Six months ago, Cassidy Baldwin was among Milwaukee’s leading wedding planners, until she became the scapegoat for a corporate scandal. Now the only job she can land is organizing over-the-top themed funerals for her best friend’s family business.
Then the city’s most affluent and eccentric philanthropist dies, and Cassidy is hired to fulfill the woman’s deathbed wish: find a wife for her playboy nephew, Ryan Mitchell.
Ryan’s always avoided the spotlight, and he’s not thrilled by the media attention spawned by this final decree. If he doesn’t marry within the year, however, his aunt’s quirky staff will lose their home and livelihood. So he wants Cassidy to find him a Ms. Right Now that he can ultimately divorce, but she’s determined to find him a true soul mate since the right match could launch a new matchmaking career for her. Too bad she seems to understand him better than any of the potential brides she’s found.
Is it worth risking a real chance at love to arrange a fake wedding?
by Eliza Daly
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
When Eliza Daly isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband, Mark, and her cats Quigley, Frankie, and Sammy. Find Eliza Daly at www.elizadaly.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @ElizasBooks.
An excerpt from ‘Til Death Do Us Part:
“Remember how Artie used to belch out the National Anthem?” said a guy in a Green Bay Packers jersey, standing at the front of the chapel in Thompson’s Funeral Home. He slammed his beer, then proceeded to pay “musical” tribute to his recently deceased buddy.
Several men joined in, slapping their foam Cheeseheads or Packers caps against their chests out of respect for Artie Gardner. Although they held non-alcoholic beer cans—Thompson’s forbade alcohol consumption due to liability issues—the contents had undoubtedly been replaced with “real” beer.
And, unfortunately, if Cassidy Baldwin didn’t turn a blind eye, she’d have to turn away 25 percent of their business.
Planning themed funerals was going to be the death of her. Six months ago, she’d been one of Milwaukee’s premier wedding planners. Now, she was one beer-guzzling, football-themed funeral away from taking a swan dive off the Hoan Bridge.
The tribute ended and the men raised their cans, toasting the deceased as the Packers kicked off against the Seattle Seahawks on the large-screen TV. “Go Pack,” they roared, plopping down on the recliners and couches, which temporarily replaced the chapel’s folding chairs.
The women congregated around the buffet at the back, removing lids from salad containers and dumping chips into bowls. A woman walked in carrying a large platter. The stench of greasy bratwursts overpowered the scent of the crisp fall day drifting through the window of the Victorian house, now home to the funeral parlor.
Kenny, the funeral director, materialized at Cassidy’s side. He brushed a hand down his Packers tie, his shifty brown eyes twinkling with pride. “One of my best makeup jobs ever,” he said, referring to the green-and-gold goop on the deceased’s face. Wearing a wide grin, Kenny slithered off.
He was slimier than that gel he used to slick back his hair. If he weren’t married to her friend, Lucy, and also de facto boss and landlord—she temporarily lived with them above the funeral home—she’d tell him so.
The scent of patchouli replaced the stench of beer when Lucy strolled over. She wore a red-and-white-striped dress with a bright blue scarf tied around her neck. The nautical hues—“best for the career zone”—were part of her plan to feng shui her new business, An Herb a Day Café, to success. Lucy removed her red eyeglasses and perched them atop her blonde bob.
Cassidy glanced over at the men singing “Beer Barrel Polka.” “And I thought getting fired for something I didn’t even do was the low point of my life. One more beer-guzzling funeral and I’m seriously hurling myself off a cliff.”
“I thought it was the Hoan Bridge?”
“The cliff is closer, just across the street.”
“Please wait until after Aggie Cornwell’s funeral.”
“What? Aggie Cornwell died?” The heiress to the country’s fourth-largest brewery was a Milwaukee icon.
“Just got a call. She fell out of a tree rescuing a cat. Died instantly.”
How ironic. Aggie Cornwell donated loads of money to the Animal Rescue Squad. Her mansion’s guesthouse was a foster home for dozens of cats.
“Her lawyer attended the Morris funeral here last month and was totally impressed. When I told him you were actually a wedding planner by trade, that cinched the deal.”
“Why? Aggie Cornwell wanted to get married at her funeral?” Cassidy laughed faintly, but Lucy didn’t.
“Seemed she’d planned her wedding down to the last detail, yet she never married. Guess her funeral is her last opportunity to at least hold the reception. And the perfect chance for you to show your creative planning skills to the city’s elite and get back into the wedding industry.” Lucy rattled off ideas for the funeral/wedding. “What do you think?”
“I could use a beer.”