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Authors: Isis Crawford

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BOOK: A Catered Wedding
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“Hortense's house is only fifteen minutes away,” Libby remembered Bree Nottingham telling her.
Like she was some kind of moron. Of course Libby knew how far away Hortense's mansion was. They lived in the same town for heaven's sake, not that she ever saw her. They didn't exactly move in the same social set, which was fine with Libby. But then everyone in the world knew where Hortense's house was. Okay, they had known a couple of years ago. According to the latest polls, her popularity was being eclipsed by a show on cooking caveman style. But it was still pretty popular.
“We've been friends since camp,” Bree had chirped.
Good for you, Libby had wanted to say to Bree. That woman had been the bane of her existence since the fourth grade.
“I should kill her,” Libby observed. “I'd be doing the universe a favor.”
Bernie raised an eyebrow. A well-manicured one, Libby couldn't help noticing. Maybe she should get her done too—before tonight—but the thought of putting hot wax on her eyebrows and then ripping the hair out made Libby shudder.
“Hortense?” Bernie asked as Libby was contemplating what the wax thing would feel like on other parts of her anatomy. “What would her legion of crazed fans do? How would they know what to cook or how to serve it?”
Libby frowned. “No,” she said, “I meant I want to kill Bree Nottingham for making us do this.”
“She didn't make you,” Bernie pointed out in her most reasonable—albeit irritating—tone of voice.
“Not in the literal sense, no,” Libby conceded. But when the social arbiter of Longely tells you to jump, and you're in the catering business, you ask what hoop she has in mind.
“Well then, there you go,” Bernie said. “Anyway,” she continued, “this will be good exposure for the store.”

A Taste of Heaven
doesn't need any more exposure,” Libby replied. “We've got more customers then we can handle as it is.”
“Not if you hired on more staff,” Bernie pointed out.
“We don't have the room.”
“We could expand,” Bernie replied.
“That would mean moving,” Libby said.
“And we're fine where we are,” Bernie finished for her.
“Well, we are,” Libby retorted as she watched Bernie saunter over to the sink.
She and her sister had had the “moving discussion” at least once a week for the past year, but Libby was holding fast to her convictions. She knew too many other places that had been doing well until they expanded. What Bernie didn't seem able to grasp was the amount of planning that the kind of expansion Bernie was talking about would involve.
But then her sister had always been like that. Diving headlong into something seemed to work for her, Libby remarked to herself. She didn't know how, but it did. It was like Bernie's shoes. How she could walk, let alone work in them was something that Libby had never been able to fathom.
As Libby watched her sister pass by the mini Christmas tree sitting on the end counter, she reflected that it felt strange being on the set. It wasn't as if she was a big fan of Hortense, because she wasn't; in fact, she hated her, hated everything she stood for. But still. She'd watched Hortense's program on TV from time to time with her dad.
She'd seen those cabinets with the red door pulls and the signature gleaming dark red Viking range while sitting in her living room, and here she was on the set looking at them for real. Somehow they seemed smaller in real life then they did on the screen. It made her feel odd in a way she couldn't explain.
“I'm not sure we should be in here,” Libby repeated. She knew she'd said it before, but she couldn't help herself. After all, the doors to the studio had been closed and a sign posted had the words
NO ENTRANCE
clearly written in big, back letters. “We should be in the green room.”
“We will be there—eventually,” Bernie said. “That's one of the advantages of living nearby. We get to come early.”
“But the sign. . . .”
Bernie gave her the look. “I didn't see it. Did you?”
“Not after you hid it behind the table.”
“I didn't hide anything,” Bernie protested. “Is it my fault if the thing slipped?”
“But. . . .” Libby started to protest.
Bernie cut her off before she could say anything else. “I just wanted to take a look around before everyone else comes on the set.” She pointed to a door over to the right. “According to Bree, the real cooking is done in the other kitchen. This set is just for the show.”
“What are you doing?” Libby demanded as Bernie crossed the room.
“Taking a peek, of course.”
“They probably have an alarm,” Libby told her.
“Don't be ridiculous.” Bernie opened the door and stepped inside.
“Looks like our kitchen,” Libby heard Bernie say.
“I shouldn't be doing this,” Libby told herself. But she followed Bernie inside anyway. What was it her father always said about in for a penny in for a pound?
There was a metal table in the center, clusters of pots hanging from the ceiling, steel racks full of assorted pans, and two large ovens that looked as if they'd seen a lot of use.
One of them was on. Libby resisted the urge to peek: that would be going too far. Instead she went over to the table in the middle and picked up one of the glass pinecones that were in a wicker bowl in the center. “I wonder what these are for?”
Bernie shrugged. “Christmas ornaments?”
“They're pretty.” Libby put the pinecone down and looked at the tray of meringue mushrooms on the table. “They're perfect,” she said.
“Yours are just as good,” Bernie told her.
“Not quite,” Libby said as she followed Bernie back out onto the set. Hortense's had more texture to them. Libby was wondering what kind of pastry tube Hortense had used to get that pebbled effect when she realized that Bernie was talking.
“You know,” she was saying, “Hortense may be the ultimate bitch but you have to hand it to her in the interior design department. Although I like what you did better.”
Libby smiled. “Me, too.”
But what Hortense had done wasn't bad at all. She'd just gone in a different direction. And it had taken her a lot less time to execute, something Libby reminded herself she should bear in mind for next year. The mini Christmas tree on the end of the counter was decorated with homemade cookies that Hortense had baked, painted with gold leaf, and shellacked on her last show. The bows that were knotted around the garlands of greenery were made out of a cream-colored organza that had been shot through with gold thread.
In addition, Hortense had taken light green glass bowls and filled them with smooth river stones, into which she'd embedded groups of ivory tapers. She'd put those on the window sills. A huge poinsettia that Hortense had placed in a basket, woven in Africa out of reeds, sat on the kitchen table, while a lavender plant sat off to one side of the sink. The effect was both elegant and homey at the same time.
Libby sighed as she looked around. There was no denying that Hortense was a genius at what she did: she excelled at taking simple household objects and giving them a new look. Although drying cattails, spraying them gold, and making them into Christmas wreaths was going a little too far in her opinion. She was just thinking that the shredded-wheat wreath wasn't a particularly good idea either when she heard a noise.
“What was that?”
Bernie shook her head.
“I didn't hear anything.”
“I did. It's coming from behind the door on the left.”
“That's Hortense's office.” Bernie cocked her head and listened for a moment. “I think you're right. I think someone is in there.”
Libby felt a wave of panic. why did she always let Bernie talk her into these things? “What if it's Hortense?”
“It's not, and even if it is, so what? We're not doing anything wrong.”
Somehow Libby didn't think Hortense would agree with her sister's assessment of their situation. “How do you know it's not her?”
“Because she's getting her hair done.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I'm sure. I know the woman who does it.”
“I still think we should leave,” Libby said.
“You don't mean that.”
“Yes, I do.”
After all, Libby reasoned, since they weren't supposed to be here in the first place, why not get out while the going was good?
“Don't you want to find out what's going on?” Bernie said.
“Why assume something is going on?”
Bernie pointed to the door. “Then what's that noise?”
“A mouse?”
“A mouse on steroids.”
Libby bit her lip. Why had she ever said anything to Bernie? All Bernie eve did was complicate things.
“After all,” Bernie said. “What's the worst that can happen?”
Longely is an imaginary community, as are all its inhabitants. Any resemblance to people living or dead is pure coi-cidence.
 
 
KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by
 
Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
 
Copyright © 2004 by Isis Crawford
 
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.
 
Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-8863-9
 
BOOK: A Catered Wedding
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