Copyright © Grace Harper 2021
The right of Grace Harper to be identified as the author of this book has been asserted by the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Copying of this manuscript, in whole or in part, without the author and her publisher’s written permission, is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved
It was Friday at three-thirty in the afternoon, and Tara sat next to her best friend on the seat of confession. She was gazing giddily at Erin Devlin, thinking she was the bravest person she’d ever met. Every Friday, Tara listened to Erin talk her off the ceiling about the wedding plans and encouraged her to get excited. Tara was trying her best to enjoy the run-up. But the best way she could cope was to know very little of the plans.
“This is my second martini, and I’m feeling drunk already,” Tara said, taking another sip.
“It did not impress Bonnie you took advantage of her conference call and helped yourself to the supplies,” Erin answered.
Tara let out an uncharacteristic cackle and nudged her friend.
“You cut the lime segments,” Tara replied.
“True,” Erin said and nodded, taking the tiny straw into her mouth, sipping so long, she drained her glass. Erin’s drink was a small squat glass with crushed ice, two shots of vodka and fresh lime juice with the bits.
“At least I won’t get a hangover,” Tara commented, trying to see the bright side of their Friday meetings.
“No one likes a show-off,” Erin said. “Why are we out here, lovely?”
Erin always cut straight to the crux of any point, even when she didn’t know what it was yet.
Erin waited while Tara found her voice twirling the ice around the glass.
“I have a problem with the wedding,” Tara said, so Erin knew the subject.
“We can change anything, Tara. What don’t you like?” was Erin’s immediate response.
Erin propped the glass against the foot of the stone bench and faced her friend.
“I need someone else to get married on the day, too,” Tara blurted and bit her bottom lip.
“What? Why? It’s your day?”
Erin frowned, tilted her head and pulled it back to better focus on Tara and her words.
“It’s too much. Seb wants to get married in front of all our friends and family, and all I feel like doing is running to Gretna Green.”
“You still want to marry him. That’s all that matters. The rest we can tone down, or not tell you until it actually happens, then you have nothing to fixate on.”
“I can’t handle the pressure, Erin. It keeps me awake at night. I barely sleep with fours kids as it is. You could strip it back to the bare bones, and I would still worry about getting through the ceremony. Who has a twenty minutes section for vows, readings, and singing? I’ll lose my mind.”
Tara’s voice had turned frantic, not looking at Erin at all and trying to see around the corner of the mansion where the ceremony would take place.
“My darling, there’s still time for another of the girls to put their application in. We could ask the wedding circle if anyone else wants to get married.”
“You would be okay with asking?”
Erin cupped Tara’s cheek, squashed her lips to resemble a fish until Tara smiled.
“You’re my queen, Tara. I’d be okay with anything you wanted.”
“I love you, Erin. Do you know that?”
“I do, and I love you more,” Erin said and brought her into a suffocating cuddle.
Tara didn’t move because she loved Erin’s cuddles too much.
“Seb is going to lose his fucking mind,” Erin said and tried to contain her giggling.
“Should we warn him?” Tara asked into Erin’s curly hair.
Erin pulled Tara away from her body, faced her straight on and gave her a chin drop. Erin looked like Tom did when he wanted to lecture Tara.
“Absolutely,” Erin eventually replied, looking up at the mansion.
“Who shall we dispatch?” Tara asked.
For a moment, she wondered if her dramatics would ruin everything.
“Alex, for sure,” Erin said, taking her phone out of her dress pocket.
“You have pockets in that thing? It touches every inch of you,” Tara said, craning my neck to see her entire body.
Erin wore a skin-tight black dress from neck to calf. It was textured and jet black. While Erin waited for her phone to connect, she pulled at her waist to show Tara the stretchy material.
Love hearts shot out of Tara’s eyes, and she pulled the material away from Erin’s body to feel the fabric. She loved it.
“I want this dress,” Tara mumbled. “Black is the perfect colour for me.”
Erin grinned at Tara and greeted her husband on the phone.
“Alex, yeah, babe. No, I’m not calling for that. Later for that. Yes. Absolutely yes, but right now, I need you to focus. Come to the seat of confession. No, no drama or crisis. Honestly.”
Erin disconnected the call and stuffed it back into her hidden pocket.
“He’s on his way,” Erin said.
“He thought it was a booty call,” Tara asked.
“Alex always thinks it’s a booty call,” Erin replied and gave Tara a wink.
I sniggered like I was drunk and dropped my head to her shoulder. “I’m going to marry a rock star,” Tara whispered.
“You absolutely are,” she answered, then swivelled in her seat to face her husband, who was striding across the car park.
As he approached, Erin stood, pulled her dress down where it had ridden up, and cocked her hip to the side. Alex didn’t waste any time with a hello and kissed her. They’d seen each other an hour ago at the exec’s meeting, and they were all over each other.
“You sure this isn’t what I want it to be?” Alex said, as he cupped Erin’s cheeks.
Tara’s heart ached at their affection. Seb was the man of her dreams, but watching Alex and Erin was something else entirely.
Erin laced her fingers with his and held them by her side.
“On Seb and Tara’s wedding day, there will be at least one other marriage,” Erin said.
“Okay,” Alex answered, looking around Erin to Tara on the seat with an empty martini glass. Tara couldn’t see Erin’s empty glass, so she looked like the only lush out there.
“You’re telling Seb,” Erin said.
“When?” Alex’s voice turned wary, and he kept darting his looks to Erin and then back at Tara.
“Any time between now and fifteen minutes?” Erin said.
“Erin,” Alex said, shaking their hands loose so he could put his arm around her waist. “He will not take this well. Are you sure you want to do it now? Shouldn’t it wait?”
“No, we do things straight away. Always have, always will,” Erin said.
“Yet you want me to deliver the news,” he replied.
“Tara and I need to get up to the office to meet the girls for our wedding meeting,” Erin said.
Tara was mute in this negotiation, her heart speeding up at the prospect Alex would say no.
“All right. I’ll go tell Seb,” Alex said. “Get ready.”
“I will, but you never know. Seb might be cool with it,” Tara said, standing and joining Alex and Erin.
“He is so desperate to marry you, he just might be,” Alex said.
Alex kissed Erin again, with fervour and love, then strode off to the mansion entrance. “Part one, done. Next, we need to get up there and talk someone into getting hitched,” Erin said.
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