Never Kiss a Stranger by Logan Chance Genre: Romantic Comedy
Ellis Atwood is the devil. Ok, maybe that’s too harsh. Ellis Atwood is ruining my life.
First, he demolishes a perfectly good wedding trellis.
Second, he destroys a gorgeous doggie wedding that I spent ages planning. (I kid you not.)
Third, he makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and that is not ok. I prefer the cold and harsh way my fiancé makes me feel so much better. (wait, that didn’t come out right.)
Fourth, and there is a fourth, he gets me all wound up and flustered.
And last, when he unexpectedly kissed me it made me forget my own name, or the fact that I’m getting married...in a month.
Please someone help me out. I’m a mess.
Worst part is, Ellis isn’t the bad guy I first thought he was.
And being forced to spend time with him is making me realize that he needs my help more than anything.
So what’s a girl like me to do?
I’m only in town long enough to figure out a plan with my brother on how to save our brewery from the awfulness that is my father. Oh and be in a wedding.
Where I may or may not be crushing a little too hard on the bride-to-be. (spoiler alert, I'm crushing hard.)
She’s really cute. Like seriously.
And she has the cutest job, she’s a dog wedding planner. (I kid you not.)
I can see why Henry loves her.
I can see why everyone loves her.
I can see why I’m falling for her.
I’m usually not a relationship-type guy. Call it picky or whatnot, but usually I get bored easily. So, my plan is simple. Spend as much time with Kiki (soon to be Faniki, I know) and hopefully get bored with her adorkable smile and sexy legs that go on for miles.
Then, I can save the brewery, be the best man of the wedding, and get my butt back to Chicago and away from the happy couple.
Have you ever had a goat walk all over your butt? I’m serious here. And somehow, I’m supposed to stay in a zen state as a baby goat tramples his little hooves all over my body?
My best friend, Lola, has had some nutty ideas in her life. ‘It’s all in the sake of a healthier lifestyle,’ she says.
Once, she had us paddleboarding. Which yes, nothing out of the ordinary. But, instead of starting in a lake, or in the intracoastal, she had us start on the beach.
It took us about thirty minutes just to paddle past each breaking wave. We had a little section of people on the beach cheering us on. I’m sure they just liked watching us wipeout.
Talk about a workout. I was so exhausted from fighting the waves I couldn’t go on any further.
Another time she thought it would be fun to head down to Miami and walk from South Beach to downtown. Which we did, but I wished I’d known ahead of time that was the plan. I thought we were heading south to party, because that is usually what one does in Miami. But, I wouldn’t have worn my favorite black heels.
Sure there’s wanting to be adventurous, but there’s a fine line between adventure and just plain silly.
And maybe this is it.
I’m not actually complaining because I’ve never been part of a routine where it has not benefited me greatly, but I just don’t quite understand bending yourself into the shape of a pretzel and then thinking, you know what this also needs? GOATS. Lots of little goats jumping all over us.
Yoga with Goats. Goga? Goga on. Super creative title. I know. You’re welcome.
Point is, Lola thinks it’s fun to try new things, and well Poppi and I should probably have our heads examined because we go along with whatever hairbrained plan she has.
I like to say we’ve gotten smarter, but this ...this right now...is insane.
“I’m pretty sure this goat just got to third base,” I whisper to Lola, trying to keep my yoga pose in check.
This is supposed to be a serene space. It’s got all the elements to make a person relax. Soft music. Beige walls. Hardwood flooring with blue yoga mats spaced equally around the place. Even the yoga teacher is the epitome of tranquility. Her name is Flower, I kid you not, and she has her hair piled into a wicked knot on the top of her head. Other yogis would be jealous.
“Close your eyes and work through the movements,” Flower purrs at the front of the class. “Now move into downward dog pose. Remember to make sure you don’t lose your goat.” Flower gives a sideways glance at Poppi. Her goat took off long ago and is now across the room eating a potted plant.
I stare at my goat, his big brown eyes stare back. “Please stay with me little guy,” I whisper as I move my body into downward facing dog while the goat balances perfectly on my ass.
You could say my goat and I have gotten pretty close.
“Now move into crab pose. Keep your goat steady.”
Sweat trickles down from my forehead as I glance at the teacher who glides into the pose with ease, her goat looking like he’s riding out the perfect wave. “Are you going to get your goat?” I ask Poppi.
Her mouth drops open as she scans the room, locating her goat. “Nah, he seems pretty happy over there.” She waves a hand, and then focuses her attention back on me. “Also, I still can’t believe you’re engaged, Kiki.”
I bite my lip, trying my best to keep my inner yogi at peace. “It’s not too soon is it?”
Poppi’s elbows hit the mat as she stops posing. “No, it’s like a dream come true. Henry’s perfect.”
I smile. “He is perfect, right?” I still can’t believe I’m getting married. Me. Kiki Kingsley is engaged.
And Henry really is just soooooo perfect.
Even the way he proposed was perfection. We’d only been dating a month, and he took me out to La Pearl. It’s the type of place where you have to call months and months in advance to get into. I’d always wanted to go. I was ecstatic that he asked me, and I remember spending hours finding the perfect dress. It was a hot little red number with matching shoes.
