“She’s over at her place, organizing her packing. Her lease is up at the end of the month and I want her moved in with me before then.” Logan smiled at his adorable little sister-in-law, Maggie. They had a special bond; she’d taken him under her wing when he’d first moved to the town where she and Sebastian still lived. He’d moved a couple times since then, but they seemed happy there, which was odd since Sebastian had always been one to move from town to town. Maggie was a settling influence on him. A school teacher and a semi-professional softball player, she also helped him run the sports uniform business he opened after their father sold the business he and his brothers had worked for all their lives. She had arrived in town this morning for a buyer’s meeting and he was taking her to lunch and hoped Ronnie would meet them there.
“How excited is my soon-to-be sister-in-law?” Maggie asked him, looking around his office curiously. He realized that she’d never been there before. Most of his family hadn’t, though. He’d just moved here a few months ago, ready to start a new life in a new place and settled in as if he’d been here all his life. It just felt like home here.
Logan sighed, “It comes and goes. She can’t wait for her big day, and then she’s all upset because it’s coming too fast and she has so much to do.”
“Too fast?” Maggie smiled. “Yeah, big weddings are a lot of work. I liked my nice simple little wedding.”
“Yours was nice,” Logan said. “Wish we could have a small wedding in your folks’ back yard and a BBQ after. Unfortunately, Ronnie is…” He paused.
“Ronnie likes nice things,” Maggie supplied, kindly.
“I was going to say she’s over the top often.”
“But you like that,” she said.
“Most of the time,” he agreed.
“Is she going to meet us for lunch, for sure?” Maggie picked up her purse and grabbed her jacket.
“That’s the plan, but who knows. I do know I told her to be there half an hour ago, so maybe she will show up before we’re finished. You going to have time to go dress shopping with her this afternoon? She’s looking forward to it.” Logan opened the door and Maggie went out into the warm spring sunshine in front of him.
“You told her to be there half an hour ago?” She giggled up at him.
“She likes to make a dramatic late entrance,” Logan opened her car door and took her arm as she settled into her seat. “I’ve found it’s just easier to be proactive a lot of times.”
“You have yourself a handful,” Maggie said. He smiled and shut her door.
Getting into his own car, Logan headed toward the little tavern where he and Ronnie had first met. Maggie followed behind him in her car since she was leaving for the airport right after dress shopping.
“She’s an adorable handful, though,” he thought. “Most of the time anyway.”
Ronnie looked at the clock and gave a little shriek. She was supposed to meet Logan and Maggie for lunch half an hour ago. Maybe they were running late, too? What were the odds of that? Logan was never late for anything. She hoped they went ahead and ordered, because she wanted to get a running start on dress shopping this afternoon. She grabbed her purse, then paused. No, she needed to change her underwear. If she was gown shopping she didn’t want bra straps showing. Hurrying into the bedroom, she thought about changing panties, too. Panty lines were a thing and she didn’t want that. However, on the probable chance she still had a bruise or two on her butt from the ‘explaining’ Logan did last night, she didn’t dare change into something less revealing. Was she the only future bride who bought granny panties instead of sexy thongs to wear? Probably. Why did she put up with that? Pushing that thought out of her head, she hurried to get finished dressing.
Heels: should she wear the same height heels that she would be wearing? Or would they do alterations? They would do alterations, she assured herself. No reason to worry, but why not wear some really nice shoes? Of course, that was all she owned, but which really nice pair went with this outfit? Slipping her shirt off over her head, she felt grateful for not packing her clothes yet. Moving this weekend was out of the question. She had talked Logan out of that, thank goodness, well, she thought she had, anyway. Plus she simply didn’t have time for a whirlwind wedding. Why was Logan so adamant about rushing it? A year out, now that was time to plan a wedding! A destination wedding would have been wonderful. Somewhere warm and sandy but realistically, high heels in the sand weren’t practical, and no way would she be getting married in her bare feet! It wasn’t seemly and besides, she just didn’t want to. She loved her heels.
