The summer evening was warm, with a perfectly clear sky. It was after seven and the sun was hours from setting. After all, this was Seattle and the city was known for endless summer nights.
Over three hundred people sat in white chairs on a lush, green lawn. The scent of roses and jasmine filled the air. On the left, a small orchestra played softly as the groom’s grandmother was seated.
“Arthur seems nice,” Reid said as he walked Gloria down the aisle.
“Don’t be smart with me,” Gloria snapped, a little embarrassed to be her age and dating. She’d been seeing Arthur for three months now and had brought him to the wedding.
“I’m not. Just don’t ever tell us if you’re having sex. It would be too weird.”
“I had to read about your sexual abilities in the paper. I think a little payback is in order.”
Reid grinned at her. “Okay, but I won’t like it.”
“I can live with that.”
They reached her seat and he handed her into the care of Arthur, a local entrepreneur who was eight years younger than Gloria. Then Reid bent down and kissed her cheek.
“You look hot.”
Gloria swatted his arm, but smiled.
Dani stood inside the Canfield’s family room and stared out through the blinds.
“I’m thinking Elissa is going to be disappointed by the twinkle lights. It’s too bright out. They’re not showing up at all.”
“They will later,” Lori said as she adjusted the front of her frothy pink bridesmaid gown. “Do I look fat? I can’t believe I’m asking that, but do I?”
Dani smiled at her sister-in-law. Despite Lori and Reid’s plans to wait and marry after Walker and Elissa’s big event, an unexpected pregnancy had sent them to Las Vegas a month ago. They’d married quietly and were now preparing to move in with Gloria. As the newlyweds weren’t strapped for cash, the only reason could be they liked living with the old bird. Lori was a brave woman, Dani thought with a smile.
“You look beautiful,” Dani told her. “The style of the dress totally hides any hint of a bump.”
“Did you see the canap?s?” Penny asked as she stalked into the room. “I’m not sure the salmon is fresh enough. Do you think it’s fresh?”
Cal moved next to his wife and kissed her. “Deep breath,” he said. “Let it go. You look beautiful.”
“I was frightened the first time I saw these dresses,” Penny admitted. “But now I like them.”
Katherine stepped into the room. “Are we ready? It’s nearly time.”
Dani watched her future mother-in-law and marveled at her ability to pull off something as complicated as a Buchanan wedding.
Alex came up behind Dani and kissed the back of her neck. “Taking notes for our wedding?”
“Most of the planning is done,” she reminded him. They had a fall event scheduled. Something much smaller than this. Mostly family, which was a party in and of itself. Penny would be catering-Dani wasn’t as brave as Elissa. Better to put her friend and sister-in-law to work than risk the complaining.
“Twinkle lights?” he asked in a low voice.
“Absolutely. I love them. I’m thinking we’ll only have your sisters in the wedding party. Much less fighting on the dress front. You should have heard the four of us at the bridal shop.”
She smiled as she spoke, remembering the afternoon of arguing, chocolate and champagne. In the end, they’d all been tipsy and hadn’t remembered what they’d agreed to. When the fluffy pink dresses had arrived, they’d been shocked.
“Have I told you how much I love you?” Alex asked.
Dani smiled at him. “I think you mentioned it one time. It’s hard to remember.”
He kissed her. “I love you. For always.”
“Good. Because I’m holding you to that.”
“A challenge? I like a good challenge.”
“Then you’re going to enjoy me.”
Katherine raised her hands. “All right. Form your couples. Get ready. When the music changes… and now.”
She opened the French doors leading to the patio. The orchestra switched to a romantic song. Cal and Penny stepped out first. They moved arm in arm up the petal-covered path between the chairs to where Walker waited for Elissa.
Lori and Reid went next. Dani glanced back at the bride and smiled, then slipped her arm through Alex’s. Katherine signaled them to pause before they started down the aisle.
She leaned close. “Don’t tell anyone,” she whispered. “But you’re my favorite couple.”
“Mine, too,” Alex told her, before leading Dani out into the sunlight.