Wedding Bell Blues

By: Meg Benjamin

“I got the cake topper,” Allie cooed. “It’s perfect.”

Docia’s eyes narrowed. “The one Janie found? Or Mama’s?”

Allie chuckled. “Janie’s, of course. That china bride and groom your mama wanted would have thrown the cake proportions all to hell.”

Allie owned the bakery that would produce the cake for The Wedding. Somehow whenever anybody mentioned The Wedding, Pete always thought in capital letters.

“A cake topper?” Cal frowned. “What’s a cake topper?”

Wonder pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “Think about it, Calthorpe. It’ll come to you.”

Janie Dupree smiled. “It’s the thing that goes on top of the wedding cake. Flowers or hearts or bells or—”

“Twenty-inch porcelain figurines of the bride and groom.” Docia sighed. “Lladro. Limited edition.”

Cal blanched.

Janie leaned forward, patting his hand. “It’s okay. That was Reba’s idea, but I found something a lot smaller. Docia likes it.”

Cal blew out a quick breath. “Good to know.”

Janie Dupree had a nice smile, Pete reflected. He hadn’t noticed before. Of course, he hadn’t really paid much attention to her at all before. Which was probably a mistake since he was the best man and she was the maid of honor. He was probably supposed to be working with her on something. Planning stuff. Whatever the hell a best man was supposed to do.

He clenched his hands on the table again. No cell. The office could get along without him. He probably should be directing all his attention to The Wedding anyway.

Behind him he heard another muted thonk followed by a chorus of groans.

“So you got the topper.” Janie turned to Allie. “What about the matchbooks?”

“Those too.” Allie sipped the glass of wine Wonder had ordered for her. “They even managed to spell ‘Docia’ correctly.”

Docia grinned. “‘Cal’ too?”

“I think so.” Allie’s eyes danced. “‘C-a-l-e’ right?”

“That’s my boy.” Docia patted his hand, smiling.

Pete felt slightly nauseated.

Janie Dupree blew out a quick breath. “Great! That’s two more things off the list.”

“You have a list?” Pete stared at her.

“Of course!” Janie’s brow furrowed. “I can’t keep it all in my head. Don’t you have a list?”

“Not for this!” Pete grimaced. He had a list for the office. Which he’d left back in Des Moines.

“But…” The furrows in Janie’s brow grew deeper. “What about the stuff you’re responsible for? How do you keep track?” Her bright brown eyes studied him, her expression grave.

Pete was suddenly—uncomfortably—aware that everyone in the booth had turned his way. He shrugged. “What’s there to keep track of? If Cal wants me to do anything, he can yell. I’m here to serve.”

Janie’s lower jaw dropped a fraction.

There was a moment of silence at the table, then Allie guffawed. “Fantastic. Have any of you males thought to check out what exactly happens at a wedding? Or were you going to wait until the day before?”

Cal looked affronted. “Hey! I’ve been keeping up. Docia fills me in on what’s going on. I figure if I need to do anything, somebody will let me know.”

“Sounds reasonable to me.” Wonder took another swig from his bottle of Spaten.

Janie, Docia and Allie exchanged glances. “Testosterone gives them wedding immunity,” Allie muttered.

Wonder nodded. “Good thing too. Do you really want a bunch of men trying to decide what kind of music to have at the reception? Hell, you’d probably end up with either ZZ Top or Metallica.”

“Personally, I’d favor Ray Wylie Hubbard, but that’s just me.” Cal turned to Docia. “I’ll do anything you need me to do. Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be the wedding to end all weddings.”

“Would that it could,” Wonder muttered. Allie narrowed her eyes at him.

Cal paid him no attention, keeping his gaze on Docia. “Dinner at Brenner’s tonight? I know you had something you needed to talk to Lee about.”

“Right.” Docia leaned across him to Pete. “You want to join us? Brenner’s is that restaurant we took you to the other day—Lee’s the owner and chef, remember?”

“Right.” Pete managed a faintly sour grin. Brenner’s had the best food he’d tasted in at least five years. If he went there, he might not worry about the office anymore. On the other hand, he was so used to worrying about the office he wasn’t sure he wanted to try out another mood just then. “You go on. Maybe I’ll catch up with you later.”

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