Fastening her strapless bra, she pulled on her favorite sundress, and ran her fingers through her bright blue streaked hair. As soon as she picked out her dress and decided colors for her wedding, she would decide what color her hair would be. The one thing she knew, her hair would coordinate with her bouquet. Wistfully, she longed for a mother, or a sister, or even just a best friend to help out with all the stuff. Logan had promised her a wedding coordinator and Ronnie decided she would pout until he came through. It was just too much for her by herself. He needed to find her some help if he insisted on this timeline. He could do that. He should do that. He owed her.
Purse? There, by the door. Flinging it over her shoulder, she rushed to the car and hit her GPS. Logan knew she loved that little tavern where they first met. They made the best Long Island Iced Tea there, and she planned to have at least two before she and Maggie went dress shopping. It would make the entire afternoon better. It would make everything better!
Her car aimed itself, almost, toward their destination and she sighed. How late was she? Less than an hour, the GPS kindly informed her. Hopefully, that was all and, she squirmed on her still sore bottom, Logan wouldn’t be too upset. Maggie was with him. He loved Maggie, and she felt a pang of jealousy that she pushed down. Maggie was married to Logan’s brother, six-foot-four, two-hundred-forty pound Sebastian. No way would Logan and Maggie be, well, close. He loved her like a sister, she assured herself, and she was grateful Maggie was going to be her sister and go shopping with her today. Ronnie didn’t want Logan to see her dress, and since she had no family to go with her, well, Maggie was a good substitute for it. Wishing for the mother who passed when she was born, didn’t help anything. Her grandmother who helped raise her was gone, too. Even her nanny… she didn’t have much luck with women in her life, she realized. Even her friends had faded away since she moved. That might be her fault since she wasn’t good at keeping in touch either.
Pulling into the parking lot, she hurried toward the door. Once inside, she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders in her strapless sundress and breezed in as if she owned the place. “Hi, hon!” she announced to the hostess. “I’m here to meet, oh, there they are! Thanks, hon.” She walked to the booth where Logan and Maggie sat, with full plates in front of them. “How are you both?” She beamed as if she weren’t late. Never apologize, she learned from her father. They should be grateful for your presence. Mostly people seemed to be.
“We are eating,” Logan said, standing up so she could slide in the seat and he sat back down after her. “You are late.”
“Hi, Maggie,” she ignored him, as he deserved. Why state the obvious? “I’m so happy you have a bit of spare time to come with me today.”
“I’m on spring break from school, and luckily happened to be in town for a buyer’s convention. Sebastian sent me up yesterday. I’m just glad it’s over and my plane doesn’t leave until tonight.” Maggie forked her salad. “So I’m very happy to go shopping with you. Do you have reservations?”
Ronnie nodded and then motioned to the waitress, “Just a Long Island Iced Tea, please.”
“And a loaded baked potato,” Logan said, then looked at her sternly. “You need something in your stomach besides alcohol before you go out.”
“What I need is to not be bloated, and you know I was planning to Uber,” Ronnie tossed her dangling earrings at him.
“I can drive to the store, and then she can Uber home while I leave for the airport,” Maggie said. “Logan, let her be, we are planning some fun today!”
Logan picked up his burger and took a big bite. Ronnie gave him the side eye and hoped the waitress would bring her that drink sooner rather than later. Playfully, she poked him. “Yeah, fun. You remember fun, right?”
Chewing slowly, he turned and stared at her. “I do, and I want you and Maggie to have some today. I’m going to be interviewing wedding planners today, so hopefully both of us will be a little less stressed out soon.”
Ronnie flung her arms around him. “Thank you! Thank you so much. That is going to be such a help!”
“I know, and don’t forget you have that manager meeting at seven in the morning, so don’t have too much fun today. It is mandatory and you are leading it, so I hope you have your itinerary planned.”
