Daring Brides

By: Ava Miles

“They are,” she told her sister.

Her cousin, Caroline Hale, had helped her find the vocalist in Denver. “Where are Natalie, Caroline, and Moira, by the way?” Even though it was a small wedding, she was still trying to keep track of everyone and be a wonderful hostess. Her cousins had arrived early this morning with her aunt and uncle from Denver, but had disappeared after Meredith changed into her wedding dress. Tanner’s sister, Peggy McBride, was off with the guys since such a profusion of dresses and makeup and tears would give her hives.

“Grandpa Hale is holding court in the vestibule,” Jill told her. “He was showing Danny his disappearing-coin-behind-the-ear trick. Do you remember when he taught that one to Andy and Matt when we were kids?”

Her uncle and aunt had five kids, two boys and three girls. They were about the same age as Meredith and Jill, but they’d moved to Denver fifteen years ago so her uncle could take a more prestigious position at one of the hospitals there.

“Matt pretended to swallow the coin,” she said, touching up her pink nude lipstick at the corners. “Aunt April was halfway to the emergency room by the time Matt confessed it was a gag.”

“April was mad enough to see red that day,” her mom said, shaking her head. “I never envied her for raising boys. Now, it seems like your grandfather is passing on his tricks to the next generation. We’ll all need to watch out.”

“Danny is only four, mom,” Meredith said. “And it’s good to see him learning something as silly as one of grandpa’s magic tricks after losing his mom.”

Andy’s wife had passed away from breast cancer just last year, at the tender age of thirty, and the whole family had been devastated. This was the first family event since Kim’s funeral, and she wanted everyone to have a good time.

“Andy still looks gaunt to me,” her mom said, clucking her tongue. “And Natalie worries me too. She’s looked so unhappy ever since things fell apart with Blake.”

Jill heaved a deep sigh. “I know. It’s still a bit of a shock. I loved that guy.”

“We all did,” Meredith said, thinking about her own divorce. Blake Cunningham, the quarterback for the Denver Raiders, was nothing like Rick-the-Dick. Sure, they were both powerful and famous men in their own right, but Blake had a huge heart and Richard Sommerville… Well, he’d captured her by being at once mesmerizing and aggressive. Thank God her taste in men had changed.

“All right,” her mom said. “Enough of the past. Today’s about new beginnings. Your father and I couldn’t be happier for you, honey. Tanner is the best man in the world, just like your sister said. For you.”

“I know it,” she said, feeling that warm glow in her heart expand at the mere thought of him.

The door to the room opened, and her three cousins and Aunt April bustled inside.

“We told the men it was girls only,” Moira said with a small smile. “Your grandpa huffed and puffed like the big bad wolf, but he looked mostly relieved.”

“He’s a big faker,” Caroline said, setting down her clutch purse on the sofa’s arm. “Earlier, he kept teasing us about dolling up our faces with sparkles and saying women in his day never bothered with such nonsense.”

“What a load of crap. Grandma Harriet wore makeup all her life,” Meredith said with a slight pinch to her heart. “I wish she were here today.”

“She is, honey,” her mom said, taking her hands. “Now, let’s do one last inspection now that the rest of the girls are here and then have those mimosas Jill is making for everyone.”

Moira gave a cat-call whistle, and a few of them joined in with squeals, which made Meredith laugh.

She stepped in front of the full-length mirror again. Her gown was made of lace and pearl beads, which were stitched into a coronet pattern at her waist. The dress had the most delicate straps imaginable, and the bodice was an understated sweetheart. It fell to her feet, snugly fitting her body, and didn’t have a train. She’d decided to let her veil convey that touch of whimsy.

“You look beautiful, Mermaid,” Jill told her as she poured orange juice and champagne into pink Here Comes the Bride plastic cups.

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