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Authors: Marcia Evanick

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BOOK: A Misty Harbor Wedding
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“Matt, I don't want to rain on your parade, but she'll be leaving come Labor Day.” Ned gave him a sympathetic smile.
“You don't think I know that?” he snapped as he left the kitchen and joined the party.
 
 
Sierra walked the yard in silence; studying every angle. She could hear Norah and her mother behind her arguing about something, but she tuned out the volume of their voices until it sounded like a bee droning. She learned that little secret years ago. Without getting her own bearings first, she wouldn't be able to come up with solutions to the growing list of problems.
And the list was long and various.
Norah and Ned's wedding was a little over two weeks away, and as far as she could tell, the entire event was a disaster waiting to happen. The good news was that the wedding party consisted of four people, and that included the bride and groom. Matt was going to be the best man, and Norah's college roommate was to be the maid of honor. Matt and Ned both had purchased new suits for the occasion. Norah's dress was ordered, fitted, and guaranteed to be ready on time. The maid of honor was bringing her own gown of pale pink. Beyond that, nothing was settled.
Sierra looked around the yard of Joanna and Norah's cottage. The small house was right next door to Matt's parents. On the plus side, the yard was large enough to hold an outside wedding, which was what Ned and Norah wanted. On the minus side, the yard wasn't what she would call landscaped. Someone had started some nice gardens, but that was as far as he or she had gotten—the starting point. The yard had a long way to go to match any of those pictures Norah and her mother had marked or ripped out of the countless magazines they had shown Sierra earlier.
“Who's the gardener?” She had seen enough. Now it was time to offer up some solutions.
“I am,” answered Joanna, Norah's mom. “When we first moved here in June, I started to play a little bit with the yard, but I didn't manage to get very far.”
“Karl swept her off her feet, and the next thing I knew my mom's married and has left home.” Norah grinned at her mom and teased, “Of course Karl's gardens look wonderful.”
“How was I supposed to know that you had your heart set on a garden wedding?” Joanna looked upset and frazzled.
“Mom, it's okay.” Norah hugged her mom. “We'll think of something.”
“How many guests are invited?” Sierra didn't waste time worrying about things that couldn't be changed. The past was one of them.
“Between two hundred fifty and three hundred.” Norah looked shocked as she quoted that figure. “Ned said the entire town is going to show up.”
Matt's mom and sisters-in-law joined them. “That's right, Norah. There will be no stopping it. Ned was born and raised here. He knows everyone.”
“But that will mean the bride's side will have only a handful of people.” Joanna looked distressed. “We have only about a dozen relatives coming in, and a few friends Norah has made at work.”
“Then why have a bride's side and a groom's side?” She looked at Norah. “A garden wedding isn't as formal as a church one. You don't have to have sides.”
Norah looked intrigued.
“Besides, who's going to seat them? You don't have any ushers, just Matt as the best man. It would take Matt a long time to properly seat three hundred people.”
“I always thought the bride's side versus the groom's side was stupid,” Jill said. “At our wedding we had people who were friends with both of us, and they had no idea which side to take.”
“Taking sides does sound ridiculous,” added Kay. “You go to a wedding for the whole couple, not just half.”
Norah grinned. “Okay, no sides. So how do we set up the chairs?”
“I was thinking over there.” Ned's mom pointed to the left.
“I thought over here would be better.” Norah's mom pointed to the right.
“What about there?” Kay waved her hand toward the very back of the yard.
Norah's gaze bounced from person to person. The bride-to-be looked confused, rattled, and ready to elope.
“I have a question,” Sierra said calmly. “Norah, do you still want the arbor with all the climbing roses as the center stage where you and Ned will exchange your vows?”
“Ned and I both love that idea, but I don't see how we can do it.” Norah glanced around the yard. Only two rose bushes were in bloom, and neither was over three feet high.
“Let's pretend we can get an arbor and the roses. Where would you like to see it set up?”
