Will they lose their paradise?
Brianna and Nathan overcame a litany of lethal obstacles together. The trials and tribulations they faced only brought them closer together, but how much is too much to handle?
As the newlyweds leave their island paradise accompanied by Nathan’s daughter, they were hoping for a blissful, family-oriented, honeymoon treasure hunt. But when the map they’re following leads them to a tangle of myths and mysteries, can the couple work together to locate the hidden treasure? Or will this adventure be what tears the new family apart?
Where you can find Misplacing Paradise:
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/misplacing-paradise-miranda-herald/1143002853
All other major retailers: https://books2read.com/u/4DJYXd
Available on Kindle Vella: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/episode/B0BM8M4VN5 (book 2 begins on episode 75)
Chapter 1- All Dressed in… Flames
“The bride is on fire!”
Brianna stopped walking down the aisle, mortified.
I’m the bride!
The guest nearest to her jumped up from their chair, causing it to go flying backwards into the guest behind. Chaos erupted on the beach around her, and Brianna smelled smoke. Panicking, she started running back down the aisle, trying to get the flames as far away from the guests as possible.
Should I stop, drop, and roll in the sand… in my wedding dress?
She was a few feet away from the ceremony but veered toward the ocean.
“Brianna!” She heard her name being yelled as someone grabbed the veil off her head, sending bobby pins flying. She spun around, eyes searching wildly to see Nathan, her future husband. He threw the veil onto the sandy ground and stomped on it until all the flames were out.
Brianna looked around at her dress and saw no other signs of fire. Nathan bent down, picked up the blackened lacy white veil, and held it out. His eyes watched her carefully, as if waiting to see if she would laugh or cry. A crowd was gathering around them, her mother the first among them. Nathan gave Brianna a small smile and whispered so only the two of them could hear, “You ran away from our wedding.”
Taking a deep breath, Brianna looked up at him and gave a soft chuckle before smiling shakily. “What can I say? When I saw who I was about to marry, I decided to swim for it!”
They both laughed together, and Nathan pulled her into a hug and rested his chin on the top of her head. Soon, Brianna felt small arms wrap around her legs and heard the high-pitched voice of her soon-to-be step-daughter, Jenna. “I’m glad you’re okay. Do you want me to get you a bucket of water to keep you safe while you marry my daddy?”
Brianna patted Jenna on the shoulder as a photographer snapped photos of the future family holding the burned veil. “I think I’ll be all right now, honey. I’m just going to give those tiki torches a bit more space.”
Nathan moved her to the side and checked her over. “Would you like to try again or reschedule?”
Brianna looked around at the crowd murmuring amongst themselves and gave them a smile to let everyone know she was unharmed and feeling fine. She hugged Jenna to her side and looked back at Nathan. “I know we pulled this wedding together quickly, but I can’t wait to marry you, Nathan. Let’s try again. I didn’t let any of the puzzles and traps on your island deter me. I’m not about to let a little thing like being a blazing bride impede our happy family.”
Nathan turned to the crowd. “If everyone could make their way back to their seats, we are going to try to get married again.”
The crowd moved in a very unorganized fashion. Brianna’s mother blew her a kiss. “Good luck, honey!” She heard faceless voices from the crowd say, “Someone keep an eye on the aisle. That girl can run!” and “Blow out all the torches or she’ll catch her hair on fire next.” She wasn’t nervous before, but now her stomach was filled with butterflies.
Nathan headed back to a small platform that overlooked the sea and stood beside the pastor. Brianna led Jenna back to the beginning of the aisle. She eyed the tiki torches that were stuck in the sand and lined the edges of the aisle. Small wisps of smoke trailed out of the tops where they extinguished them.
Take two of getting married. Hopefully, this time, she wouldn’t have to run away. Just watch. I’ll probably trip and fall on my face during this go around. She was lucky that a handsome, wealthy man like Nathan wanted to marry her, but how many times would he have the patience to try again?
Brianna’s best friend came back with them and messed with Brianna’s long brown hair while the violin trio played again. She whispered in Brianna’s ear, “Just keep your eyes on the rich guy in the suit and you will be fine.”
After rolling her eyes, Brianna smoothed her dress out and tried to calm her nerves. She looked down the aisle to see her good-looking groom, Nathan, standing there with his dark hair slightly mussed from running his hand through it, and his cummerbund made the pooch around his middle stand out slightly. He stood with a wide grin, patiently waiting for her. It was all she could wish for.
Jenna looked up at her, and her short brown hair, all curled and pinned to the top of her head, hardly moved. With wide, doe-like eyes, she whispered, “I’m all out of flowers.”
Taking a handful of flowers out of her own bouquet, Brianna quickly took the petals off and dropped them into the little girl’s basket. With a big smile and a quick hug, Jenna started down the aisle. Happily, the six-year-old girl sang Happy Birthday while walking down the aisle. It melted her heart, and Brianna heard the guests muttering, “Aw.”
Looking around, Brianna saw the breathtaking beauty of her paradise island wedding. Everything was perfect. The sun shined brightly, but not too hot. The turquoise ocean was smooth, with small waves lapping the beach. Her mother and best friend came out for the occasion, and best of all, she was no longer on fire.
The music changed to the Wedding March, and Brianna walked down the aisle towards her bright future where she would live happily ever after. Luckily, she didn’t believe in superstitions or bad luck at weddings. Her life was now going to be like a dream come true.
The ceremony was short but beautiful. The reception was full of delicious food, dancing, and laughter. After things were winding down, Brianna sat on the cool, slightly quieter edge of the party, watching her guests drink and dance the night away. Today was fun, yet exhausting. She’d met so many new people from Nathan’s family and work that her head spun.
Tomorrow, they would visit with family and friends and say their goodbyes. After spending so much time planning the wedding, she hadn’t had time to pack for the honeymoon. She would have a few whirlwind days to pack up their belongings for the next three months. They were taking Jenna and going to Scotland to follow the treasure map Brianna found on this very island. She was so excited; she couldn’t believe she had to wait days to leave.
Before long, Nathan found her and joined her on the outskirts of the party. He softly murmured, “If you want, we can sneak away. My brother offered to put Jenna to bed for us tonight.”
Looking at him out of the corner of her eye, Brianna smiled. It felt like a long road to get here. She fake yawned and stretched her arms. “Yeah, I am getting mighty tired. I’m sure I will fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.”
Leaning down, Nathan gave her a slow kiss that made every nerve in her body fire. She kissed him back eagerly, gripping his strong biceps, letting her lips do more of the talking than her words.
Brianna heard someone clear their throat, causing her to break her focus on her new husband and look up. She didn’t recognize the man, but there were so many business associates and friends that she had barely met.
“Excuse me. I hate to interrupt, but I thought you would want to know that your daughter got sick all over the dance floor. She’s asking for you two.”
Nathan ran his hand through his hair, and Brianna gave him a small smile. “I’m sorry. I think someone had too much cake when she knew I was otherwise occupied watching you.”
Brianna pulled his arm as they started heading towards the dance floor hand-in-hand. “It’s okay. If Jenna needs us, then we’ll be there. There will be time for us later.” The adoption paperwork was all filled out and ready to be sent in tomorrow morning. Soon, Jenna would be her daughter too. With so many people blocking their way, Nathan led by moving to the right, and Brianna led by moving to the left. They looked at each other and chuckled as neither of them could make progress before letting go of each other’s hands and making their own way to find Jenna.