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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:12

“On the plus side, you won’t really have to see him again until the wedding day, right? Then you’ll be too busy to care.”

“Yep. I’ll make sure I look extra good that day so he’ll see what he missed.”

“That’s my girl. I’m going to go get these email invitations out.”

Natalie nodded and watched Gretchen leave the room. She picked up her tablet and her drink, following her out the door to her office. Settling in at her desk, she pulled out a new file folder and wrote Russell-Watson Wedding on the tab. She needed to get everything prepared for their preliminary meeting this afternoon.

Staying busy would keep Christmas, and Colin, off her mind.

Colin pulled into the parking lot at From This Moment, his gaze instantly scanning over the lackluster shrubs out front. He knew it was winter, but they could certainly use a little more pizzazz for curb appeal.

He parked and went inside the facility. Stepping through the front doors, he knew instantly why Lily had insisted on marrying here. Their box holly hedges might have left something to be desired, but their focus was clearly on the interior. The inside was stunning with high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, tall fresh flower arrangements on the entryway table and arched entryways leading to various wings of the building. Mom would’ve loved it.

He looked down at his watch. It was a minute to one, so he was right on time for the appointment. Colin felt a little silly coming here today. Weddings weren’t exactly his forte, but he was stepping up in his parents’ place. When he’d married a year and a half ago, it had been a quick courthouse affair. If they’d opted for something more glamorous, he would’ve let Pam take the lead. Pam wasn’t interested in that, though, and apparently, neither was his sister, Lily.

If she’d had her way, she and Frankie would’ve gone down to the courthouse, too. There was no reason to rush the nuptials, like Colin and Pam, but Lily just wanted to be done. She loved Frankie and she wanted to be Mrs. Watson as soon as possible. Colin had had to twist her arm into having an actual wedding, reminding her that their mother would be rolling over in her grave if she knew what Lily was planning.

She’d finally agreed under two circumstances: one, that the wedding be at Natalie’s facility. Two, that he handle all the details. He insisted on the wedding, he’d offered to pay for it; he could make all the decisions. Lily intended to show up in a white dress on the big day and that was about it.

Colin wasn’t certain how he’d managed to be around so many women who weren’t interested in big weddings. Pam hadn’t wanted to marry at all. Hell, if it hadn’t been for the baby and his insistence, she wouldn’t have accepted the proposal. In retrospect, he realized why she was so hesitant, but with Lily, it just seemed to be a general disinterest in tradition.

He didn’t understand it. Their parents had been very traditional people. Old-fashioned, you might even say. When they died in a car accident, Colin had tried to keep the traditions alive for Lily’s sake. He’d never imagined he would end up raising his younger sister when he was only nineteen, but he was determined to do a good job and not disappoint his parents’ memory.

Lily was just not that concerned. To her, the past was the past and she wasn’t going to get hung up on things like that. Formal weddings fell into the bucket of silly traditions that didn’t matter much to her. But it mattered to him, so she’d relented.

Colin heard a door open down one of the hallways and a moment later he found himself once again face-to-face with Natalie Sharpe. She stopped short in the archway of the foyer, clutching a tablet to her gray silk blouse. Even as a teenager, she’d had a classic beauty about her. Her creamy skin and high cheekbones had drawn his attention even when she was sporting braces. He’d suppressed any attraction he might have had for his little sister’s friend, but he’d always thought she would grow up into a beautiful woman. At the party, his suspicions had been confirmed. And better yet, she’d looked at him with a seductive smile and an openness he hadn’t expected. They weren’t kids anymore, but there were other complications that had made it impossible to take her up on her offer, as much as he regretted it.

Today, the look on her face was a far cry from that night. Her pink lips were parted in concern, a frown lining her brow. Then she took a breath and shook it off. She tried to hide her emotions under a mask of professionalism, but he could tell she wasn’t pleased to see him.

“Colin? I wasn’t expecting to see you today. Is something going on with Lily?”