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A White Wedding Christmas Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:46:25

Colin avoided going to the chapel for as long as he could. He didn’t want to see Natalie. He didn’t want to spend most of the evening with her, pretending everything was fine for the benefit of his sister and her fiancé. Like any injured animal, he wanted to stay in his den and lick his wounds alone.

The worst part was that he knew he’d done this to himself. Natalie had been very clear on the fact that she never wanted to get married and yet, he’d proposed to her anyway. He’d thought perhaps it was some sort of defense mechanism, insisting she didn’t want it so people wouldn’t pity her for not having it.

Overhearing her confession to Gretchen of being in love with him had given him a false hope. Somehow, he’d believed that offering her his heart and a lifetime commitment would not only show her he was serious, but that she had nothing to fear. That hadn’t panned out at all.

What was wrong with him? Why was he so attracted to women who didn’t want the same things he wanted? It was like he was subconsciously setting himself up for failure. Maybe he was the one who was really afraid of being hurt, so he chose women he could never really have. What a mess.

Pulling his truck into the parking lot of the chapel, he parked but didn’t get out. The rehearsal was supposed to start in twenty minutes. No need to rush in just because there was no sense in going all the way home first.

Glancing out the window, he looked around at the other cars. He spotted Natalie’s sports car, plus a handful of other vehicles he didn’t recognize. There were no motorcycles, though. And no little hatchback. Where were Lily and Frankie?

Reaching for his phone, he dialed his sister’s number. “Hello?” she shouted over a dull roar of noise around her.

“Lily, where are you?”

“We’re stuck in the Vegas airport. Our flight got cancelled because of bad weather in Denver. We’ve been changed to a new flight, but it’s not leaving until tomorrow morning.”

“Tomorrow morning? You’re going to miss the rehearsal and the dinner.” Colin knew the weather wasn’t Lily’s fault, but things like this always seemed to happen when she was involved. Who booked a flight that connected through Denver in the winter, anyway?

“I know, Colin!” she snapped. “We’re not going to make it in time for your choreographed circus. That’s why I called Natalie first and told her. She said she’d handle things tonight and go over the details with us tomorrow afternoon before the service. We’re doing what we can. It isn’t the end of the world.”

Nothing was ever a big deal to Lily. She said Colin was wrapped too tight and needed to loosen up, but he would counter that she needed to take some things—like her wedding day—more seriously.

“Just cancel the rehearsal dinner reservations,” she continued. “It was only the wedding party and Frankie’s parents, anyway.”

That he could do. Thank goodness they hadn’t opted for the big catered dinner with out-of-town guests. “Fine. You promise you’ll be back tomorrow?”

“I can’t control the weather, Colin. We’ll get back as soon as we can.”

Colin hung up the phone, a feeling of dread pooling in his gut. He was beginning to think this entire thing was a mistake. Lily didn’t want this wedding, and he’d twisted her arm. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have made such a calculated error with Natalie. Lily would be happily courthouse married. He wouldn’t have learned the truth about his parents’ marriage yet. There also wouldn’t be an extremely expensive diamond engagement ring in his coat pocket.

He needed to take it back to the jeweler, but he hadn’t had the heart to do it. He’d return it on Monday when all of this was over. That would close the book on this whole misguided adventure and then, maybe, he could move on.

With a sigh, he opened the door and slipped out of the truck. After talking to Lily, he knew he needed to get inside and see what needed to be done to compensate for the absence of the engaged couple.

Inside the chapel, things were hopping. The doors to the reception hall were propped open for vendors to come in and out with decorations. He could see Gretchen and the photographer, Bree, putting out place settings on the tables. A produce truck was unloading crates of fruits and vegetables into the kitchen.

Natalie was in the center of the chaos, as always. She was setting out name cards shaped like snowflakes on a table in the crossroads of the chapel entrance. A large white tree was on the table in front of her, dripping with crystals, pearls and twinkle lights. She was stringing silver ribbon through each name card and then hanging it from a branch on the tree, creating a sparkling blizzard effect.