“Over in the far corner of the property.” Norah pointed to the corner where their property met Ned's parents'. It was filled with trees and bushes. “If it was set up in front of the trees, they would act as a lovely green backdrop, and the guests wouldn't have a view of the other neighbors' fences and backyards.”
She smiled. “Perfect.” It was where she would have put it. “You place the arbor, arch, altar—or whatever you want to call it—and then set the chairs up so they are all facing it.”
“Ummm . . . Sierra, you're forgetting one thing,” Norah said with a smile. “We don't have an arbor, arch, fence, or even a tepee that roses or any other plant could climb up.”
“Arbors and roses are easy.” She grinned at Norah. If there was ever a woman in love, she was standing right in front of her. “It's that true love part that's a little more difficult to come by. Enjoy it.”
“If only Ned would wait until next summer. I can have this garden blooming like crazy.” Joanna looked at the yard in dismay. “Norah and Ned both want a garden wedding, and I have no idea where to even begin.”
“They should get married in the church,” said Jill. “Then we can have some flowers brought in to give it that garden feel. They can even have the reception in the social hall or down at the fire hall.”
“Ned said I have till the middle of August to pull this together,” Norah added, “or he's kidnapping me and taking me to Las Vegas to get married by an Elvis impersonator.” Norah shuddered at the thought.
Sierra laughed. “Then I suggest we get moving.”
“We?” Norah raised a brow.
“We, if you want my help.” No one in Misty Harbor knew her, so she couldn't blame them for being cautious. “I'm an excellent expediter, and I can delegate like nobody's business.”
“But you're on vacation,” Joanna said.
“This is a vacation to me.” She wasn't about to tell them the real reason she was spending a month in Misty Harbor. Once people found out she was scouting the area for a major hotel, the truth was harder for her to see. Everyone started having agendas. People had strong opinions on whether they wanted to see a hundred fifty–room elegant hotel go up in their town. Either they would be profiting from the extra tourist trade and employment or they would be losing business, losing their employees, and losing their small town. Once a Randall Hotel went up, Misty Harbor would cease to be a small town.
Things would change. She was aware of the fact that most people didn't like change.
“You wouldn't mind helping?” Norah seemed thrilled with the thought.
“Of course not. I volunteered, didn't I?” She was practically knocked to the ground when Norah threw herself at her. Norah was an itty-bitty thing, but if you added all the weight of her jewelry, she weighed as much as Flipper, Ned's Newfoundland.
“Have you ever planned a wedding before?” Joanna asked.
“No, but I've attended many, and my best friend is a wedding planner. Lianna's in L.A. right now, but she'll help us.” The Randall Hotel Corporation had Lianna on a retainer for when important guests needed that particular service. Either Lianna came personally, or she worked closely with the event coordinator at the hotel.
“Do you really think we can pull this together?” Norah looked hopeful. “I really don't want to get married by a guy in a white sequined jumpsuit.”
“We can't find a caterer,” Peggy Porter said.
“None of them will take on a big affair on such short notice.” Joanna picked up Zsa Zsa, who had come running across the yard.
“I suggested the women's guild at the church, but every one of them has been invited to the wedding,” Jill said.
Kay added, “No one wants to miss the reception.”
“What if it rains?”
“We can't find a band.”
“We found a place that rents tables and chairs, but they don't have tents.”
“What about a DJ?”
“We need a bridal bouquet and centerpieces.”
“What about a bar? Who's going to be serving drinks?” Peggy asked.
The questions and complaints were coming fast and furious. Sierra looked at Norah. The poor gal looked shell-shocked and ready to cry.
“Stop!” Sierra raised her hand and her voice. “We're upsetting Norah.”
Everyone looked at the bride-to-be and started to apologize. Sierra shook her head and tried not to laugh. Not one constructive thing with the upcoming wedding had been accomplished, and they had been talking about it for hours. Before dinner, during dinner, and now after dinner, the entire conversation had been about Ned and Norah's wedding. The men of the family figured all they had to do was show up for the ceremony and enjoy themselves. The females were all running around like Chicken Little with the sky about to fall.