And then it happened.
It was a little cliche, but still so romantic.
He ordered champagne to the table, and there was an engagement ring in the glass. Shock doesn’t even cover the expression I wore on my face.
When I glanced over to him, he was on one knee, asking me to be Mrs. Henry Faniki. I never even knew his last name, and I was saying yes over and over before I had the chance to put the two together. Kiki Faniki. Yes, my name will rhyme.
“Just the name,” I breathe out, keeping my pose and goat stable.
“Kiki Faniki, the first woman on Mars. See it sounds more prestigious when you put it doing something important,” Lola says.
“Breathe,” Flower huffs, staring in our direction, obviously not very happy with us. “And no talking.”
“But, I’ll never go to Mars,” I whisper back.
“You never know that.”
“I think that’s one thing I can say for certain. Ugh, I can’t have a rhyming name.”
“Don’t take his last name,” Poppi offers.
I shake my head. “No, I’ve always dreamed of taking the last name of my husband.” I close my eyes, trying to find my center of gravity as the baby goat I’ve named Peter tries his best to stay on. He’s kind of cute. All black fur with big brown eyes. He almost…no, I can’t say that. I can’t even think it. But as the little goat stares back at me with his little triangular beard and big brown eyes, I can’t help thinking he looks a lot like Henry.
“Oh my god, my goat looks just like Henry,” I say to my friends.
Poppi laughs. “It’s just because you’re so in love. You’re seeing him everywhere you look.”
“So romantic,” Lola coos.
“It’s romantic that my fiance looks like a goat?”
“Girls, please,” Flower scoffs while moving into another pose, her body as bendy as Gumby.
We mimic her movements, trying not to laugh. I glance at my ring, the rock Henry proposed with. It shines and sparkles in all the right ways. I still can’t believe this is my life.
He told me he’d never met anyone like me before, and that he knew it was sudden, but he couldn’t stand living another day without me being his wife.
I about died of swoon fever (it’s a real condition, look it up) when he put the two-carat princess cut ring on my finger. I smile to myself, remembering back to the way his brown eyes centered on mine when he told me his five-year plan.
He said, “Marriage. Bang. Kids. Bang. Everything will fall into place with the perfect woman by my side. Then, I’ll make partner. Bang.’’
Me. The perfect woman.
We went home that night and made passionate love. Well, we would have, but Henry had had a bit too much champagne celebrating and passed out before the actual event of it all. But, it was still a perfect night.
“And just think, now you get to plan your own wedding,” Poppi says, getting back into the pose like Twisty-Curvy upfront who watches us with her evil eye.
Every girl has fantasized about their dream wedding since they were a little girl. And I am no exception to this rule. I want it to be right on the beach. I even know the spot, by the turtle sanctuary on Juno Beach where there’s a tunnel that leads from the parking lot, to the sand. You can’t be from Florida and not want a beach wedding. And yes, I want to walk out of the tunnel like walking down an aisle. I can almost see it. I close my eyes with a smile on my face as I try to picture it all with Henry.
“This goat is infatuated with my left boob,” Lola says, bringing me back to reality.
I pop open my eyes and try not to laugh as Lola tries to keep a crab pose steady as her own baby goat gnaws at her tank top.
“He thinks you’re his mother,” Poppi says as Flower gives her a nasty look. Poppi just glares right back at her.
“Well, I’m not.” Lola glances at the front of the class, trying to get the instructor’s attention, hoping she’ll stop class once she sees Lola’s goat sexually assaulting her.
And then it’s like everything takes a turn for the worse. As if the whole world explodes into slow motion. Poppi’s wandering goat tries to mount the Flower, and I try my best to stifle my laughter as she loses control and comes crashing down to her mat. “Will you please come get your goat,” she yells at Poppi.
Poppi stands and heads to the front of the class as quickly as she can.
I stop posing and hold Peter close to me.
But Lola has completely lost control of her animal, and he kicks his heels together and jumps off her. He’s been spooked and rushes to the front of the class, knocking over Flower and her goat.
It’s seriously like goats gone wild in here.
A few of the other goats trample around, trying to knock everyone and everything over in their path.
Peter bucks against my arms, and I can no longer hold him back.
And then the unimaginable happens. As if goats going crazy in a yoga studio isn’t bad enough, my engagement ring knocks loose, and Peter swallows it as I let out a howl.
“Noooooo. My goat ate my ring.” My squeals halt all the activity and everyone stands still, watching Peter with his little innocent face.
I can’t believe this is happening.
“Wow, goat yoga is intense,” Poppi says under her breath as the Flower looks like she could breathe out fire at any moment.
I think it goes without saying we all get kicked out. But, not until I’ve been assured by the farmer of the goats that we just have to wait a few days before I can get my ring back. Yes, you guessed it. I have to wait for a goat to poop out my engagement ring. I hope this isn’t an omen as to how my marriage will go.
Logan Chance is a USA Today and Top 20 Amazon Bestselling Author with a quick wit and penchant for the simple things in life: Star Wars, music, and smart girls who love to read. He was nominated best debut author for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2016. His works can be classified as Dramedies (Drama+Comedies), featuring a ton of laughs and many swoon worthy, heartfelt moments.