Chapter 22 : The Wedding Planners

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Katelin's POV

"Marcus, darling, you're looking as delicious as ever," Bastien Jordan purrs as he offers his hand. He's a tall Black man in a finely tailored grey and white striped shirt and grey pants.

There's a faint blush on Marcus's cheeks but he gives Bastien's hand a firm shake. "Thank you," he says. "You're looking very fine yourself." Resting his other hand on the small of my back, he adds, "I'd like you to meet Kate, the bride."

Bastien's dark eyes regard me critically and not without a little hint of surprise. "Mrs. Marin, a pleasure to meet you."

I shake his offered hand. "Ms. Berano," I correct him. "But please call me Kate." Lifting my chin in challenge, I smile. Bastien doesn't seem like the kind of man who had any use for meekness in either friends or clients.

"Of course." His eyes sparkle. "My apologies. It's very lovely to meet you, Kate."

"Kate, darling!"

A man in a cream-colored suit, with a peach-colored shirt open at the throat, and a large boutonnière of rose buds on his lapel, came bounding into the room. He heads straight to me, his pleasant round face beaming and his arms outstretched as though we were long-lost friends. I laugh as he hugs me and kisses me on both cheeks. "Hi!" I say, breathless.

"My husband and business partner, Jaxson," Bastien says dryly.

"Oh, you are adorable," Jaxson gushes, a hand on his chest. "I was so excited to know we would be creating your wedding day." He takes a deep, dramatic breath, pressing his palm on his chest. "Jaxson Liang. I'm Filipino, too."

"Oh." It was all I could say. I never knew what to say whenever someone told her they were Filipino. "Er, I grew up in Brooklyn."

"I'm a Virginia boy. Until I meet Bastien here." He grabs his husband's arm and squeezes it. "We're going to have so much fun!"

We spend the next few hours discussing ideas for the wedding venue (Raul's parish was happy to make room for them in their schedule), the reception (they knew a place that was suddenly free in September, owing to the groom having a minor but unfortunate plastic surgery accident that made them move their wedding date to next year), flowers, catering, the wedding trousseau. Jaxson does most of the talking, his arms gesturing excitedly. Bastien scribbles notes on a tablet.

Marcus observes us while relaxing on a couch. He doesn't say anything but listens intently, only occasionally getting up and pacing around the office to stretch his long legs. One hour in, I catch his eye. I raise my eyebrows inquiringly. You bored yet?

He shakes his head solemnly. There's a thoughtful look on his face. For a second, I wonder if he's paying attention to the proceedings to distract himself from something else occupying his thoughts.

I want to ask him about it. Later, perhaps. Because currently my mind is filled with wedding plans, with Jaxson's contagious enthusiasm making me feel giddy at the thought of my big day.

"Why don't you have dinner with us tonight?" I ask Marcus as we drive away from Bastien and Jaxson's office after wrapping up the meeting. I felt I had to thank them profusely for agreeing to meet us on a Sunday and on such short notice.

Marcus hesitates for a brief moment before shaking his head. "Sorry, I've already made plans," he says.

I have to bite back the question that pops into my head: With Gigi?

"Maybe some other time," he adds.

"You sure?" I don't bother to hide my disappointment. "It's the least I could do for everything you did for me today." Grabbing his hand, I squeeze it. "You saved my life, you know."

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