup accidentally ingested some antifreeze in his owner's storage shed. He almost died."

Her reference to the pup drew Brian's attention to the Collie in her lap whose chin lay on the white satin of her skirt. The dog whined miserably, his brown eyes pleading for her help.

"Did you hit Rufus with the car?"

Taken off guard, Christine stared at Brian. "You know this dog?"

Brian raked a hand through his auburn hair. "He belongs to my cousin."

Of course he does. Cursing her luck, Christine took a deep breath. People drifted from the church to their small gathering, with her and the Collie at its center. Her cheeks grew warm under the curious stares of their approaching guests.

A soft whimper drew her attention back to the injured animal. She examined him, discovering that the dog's left front leg was broken, maybe in two places. His breathing was shallow with a rattling quality that she didn't care for. X-rays would be necessary to determine the extent of any internal injuries. Patting the dog's head, her stomach churned with anxiety. The sooner she could tend to him at the animal hospital, the better.

"I'm sorry, Brian," her stepfather offered. "I didn't see him in time."

"Rufus?"

A tall man ran towards her and the Collie. Stopping behind Brian's shoulder, his eyes focused on the dog she held. He stood almost a head taller than her fiancé. The warm afternoon sun shone off the dark chestnut waves of his hair. His blue eyes, similar to Brian's, clouded with concern.

He dashed to the dog. "Rufus?"

Brian stepped closer. "Paul, they hit Rufus with the car."

"Rufus, boy," Paul crooned to the dog as he dropped to his knees and began to gently pet him. He looked to Christine for an answer. "What happened?"

Christine swallowed hard. As a veterinarian, her life was dedicated to the health and care of small animals. She was the last person on the face of the earth who should be responsible for the Collie's injury. She didn't want to explain the circumstances leading to the accident to Brian's cousin. Any more than she wanted to tell Brian why she was late on the most important day of their lives.

What choice did she have? "It's all my fault, uh—" What had Brian called him?

"Paul," the cousin offered, his hands stroking his pet's fur.

"We were running late. I was running late. I'm so sorry."

Rufus' pitiable whine made his owner wince. "We've got to get him to a vet."

Brian let out his annoyance in a hiss of breath. "Christine, how bad is it? Can he wait a few minutes? We're already an hour late, as I'm sure you realize."

It was Christine's turn to wince. She deserved the barb. But she hadn't meant to be late for her own wedding. Surely Brian realized that. But then, judging from the frequency of their arguments about her loyalty to her career, maybe he didn't. "His front leg is broken. There may be internal injuries. I'll need to do x-rays—"

"Christine, the minister is going to leave if we don't get moving."

From the corner of her eye, Christine saw Paul's head jerk up.

"Paul, she said that it was only a broken leg."

"She's a vet?" Paul asked, his tone edged with sarcasm.

"Yes," said Christine. She shook her head. "I don't know for certain that the leg is the only injury."

Brian's hands clenched into fists at his sides. "He doesn't look that bad."

Please shut up, Brian. Glancing sideways at her fiancé's cousin, she saw the red flush seeping up his neck. They were talking about the man's pet, his companion. But Brian wouldn't understand that kind of sentiment. Brian disliked most animals, dogs in particular. And Christine couldn't count on him, especially when he was upset, to guard against speaking his uncharitable thoughts aloud.

She would never forgive herself if Paul's dog died of unknown internal injuries during the wedding ceremony. She looked at her fiancé and saw the anger building behind his blue eyes. But would Brian forgive her for ruining their special day if she tended to the dog first?

Christine had put her career before Brian too many times. Looking up into his eyes, she hoped to find some understanding there. But his eyes were ice blue, cold. She knew that look. The line was drawn. She wasn't certain that he would forgive her for being late to their wedding. How could he ever forgive her for leaving him at the altar, even for a short time? Her heart sank. She could lose him.

"What if he's not okay?" Paul directed the question to Brian.

Brian rolled his eyes heavenward. "They just bumped him!" He threw his arms up in exasperation. "Isn't that right, Christine?"

"Well, I think it was more than a bump," her stepfather said, tugging at his tie as if it were suddenly choking him.

Christine nodded. "We were moving fast. We were late for my wedding."

"That was hardly Leland's fault," her mother chimed in.

"No one said it was, Mom," Christine responded. She didn't need her mother jumping in to elevate this disaster.

"Fine. I'll wait long enough for you to call one of the other vets at the clinic," said Brian.

"Todd's been on vacation. He won't be returning until tonight."

"What about Miranda?"

"Miranda went into labor this morning."

Paul regarded her as his large hand settled on the Collie's head. "You're really a vet?" he asked.

Christine nodded.

"Will he be all right?" Paul smoothed the dog's fur with his other hand but his gaze never wavered. "Long enough for your ceremony?"

Christine considered the Collie. What if there were internal injuries? What if he died because she'd chosen her happiness over his health? How could she ever think of herself as a caring veterinarian-as a decent human being—if she allowed that to happen? But if she said yes, the wedding would take place and the dog might be fine. Brian would still be upset, but he'd have time to get over it on their honeymoon. The day would be salvaged and, in less than half an hour, she'd be a happily married woman.

"Tell him, Christine," Brian urged. "Tell him that Rufus is okay."