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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:24

She waited until the door shut before she lost her cool. “Are you kidding me? Backstage? We’re going backstage at a Blake Wright concert? This is the Grand Ole Opry! Do you know how many amazing artists have walked where we are right now?”

Colin wasn’t left with much time to answer her questions, so he just smiled and let her freak out. Passes in hand, they walked through the preconcert chaos until they located the stage manager.

“Looks like our special guests are here,” the man said. “Welcome, folks. We’ve got two designated seats for you right over here.” He indicated two chairs just off the curtained stage area. They were going to be watching the show from the wings, literally sitting unseen on the stage itself.

Natalie was so excited, she could barely sit down. Colin had to hold her hand to keep her from popping right up out of her seat. “Please tell me how you managed this,” she said at last.

“Well, you know who does all the landscaping for Gaylord properties?”

She had no idea. “You?” she guessed.

“That is correct. Russell Landscaping has the contract to design and maintain all the outdoor spaces including the hotel and the concert venue. I called up a friend here and they set this up for me. Since there weren’t any seats left, we had to get a little creative.”

Natalie could hardly believe it. “This is amazing. I can’t believe you did all this. I mean, you already gave me my Christmas present. What is this for?”

Colin shrugged. “Because I could. You told me how your dad used to take you and how much you liked Blake, so I thought it would be a nice gesture.”

“Well, I’m glad I dressed appropriately,” she said, looking over her off-the-shoulder red silk top and skinny jeans with cowboy boots. “You just said we were going someplace to listen to country music. I was thinking maybe a bar downtown.”

“Well, I would’ve given away the surprise if I’d said anything else.”

Natalie could only shake her head. As the opening act brushed past them to go out onstage, she muffled her squeal of delight in Colin’s coat sleeve.

When Blake and his band finally took the stage, it took everything she had not to jump up and down. She tried to play it cool, since she was here because of Colin’s business connections, but it was very hard. Natalie could hold her composure during any kind of wedding crisis, but this was too much.

It was not just a great concert, but there were so many memories centered around this place. Her parents had been house poor, putting everything they had into a nice home for their family at the expense of everything else. They didn’t have the latest gadgets or the coolest clothes, but she went to a good school and had everything she truly needed.

But once a year, around her birthday, her dad always took her out for what he called a Daddy-Daughter date. She’d grown up listening to his favorite country music, and starting on her fifth birthday, he took her to a show at the Opry. It didn’t matter who it was or that they had the worst seats in the house. It was more about sharing something with her father.

And now, here she was, backstage. She didn’t talk to her father very often, but she couldn’t wait to tell him about this. He’d be amazed. Maybe it would even inspire him to take another trip here with her for old times’ sake.

Glancing over at Colin, she realized he looked a little anxious and not at all like he was having a good time. He was stiff, clutching his knees and not so much as tapping his toes to the music. “You don’t like country music, do you?” she asked.

“Oh no,” he argued. “It’s fine. I’m just tired.”

Natalie didn’t worry too much about it, focusing on the amazing show. About halfway through, Blake started introducing the next song.

“The song I’m going to play next was one of my biggest hits,” he said. “It was my first real love song, written about my wife. I want to dedicate this song tonight to a very special lady. Natalie Sharpe, please come out onto the stage.”

Natalie’s heart stopped in her chest. Colin tried to pull her up out of her seat, but it took a moment for her to connect everything. “Me?” she asked, but he gave her a little shove and suddenly, she was onstage where everyone could see her.

“There she is,” Blake said. “Come on out here, sugar.”