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A single daisy bloomed between the curb and the sidewalk, its cheerful yellow-and-white head bobbing in the Gulf breeze. Lucinda Darling hiked up the skirt of her bridal gown and stomped on the flower with her white satin stiletto.
"He loves me not, he loves me not, he loves me not." She ground the flower farther into the dirt with each loves me not.
The front door of the church flew open. Organ music drifted out, a prelude to the wedding march. Donald Kimballhair disheveled, tux jacket and shirt unbuttoned, his shirttail hanging looserushed out. "Lucinda, listen!"
"No! You listen to me. Come one step closer, and your head's going the way of this daisy."
Lucinda's jaw tightened as Rebecca Hirsch followed Donald into the sunshine.
"Go back inside." Donald snapped at the tousled, indignant woman on the church steps.
"And while you're in there, you might want to fix your dress." Lucinda kicked at the remnants of the mangled daisy. "It's inside-out."
The door opened again, and Lucinda's father joined the duo on the stairs, where garlands of white ribbon and pink roses twined around wrought-iron railings and fluttered in the breeze. "What's going on here?"
"That's a question you might want to direct to my ex-fiancé."
"Ex?" The question exploded from both her snake-in-the-grass groom and her father.
"Look here, you two," her dad said. "I don't know what's going on, but I'm telling you right now, you'd best think about what you're doing. This isn't the time to get your nose in the air. You've got a church full of people waiting to see you tie the knotalong with a battalion from the media. Before you do something you can't undo, you'd better consider the consequences."
"Consider the consequences? Oh, that's rich, Dad. Two months ago you walked down the aislefor the fourth time! With a woman named Peaches, for heaven's sake. A woman three years younger than me."
"That has nothing to do with what's happening right now."
"You're right." Furious, Lucinda gathered the full organza skirt of her wedding gown in one hand. "This is about my ex banging his exin the churchon our wedding day!"
"Always the drama queen," Donald sneered. "This little snit-fit"
"Snit-fit? You want to see a snit-fit?" She snatched up a wood chip from the mulch by her foot and sent it winging toward his head.
He ducked, and it hit the church door with a thud. A second chunk caught him on the shoulder. A flash exploded from somewhere off to her right.
"Hey! Lucinda, cut it out."
Donald glowered at her, one hand in the air. Lucinda recognized the gesture. He used it in the courtroom all the time to great effect. Well, it wasn't working today.
"Look, I can explain."
She said nothing, simply raised a brow.
"I saw your wedding announcement on the table at a mutual friend's house," Rebecca purred. "Thought I'd drop by and, well " She shrugged and ran one blood-red fingernail down the front of Donald's unbuttoned shirt. "I came to wish the groom well, and one thing just kind of led to another."
Lucinda's mouth dropped open. "Do you honestly expect me to buy that? How gullible do you think I am?" She rounded on her ex-groom. "And you. You fell for this?" She waved derisively in Rebecca's direction.
Donald's ears reddened. "Go back inside, Rebecca." He extended a beseeching hand. "Lucinda"
"We don't have anything to say to each other, Donald."