Chapter 14

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Carol breezed back into the house at eight the next morning, agenda tucked under one arm and a take-out coffee cup in the other hand.

"We do have coffee here, you know." Gwyn closed the door behind her.

"Oh, trust me, I'll drink yours, too." Carol divested herself of handbag, keys, and sunglasses, dropping the lot onto the hall bench. "But I've been up since five, and there was no way I was waiting that long."

She took a deep breath and met Gwyn's gaze squarely. "You're still sure this is what you want to do? No minds changed overnight?"

"No change."

"Excellent. Then here's what we have." Carol handed Gwyn the coffee cup and flipped open her clipboard. "The party rental company is coming at ten to view the site and measure for the tent. You can choose your dishes and linens at the same time. Sean's chaplain friend will be by this evening at six to go over the ceremony with you. I have a new florist lined up that can do bouquets and boutonnières for you, but we're limited in what kinds of flowers we can use-I have a list-and we have to put the order in by noon. Oh" -she looked up from her notes- "and no centerpieces. The best they can do is give us a bunch of flowers. We'll have to arrange them ourselves. We can order vases from the party rental."

Gwyn blinked at her. "It's only eight in the morning-on a Monday. How in the world did you manage to pull together this much already?"

"Apart from calling in every favor ever owed to me? It helps that your future husband is being so generous."

A pang went through Gwyn. "That's the one downside to this, isn't it? The money..."

Carol patted her arm and took back her coffee.  "Honestly? It's less than it would be if we went ahead with Celeste's plan. Even losing your supplier deposits, you'll come out ahead. Way ahead."

"It was going to be that much?"

"More." Carol's face took on a sudden expression of panic. She shoved the cup back into Gwyn's hand again, then rifled through a sheaf of papers. "Hell, I almost forgot. The caterer. We need to have meal choices done by nine. Nothing as fancy as the Chateau, but-ah. Here it is." She tugged a paper free and presented it to Gwyn. "This is the menu. We've used him before, for smaller events, and he's a marvel. I couldn't believe he wasn't booked already. The gods are smiling on you, I swear. Now, there's chicken tenderloin braised in-"

"Carol?"

"Hm?"

"Would you maybe like to come in and sit down at the table?"

The coordinator's gaze lifted from the paper. She stared around herself, as if surprised to find they were still standing in the front hallway. "Oh. Yes, I suppose that would be a good idea, wouldn't it?"

Gwyn handed her coffee back to her for the second time and led the way to the kitchen. Nicholas, Maggie and Katie were all perched at the counter breakfast bar, and the aroma of blueberry pancakes wafted through the air, with Alwen cooking and Steffan keeping plates filled. Sandy, who had arrived with delighted squeals and massive bear hugs at seven a.m. sharp, had taken up residence beside Gareth at the dining room table, she with her laptop and Gareth with the guest list Carol had assigned before leaving the night before. Both looked up at their entrance, and Gareth waved the list aloft with a smile.

"Perfect timing," he said. "We've narrowed it down to forty-four. I'll make the calls this afternoon."

"I drafted a cancellation email this morning for the remainder." Carol tugged a paper from her clipboard. "If it meets your approval, I'll send it out the morning after the wedding."

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