Chapter 4

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“Gwynneth!” Celeste Dubois exclaimed in delight when Gwyn pulled open the door at ten a.m. precisely.

“Celeste,” Gwyn replied, accepting the customary French Canadian greeting of a kiss on each cheek—or in the wedding planner’s case, air-kisses accompanied by an exaggerated mwah! sound. She stepped back from the claw-like clutch on her shoulders. “Punctual as always.”

“One has to be organized in my business,” Celeste trilled. Daintily, she picked her way into the front entry, sidestepping a picnic basket and beach toys piled in front of the closet. “Doing a family outing today?”

“We thought we’d take the kids to—”

“A lovely idea! And such a nice day for it. As long as they stay out of our way for the meeting. We have a lot of details to go over. Your special day is coming up fast!” Celeste patted Gwyn’s cheek. “Speaking of, we should get down to it. I hope the groom will be joining us?”

“Of course. He’s in the kitchen getting some iced tea for—”

“Excellent. I’ll just go through and say hello, shall I?”

Gwyn watched the petite brunette in the flirty floral sundress sashay down the hallway. She closed her eyes. Yup. There it was, just behind her temples. The subtle but unmistakable headache that accompanied every meeting with Celeste. She gave an inward sigh. Although, to be fair, Celeste wasn’t the only trigger. The entire wedding was to blame.

A fairy tale come true, the tabloids were calling it. The event of the year, said the local newspapers, with more Hollywood personalities about to descend on the city over one weekend than had visited in all of Ottawa’s history. Personalities Gwyn would have to meet, greet, and endure speculation from. Two hundred guests in total, along with a cake as tall as Katie, white-gloved waiters at one of the top venues in Ottawa, a bridal bouquet so large Gwyn wasn’t sure she could carry it the full length of the aisle, and—

The sound of a throat being cleared penetrated her panic. Opening her eyes again, she turned to find Celeste Dubois’ assistant on the porch, laden with so many things that it took a moment to locate the face among the objects.

“Carol!” Gwyn exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there.”

Carol Pal gave her a cheerful grin. “Not to worry. I’m used to working in Celeste’s shadow. Is there somewhere I can set this stuff down?”

“Of course. Come in. Do you need a hand?”

The diminutive assistant staggered into the front hallway. “If you could just take the box off the top?”

Gwyn removed the most precariously balanced carton from Carol’s load and pointed her in the direction of the living room. “Just set everything on the couch—the kids have gone to the park with our sitter, so I thought we’d sit in here where there’s more room for Celeste’s…”

She trailed off. While she and Carol had formed an almost instant rapport, Celeste was still Carol’s boss. Dividing the poor woman’s loyalties would be decidedly unkind. But unfazed, Carol grinned again.

“Celeste’s theatrics?” she suggested. “Gotcha. And good call, because she’s outdone herself this time.”

She plunked down boxes, bags, a huge leather portfolio case, and a wooden easel onto the sofa, then stood back to survey the lot with a satisfied nod. “Good. I managed not to break anything.”

Gwyn surrendered the box she’d carried in. “What is all this?”

“A wedding story.” Carol’s voice came back, muffled by the voluminous length of shiny voile fabric she’d pulled from the carton.

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