She reached for Norah's hand and pulled her from the mob. “Norah, do you trust me to help? I know pulling a wedding together in two weeks is a challenge, but I'm up for it. Plus I have a whole bunch of free time.” She was more than up for the challenge. She needed a challenge.
“You really don't mind?” Norah wiped at a lone tear. “I think we could use your help.”
“I would love to.” Sierra felt the thrill of being needed for what she could do, not for who she was. “This is Norah's wedding. What she says goes. Our job, ladies, is to give Norah the wedding of her dreams.” Sierra glared across the yard to the Porters' backyard.
All the men were sitting around the picnic tables drinking beer and relaxing like they didn't have a care in the world. Karl James appeared to be telling an amusing story. Amanda was asleep in her stroller, and the kids were all blowing bubbles. Someone had been smart enough to pack plastic bubble bottles. Her money would be on one of the mothers.
“Do you know what the first thing we are going to do is, ladies?”
All the women had followed her gaze across the yard. “What?”
“We are going to get the men involved. It's Ned's wedding too, and he's the one who put a time limit on this affair.”
Peggy chuckled. “You want Ned to plan his own wedding? Lord, we'll all be hiking up mountains at sunrise or some such nonsense.”
Norah groaned. “He'll want to spend the honeymoon in a tent.”
“We won't let him plan a thing, Norah.” She gave the bride-to-be a hug. “Remember, we're delegating.”
“What will we have them doing?” Joanna didn't look like she was going to trust her daughter's big day to a bunch of Porters.
“Come, I'll teach you all a lesson in delegating.” She gave them a big wink and then led the women back to the picnic tables. They all sat down.
Sierra reached into the pile of magazines Norah had brought with her and started to flip through them. Norah had all the pages marked. She found the one she was looking for. “Norah, is this what you want?” The glossy picture was of a bride standing before a white arbor covered in pink roses. The advertisement was for some expensive fragrance.
“Yes, that's the look I want.” Norah wasn't talking about the gown.
Sierra smiled and looked across to the table where all the men were sitting. “Ned, I understand you're a very good carpenter.”
Ned grinned and his chest puffed out with pride. “Most think so.”
“Hey,” Matt said, “he puts together overgrown Lincoln Logs. If you need a perfectionist, I'm your man.”
Paul made a rude sound. “I taught them both everything they know about wood.”
“And who, pray tell, taught you?” John Sr. crossed his arms over his chest and glared at his four boys.
She fingered the page of the magazine and tried not to smile. Men were so predictable sometimes. “So you all are handy with tools?”
“Darn straight we are.” Ned looked insulted that anyone would think differently. “There's not a thing we can't build with our own two hands.”
“What do you need?” asked Matt. He tried to glance at the magazine she was holding.
“Doesn't matter what she needs,” stated John Jr. “We can do it better than anyone else in town.”
“Just keep Paul away from a chain saw and everything will be okay,” joked Ned.
“Hey, that wasn't my fault. The darn thing kicked.”
“What about the time you fell off the roof, Ned?” Matt was laughing at his younger brother.
“I was pushed!”
“You fell off a roof ?” Norah looked horrified by the idea. “Why didn't you tell me?”
“I was only four at the time and Paul pushed me.”
Sierra felt her stomach lurch. What was a four-year-old doing up on a roof?
“I did not.” Paul glared at Ned. “You lost your footing and almost pulled me down with you.”
“Did you get hurt?” Norah's gaze was traveling over Ned, looking for signs of an old injury.
“Only my pride.” Ned grinned.
“And my holly bush,” Peggy Porter added. “Fell right on top of it and broke it to pieces.”
“He could have been hurt,” cried Norah.
BOOK: A Misty Harbor Wedding
7.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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