Ronnie bit her lip and hoped she didn’t ruin her lipstick. “I do,” she lied through her glossy pink lips, the color was called Eccentric and Logan had laughed when he heard it. Thankfully her drink arrived and she took a long pull, and once again, felt the fire and warmth flow through her. This.
“Bring me another as soon as you get a chance,” she told the girl.
“Anything else?” the waitress asked as she picked up the salad plates from the table.
“I’m good,” Maggie said, “thank you.”
“We have a bit before we have to go shopping,” Ronnie said. “You might as well have a drink.”
Maggie laughed. “I’m in training. Pre-season starts next week and I’m planning to go to nationals this year. I’ve cut off alcohol for a while.”
Cut off alcohol. Ronnie took a long sip and shut her eyes as the alcohol flowed through her. Yeah, this was not something she wanted to cut off. What would be the point of it? Alcohol made her feel stronger. Better. More than. She liked the way it made her feel. What would it be like to feel that way without it? No one really understood how she felt. Not even Logan and he knew a lot about her. More than she was comfortable with sometimes. But he didn’t know the real her, the anxious, insecure her. He just had a glimpse now and then.
Running her fingers through her hair, and squaring her shoulders, she took the second drink from the waitress, pushed the baked potato in front of Logan and said as brightly as she could, “While you are hiring wedding planners, could you find me a mover? I’m just overwhelmed with everything right now. Plus you keep making me work, on top of wedding planning and moving.”
Logan stuck his fork in the potato and held it up to her mouth. “Bite.”
Putting down her glass, she reluctantly opened her mouth but glared at him. “I’m not hungry,” she said after she swallowed.
“Does that matter?” Logan said and she almost smiled back at his grin, but instead took the fork he was aiming at her mouth, again, from him and took the bite.
“Fine, I’ll eat a bit,” she said. “If you want a fat bride, you can have one.”
“I’ll give you some workouts, maybe I’ll send you to training with Maggie,” he said as she took another bite, just to make him happy. She was so having another drink at the dress shop. She heard they had free champagne and she really could use some. Nothing was better than bubbles in your nose when you were stressed.
“You are so good to me,” she took one more bite and stacked her plate on Maggie’s discarded one, a few minutes later, then picked up what was left of her drink. “Can we dump him and go buy a dress?”
“We sure can!” Maggie said, standing up. “Thank you for lunch, Logan. I’m sure I’ll see you sooner rather than later.”
“Be safe, text me when you get home and tell Bastien I said to call me soon.” Logan motioned for the bill, and gave Ronnie a look she didn’t appreciate. “I will see you at your house at six tonight. I’ll have Tyler come pick up your car and drive it home. You Uber anywhere you want to go the rest of the day, understand?”
Ronnie almost came back at him with a smart answer about how she hadn’t been arrested yet, but remembered her court date, that he knew nothing about, coming up in a week. A few months back she had a small altercation with a police officer at one of her stores. He, she ran her fingers through her hair, had been belligerent? Yes! Well, she had never told Logan about it, and hoped she would never have to. Just a fine she’d quietly pay and go on with her life, she hoped. Taking another long draw of her drink she decided to do a Scarlett O’Hara and think about it another day. Today she was going wedding dress shopping.
Leaning over, she gave Logan a quick cheek peck and wondered again when he would make love to her. Was he waiting for the wedding night? Was that the rush? If so, that worked for her, despite never having a really good sex life with her first husband, she was oddly anxious to try it with him, but yet also reluctant because what if it was bad? She wanted safely married before they consummated as ridiculous as that sounded. That way if it was bad, she would have all his money to comfort her. Somehow she really thought she’d be having the best of both worlds, though. Except he didn’t seem inclined to let her quit work. She’d brought it up a few times, but got shut down pretty quickly. Of course, she’d need an allowance, because there might be a few credit cards he didn’t know about that she’d like to get paid off. Or she could just let her new husband pay them off for her, so she could run them up again. Now there was a plan. Seriously, what could he do, spank her for them? It wasn’t like he was shy about doing that way too often, after all.
