The King Takes A BrideBy: Danielle Bourdon
Surrounded by a plethora of supplies, samples, swatches, books, cakes, flowers and the thousand other things that went along with getting married, Chey stared out the balcony windows, distracted by thoughts of the upcoming ceremony. Her mind's eye painted images of petal dusted aisles, pews strewn with gauzy netting, and mini-lights strung through greenery. What consumed her more than those important details was the vision of herself in a dress of pristine white, the layers of satin and tulle floating around her legs and feet.
A dress she didn't want to wear.
Her gaze darted away from the windows, landing on two wedding dresses hanging from garment racks situated adjacent to the array of bridal paraphernalia. Two perfectly beautiful creations, one the traditional white-white in her vision. The other though—that was the gown she really wanted to wear. A subtle champagne-pink in color, with a beaded bodice and rosettes lining swags of satin on the full skirt, it was the dress of Chey's dreams. A gown fit for a Queen.
It was also the dress the coordinators and advisers had gently informed her she shouldn't wear. They preferred the solid white, the traditional choice, so that the hundreds of critics who would be watching didn't have much to pick apart. Everything about the white-white gown met their strict expectations.
In her effort to please the advisers and the picky coordinators, Chey had agreed to their request. After all, they had been advising the former Queen Helina for quite some time. They knew more than Chey did about public perception.
Giving the champagne gown a longing look, she entertained a brief fantasy of what Sander's face might look like if he saw her in it. Maybe he wouldn't care which dress she wore, but Chey imagined he would like the coloring of this one against her skin and her dark hair.
“Well, don't you look thoughtful,” Sander said from the doorway of their bedchamber.
Caught off guard, Chey surged up off the sofa and spun around, throwing her arms wide to try and block his sight of the wedding gowns.
“Sander! Don't look! What are you doing back this early? You're not supposed to be here for another three hours! Don't look, it's bad luck!”
“What? Why can't I--”
“Okay, okay.” He pivoted around and shut the door, shoulders trembling with laughter beneath the immaculate black suit.
Exhaling her exasperation, Chey cut around the coffee table piled with wedding things to stuff both dresses back into their garment bags. Buzzing the zippers up, she glanced over her shoulder to make sure he wasn't stealing glances. He stood with his back to her, hands in the pockets of his slacks.
“Done yet?” he asked.
“Yes. You almost blew the whole thing. Then we would have had to start all over again trying to find the right dress.” Chey glanced at the sitting area Sander had rearranged to give her a place to plan and plot. She didn't care if he saw the books and swatches.
Sander turned around and paced her way, grinning like the devil he could sometimes be. “So you settled on one?”
“The one the coordinators suggested, yes.” She tipped her mouth up for a kiss when he was close. After he planted a lingering one on her lips, she started straightening the materials on the coffee table.
“That sounds suspiciously vague,” he said.
Chey glanced up, got stuck on the way his thighs stretched the suit pants across the muscle, then found his eyes. He was so distracting sometimes.
“What? It's not vague.”
“The one they suggested—and the one you want, right?”
“Not really. But the one I like best isn't fitting for this kind of wedding, so.” She fixed a stack of magazines, tucked flower pictures into a folder, and closed her organizer.
“You should wear the one you want to wear, Chey.”
She met his eyes. “Yes, I know. But that's not the one they really want me to wear. I can see their reasons.”
He arched a brow and took a seat on the couch.
“I'd rather not start off on the wrong foot with them. You know? Not after everything that's already happened.” She plopped down next to him and propped her temple against her fist, elbow digging into the back cushion.
“I know what you're trying to do. You've got two weeks to change your mind.” He slouched back and draped his arm along the sofa, fingers fiddling with the sleeve of her sweater.