Read an Excerpt
Copyright © MK Schiller 2014. All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
A child’s happiness is a mother’s joy. Today there was no shortage of joy. It was seeping out of my pores, or maybe those were tears. She was a vision of perfection in white organza and antique lace. Even the simple infinity tattoo that graced her right shoulder looked elegant. She told me it matched up with his when he stood behind her. I blinked, fighting back the salty drops threatening to ruin my makeup—Stevie would go into a rampage. “You look so beautiful, honey.”
Marley turned to me, head over her shoulder, ten shades of blonde done up in sophisticated, shiny curls and pale blue eyes that were as crystal clear as Lake Michigan on a sunny day. “Thanks, Mom.”
I took her hand in mine. “I’m so proud of you,” I said in a quiet whisper.
“I can’t believe this is actually happening. It still feels like a dream…the good kind.”
I embraced her then, feeling all the emotions of the past year in that one hug. Marley had had so many challenges in her life. As a mother, her pain was mine to bear. It came with many sleepless nights, and years of guilt weighing on my shoulders like an anchor that wouldn’t yield. She’d never once blamed me for any of it, but I had enough guilt for both of us. Not today, though. Today was all about happiness and hope. Today she was marrying a man who cherished her. One who loved her so much, he’d fight all her demons with her…for her.
“Damn, I can’t believe they forgot the white roses in your bouquet,” Stevie grumbled, bringing us all back to the present. She’d kept Marley on track for the wedding, but she was grating on everyone’s nerves with her Nazi bridal planning. Still, looking at Marley in her strapless A-line gown, it seemed worth it.
“I don’t care, Stevie. The orchids are fine by themselves.”
“That’s not the point. This has to be perfect,” Stevie said, smoothing out her long, chestnut-colored hair that matched mine.
Marley narrowed her eyes and sighed so hard the golden locks on her forehead flew, even though Dillon had sprayed them down. “Listen, I’ve had about enough of your crap. I don’t care about the flowers.”
“That’s why I’m here. Someone needs to care.” Stevie adjusted the black satin halter dress Marley had picked out. I had an inkling it was Stevie who’d actually picked them out—she was my bossy girl. “If it was up to you, we’d all be in jeans right now.”
“You guys cut it out already,” Billie interjected, trying to feign authority as the maid of honor.
A mother’s job was never done and it was time for me to step in. “Both of you cut it out, or I’ll send you to your separate corners for a timeout.”
“You can’t give me a timeout on my wedding day.”
“You may be getting married, but I am your mother and I most certainly can. You know Stevie only wants today to be perfect for you. And Stevie, you know Marley’s not fussy about the details like you are.”
They stared at each other like two fighters assessing each other in the ring, but I could see their frustration dissipate as quickly as it had begun. These were my daughters and I knew them like the back of my hand.
Marley’s mouth crinkled in a smile. “How come you always have to get your way?”
Stevie crossed her arms and looked down at the designer stilettos on her feet. “I didn’t get everything. The tomboy in you always wins despite how much I try to make you a lady.”
“What does that mean?” Billie asked.
Both girls smiled and the miniature battle was over. Marley lifted the hem of her dress. We all stared, slightly in awe at the gleaming white combat boots strung with fancy lace bows that adorned her feet. They were feminine and tough. They were Marley.
“You’re kidding, right?” Billie widened her eyes.
“Where in the world did you get those?” I smirked.
“Stevie went to a hundred different places and finally found someone to dye a pair for me. They were a surprise.”
Stevie and Marley were like oil and water, but don’t all good recipes need both ingredients? All three of my girls could bicker. At the end of the day though, they were the best of friends and if one was hurt, the others would come after you, with me leading the pack.
“I love them,” I said.
“Me too,” Billie admitted.
Stevie hugged Marley, careful not to press too close to her dress. “This is you, Marley—fancy dress and combat boots. French manicure and a fist that could punch through steel. I don’t know any other girl who could pull off that combination.”
Both girls stared at each other, lips quivering, threatening to give away to the sobs of happiness that this moment was bringing all of us.
“Don’t you dare cry!” Dillon said, startling all of us. He slammed the door shut then strode over to us. He looked so handsome in his black suit complete with skinny tie, reminiscent of an earlier time. “Lean your head back so the tears don’t wipe off your make-up. Both of you.”
He’d started out as Marley’s best friend, but we all loved him. As far as I was concerned, he was my son. I’d symbolically adopted him the moment he’d told me his parents had disowned him for what they referred to as his ‘lifestyle choices’.
“How’s Rick?” Marley inquired as Dillon wiped the corners of her eyes with a tissue.
“He is?” The alarm in Marley’s voice caused it to waver.
It was hard to believe—Rick was composed and confident in all things. He fit into our family seamlessly as Stevie’s husband, Adam, did. They were also my sons.
Dillon shrugged. “I think he’s afraid you’re gonna be a runaway bride. He sent me in here to check on you.”
“He doesn’t have to worry about that. That man couldn’t get rid of me even if wanted to.”
“Good thing he doesn’t want to.” Dillon reached into his pocket, taking out several Zesty bars. Rick had introduced us to the protein bars, and we all loved them. I think our family single handedly supported the company now. “I thought we could have a last minute dish session before he makes an honest woman out of you,” he said, throwing a bar to each of us.
“That’ll never happen,” Billie said.