Chapter 1

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Jessica Hadley smiled at her mother in the mirror.

"The tiara was a good idea, wasn't it?" she said. Her mother, dressed in a pale blue skirt suit, with a white hat perched on her head, nodded. "You look so lovely my dear. I don't know how I'm going to stop myself crying." She turned around and looked upwards, blinking rapidly.

Felicity, Jessica's younger sister, who was standing still, in case she creased her pink bridesmaid gown, reached over and gave her mother a tissue.

"You can't start crying yet. Can you imagine the mother of the bride turning up with black mascara streaks down her cheeks? Wait until she is walking down the aisle."

Jessica's mother peered in the mirror and dabbed her eyes with the tissue.

Jessica stood up to give her some room. She walked over to the window and looked outside at the courtyard of the stately home where her wedding was due to take place in less than an hour. It was a glorious June day. "Perfect weather for the best day of my life," she thought. The chairs were lined up in rows facing a makeshift altar. Some guests were already sitting in the chairs, soaking up the early summer sun. Jessica could see others standing in the shade of the giant oak tree. She instinctively looked for James, but couldn't see him.

"He'll still be up in the room with the boys," she thought. "I wonder if he's feeling as nervous as I am." She resisted the urge to wipe her sweaty palms on her dress and took a tissue to wipe them on instead.

Felicity walked over to her. "Your tiara has slipped. Let me fix it." Jessica stood still as Felicity fiddled with the tiara, fastening it to Jessica's long blonde hair, dyed a few shades lighter for the wedding. The hairdresser had braided her hair into a bun which sat just above her neckline. "There, I don't think it will move now," said Felicity. "If it falls off, don't blame me, though." She looked at her sister and smiled. "Just think, in an hour, you'll be Mrs James Barker. Are you nervous?"

Jessica smiled. "Yeah I am. I'm not so nervous about being Mrs Barker though. I'm more worried about going over on these huge heels as I walk down the aisle. I can just see one of them snapping and me breaking my ankle."

"Don't worry, Dad will be holding on to you. He won't let you fall."

There was a knock at the door.

"It's me. Can I come in?" called a voice.

"Speak of the devil," said Felicity. "Yeah come in Dad," she called.

The door opened slowly, and Mike put his head around the door. His eyes remained on the floor as he said, "Julie, can I have a word?"

Jessica's mother, who was sitting at the mirror reapplying mascara, looked at him and said, "Can't it wait? I'm busy."

"No, it can't wait," said Mike.

Julie sighed and put her mascara wand back in its case. She walked out of the room closing the door behind her.

Jessica grinned at Felicity. "I wonder what Dad wants to talk about? I bet it's something to do with walking me down the aisle. I bet he's worried about messing up."

"Well, at least he'll have had some practice before my wedding. I'd rather he messed up at yours than mine."

Jessica laughed. "If we weren't all dressed up I'd throw something at you for that Fliss."

The door opened and Julie walked in. The two sisters stared at their mother. They could see their father, waiting behind the door.

"What's wrong?" asked Jessica. Julie looked like she had just been told there had been a death in the family. She walked over to Jessica and put her arms around her shoulders.

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