Chapter 6

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"Well?" Sandy's voice demanded the instant Gwyn put the phone to her ear. "How did the meeting with the wedding planner from hell go?"

Gwyn glanced at Gareth, who stood beside her at the counter, doling out scrambled eggs onto breakfast plates. The raised eyebrow and twitch of his lips assured her he'd heard her friend. Injecting a note of enthusiasm into her voice, she tried to contain the damage Sandy tended to wreak.

"It went really well," she said. "Celeste put together this amazing storyboard thing, and she and Carol walked us through the whole day. They've put together a stunning event."

Gareth snorted beside her. Sandy snorted in her ear.

"Let me guess—you can't talk right now, can you?"

Hands settled on Gwyn's shoulders, and Gareth steered her past the kids at the table and toward the sliding doors that opened onto the back yard. Gwyn allowed herself to be pushed outside. She sagged onto the stone step and waited for the door to close again.

"I can now," she told Sandy, "and it was awful. Lord, Sandy, you should see what she has planned! I've never seen so many flowers or lights or that much sparkle in my whole life. And the cake! Don't even get me started on the cake. It's as tall as Maggie. And a chocolate fountain? Really? And ice sculptures. Who even has ice sculptures at a wedding? She seems intent on spending every penny Gareth has, I swear..."

And on the tirade went, running the gamut from linens to music—a string quartet for the dinner hour and a highly regarded local band for the dance—and everything in between, until Gwyn stopped mid-sentence, realizing how she must sound. She groaned, cradling her forehead in her free hand, elbow resting on her knees. "Lord, you must think I'm all kinds of ungrateful shrew."

"Actually, I was working out our alibi and wondering where we could bury Celeste's body," her friend returned with equanimity.

Gwyn burst into laughter—the all-consuming, belly-deep, spirit-cleansing kind that left her gasping for air and wiping tears from the corners of her eyes. "Oh, Sandy," she managed as she trailed off into chortles. "Thank you for that. You have no idea how much I needed a laugh right now."

"Anytime, my friend. Anytime. And the burial offer holds, too."

Gwyn giggled again. "Lord, I love you."

"And I love you back. Which is why I'd like to see you survive this thing. What can I do to help?"

"You've already done it by letting me vent. It really isn't as bad as I make it out to be."

Sandy made a rude noise.

"It isn't," Gwyn insisted. "The kids are so excited about everything, and you should see how pleased Gareth looked when Celeste ran that storyboard thing by us yesterday. I'm just being a grump about it all."

"Sheer overwhelm will do that to you. As will not having any control over your own wedding day."

"I'm marrying Gareth Connor," Gwyn reminded her friend. "The Gareth Connor. This isn't my wedding day, it's half the world's. People expect a show. Gareth's friends expect a show. I knew what I was getting into when he proposed."

"Bollocks. Those are Accursed Angela's words, not yours."

"Sandy! She's his agent. She has his best interests at heart, and—"

"She has her own best interests even more at heart," Sandy grumbled.

"And it's only one day," Gwyn continued as if she hadn't heard. "If this is what Gareth wants, then I'm happy to let him have it."

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