Tethered Bond - Emma Hart

It’ll be a miracle if any of us make it out of this with guns unfired, cupcakes still frosted, and hearts intact…

“She did what?” The mug, still damp from the dishwasher, almost slips out of my hand, but I manage to keep hold of it. “You cannot be serious.”

“She bought a parrot.” Mom grimaces. “A loud, vile, obnoxious parrot named Gio with a penchant for yelling, ‘Ye bloody wench!’ every time I walk through the dang door.”

“Wait. She has a parrot with an Italian name that yells British curse words?” I close the cupboard and look at Mom, raising an eyebrow. “What is it? A super-European parrot or somethin’?”

She sighs, dropping into a chair and burying her face into her arms on my kitchen table. “I don’t even know, darlin’. A parrot!” She sits back upright, and her eyes are wide with frustration and surprise. “A dang parrot! Why does she need a parrot? Does she think no one hears her when she yells about-a her-a pasta? Or her zitella granddaughter?”

“Hey now!” I point a teaspoon at her, holding the cutlery rack with the other. “I am not a zitella. I am actually dating right now.”

“Yes, Noelle, I know. It’s all she’s talked about for a month.”

“Doesn’t she have anything better to talk about? Like, oh, her grandson getting married in three weeks?”

Yeah. Nonna insisted Devin and Amelia get married as soon as possible and dipped into her life savings to pull their nuptials forward. We all know exactly why she did it, and since Drake and I have now been officially dating for five whole weeks and are both still alive, she assumes we’re the next to get married.

Her confidence in our relationship amazes me. Especially when we’re not sure if we’ll even make it through the next six hours without bitching.

We’ve actually gone two days without fighting. Neither of us has said it out loud, mind you, because then we might jinx it. My passion has been solely directed at the increased visits from his ex-fiancée.

That’s partially my own fault. If I hadn’t have busted the mayor’s assistant for a double murder, Jessica never would have gotten the promotion from campaign manager and been handed the final power over everything for the Holly Woods’ Summer Fair. Since Drake is in charge of making sure police are on beat at all times, she’s found any and every excuse to see him about something.

The last one was a concern about the amount of goldfish potentially being sold.

Seriously.

I want to harpoon a goldfish up her ass.

There. I reduced the number already.

“Noelle, are you listening to me?”

“Sure, Mom.” I close the dishwasher. “I always listen to you.”

“The last time I believed that was, oh, never.” She rolls her eyes, and for a moment, she looks exactly like I imagine I do when I do that. How about that, huh? “Gio is helping her plan the wedding, apparently. Poor Amelia has been all but pushed aside while the crazy, old witch implements every Italian wedding tradition known to man.”

“Have you actually told her how insane she is for planning a wedding in such a short time? Does Amelia even have a dress?”

“Yes. And it isn’t Nonna approved.” Mom’s dark-blue eyes glitter as she tells me this. Which means Nonna hasn’t seen it yet or she’d already be giggling. “She has a fitting next week, and Nonna is finally allowed to go. It’s all paid for thanks to Amelia’s dad, so there isn’t a thing she can say about it.”

Yeah, right. There’s nothing she can do about it—but she’ll say freaking plenty.

I take a deep