Brightly, she turned to Maggie, who was driving and gave her the address, which she spoke into her navigating system. “Don’t you have fancy toys!” Ronnie said. She wanted one!
“Sebastian spoils me,” Maggie said. “But this is a rental. I picked it up the other day at the airport when I flew in. I don’t like to rely on other people to drive me where I want to go.”
“Oh, I don’t mind that at all,” Ronnie confided. “I feel freer when I know I don’t have to drive. I can do anything I want, shop or have a few drinks, and not have to worry about getting the packages in my trunk or getting home. It’s suddenly someone else’s issue.” She liked having people. People to do for her and take the load of life off her shoulders. It was one of the many perks of money. She loved money.
Maggie laughed, “I could see the advantage in that, I guess. We don’t really have Uber in my small town, though. Occasionally one or two pop up, but they don’t get enough customers to stay in business.”
Small town life! She lived in a small town for a while, Blizzard, South Dakota which was about a hundred miles north of where she grew up in a much larger town. “I never liked small town living,” she confided to Maggie. “I moved to one with my first husband and honestly, the fact everyone knew everyone and there were so few amenities, weirded me out.”
“I rather enjoy it. But sometimes it’s fun to come to the big city and shop. You nervous about the wedding and the dress?” Maggie asked her.
“A little. It feels so rushed. I want to enjoy the process.”
Actually she was just excited. There was nothing to be nervous about. Logan was hiring her a wedding planner and hopefully a mover, a mover who would pack. She didn’t have time to pack. If both those things happened, then she could relax a little. There were very few issues that throwing some money at it couldn’t solve, she’d found. As to the dress, well, these people were here to serve her. This high end shop was her kind of place, where she felt in her element. They knew how to treat people, she thought as they approached the door and it was instantly held open for them and a tray of fluted glasses full of what she knew was very good bubbly was held out to them.
“Welcome to Maurice’s,” a very well-dressed woman said to them. “I’m Deborah, and I’ll be helping you pick out your wonderful bridal gown today. You must be Veronica, and this is?”
“My future sister-in-law, Maggie,” Ronnie said, relaxing in the moment.
“Come in and we will have a little chat and then try on some dresses,” Deborah led them down a short aisle full of beautiful white gowns.
“Who did you wear for your wedding?” she asked Maggie.
“I wore my mother’s dress that my grandmother made for her,” Maggie said. “It just needed a little bit of alteration.”
“That sounds lovely,” Ronnie tried to sound sincere. Hand-me-down dress for a wedding? The biggest day in a woman’s life? No thank you! Nothing off the rack either. She wanted, and deserved, a designer gown and hopefully she would know just the one when she saw it. She sipped her drink. Perfect. But then good champagne was the perfect drink, and she needed to find a dress that she felt perfect in for her perfect day.
“When is your wedding, and what are your colors and your theme for your wedding?” Deborah asked as she settled them into very comfy chairs in front of several full-length mirrors and a small stage Ronnie wanted to be standing on in her dress, already. What did it matter colors and themes when the dress, of course, would be white. Well, maybe a few subtle accents of the color she chose.
“Well, hon, the wedding is late July and it’s March already, so we don’t have much time,” Ronnie leaned forward to confide, “my fiancé just can’t wait. He set the date. I would have preferred a Christmas wedding, at the earliest, or preferably one next summer, but he insisted.”
“He must be very anxious to make you his,” Deborah cooed.
Was he? She wasn’t sure why he wanted such a rushed wedding, but he’d set the date and since he was paying for most all of it, well, she could go along. She was easy to get along with! Ask anyone!
“Tell me a little bit about what kind of dress you are looking for,” Deborah asked.
In response, Ronnie held out her hand to show off her engagement ring. One large diamond, offset with sapphires and emeralds sprinkled on the sides. “I want bigger and more,” she said. Yes, for the entire wedding.
