Read An Excerpt

THE GREAT ESCAPE
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Genre: General Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Romance

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Lucy couldn’t breathe. The bodice of her wedding gown, which had fit so perfectly, now squeezed her ribs like a boa constrictor. What if she died of suffocation right here in the lobby of the Wynette Presbyterian Church? 

Outside the doors, an international army of reporters stood at the barricades, and the sanctuary inside bulged with the rich and famous. Only a few steps away, the former President of the United States and her husband waited to escort Lucy down the aisle so she could marry the most perfect man in the world. The man of everyone’s dreams. The kindest, the most considerate, the smartest ... What woman in her right mind wouldn’t want to marry Ted Beaudine? He’d dazzled Lucy from the moment they’d met. 

The trumpets rang out, announcing the beginning of the bridal procession, and Lucy struggled to pull a few molecules of air into her lungs. She couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day for her wedding. It was the last week of May. The Texas Hill Country’s spring wildflowers might have faded, but the crepe myrtle was in bloom, and roses grew outside the church doors. A perfect day. 

Her thirteen-year-old sister, the youngest of the four bridesmaids in her unfashionably small wedding party, stepped off. After her would come fifteen-year-old Charlotte, and then Meg Koranda, Lucy’s best friend since college. Her maid of honor was her sister Tracy, a beautiful eighteen-year-old so smitten with Lucy’s bridegroom that she still blushed when he talked to her. 

Lucy’s veil fluttered in front of her face, suffocating layers of white tulle. She thought about what an incredible lover Ted was, how brilliant, how kind, how amazing. How perfect for her. Everybody said that. Everybody except her best friend Meg. 

Last night after the rehearsal dinner, Meg had pulled Lucy into a hug and whispered, “He’s wonderful, Luce. Everything you said. And you absolutely can’t marry him.” 

“I know,” Lucy had heard herself whisper in return. “But I’m going to anyway. It’s too late now to back out.” 

Meg had given her a fierce shake. “It’s not too late. I’ll help you. I’ll do whatever I can.” 

Easy for Meg to say. Meg lived a completely undisciplined life, but Lucy wasn’t like that. Lucy had responsibilities that Meg couldn’t begin to comprehend. Even before Lucy’s mother had taken the oath of office, the country had been fascinated by the Jorik menagerie—three adopted kids, two biological ones. Her parents had shielded the younger children from the press, but Lucy had been twenty-two at the time of Nealy’s first inauguration, which made her fair game. The public had followed Lucy’s dedication to her family—the way she served as a surrogate parent to her siblings during Nealy and Mat’s frequent absences—her work in child advocacy, her sparse dating life, even her less than exciting fashion choices. And they were definitely following this wedding.