Read an Excerpt
Something Old, Something New
Abby Beaumont was slumped in a chair in her mother's office, trying not to look out the window. The sky was blue, the sun was bright. It was absolutely perfect soccer weather. She would have given anything to be outside chasing the ball around, but instead here she was in her mother's froufrou office. Trapped.
On one side of the desk was today's VIC (Vomit-Inducing Couple), Kirsten and Brock, looking very pleased with themselves in matching polo shirts. On the other side was Abby's mom, dressed in a taupe-colored suit. Her slim fingers were a blur as she excitedly described the menu options at the Dove's Roost.
". . . and let's not forget about stuffed mushrooms, now those are really a crowd pleaser." Abby stared at her mother's Ace-bandaged right wrist, trying to heal the sprain with the power of her mind. She'd been trying all day. So far, no luck.
It was thanks to that wrist that Abby was stuck here in her mother's office--a room she usually avoided for fear of being sucked into a Laura Ashley vortex from which she might never return. The previous weekend her mom had insisted on wrapping the bougainvillea vine around the chuppah herself instead of waiting for Abby's dad to get home from Dell's Wholesale Liquor Mart like Abby had suggested. Her father was nearly tall enough to do it without a step stool and loved taking care of the outdoor work. But her mother had wanted to get a head start, had told Abby to hold the ladder, had climbed up it and had then promptly fallen from the top rung while trying to reach the edge of the canopy. Abby appreciated her mother's need to give her job 150 percent at all times, and she was glad the injury hadn't been worse, but now she was being robbed of a perfect-for-soccer Saturday. It was just wrong.
"And then, we want our first dance to be . . ." Kirsten stuck out one perfectly French-manicured hand like a stop sign. "'Lady in Red!'" She reached over and clasped her fiance's fingers, the Rock of Gibraltar on her left hand flashing in the sunlight and blinding everyone in the room.
"Even though she won't be wearing red that night," Brock said with a grin.
"Of course not, silly." Kirsten smacked his beefy shoulder with her free hand.
"We danced to it the night we first met," Brock went on.
"I was wearing red that night."
"And I know you won't believe this, but, you know how at the very end of the song? You know how he whispers 'I love you' really softly?" Brock leaned in toward Abby's mother's desk like he was about to share a prized secret. Abby's mother was riveted. "Well, I swear I knew I was in love with Kirsten right at that very moment."
"And I knew I loved him too." Kirsten's grip on his hand tightened.
"Oh! That's so sweet," Abby's mother said with a wide smile.
Stewardess, I'll take that barf bag now. It was exactly this type of story that had inspired Carol to come up with the term VIC a few years ago. All the couples that came through the Dove's Roost seemed to have one of these sugarcoated cheese bombs to drop and they all felt the need to share them. Repeatedly.
"Abby? Did you get that?" her mother asked, turning in her big leather chair. "'Lady in Red' for the opening dance. We'll need to tell the band."
"Oh, I got it," Abby said with a tight smile, gripping her pen. "Lovely choice."
"Well, thank you!" Kirsten said. "You are so sweet to help out your mother like this." She looked like she was about to burst into tears, that's how touched she was.
"Just happy to do my part," Abby said with a big toothy grin. When no one was looking she glanced at her watch.
Right about then she should have been down at Van Merck Park with Christopher and the rest of the soccer crew. If she were she'd be tearing down the sidelines, dodging and weaving, showing off the dexterous dribbling skills she had been working on all week long. But instead, she was stuck here, waiting for Kirsten's inevitable morph.
So far Kirsten, while far too chipper for this early in the morning, had shown no signs of scales or a giant green tail. But that would all change soon. Something would make her snap. Something always made the brides snap.
"Oh! And I've decided I want the Hearts Entwined ice sculptures," Kirsten said. "One for each of the stations at cocktail hour."
"A fine choice," Abby's mother said.
Abby made a note. Hearts Entwined ice sculptures at four stations. One thousand dollars for frozen water. That's responsible spending.
"Ice sculptures?" Brock said. "Um, honey, I thought we decided not to go with ice sculptures."
"No, Brock. Your father offered to put in more money, remember?" Kirsten said slowly. "That means we can have the ice sculptures."
Brock laughed nervously. Abby found herself inching to the front of her seat. This was it.
"I thought that money would be better spent if we put it toward our honeymoon," Brock said. "We've maxed out the Visa as it is. . . ."
"So? We have three more," Kirsten said.
"Do you really want to start our lives together that far in debt?"
"Do you really want to have cocktail hour tables with no centerpieces?" Kirsten asked, her grip visibly tightening on his hand.
"I'm sure there's something else we can do with the tables," Brock said, looking to Abby's mother for backup. "Phoebe? What do you think?"
"Oh, well, we can do some lovely things with the florist," Abby's mother replied brightly. "Or we can arrange the chafing dishes and platters in such a way that you won't need decoration at all."
Brock nodded. "That sounds good, doesn't it?" He looked relieved.
"No decoration on the station tables?" Kirsten said. Her mouth hung open in stunned horror. She shook her head slowly and narrowed her eyes. "Are you insane? Do you want me to have a substandard wedding?"
"Don't honey me! Lizzy Markowitz had ice sculptures at her cocktail hour!" Kirsten said, her face paling. "I need ice sculptures."
"Just because Lizzy had them? You hate Lizzy!"
"That's why I have to have them!" Kirsten stood up. "My God, Brock! You don't understand me at all!"
"It's just frozen water!" Brock exploded.
"Thank you!" Abby blurted out.
"Abby!" her mother said through her teeth.
Kirsten couldn't have looked more offended if Abby had just suggested virginal white was not exactly her color. She burst into tears and ran from the office. Brock apologized and quickly followed. Abby leaned back in her chair with a sigh. She uncapped the pen again and wrote in her notebook.
From the Trade Paperback edition.