“Ball gown? Mermaid? Sheath?”
“I just want to try on a bunch of dresses and see what I think,” Ronnie said, almost wishing that Logan were here to help out. He had good taste and was decisive. She knew she wouldn’t be able to decide anything today probably. But, hey, pretty dresses, champagne and an afternoon off from Logan demanding that she work. Could it be much better? Running her fingers through her blue tipped hair, she smiled at Maggie. “Tell me true what you think!”
As she walked toward the dressing rooms, she heard Maggie say, “Oh, I will. I will.”
Ronnie squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. She was going to rock every single one of these dresses. Taking another swig of her champagne she held her glass out to the woman and said, “Fill me up, would you? I need a little liquid courage for this.”
Logan looked up from his computer as Tyler, his assistant, buzzed him. “The wedding planner is here”
“You mean my first interview?”
Tyler laughed. “No, boss. That is not what I mean.”
Cocking his head, Logan said, “Send her back.”
He stood up and walked around his desk to open the door for his, no matter what Tyler said, first wedding planner interview. He’d set up three of them for today. Ronnie was a force to be reckoned with and it would take a special someone to handle her needs He had a way to handle her, but he’d seen her run roughshod over too many people. Often she was unknowingly just over the top. She didn’t mean to be, he knew, but she just was the type if you gave her an inch, she’d take the entire ruler and demand another one.
“Mr. Jones. I’m Katrina Nelson.” He shook the hand of the small woman who came in quietly, yet very confidently. Her long blonde hair was plaited down her back, almost touching her waist and her dark eyes flashed with something he could not quite understand behind her huge eyeglasses. “I’m here to plan your wedding.”
“Yes.” He instantly agreed with Tyler and wasn’t quite sure why. “Yes, you are. Call me Logan.”
“Thank you, Logan, I’m Katrina. Now, let’s start with the basics.”
He could not stop staring at her and needed his brain to kick in gear. “Okay. What do you need to know?”
“When is your wedding and what have you done?” She flipped up her laptop as if she were interviewing him—no, as if she already had the job. Why did he think she did? What was with her? She had some kind of odd presence that just made him want to trust her.
“Last Saturday in July. My fiancée is picking out her wedding dress now, and that is all we have done.” He shook his head. What was going on?
“So I’m starting from scratch.” She sighed heavily, while inputting on the keyboard. “When will I be able to meet the bride?”
“Tonight? Tomorrow? When is good for you?”
“As soon as possible.” She shut her laptop and looked at him, smoldering dark eyes cutting through him. “Don’t waste my time again. I need to see both of you together within the next twenty-four hours. I sent you my contract via email. I strongly suggest you read it and have it signed before we meet again. I put my minimum requirements in there, including budget, make sure you agree to them, please.” Standing up, she turned to him. “Oh, and I will take every wedding burden off you and the bride, after I get some basic information and decisions from you both. As soon as we meet, you have no more worries than performing on the honeymoon, which I will also arrange. The honeymoon, not the performance.” She flashed him a quick smile that totally changed her demeanor and he was taken aback. “Call me as soon as you arrange a time for the bride to be here. I’ll clear my schedule for you.”
She almost glided out of the room and Logan watched until she was gone then his fingers found the speed dial on his phone, before he even realized what he was doing. His twin knew though because he picked up saying, “No.”
“Not my fault.”
“I met her.”
“You coming tomorrow, Lucas?”
“You won’t be sorry”
“You suck. I wasn’t ready.”
Logan hung up, grinning. He had just met the woman his twin would marry. No more bachelor until the rapture for any of them. He just hoped Katrina wasn’t married already. That would be awkward. Too bad he hadn’t asked.
“Tyler, go ahead and cancel the rest of the appointments, would you please?”
“Already done, boss. Am I smart or what?”
Logan laughed. What else could he do?